weeks of preparation - and with this I mean visiting all the mechanics in
Tomsk, because Arkadia likes to make fun of us and stopped working two days
before we had to leave -, finally we got to the morning of our departure. Today
we are going for our adventurous journey back to Europe! What are the odds,
right?! Will we get there? Who knows. But a thing I know for sure is that we
will have fun... in visiting all the mechanics of Russia.
At 9 a.m. we still have all our stuff in disorder, masters of procrastination
even to pack. At 12:30 we are supposedly ready, Ania is outside the dormitory
with her bags and... Kuba decides to drive to the auto-market to buy some missing
pieces of the car. It starts to rain, just to make it better.
Of course, we start late in the afternoon, since we thought that securing the
suitcases on the top was an easy job. How to be more wrong. Four people living
in Russia for months, with all their bags to fit in an old Zhiguli is a
challenge we didn't consider: it takes us three hours and eight people to
accomplish the mission. Moreover, we have to deal with the drunk couple living
in our street that comes to us asking to call the police. That's how we are
already late the first day.
We are tired, but the excitement is stronger than the lack of sleep. Destination:
Novosibirsk, the third biggest city in Russia. The highway surrounded by
forests is the perfect view, with the music really low from the front - we paid
a lot of money to get speakers that we cannot hear in the front seats, just to
After 200 km we decide to camp near a village, ending up in front of not one,
but two closed towns: the perks of travelling in Siberia! We change road and
end up in a muddy field full of mosquitos.
That's the perfect conclusion to our first day.
9:30 p.m. and we are in the office of a mechanic with a huge snake. Second day
is ending in great style - with no need to say it, it's raining like
waterfalls. How did we end up to this point? Let's start from the beginning.
At 5 in the morning the cows from the village where we are camping start a
concert, just because yesterday went too "smooth". After a couple of hours, we
pack, drink a coffee, and leave.
The plan for today is to reach Novosibirsk, stopping at the Crematory first: dirt
road, giant holes in the ground and the car producing weird noises. When we
park, Kuba has to fix a loose pump in the engine: cable ties and we are good. We
like to keep things easy. We are on the way for the Museum of Death - nothing
creepy at 10 in the morning - and in the park we spot a camel. What the hell is
a camel doing in the middle of Siberia? It's useless to ask: this is Russia.
After the museum, we enter the city and park Arkadia. Novosibirsk is the
perfect soviet city made of huge grey buildings - very monotonous and sad. We
walk towards the statue of Lenin and get a couple of pictures: we've had enough
of this place in half afternoon. We get back to the car under the rain and jump
inside, trying not to drown in the puddle around her.
Now the best part: russian traffic is just honking and screaming out of the
windows. Stuck in it for more than half hour, we struggle to make it to the
bridge. We are finally heading out of this place!
And that's when Arkadia dies in the middle of a six lanes road. Uphill. No
hysteria. We light up cigarettes. Kuba checks the engine and understands the
problem: the fuel pump is gone. We stay calm, I mean, we were not expecting an
easy journey... but come on, it's just the second day! Nobody stops to help us,
so we call the car tow truck, that obviously tells us to wait a lot because of
the traffic. We wait. We are blocking the way. Finally, a car stops in front of
us: it's a couple from Tomsk that recognised our shiny light blue lady and turned
to rescue us. They drag us to the mechanic, where we are stuck more than two
hours - that's when we book an hotel and completely give up on the day.
In the morning we go back to take the car, just to discover with joy that we
have to visit another mechanic. Half day flies with the man explaining us the
problems in the engine while fixing them and the old guy in the office tells
stories about his trips around the world.
We finally manage to leave Novosibirsk behind us and get back on track. On the
highway, we take a break at the Café Lada and our Arkadia feels home. We follow
the road trying to reach a lake, but obviously is just a giant swamp with
half-dead villages: we camp near the road and run away from the mosquitos.
This day lasted too long.
Omsk, 31/07 - 01/08
Today we are very determined
to reach Omsk. We get in the car, connect the speaker to the phone - because
the radio, as I said, is too low - and hit the road. Everything goes smoothly,
we can barely believe the car is not stopping or doing more weird noises.
Never say it twice.
Almost in Omsk, we start hearing some very loud bumps coming from the top and
when we stop in the parking of a huge complex of buildings where we are
supposed to sleep, we get out of the car to discover that we almost lost all
the bags. Nice. While the guys are drilling, the owner of the apartment calls
me to say that there's no running water and if we want to sleep there anyway.
We turn the car and leave the place, finding an apartment on the main street -
that, goes without saying, is called Lenina Street. After well deserved showers
and dinner, Ania and I go to visit the centre of Omsk: the city is beautiful
and the weather perfect.
Kuba and Cris stay in the pub and when we come back, we find them drunk, with
shots of vodka on the table and laughing for everything. It's Friday night,
after all: we like to respect traditions.
In the morning, despite there are 33 degrees, we have a slow walk around the
city and eat too much for lunch as always. We are getting fat these days, to
add more weight to the poor car that is already struggling to carry us around.
Destination: Yekaterinburg. We have almost 1000 km in front of us, so we drive
all the afternoon. Arkadia is on fire, literally: it's spitting hot air inside
and it feels like being in a sauna. You don't even imagine how much we are
dying in it and we can only cheer ourselves up by opening completely the
windows, except for poor Cris that has lost the handle on the way. For the
night, we choose a very characteristic abandoned building on the highway and we
set our camp there, only wishing to sleep.
Tyumen, Ekaterinburg, 02-03/08
funniest day since the beginning of the trip. I'm sarcastic, of course. The
weather is awfully hot and humid, the car is burning, and we have to stay in it
for 600 km. But it's a road trip, so we just have to accept it. We spend the
whole morning driving towards Tyumen, halfway to Ekaterinburg, with the idea of
stopping there for lunch and maybe take a couple of pictures in the city. That
before we sit in the Georgian café next to the barbecue. The car is parked
under the bright sun and next to her another Zhiguli with huge tires: a monster
truck, how Kuba called it. Our little Arkadia seems so small compared to it.
The afternoon flies - at least for me, having a long nap - and on the way we
meet a shiny tank, the first of a series. We stop for a photo-shooting and then
hit the road again. The villages and cities on the way are full of patriotic
monuments and destroyed buildings, with young Russians driving old cars with
hyper-technological speakers (and we are using a small JBL). We finally get in
Ekaterinburg and under the building where we rented an apartment there is a
group of drunk old people who tries to buy a slice of our pizza. We go
to sleep and wake up very late in the morning. We split to visit the city and
the day goes without even noticing.
The first week is gone. Tomorrow we will start our adventure again, by heading
to the Ural Mountains. Who knows what is expecting us. We are just going on our
Alessandra De Santis