During the night we heard a lot of explosions which in the morning we decided had been fireworks. We had a brew and packed up what we hoped was our last camp site. The motorway was only ten minutes away so we were soon on the road to Rotterdam. After the usual two hours driving we stopped at a service station and had a good breakfast. We made good time and arrived at the Europoort at 13.30 and discovered a very good pub next to the terminal.
We decided on spare ribs with chips and salad and enjoyed a huge plateful along with a couple of beers.
A number of people admired the cars and two men in a beautiful lotus esprite donated 50 euros to the charity as well as some Swiss francs which was very generous. We boarded the boat at 16.30 and were surprised at how big it was and how much entertainment was available including a casino. We had a cabin which was much better than mosquito infected woods!
After a light supper we showered and had an early night amazed that at last we were on the final leg back to Scotland .
The boat docked at 7am and we were disembarking at 7.30, however uk border control was a little slow and we did not exit until 8.30am. We had an excellent meal drive back to Scotland and made much better time than predicted. We dropped Rick off at his home at 2.30 pm and finally drove the two highlander cars back to Boatland arriving at just after 3 pm.
Thank you for reading and taking an interest in our Mongolian adventure. We hope to have raised over £15,000 to go towards research into the faulty SDH-B gene. We are very grateful to everyone who has supported our fund raising. Unfortunately at the last moment we had to set up our own charity which is called The Phaeo and Para Cancer Charity. It will take a few weeks to get a charity bank account set up so if you would like to donate please do so to the new charity which will have the facility to accept gift aid which is so important. Many thanks to all of you for your support and interest. Jo, Gordon and Rick.
Continue reading “2nd / 3rd September.”
We departed our wild camp at 6.40am and headed for Berlin on the motorway. The now usual breakfast stop came at 8.40 where we had a full Polish breakfast costing a huge £3.00 each! The drive into Berlin went well with Jo contacting hotels to find that there was a major exhibition on in town and therefore rooms were hard to come by and also very expense. In the end Jo booked an Ibis three bed room on line which was chosen just on the outskirts of Berlin which turned out to be ideal.
Jo and Gordon headed into Berlin on the metro, finding it very easy and exited at Alexander place where there was a hop on hop off bus. There were two different routes and the one chosen for the afternoon went around the Berlin Wall. Our first impressions were of a very scruffy and dirty city which had obviously been the East part of Berlin. The ticket was for 24 hours so we decided to do the other route and boat trip the next day. Unfortunately Rick had a bad headache so decided to remain at the hotel for the afternoon. Jo and Gordon got the metro back and surprisingly did get lost! There were some restaurants in the vicinity but the one we had decided to go to was swarming with police! We later discovered that there had been a major raid on a Berlin mafia outfit! We therefore had to choose another restaurant which turned out to be excellent and great value for money.
We went back to the hotel and used the internet before retiring for the night and looking forward to exploring more of Berlin, hoping it would be a better sight seeing tour.
Breakfast was excellent with a wide choice of foods which we took advantage of. We departed the hotel and got the metro into Alexander place where we picked up the hop on hop off bus and went on the A route.
The buildings were much more impressive but we still felt that Berlin was dirty and scruffy not a patch on Moscow.
We had tickets for the one hour boat trip which gave us another perspective of Berlin. After the boat we caught the metro back to the cars, had a coffee and sandwich before setting off to get out of Berlin and head for Rotterdam. We made good progress and had to fill up with fuel which gave us a huge shock. The cost of the fuel for filling up the cars in Germany came to over £150 compare this to £30 in Russia!
The time was after 18.00 so we decided to come off the motorway and find a camping spot. We came across a forestry path and found an ideal spot where we had our last camping meal.
It was dark by 20.30 so an early bed was the answer. We only had 250 miles to go to Rotterdam in the morning.
We were up for breakfast at 7am and back on the road heading for Warsaw in Poland at 7.30 am. However we were first to pass between Latvia and Lithuania and were hoping not to have any more border problems!
The drive went well following the Tom tom until we were in Vilnius and saw a sign telling us we were on the road to Minsk in Belarus. We swiftly pulled into a fuel station, refuelled and decided that it was not worth changing driving to Minsk with no visa. We therefore took a cross country route taking us through Lithuania and into Poland.
We took the motorway to Warsaw about sixty miles out at 4pm and were a bit worried about the Thursday rush hour traffic as we were due to reach Warsaw at just after 5pm. To our delight, although there was a lot of traffic we managed to get through the rush hour with very little delay.
We had gained another hour and were now only one hour ahead of the U.K. It was time to find a suitable place to wild camp which we did just off the motorway. We had another excellent supper and as it was dark by 8pm it was going to be an early night.
We were up at 5.15am and left Moscow at 5.50 am to beat the traffic. We thought we had worked out a route to get us onto the M9 the road we wanted to take us to the Russian Latvian border. Unfortunately we managed to take the wrong road, however, within five minutes we got ourselves reorientated and back on to the correct road.
We drove for two and a half hours, fuelled up, had a coffee and the excellent packed breakfast the hotel had given us. The road was very quite and we made excellent time through scenic countryside. Another fuel stop just before the border which we reached at 13.55. The exit from Russia went fairly smoothly and so we only had to get through the border into Latvia which should not have been a problem.
Unfortunately it was a problem as our green card had expired yesterday the 28th August! We were not allowed to proceed without car insurance. Gordon spoke to the broker he had used to get the car insurance to get a weeks extension. It was quite a fraught time as we were stuck in no mans land having exited Russia waiting to enter Latvia. The broker finally came back to us with the insurer taking all necessary details.
The insurance company would not discuss the issue with the brokers, only with the client. A young inexperienced male handled the situation very badly and seemed intent on quoting the rules and regulations and not dealing with the immediate problem. He seemed unable to find a solution and could only talk of problems. He was unable to text us details as he was unable to use either his or the companies mobile phone. He also forgot that there were two cars requiring insurance.
Gordon was on the mobile phone to the insurance company for more than an hour getting more and more frustrated with the lack of common sense being used. In the meantime Jo went to talk to the border personnel to see if there was a way of getting the new insurance documents e mailed to one of the offices. The border staff were very helpful and gave us an e mail address for the insurance company to send our new policy details to.
The young inexperienced male stated that due to data protection he was unable to send details to any other e mail address despite Gordon’s specific instructions. In the end he did agree to send the data to the border e mail as well as send it to Gordon’s e mail. We had to wait half an hour for the details to come through where a very helpful lady printed off our two new car insurance details.
We then had to go to passport control with all our documents to get processed and finally entered Latvia at 18.55 five hours since we arrived at the border. Unfortunately because the green card had expired we were delayed by at least four hours!
We were going to wild camp but as the light was starting to go we decided to drive some thirty miles to a reasonably sized town called Rēzekne and find a hotel. The first hotel we came to was fully booked but a very helpful young man phoned another hotel and made a booking for us. We found the Gords hotel, booked in and had an excellent supper before retiring for a well deserved sleep in a bed!
This was the first day we had for leisure since setting off on the 7th July. After a good breakfast we packed away and ordered a taxi to take us into Moscow centre.
The roads were very busy and you could have been in any international city in the world. The first impression was of a very clean city which appeared to be fully westernised .
The taxi dropped us off at red square where we purchased tickets for the hop on hop off bus which included a tour on the river Moscow. We learnt that the term red in red square in fact means beautiful, therefore beautiful square.
As we toured the city on the bus it became apparent that a lot of new development was taking place in the city.
We had purchased tickets for a one hour boat trip and had to do quite a hike to the wharf where we got the boat. We in fact managed to get a two hour boat tour and the crew loved the kilts and wanted their photos taken.
We walked around red square and the Kremlin and were amazed at the number of tourists. There was an area set aside with high banked stands obviously for an event. It reminded us of Edinburgh castle esplanade and the military tattoo.
We got a taxi back to the hotel and cars and decided that we would stay another night at the hotel as we would be leaving during Moscow rush hour which is not a pretty sight! The decision was taken and we will depart at 6am before the rush hour and with a fair wind get to the Latvian border tomorrow afternoon so we will be back in the EU tomorrow night as long as no one is detained.
It was another cold morning, we were up at 6am and got a brew on before packing up and heading for Moscow at 7am. The initial drive went well and we stopped for our breakfast at a very good and clean roadside cafe. Rick and Jo had an omelette which turned out to be fried eggs and ham and was delicious. Gordon had an egg and type of burger which he enjoyed.
The drive to Moscow went well and we reached the outer ring road by midday. However we managed to get into a huge queue and so decided to try to find another way into the city. It is a vast city and after another four hours we came off the ring road to try to find a hotel. We asked a policeman who gave us directions but sadly we couldn’t find the place.
We asked another policeman who gave us a police escort to the hotel but sadly the hotel did not exist! Eventually we got a taxi to take us to a hotel but this was no easy task as his sat nav was not working and so after another hour we finally found the hotel! It was a very nice hotel and we had a well earned beer, supper and a bottle of red wine.
We were up by 6am and there was an amazing sun rise which was in exactly the same place as last nights moon.
It had been a very cold night arguably the coldest we have had to date. We knew we were nearly on our last leg to Moscow and hoped we could put in a good number of miles. We drove for two and a half hours and stopped for breakfast at a roadside cafe. We had delicious omelettes, the best so far!
We noticed that there were a number of traffic police about pulling people over and so we were taking extra care with the speed limit. Driving through a town the inevitable happened and Rick was flagged to stop. However with blissful ignorance Rick carried on and we continued on our way without further mishap.
The drive went well and we passed huge fields of sunflowers waiting to be harvested. We had also gained another hour so we made the most of it and completed our 528 mile journey in twelve and a half hours. Tomorrow Moscow is only 250 miles away so we hope to be there in the early afternoon. The good news is that again we gain an hours time.
We found an excellent spot to set up camp and as you will notice the tents are getting further apart, probably due to the fact little washing has been done in the last four days!
The springs on Highlander one had completely gone on the drivers side so Rick had a spare spring designed for a fiat. However the magician got his wands out and soon had replaced the broken spring.
The broken spring!
It was some sunset and the midges were biting so an early bed was the order of the day.
We were in bed for 9pm, wrapped up warm and cosy and were soon asleep. The noise of rain on the tents woke us so we quickly packed up and were on the road again for 6.15am. We drove for two and a half hours before fuelling up, having more photos taken of the car and Jo’s kilt. We also wanted to have breakfast and believe it or not we were in a service station which only had subways available. In our best Russian we had an omelette subway!
Highlander one started to loose power with the lights and windscreen wipers which was crucial as it was a typical dreek Scottish day. We pulled into a fuel stop and within minutes Rick had identified the problem as the alternator. In his usual fashion and with his magic wand he gave the alternator a couple of taps and hey presto we were off with Highlander one going like a dream.
The countryside was much more interesting as we passed through and over some very steep mountain ranges. The roads are still only two lane and we came across some amazing accidents which of course caused huge queues. We were quite philosophical about the delays as we had found that some days everything worked for us and sometimes they didn’t.
We spotted a sign which said Mockba 1650 kilometres and were delighted as we were nearly there! We took the bypass around a town called UFA and believe it or not we had sixty miles of motorway driving which helped us make up some of the time we had lost during the day. We found another excellent camping site at 18.30 having covered 444 miles and were now only 875 miles from Moscow.
Hopefully we will have a good day tomorrow and get to Moscow on the afternoon of the 27th August. There was an amazing moon which looked almost full.
We wanted to get the ferry from Amsterdam to Newcastle to save on even more driving but sadly the boats were fully booked. A quick change of plan and we managed to get our guardian angel Wendy Watson, Gordon’s daughter to book us onto The Rotterdam to Hull ferry on the 2nd of September so all going to plan should be back home in Scotland on the 3rd of September.
When we were in Omsk and had access to the internet we discovered that the Russian Belarus border was shut and therefore we would have to make a 350 mile detour to enter Latvia. I e mailed the British Embassy in Moscow to find out what the exact position with the border was. They duly got back to me and told me to contact the British consulate in London! I have to say what on earth is the embassy in Moscow doing apart from probably eating caviar and drinking Vodka! That is two experiences we have had with British Embassies and have to say they were both totally useless. The Foreign office will be getting a suitable letter when home!
The truckers motel we had stayed in gave us all the worst night we had had to date. The beds were terrible with springs sticking through, no covers to speak of, mosquitoes and in some cases bed bugs which attacked Gordon! Rick had been up downloading Russian maps to his phone downstairs as that was the only place we could get the internet.
Rick was mildly surprised to see a number of ladies of the night enter the motel and disappear into various rooms! Believe it or not Gordon and Jo were unaware of the young ladies and wondered in the morning how they had managed with the bed springs as they were!
A cold shower in the morning to freshen us up and we were back on the road at 6.15 am. Surprisingly we managed to find our way back on to the correct road and stopped to fill up with fuel after two and a half hours where again people wanted their photo taken. We had three fried eggs in a roll along with teas and coffees. The scenery was quite boring as we travelled through a huge flat plain however we noticed many trees which looked like silver birches dead.
We made good time and decided to look for a camp site at 18.30, however it took us half an hour to find a suitable spot. We were amongst the silver birches we had seen during the day and confirmed that many trees were either dead or dying from probably some virus. I suspect it would be very difficult to manage as there are huge tracts of land with these damaged trees. Rick needed to do some work on the cars and also change a wheel.
We had another excellent supper and the midges were not too bad due to the cold evening.
It had been a cold night but the Highlanders had wrapped up warm and were on the road for 7am. After two hours driving it was time to stop for breakfast, omelette and ham, bread, tea and coffee. It was a spotless transport cafe and we got a lump of ham, not spam along with three fried eggs and the teas and coffee which broke the bank at £5 for everything!
We had an excellent drive to Omsk and reached the outskirts at 15.30 and found a basic hotel. We went to a local supermarket and purchased provisions for our tea including a couple of beers and the discovered that we had gained two hours!
We had our meal and then it was time for showering and the washing of clothes after five nights of wild camping. Jo’s socks nearly caused an evacuation of the hotel!
An early night was the order of the day as we had a long day ahead of us and we wanted to make an early start to get some of the benefits of the two hours gained.