19 January 2017
Luchegorsk-Znamenka, 55 kilometers, or that was the plan.
Stalin is gone, Lenin is everywhere. This is Luchegorsk
Znamenka you will not find on Google Maps, but on Nokia Here maps and on openstreetmap.org you can see it. Although there were no hotels on any of those maps, the marine guy had confirmed to me that there was a hotel in Znamenka, although he had never been there himself because real marines sleep outside in the snow. I was slowly getting used to the cold and this looked like an easier ride. It was, except for the cold. The more I go south the colder it gets, and I had to wear my ski goggles for most of the trip. Also in the afternoon I got some headwind and it was not an easy trip.
Where is the tiger?
Another shameless selfie, and still no tiger
But the worst was the hotel. I paid 300 rubel for a room which is just over four euro, that should have raised a red flag. But it was absolutely terrible, it was dirty and total crap, and these people were very unfriendly. I decided to walk away and I didn’t even bother to ask my 300 rubel back. I fully understood why the marine guy preferred to sleep outside. Later I found the place on Google with an amazing 3.2-rating, and there are some reviews that you can run through Google-translate yourself, quite hilarious.
So I walked back to the main road M60-A370, but I knew I could not make it to the next village Dalnerechensk. Dalnerechensk was still 40 kilometers and it was already five in the afternoon. What to do? Was I going to violate my rule: don’t start a trip unless you can walk out of it?
Russia from the cabin of a minivan
Driver taking me to Dalnerechensk
Hitchhiking. I used to hitchhike when I was a student, why not try again? And guess what, the first car, a small van, stopped, what a miracle. We took out the front wheel of my bike, threw everything in the back, and there we went. The van was a UAZ-452, you see these vans everywhere and although they look pre-historic they refuse to fall apart. Four-wheel drive, 2.7 liter 82 hp engine. Within 40 minutes I was in Dalnerechensk where the driver dropped me at a nice hotel. I gave the driver 300 rubel which he accepted, and that was it.
This van took me to Dalnerechensk. This is a UAZ-452, red text is about a road/mobile laboratory
The hotel in Dalnerechensk was really nice, one of the better places. Plenty space, all clean. Just the hotel room was rather hot, maybe 25º Celcius, and I can’t sleep like that. So when I failed to find the temperature regulator, I finally decided to just open the window. Sorry for that.
In the middle of the night I woke up, I felt a little cold. No wonder, it was still 25º Celcius, but this time below zero. Oops! I tried to hide under the blankets for a few minutes, but finally I had to give in, climb out of bed and close the window again. That would have been hilarious: survive a sub-zero bike ride, then freeze to death in a hotel bed.