To start from the very beginning, we planned to visit Russia already in 2009, but due economical situation many of us had to gave up this idea so we postponed our trip to 2010. It also gave us more time to rethink what we are really looking for and where to go. Now I can say that despite technical failures, unexpected road conditions and difficult weather we had a perfect adventure.
This was our route - with ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki, then to russian border and through Karelia up to Kola peninsula, along White Sea coast to Kuzomen desert. After that through old roads to Murmansk. From Murmansk to Norway to visit northernmost point of continental Europe (not Nordkapp, which is actually an island) and back home. All in 2 weeks.
Lisas randel (2010-08-28 11:20:58)
Despite long planning and preparation we packed our stuff in very last day, and one of us finished packing 4am, and can sleep full two hours before rushing to harbour.
But everybody arrived almost on time and here we are, 7.00am, lined up for check in.
From left to right, front row - Raul on BMW F800GS, me on KTM 950SE, Päärn on KTM 950Adventure. He's actually taking this picture but after sleeping 2 hours he didn't look to good . Rear row - Erik and Anton, both on BMW F650Dakars and Juho, BMW R1200GS.
It didn't take to long when we were allowed to drive to ship. Ship was full as usually in monday morning.
Two hours later we were 80km more north in Helsinki and waiting fin long queue while finnish police was checking every driver with breathalyser. No problem with us
Despite light rain we were happy to be here and after an hour Helsinki was behind us and we were cruising east at 100km/h. 270km to russian border and we planned easy 4hours to be on russian border.
Wrong! Only an hour later Paarn was complaining his KTM loosing power and only one cylinder working now. Now that was unexpected - so early and we have already problems.
But with enough technical knowledge we avoided panic and started step-by-step technical inxpection. Electrical problems were exluded after short debate, so it must be fuel! Nobody didn't expect that Päärn had installed cleanable fuel filter, but so it was. It was really useful improvement. This is what we got from filter.
Mysterious jelly. And while we don't have best fuel in Estonia, we didn't expect to find this. We were cautious about russian fuel quality, but I can say that russian fuel we used was actually very good quality.
After 30 minutes KTM was running again and we hit the road again, And another 30 minutes later we were draining that fuel filter again! After that KTM was having some balance problems so it took a little nap. It was the first, but definately not the last one. Let's talk about top heavy bikes
No more incidents until we reached Imatra 10km from russian border. There is a really nice canyon.
After that I started too enthusiastically and had to make a panic braking to avoid hitting Erik's BMW. I managed to avoid Erik's bike but not a curbstone. I lost my balance and down I was. Speed was low and no harm was done. I was on my bike again so fast that nobody couldn't grab a camera, so no picture from this.
No more incidents and there it was, russian border.
It didn't take too long, until green light was on for us and we could drive to the border station. With excitement we seek out our passports and walk to the small window. Politely a lady behind this window refuses to check our paassports and instead gave us formulars to fill out. Of course we didn't have pens with us so it took some time to read all those papers (in russian of course) and fill all the gaps. Probably half an hour later we were all done and started thinking that we made it. Wasn't so difficult, was it? Yeah - of course, now we have to walk to another office and draw up another form to import our bikes. All in two copies and in russian. We were quite confused until one border guard came and shows us, where to put necessary marks. Like for question "do you have drugs with you?" he pointed "No". Sure we didn't have anything prohibited with us, but we didn't expect border guard to say this to us. He was very pleasant and we had a good time. Until we walked to the office with filled forms. There was a man who probably has seen a computer yesterday for a first time, or a day before that! It took hours to type all data to computer and we were sweating in our offroad boots and riding gear. Btw, he didn't lost he's good mood for a second and he was joking with us and other border guards. Which took some more time! Other borderguards were already looking at us with compassion and asking, why are we still here? Anyway, 3 hours later gate opened for us and we were allowed to Russia! Now I know why trucks are waiting on Estonian-Russian border 3-4 days!
First miles on russian roads were quite smooth until we turned to smaller one. It look like this.
An ordinary car will have serious problems on that road! Ruts were probably 20cm deep.
Russians definately like watching Satellite TV.
And while driving towards lake Ladoga we were forced to tie up Anton's jerrycan after every 10-20km
We definately had a road on our map here. Why is this road closed?
We were forced to pick another road, which was actually a good fast gravel
It was around 9pm so we visited local "supermarket" for food and drinks.
Roads were bumpy and just before sunset Raul reported that he has lost his tent! He went back to look for it.
Luckily Raul found his tent right in the middle of the road. And nobody hasn't driven over it yet.
It was quite dark already when we found a place to put up our tents. Nothing special, but small harbour with pier so we could swim. After a short talk with the owner of this place we hear that she's grandmother is from Estonia. Now quickly some meal and drinks as it has been a looong day.
Pier was a great place to be and we got asleep long after midnight. First day in Russia!