St. Petersburg, stated to be the most European of all Russian cities became smaller in our rear mirrors when we hit the motorway towards the Russian capital city. Almost hit the motorway to be more precise. A huge puddle in the curve leading onto the motorway was hidden behind the crash barrier and unavoidable when visible. The bike slipped away under Daniel and both him and the Tenere slid 20 meters on the asphalt. Fortunately no irreparable damages on man and machine were caused by this crash. We don’t have any explanation how this incredibly huge amount of oil got on the street and most likely remained there for quite some time. What is clear, that it needs more attention every single minute from both of us. We kept going but were happy to get off the bikes in the evening in Valdai. Spoiled by St. Petersburg, Valdai is probably a small town which is more representative for most of the small to midsize towns in the Russian countryside. Damaged roads, crumbling house facades, less fashionable clothes, dirt – an obvious difference to what we experienced a day before. Luckily we witnessed some kind of anniversary of the town which was celebrated with a small public festival. We didn’t expect the Hamburger Dom, but small monkeys, snakes, camels and reindeers, plus laser tag and 15 inflatable jumping castles are a little bit unusual.
Another daytrip to Twer left us just a short distance to Moscow, our home for the next 7 days. A cosy Airbnb apartment from Danila in a Northern outskirt of Moscow was the perfect base for several day trips to the stadiums and the inner city of the 12 million inhabitants metropolis.
Despite the 20 kilometers to the city center it doesn’t take long to get there at all. Busses operate in a 7 minutes interval, trains departing every 3 minutes and less – on every of the 20 lines, wow! I don’t have to mention, that Wi-Fi is everywhere: subway, restaurants, shopping mall, you name it. You want to buy a ticket for the train, a coffee, a bun or just a bottle of water in the smallest grocery store ever and you don’t have cash on you? No problem, take your credit card and pay contactless. By the way it’s probably open 24/7.
Before live match #two of the world cup for us we got off at the closest metro station to the Iranian embassy. We still had no visa for the Islamic Republic of Iran one of the future stops on our route. We got an idea of the distances of this huge city. It was quite a walk. We handed in all documents, information and fingerprints (like a criminal in the 80ties with a inkpad and paper) and hoped that it would be granted until Friday.
Next stop was the Spartak stadium for Poland’s opening match against Senegal. The support of the Polish fans was incredible and they outnumbered the Senegal follower by far.
Though the Africans showed more creativity in appearance and performance. They really danced and clapped their hands throughout the whole game without stopping for a second.
What seems to be a big advantage could turn into a disadvantage if you don’t deliver as expected. The Polish crowd whistled and shouted against their team with no mercy after Senegals second goal.
The next day we already got to see the stadium where the final game will be. Luschniki, a huge 78.000 capacity bowl hosted Portugal vs. Morocco that day.
Morocco really played well and deserved to at least equalize Ronaldo’s early header, but was instead send home after a poor performance of the European Champion.
Sightseeing was scheduled for Wednesday and of course the way to the red square and the Kreml was mandatory.
So we walked there around 12 o’clock, expecting to line up a bit. We decided not to get in. An estimated waiting time was 2 hours – for getting a ticket! Then another two for getting in to the Kreml. We visited Poklonnaya Hill instead a huge war memorial for all victims of WWII in Moscow and the fan fest at university.
Also a magnificent building with surrounding park area. As we already discovered in St. Petersburg: Everything is way bigger than in all European cities we have seen. All areas are clean and everything is well organized. Even though it’s hard to understand the language, we get along pretty well and not only in the vibrant world cup hot spots in town. A big „spasiba“ to Moscow that gave us a stunning last day for good bye. Belgium vs. Tunesia 5:2 in Spartak stadium again, top notch seats right behind the goal and Germany’s breathtaking last minute victory over Sweden at the fan fest again.
We even got a decent tan from 30 degrees sunshine weather over 3 consecutive days.
Now we’re facing the next big stretch of road in the next 3 days. 970 kilometers to Volgograd. Let’s go and follow us on our route.