Last days in Russia (day 22 - 29)


Moscow, 18/08

After our fancy dinner, our morning is super lazy, even though we are supposed to leave the hostel and start to travel again towards Saint Petersburg. We have breakfast and pack: we completely trashed the room again, being on the road for so long turned us into a group of beasts. We leave our stuff in the car and go to have lunch in a small trattoria not too far. Kuba runs back to car to have an interview in new potential job. We are seriously pushing the time today, but the laziness is stronger than we are. We finally start around 3 p.m., destination: Veliky Novgorod. Same thing as always: music on the speakers, cigarettes every 45 minutes and chatting. We don't even realize anymore how many km per day we have to do, the road just goes by with few changes in the view. In the evening, we find on the map a lake and decide to camp there for the night, seems like a nice place and there is even supposed to be a campsite nearby. It's almost dark, already, so we hurry up, until we get inside this small village and a very bad feeling starts to grab my stomach. There is something wrong. We are all silent in the car, none of us is saying a word, and we are just trying to follow the navigation to the campsite. However, we turn left and end up in the middle of the woods: the road goes on without any kind of illumination and the woods seem very deep. For the first time, I feel scared about the place we are going. After some kilometres of forest, Cris says he has a bad feeling and Kuba and I agree completely. No one of us was saying it out loud not to scare the others: we immediately turn the car and go back as fast as we can to the main road. I start to look for a hostel, even if the feeling doesn't leave us at all. I book a place in the only cheap place and we get there after dinner. Shit, here we go again: we get in the building and we end up in what seems like a horror movie-like psychiatric hospital. It's a no. We run out of there and start the car: we will keep driving tonight. Cris falls asleep after one hour; Kuba and I are still awake and taking pictures of the road. Our safe place for the night is a gas station 100 km before our destination: we get in the sleeping bags and enter a serious coma.

Saint Petersburg, 19-20/08

Sleeping in the car is not a nice way to get rest. We wake up at 6 a.m. and buy some kind of breakfast at the gas station, while Kuba and Cris try to repair the front lights that started to have problems last night: perfect way to start the day. We have a little discussion and decide to get to Petersburg without stopping and get a place to sleep in the afternoon. The four hours in the car are quite harsh: I'm fighting the urge to sleep, since we are all tired, but in the end I give up for a nap. We get in Petersburg at 12, but the check-in in the hostel will be in one hour. Park the car, have lunch, and finally go to sleep. The place is super nice and clean and we spend the evening in the kitchen working a bit. We are supposed to stay at our friends' apartment; but we didn't want to bother them one day before our scheduled arrival, so we go to sleep like babies.
After breakfast, we spend the morning on our computers: we all have things that we postponed during the last days, so it's time to keep up. We checkout after 1 p.m. and start driving in the traffic of this amazing city, excited to see all the stunning architecture of the centre. When we get to the parking under our friends building, it's still early, so we go get some lunch in the closest restaurant and go back to the car. Finally, our friend Sasha comes downstairs to greet us, while Kuba and Cris help a nurse to get an old guy in the ambulance. We bring all our stuff in the apartment and start telling our stories to Sasha and Pasha, while drinking and laughing until late. We know them from Tomsk, where they were part of the university organization called Buddy Building Club, made to help exchange students like us to enjoy the semester in Siberia. Now that they moved to Saint Petersburg, they were waiting for us to arrive with our old Lada and have a weekend of fun together.

Saint Petersburg, 21-24/08

Since the first morning, our friend Sasha understands very well our level of tiredness: it takes us hours to get out of the apartment to visit the city. We take the metro to go visit the Fortress of Peter and Paul: I've already been here last autumn and I hoped to see the city with all its summer glow, but the weather is grey and rainy like in the last two weeks. However, we enjoy having a walk around the centre and having lunch in a typical Russian stolovaya near Nevskiy Prospeckt, the main street of Saint Petersburg. After the lunch, we crave for a nap and so we take the metro back home: the evening will be an exhausting marathon of drinking and going around the bars of the city. IN the late afternoon, we are joined by other three people and have dinner all together. The atmosphere is cheerful and we are drinking all the beers and rum in the house. At 11 p.m. we head out and reach a bar in the main street. The night flies with cocktails and cigarettes and at 6, finally, we get home with a taxi under the pink sky. We don't sleep a lot and the hangover hits us badly after some hours. The whole day is spent inside, until the evening where the guys go to a pub and drink again. The rainy Sunday is another lazy day: in the afternoon, Kuba and I have a long walk in the streets around the centre and, passing through a park, we see a lot of drunk people squatting on the ground. Russia is the same everywhere, in some aspects. For the evening we rented a boat to have a cruise on the river, we get to the place under a storm and wait for Pasha for one hour, but we he arrives we cancel the cruise and go back home. Monday morning is different for everyone: Sasha has to study, Pasha goes to work and Cris and Kuba go to buy the insurance for the car. I stay in bed until 4 p.m. and then join the others to visit the part of the city they didn't see yet. We walk all around the famous places of Petersburg and have dinner in a KFC. Tomorrow we will start travelling again, and we will finally go towards our final destination: Prague. One month on the road is gone and the last part of our trip is already starting. In a matter of days, we will say goodbye to Cris and bring Arkadia to Ostrava, where she will stay until the next adventure. 

Alessandra De Santis