14th day Fri 25th April
Left at 6.35am Kiev and going to pick Manvir up at the airport in Kiev ( coming in from London) – great to have him back on board ,then towards the Russian border!!!!
Kiev is quite a stylish city ,with lots of well known brands – you could easily mistake it for a major city in Brussels or Paris.Seems to be pretty affluent ,with flashy cars,designer clothes and generally a lot of bling( but stylish!)
Drive to border – A lot of discussion had taken place the night before ,in planning the safest route out of Ukraine and into Russia thankfully ,we did not experience any issues driving to the border crossing
The roads although not always smooth ,numerous potholes were encountered,were still drivable but long – v long.
A lot of the towns we passed resembled American towns and cities which are situated out in the sticks.Before reaching border crossing ,stopped at a site of old church ruins being renovated
Border Control : In Ukraine customs – Photos strictly forbidden,but don’t know what is in us,but did take some sneaky ones. All of us ,I am sure,were a bit apprehensive – not knowing what to expect.It took quite some time to clear customs,even though we were almost the only car visible – what does that tell you! Also cars going in the other direction but no one crossing into Russia.Although we were leaving Ukraine they checked all the paperwork thoroughly.However we soon made friends with them especially after telling them our journey plan and what our final destination was to be.One of the military guys ,in conversation, said if you listen ,you can hear a buzzing sound – he said that the Russian military was carrying out military manoeuvres a short distance away?Must say he seemed resigned to the inevitable ( unsure exactly what that was) but he wasn’t necessarily anti Russian ,but in his opinion there was only one person responsible for this crisis – and that was Putin
They wished us well and warned us of some of the dangers we could face in Russia – it was good to know ,I think !
So ,two to three hundred yards further we were to encounter the Russian customs experience.
We had to go through two main checkpoints – the first was form filling,but took almost 45mins to complete ,nothing too dramatic at this point,however,the second checkpoint was a lot more thorough .
There were in total about 7 to 8 customs official involved ( not all at the same time)in detailed inspection of our land cruiser , our documentation and questions asked. It seemed for ever for one set of questions to finish and another to start ,similarly detailed were the inspections they carried out. Then the sniffer dog – quite a cute dog!
After almost two and a half hours we were finally allowed to continue our journey.the first thing we all did ,100 yards into Russia was to phone our families – big relief about this leg of journey!
The Russian towns we are passing through look and feel like any other in Romania and Ukraine – long Russian names for their towns and roads – as you would expect
But must say ,roads have again been petty good .We do have a global GPS in the car and road signs not always reliable with map names not resembling actual – could be big problems – but Peter ,pretty good at finding his way out of trouble.
This has been a very big day for us in our travels, we hit our target end point for the day – Kursk at 6pm after travelling nearly 550 kilometres = approx 345 miles – even after loosing nearly two and a half hours at customs
Driving through Kursk,people seem to be going about their own business the land cruiser was attracting a bit of attention.
Evening was spent walking around town,drink at a local bar and dinner( quite basic) at the hotel – people seem quite friendly !
Anyway we lost another hour today from our lateral travels to the East , that means we are now 3 hrs ahead of London .Tomorrow another big travelling day – almost 1,000 km to Volgograd – still in Russia
14th day Fri 25th April