02.07.2012 - 02.07.2012 19 °C
Mike’s Thoughts on leaving Russia.
I hadn’t realised that Moscow and St. Petersburg are two of the five largest cities in the world, and they are very different. Moscow was huge and crowded and the traffic is hectic. There are many skyscrapers with old character buildings of 3 or4 stories high dotted between them. There is lots of money being spent on refurbishing old buildings and even fixing the terrible roads. Unfortunately the large over weight trucks, break them up almost as quickly as they are fixed. St. Petersburg, on the other hand, has no skyscrapers and more old buildings. It has a much more open feel, but the traffic is still hectic. Having driven for a month in Russia we still don’t fully understand who should be giving way to who at intersections, and it seems to be the quick or the dead. The British Foreign Office travel advisory makes the point that the death rate of drivers in Russia is amongst the highest in the world and that is easy to understand. It seems to be a combination of poorly engineered and maintained roads and a bad alcohol problem. In a similar fashion to the white crosses scattered about rural roads, in NZ, there are rather elaborate memorials, complete with parts of wrecked cars, as a constant reminder. Some include floral tributes and headstones. But Russia is booming. The young people seem to have a good work ethic and are keen to improve their social status. They seem to work long hours, seven days a week and there are lots of expensive European cars to be seen. With their resources and attitudes Russia will continue to become more influential in the world. When I was young we were told to learn Japanese as a second language, but I think the advice should now be to learn Russian. I am reminded that we have not spoken much about how the car is going, that’s because it is going like a dream. We couldn’t have wished for a better car for the job. A couple of the other cars have had their problems due mostly to poor preparation. The Holden is a heap of junk, and the old Bentley is burning oil and has over-heating and electrical problems. The group is functioning better with only one notable exception who is inconsiderate and arrogant and not a team player. I guess there has to be one in every group. We are really enjoying ourselves and are not sorry to be leaving Russia. Apart from the bureaucratic nonsense at the borders (hopefully our last) we are delighted to be is Estonia. It’s obvious that changing from Roubles to Euros things are going to cost a lot more from now on. Food and Petrol are much dearer, and that is what we spend most of our money on. It is great to get your messages via Travellerspoint and the e-mails. We have free WiFi virtually every evening since being in Russia.