Day 167 – 169|Moscow to Latvia

Day 167 | Sunday August 28

After some thrilling days in Moscow it was time to leave. Latvia is the country where I want to go next. I tried to look for possibilities to travel to Asia via Moscow but it was impossible because I couldn’t make that within the 30 days of my visa and it was to short time to arrange visas for the countries.

The M9 is the highway to Latvia and the nearest city from Moscow Rhzev, so I aimed to get there today, a 225km drive. In a small town of which I even don’t know the name of I found a gasstation with a 32A socket where I recharged. With my translation document I explained my situation and they allowed me to charge there.

In Rhzev I didn’t have a place to stay and after a lot of days with people around me all day I was up for a bit more privacy, so I tried to get into an hotel again. With Google I found 3 hotels in the city, the first 2 didn’t exist anymore but the last one, Hotel Rhzev, was still there. It was a challenge to explain what I was doing and what I needed but the document and the newspaper article helped a lot. They were willing to offer me a room. Some Russians came to me and had big interest in the car. With translators in iPhones I explained most details of the car.

Day 168 | Monday August 29

Andrei my host in Moscow found a friend of a friend in Veliki Luki who was willing to host me. The city was 250km away so I knew it was going to be a long day. I needed 3 gasstations with electricity supply to eventually reach the city around 9pm. I met my host Sergey at his office and we drove to his apartment. A very modern one, more than any other I saw before in Russia. Sergeys English was not so good but still he did everything to make me feel comfortable, making me shaslicks and more delicious food. After some food and drinks he went back to work, apparently he is a night owl and he left me alone to do some work.

Day 169 | Tuesday August 30

It was time to leave Russia for good. My time in Russia was unbelievable interesting and pleasant. I love the Russian mentality and their hospitality. Also the country is something else and I love how things work here, it’s not so smooth as the countries I’ve been before and I like that.

I reached the border with Latvia around 3. I was a bit nervous because I was afraid for problems with the late registration but fortunately I could pass without problems! And way quicker then when entering Russia.

After the border my battery was nearly empty, rain reduced the range a lot. There was a town called Ludza but I stranded a couple of miles before that and actually had 1% left. Normally I am a bit more cautious but today I just wanted to go. I stopped the car and started walking and look for electricity. It was on the country side and was hoping to find my luck at a farm but no-one was home. After a kilometer there was a street with more normal houses and some people were working in the garden. I approached them and asked if the spoke English. One of the guys started talking in a perfect British accent. He was a Latvian but moved to England 10 years ago and was here now for holidays. What a gift. It was ok to charge the car there so I picked up the car, drove back and plugged it in. He and his dad offered me some tea, cookies and we had some interesting talks. After 2 hours I had enough range to reach Ludza.

In Ludza I had no plan too and when the darkness started to fall I needed to hurry up. The woman at the local gasstation didn’t speak English so I thought to ask somewhere else first. I walked around and some young people where smoking outside. I asked them for help and they thought the gasstation was the best option. He wanted to help me as an translator. At the gasstation they explained it was not possible as she had only one socket and than she needed to unplug to ice cream fridge, not an option. But the guy had an solution, he told me to wait a few minutes. Than a friend of his stopped by with the car and he told me “he you are from the Netherlands” in almost fluent Dutch, huh? Apparently this guy, Dennis is working in Holland and learned the language. Such coincidence. His friend stopped by who just picked up an extension cord and we drove to another house where we plugged in.

He offered to come to his house to have some food. I was constantly switching between English, Dutch and Russian to explain what I was doing. They were very impressed and thought I was a bit crazy. They don’t travel much, they like to stay around their house. The guys, 22 and 23 already had children so life here is a bit different.

When I told them I had no place to stay for the night I could crash on one of their beds. Latvia so far pretty awesome!

Pictures

Day 163 – 165 | Only in Russia

Day 163 | Wednesday August 24

My host Olga took me for a sightseeing tour in Moscow. Tours from locals are always the best ones as they take you off the touristic route and tell you more about it than most tour guides. So we went to see some churches, cathedrals, parks and what more. Moscow has beautiful areas, some modern, some old, all very impressive. We visited Moscow City, the business area with lots of high rise and fancy shops. In one of the buildings every hour they showed an fountain show, the water almost hit the roof.

Yesterday I heard that as a tourist in Russia I needed to register myself to show that I am still in the country. I asked the Dutch embassy for some advice as no-one really seemed to now the procedure for this. Now I received a mail and they told me I needed to register today otherwise I would receive a fine. We hurried to a migration office but on Wednesday they didn’t do administrative business, so the only options was to do it tomorrow.

Day 164 | Thursday August 25

Today turned out to be a long and weird day. A long story in a few sentences: we went to the migration office, they told us they didn’t register foreigners here. Next office: ok you can register here, it took us 45 minutes to fill out all the forms than they said: sorry you (Olga) are registered in Moscow so you need to go there. Went to Moscow: you are too late, you need to talk to the boss and possibly pay a fine. Boss: you can’t pay a fine, you need to go to court on Monday and the chance is for 99% sure that you will be deported. Other option: go to the border and see what happens, which was the best option according to her. Oh oh. This didn’t sound so good so I contacted the Dutch Embassy.

Day 165 | Friday August 26

Around 9 in the morning I received a call from the Embassy, I needed to come right away to talk with the consul. I took public transport as with the car it takes hours to reach the city. Olga gave me passes so I could travel around. At the embassy they told me it was strange that I couldn’t pay for the fine as it’s regulated by law. They already made some phone calls to the migration office and even there they said it was weird. Strange experience. The solution: I needed to check-in at a hotel and they would register the visa and I needed to pay a fine because I was too late. Problem: no money. First I went to a few hostels as they are cheaper but they couldn’t help me. A hotel was willing to offer me a fictive room for a cheap price and they would do the paperwork, damage: 2100 Rubles/ Troubles. They send all the info to the migration office and they would give me a call how it would work out. Late in the evening they told me everything was good en didn’t even need to pay a fine. Funny how things work here. I payed for the room with my creditcard which means I am 2100 Rubles in red and need to find a way to earn some money.

Anyway everything is fine now and I would like to thank the Dutch embassy for their help. Because of the struggles these days I had to cancel two interviews with interesting companies. I was really looking forward to meet them but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I traveled back to Olga’s home, packed my bags and went to a new host: Andrey who lives on the east side of Moscow. He saw me on Bjorn Nylands video and had been following me since. He drives an electric Lada so I was very interested in how this works. More about this tomorrow.

My hosts

Special thanks to my hosts were I have been staying for 4 nights: Olga, Dacha, Roman and dad. They took care of me really well, making nice food and sharing their stories.

Pictures

Day 161 & 162 | Moscow

Day 161 | Monday August 22

After all the treatments I received I felt almost 100% ago and left to Moscow. The navigation told me it was a two hour drive to the city center but it took me 3.5 hours. The traffic here is unbelievable busy.

Late in the afternoon I arrived and had a little bit time for some sightseeing. I took some selfies at the Red Square and than went for dinner with Diana. I came in touch with Diana via Vlad from Bellona in Norway. Diana has her own company, MosPrivet (HelloMoscow) and she takes care of tourists by arranging visa’s, giving city tips etc. So for me she arranged a letter of invitation so I could apply for a visa and everything worked without problems. She wanted me to taste some real Russian food and got me a huge pig.

In the city I picked up my new host Olga and her friend Katya. She didn’t find me on the website but a friend from Holland knew someone who knew her, I believe. So with 3 people in the car (2 on the right seat) and dabbing from the police now and than we drove to her house, 30 kilometers outside of Moscow. It was a big house, front garden and back garden and shared by almost the whole family. Her sister Dacha with husband Anton, father and Babushka.

Day 162 | Tuesday August 23

It’s almost becoming an habit, to visit the Dutch embassy in every capital. Today it was again the case. In the middle of the center and very close to the Kremlin Pauline and some colleagues welcomed me. They were very interested in the car and my story and took me to a restaurant for lunch. Also part of the delegation was Geert, a Dutchman living here since 20 years and now doing business for a Dutch company who produces EV charging stations. We talked a lot and the people at the embassy send some requests to companies who might be interesting for me to visit.

After lunch Geert took me to the Kremlin, he found that I really needed to see it and payed my admission. The Kremlin is the geopraphic and historic capital of Moscow and also of Russia. Cities in Russia were never surrounded by walls but only the central part were the most important churches and palaces were based were fortified. Kremlin means “fortress inside a city”. There are many Kremlins in Russia but the one in Moscow is of course the most famous one. For every building you needed to get a separate ticket and Geert got me one for the Armory Hall. A huge building with many relics from years ago.

Until so far the fun part of today. After my visit almost everything went wrong. A short recap: I wanted to take a picture of the car with the Saint Basil Cathedral in the background. The people at the embassy thought my best option was to go to the parking deck and the riverside of the red square. It was very busy and unclear and I took an exit in the wrong direction. Immediately a cop pulled me over. They checked all my documents, continued talking in Russian and than translated a text on their phone. Something with you will loose your rights for 6 months. Which rights were not clear but I knew it was not good. I tried to talk with them but impossible, it was clear what they wanted. I called Olga for translation, told me indeed that I could pay them off with some bribe money. 50 euro would do, I had that in my pocket as I received that from Seppo, gave it to them and received me license back.

Time to go back home. It was traffic jam all the way. While there cars weren’t moving at all some guy in a van hit my car from behind and started yelling at me. Weird experience.

After 2.5 hours I my navigation told me I arrived at my hosts. Unfortunately I didn’t. I drove to place with the same street name as my hosts and needed to do another 45 minutes home. When turning around I hit a bump with the underside of the car and I might have damaged a cell. Today I was not so lucky.

Pictures of these days