Monday 16.7.2018 0km 20.09km Total:40.72km
Finally, the migraine has disappeared.
I eat some breakfast and head towards the nearest bus stop which happens to be located by St. P:s largest mall.
I'm missing a screw on the bike which I need to replace so I head inside on the hunt for a hardware store.
Possibly a bit naive of me to think I'd find it there and I didn't but at least it was nice and cool inside.
After a lengthy bus ride I get off at Peter and Paul Fortress.
A "combined" ticket was R600 (less than ten euros) so there was no need to pick and choose.
St. Peter and Paul cathedral was very impressive but I guess it should be as it's the burial site of emperors and tsars like Peter The Great and Nicholas II.
Even though the rest of the sights wasn't on par with the cathedral it was a very nice afternoon spent.
Because of the curtain wall it was very peaceful inside the fortress despite all the tourist and you really lost the sense that you were still in the middle of town.
After spending two to three hours in the fortress and its different exhibits I took the bus back to St Isaacs cathedral and walked on to the Kazansky cathedral but it was very underwhelming.
Onwards to what I missed yesterday, a museum of Soviet arcade machines.
A noodle restaurant on the way smells so delightful I can't help myself so that was lunch settled.
Since I still haven't found the screw I'm after pretty much just on a whim go down to a basement locale hosting a phone repair shop called I can fix.
I mean a screw is a screw?
Some language difficulties later one of the guys disappear and comes back a short while later which he assures me is the right one and it definitely looks the part.
I reach for my wallet and am prepared to pay handsomely for solving my problem but they would hear none of it.
The wished me good luck with my Trihumf Tiggehr which they actually identified from a picture in my phone.
With that sorted there's nothing separating me from an overdose of gaming nostalgia and I didn't get my hopes up for nothing, I was like a kid in a candy store.
I spent way to much time there and had they sold beer I would have stayed even longer.
By now it's gotten so late in the day that I can assume that everything else sightseeing worthy has closed but that's ok, I feel I had my priorities in order.
I still intended to walk by the Vladimirskaya church on the way back, even though It'd probably be closed I can still admire the exterior.
My feet hurt like hell from all the walking though so I head into some sort of tourist trap called Soviet living museum or something like that.
Pretty much just three rooms filled with "Soviet" trinkets a lot of which I recognized from my own childhood but then again my family was pretty leftist.
Not a complete waste of time as the babushka who managed the place gave me a personal tour with admirable dedication considering she probably tells the same stories several hundred times a day.
Vladimirskaya was well worth the walk with its gleaming golden cupolas and open as it was in service.
As such also open for tourists but photography not allowed.
It was a bit weird as the church hall was on the second floor and so gilded it was almost blinding which was a starch contrast to the linoleum floor.
To be honest no matter in how much disrepair it might be a wooden floor had been a lot better fitting but perhaps the horrible linoleum is there to protect the actual floor.
There isn't anything else I'd intended to see now so I start walking towards the hotel.
I stop on the way and get dinner at a barbeque restaurant and manage to be at the same time both disappointed and relieved that the didn't have the stewed beef cheek I'd ordered.
I settled for chicken bbq instead.
Less exotic but amazingly good.
Even though I had a beer with the food I can't disregard the fact that the Irish pub is on the way back, it must be an omen?
And a Guinness never hurt anyone did it?
While I'm sitting there by my lonesome enjoying a pint of the black stuff to the tune of a rockabilly cover of Britney Spears Toxic an extremely intoxicated lady starts a sing-a-long despite not knowing a single word of English.
It was so hilariously funny I had to fight with every fibre of my being to not burst out in fits of hysterical laughter.
It obviously had to find some release as tears start rolling down my cheek.
Luckily the song and the sing-a-long ends because otherwise I can not rule out that I might have exploded.
With a considerably lighter step I walk the rest of the way to the hotel where I have to do a bit of maintenance on the bike.
A bit drunk and maintaining 230kgs of motorbike, I mean what could possibly go wrong?
Nothing really... with the bike.
The screw fits like a glove so that was nice.
But when I've gotten the bike on the centre stand and given it a hose down with the chain spray an extremely agitated gentleman walks up, starts speaking in rapid-fire Russian while dragging his finger along the car parked beside the bike.
The only reasonable interpretation was that he was claiming that I'd scratched his car (which in that case wasn't the car parked in that spot now as it was mint).
When he realises we can't communicate with each other at all he briskly walks off and pulls up his phone.
In my paranoid mind a lynch mob was rapidly approaching.
I quickly grab my own cell phone and put into Google translate that my bike had been parked in the same exact spot for three days so it can't possibly have done anything to his car.
I switch over the translation and to a Russian keyboard and hand the phone over.
It turns out that (probably because he heard the ball rattling around when I shook the can) he thought I'd used spray paint on the bike which he meant would have gotten on his car as well which I must admit was a reasonable assumption judging by what he perceived.
The consensus is that it's sihlihkon and that his pride and joy is completely unscathed.
As far as I know we parted ways as friends with a firm handshake but I guess I'll find out when I get to the bike tomorrow morning.
The Hermitage och The Atlas statues.
Tuesday 17.7.2018 194km Total:871km 8.77km Total:49,49km
I leave the hotel at around 10AM.
I'm not in any particular hurry as I'm only riding 200kms to Novgorod.
It does take a while to get out of St. Petersburg but thank god the traffic is a lot more disciplined than it was on the country roads.
The ques linger for far outside St. P. and people as usual are overtaking on every surface that will physically allow it despite what they're actually for.
The hard shoulder is widely used even when it pretty much looks like a series of bomb craters as SUV:s are very popular.
I stop for gas which in this part of the world demands a deposit or prepayment to start the pump.
As anything other than a full tank on the bike would be very inconvenient I leave a 1000 Rubel deposit which covers a full tank by a wide margin as I got R400 in change.
About €8.5 for a full tank or about €6 per litre, that more than €10 less per litre than back home.
It's not the fuel that will put me at the brink of ruin on this trip that's for sure.
After 200kms in scorching sun I get to Volkhov Hotel in Novgorod, it's obviously a lot classier than the hotel in St. P. even though it wasn't more than about €32 a night.
For a fee of R200 (<€3) I left the bike with a toothless old man in a machine gun nest in a fenced off parking behind the hotel.
After a lot of not understanding each other at all and some hand gestures I'm pretty sure he just wrote "the idiot with the bike" on the receipt that true to Russian bureaucracy had 10 different fields to fill in.
Since I've only stopped for fuel and water along the way I get lunch in the hotel restaurant.
It's a 4.5 star hotel and the whole meal was about €10.
The price level is pretty low on most things around here, a normal admittance to a sight or museum is about €3.5-5 and that's taking into account that some places have a higher tariff for foreigners.
The hotel is a comfortable distance from the sights (according to Lonely Planet) so I don't have to walk more than 100 meters before uncle Lenin greets me at Novgorod Kremlin.
It is a very beautiful and well-preserved building from the end of the 1400s so it was very pleasant walking around there and I took my time because for some strange reason my feet hurt after walking 40kms in St Petersburg in two days.
The Cathedral of St Sophia was a grand building but unfortunately closed.
But I did get to go up in the clock tower and I took a walk on the curtain wall.
Despite my feet hurting I couldn't really resist walking to Church of the Transfiguration of Our Saviour on Ilyina Street (phew, that's a name you don't want to have to repeat very often) and the Cathedral of our Lady of the sign.
The first one was very oddly proportioned but the latter was very beautiful courtyard where I sat for a while resting my feet.
On the way back I walked a bit through Yaroslav's Court where there where at least three more churches.
I don't know how the commies really though the would be able to turn people away from religion if this town is anything to go by as there are 10¹ churches in a 1km radius.
It was pretty naive.
I walked around the fortress and the impressive moat back to the hotel.
¹ That's just the ones I found, there are probably more.
Wednesday 18.7.2018 0km 6,07km Total:55,56km
Today I'm going to take it easy.
I've really already seen everything I had intended to see here and as the churches are closed today as well there isn't a lot to do.
I sleep in and eat breakfast before heading back to the Kremlin.
After moseying along in the Kremlin I go into the Novgorod state united museum.
As I expected it wasn't very interesting as everything was in Russian only but admittance was cheap (€3.5) and it was nice and cool inside.
I usually don't care for audio-guides as they just drone on and on forever but I should probably have gotten one this time.
I walk across the river on the bridge and wander around pretty aimlessly without finding anything particularly interesting.
There's another Lenin statue on this side of the river and I find it a bit strange they are preserving them.
I eat a slow lunch at the Frigate Flagman where I almost impress even myself by managing to order a complete meal through google translate and actually getting exactly what I thought I ordered.
Duck with rice and a very nice dark beer with a view of the Kremlin was a great experience.
I walk around aimlessly throughout the afternoon all the while dark clouds are darkening the sky.
Back at the room working on the trip on the computer the heavens open up and it really starts hammering down.
Done with the planning I turn on the TV and notice one of the reasons people are struggling with English in this country because the obviously aren't getting anything for free on the telly like back home.
50 channels and not a single word spoken on anything but Russian, the even overdubbed the NASCAR commentary!
Tomorrows leg to Moscow looks to be the first in rain which I normally hate but as long as it means a bit lower temperatures it might get easier keeping focus than around the 30°C I've had thus far on the trip and with 600kms to ride in this traffic I need all the help I can get.