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Old 02-21-2012, 01:57 PM   #46
AlpineGuerrilla OP
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So after meeting Dmitry and his friends, I quickly put all my riding gear in his car. When we were planning the hike through E-Mail, he said to organize a proper backpack for me, which unfortunately didn't work out. So I take my tank bag, which is also a small backpack, and put as much stuff as possible in there. The rest is distributed between other backpacks.

At about 11 PM we head away from civilization and into Khibiny Mountains!



Cool mountain formation with snow. Alpenlow at midnight sun.



Three hours of hiking through woods along creeks and small lakes...



...we finally arriv at the planned camping spot at 2 AM. Violetta, Svetlana and the dog try to out-smile each other.



Incredible views! Pasta, Meat and Alcohol were only the supplement. My new russian friends were right when they adviced me to leave the downmat in the car. Sleeping on the moss was incredibly comfortable.

Do you see the line above the lake? That's the road from the first picture.



The "next" day comes early - the hot sun pushes us out of the tents after only a short night. This would also be a great place to ride a dual sport!



Or maybe a trial bike?



Heading over a pass, amazing landscapes emerge in front of us. Lake Imandra in the background.




The russians are a lot of fun to talk to. Only few speak english, but those who do enjoy doing so.

Dmitry - my contact and Couchsurfing host. Loves hosting people and especially taking them for a hike in Khibiny mountains. Great and fun guy, knows a lot about hiking and safety. You rarely meet people so open and hospitable like him and his girlfriend Svetlana.



Iwan, a great guy with a cool moustache. Drinks a lot, loves to smoke a pipe in the evening and has a lot to tell about the history of Kola peninsula. Did you know that the region is inhabitated for over 9 millenia now?



Newly wed couple. Only shared a few words, unfortunately no common language was spoken. Seemed to be nice folks.





Barren and wide landscapes.

Being around 30°C (86°F) today, it's almost surreal that there is still snow on the shady slopes. They tell me, the temperatures were around 10°C (50°F) a week earlier.

The water is cold but very very good to drink.



Another day of hiking is over. We arrive at this beautiful alpine lake and take a swim in the ice cold water.



The wood had to be carried here - there's only small bushes around here. The highest point in this mountain range is only 1200m and we're currently at about 500m. The tree line is at a mere 400m.



Sitting at the campfire, drinks are passed around. I take out my swiss Kirsch (some kind of fruit brandy) and pass it around, too. They compare its taste with self-distilled russian vodka. I still don't know if this should have been a compliment or not.



Heading back the next day, we find signs of other humans!



A neat tradition I didn't know: If you encounter such a statue (?), you add only one stone. Teamwork stretching over hours, days or years - who knows?

Dmitry on the left with João from Portugal.





Sledding down on a piece of plastic.



Walking is sometimes difficult on the steep trails.



Oh, right, this is a motorcycle ride report. The last lake we pass is reachable by road and a lot of russians go there on this sunday evening. Sure, there's only a few days of summer up here.



Violetta wants to take a short ride on the bike with me, I can't say no. She enjoys it (I guess her loud laughs when I accelerated were out of fun and no fear), but I didn't too much. My first and hopefully last ride without a helmet.

We soon had to say goodbye. While the group took a Bus back to Murmansk (200km), Dmitry and Svetlana went with their car while I rode behind them.

Short Shashlik stop in Monchegorsk. Again a very cool sounding name. The "che" is pronounced like in "Che Guevara". Monchegorsk. Great!

Not so great city history though. The only purpose is mining copper and nickel - and you smell that stench in the city.



Again some fun photo shoot when arriving in Murmansk - one of twelve russian Hero Cities.

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Old 02-21-2012, 10:18 PM   #47
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grandad's map was great 1st hand history. thank you.
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:51 AM   #48
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Nice report. To be continued... ?
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:58 AM   #49
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Cool trip, and takes some guts. I liked the customs-episode, when you noticed the alphabets and phrases missing, that's hilarious. I have visited Murmansk couple of times with a car, and here is a local joke: "How was last summer ? I do not know, I was working that day." I've traveled Baltic countries couple times with 25 year old sports tourer, and a solo tour in Poland/Belarus/Russia is next summer's plan. Just like your grandfather, my father was visiting Russia in 40's, but with a machine gun; I was first from our family to go there unarmed..
Luckily things are different today, and normal travelling among friendly people is now the case.
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:57 AM   #50
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Great stuff
Keep it coming!
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Old 02-23-2012, 06:59 AM   #51
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Great report. Keep it coming!
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Old 02-23-2012, 07:37 AM   #52
ishmac
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Just watched the full video. awesome footage, very enoyable to watch! How has the SV650 stuck the pace during the long trip, any problems at all?

Well done!!


Best wishhes from Scotland.

(peter)
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Old 02-23-2012, 08:01 AM   #53
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Thanks for sharing! Great report and lovely made photos and video.
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:41 AM   #54
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Awesome report! Thanks for posting
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:54 AM   #55
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loved the trip!
hated the spilled oil!

best wishes from Portugal!
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:31 PM   #56
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Appreciate all your replies. I'm quite busy right now, so the frequency of updates will be a bit slow, but will sure finish this report.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dnapekko View Post
Cool trip, and takes some guts. I liked the customs-episode, when you noticed the alphabets and phrases missing, that's hilarious. I have visited Murmansk couple of times with a car, and here is a local joke: "How was last summer ? I do not know, I was working that day." I've traveled Baltic countries couple times with 25 year old sports tourer, and a solo tour in Poland/Belarus/Russia is next summer's plan. Just like your grandfather, my father was visiting Russia in 40's, but with a machine gun; I was first from our family to go there unarmed..
Luckily things are different today, and normal travelling among friendly people is now the case.
Yep that makes for some good anectodes, though it was sometimes difficult while I was there. My journal says so, but you forget about the bad stuff pretty fast. And I will steal your joke for sure.

A lot of what happened in Europe in the last century (or centuries for that matter) is just unnecessary struggle between brothers and neighbours. Let's stop the vicious circle and visit other countries with only a smile as your weapon.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ishmac View Post
Just watched the full video. awesome footage, very enoyable to watch! How has the SV650 stuck the pace during the long trip, any problems at all?
It's been incredibly reliable and fun to ride. Sure, the long stretches of straight roads were exhausting at times. The only mechanical problem I had was when the spark plug from the front cylinder was killed by the rain in the middle of nowhere. More about that later.

I've already put another 12'000 km on it since the trip ended and just brought it to my mechanic. The rear wheel bearing has to be changed and the headset bearing (correct term?) is due in a few thousand km, too. I don't know if this is above-average wear, but maybe it's because of the rough roads I like to take.
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:23 PM   #57
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Arriving in Murmansk, I stay at Dmitry's place for the night. He's a good cook and we enjoyed eating, talking about international food, travel, etc. Very good company for the evening.

He has to work the next morning, while I get some more sleep. Guess I was a little bit too tired of all the hiking, so I sleep way too long. We eat lunch together before we said goodbye.

His cool car outside the flat.



It feels like I accomplished something with reaching Murmansk. It is my little Magadan trip. Across this foreign country on sometimes bad roads, battling the challenges that are thrown at me. Or something like that.



While riding around town, I spot a familiar bus. An old swiss "PTT Postauto", all in the original shiney yellow. Cool.



Riding around Murmansk, I am looking for the huge Alyosha statue. Every city (it doesn't even have to be big or important) has some kind of momument/war memorial and of course the big city sign.

It bears the cool name Защитникам Советского Заполярья в годы Великой Отечественной войны - or Defenders of the Soviet Arctic during the Great Patriotic War.

It was built in 1974 to honour Soviet soldiers, sailors and airmen fighting in World War 2 ("Great Patriotic War" in russian) and an eternal fire is burning at his feet since 1975.

This pretty impressive statue is 35.5m (116 ft) high and seems even bigger at its elevated position overlooking the city.



Great views over Murmansk from here.





But I am looking forward to Norway now. Being in Russia on my own has been hard work. The further north I got, the people got less and less cooperative about communcation. Getting food and gas was hard and fighting to communicate my needs while keeping an eye on the bike and the bystanders was stressful at times.

The road between Murmansk and Kirkenes is a lot different. A twisty road over vast hills.



A last iconic shot at a roadside memorial. A few minutes before this memorial, there was a huge military base with tanks riding around in the mud, armed guys on several watchtowers and all surrounded by ridiculous amounts of barbed wire. Crazy stuff.



Nobody bothered to remove hammer and sickle.



A military checkpoint in the middle of nowhere. Short look at my passport and off I go. No one else on the road.



This town called Nikel is a sad thing in this beautiful landscape. The contrast between the beautiful lakes in the background and the ugly as fuck mining cites are intense.

Short quote from Wikipedia

Quote:
The town is linked to the Norilsk Nickel plant nearby where many of its citizens are employed and which causes grave environmental and health concerns for the population. The nickel smelter which has been an eyesore in Norway–Russia relations for decades due to its extreme pollution levels, usually deposits its sulfur dioxide fumes to the south of the town where the countryside is a brown moonscape of bald hills, barren of plant life for kilometers around. In the summertime, the toxic fumes which for the rest of the year rarely blow northwards towards the town, occasionally do just that, making breathing difficult and even burning holes in people's umbrellas.


A storm is brewing over my head, but I am faster than the rain.



I decide to do some filming and mount the Gopro. Bad idea. After only a minute of riding, I am at another checkpoint. I stop the camera as fast as I can but decide not to stop and dismount it, as I am already within eyeshot.

"Excuse me, what is this?" is the first question. I explain it is a camera and that I was filming the landscape. "Not good", he says, but goes on to instruct me about what's next while I dismount the cam.

The border is 20km down this road and I am not allowed to stop, make pictures or look around. I should ride at constant speed to the border. He grabs his radio and I only hear "Suzuki" and probably the time. In the forest along the road, there are watchtowers just reaching over the trees. They seem to take this serious.



And there's still the real border left to cross. I am the only one at the border, it's a nice monday afternoon. I have to fill out another form about me exiting Russia. No big deal, it's the same as from when I got in. The lady stamps both my passport and the form - this seems like a cakewalk. Even the guy who should be searching my stuff just wants to see my documents and asks me the standard questions about drugs, weapons, medicine, money, etc.

Shit.

I forgot my folder with all the documents (expect passport and form) inside. I apologise and retrieve it. Big mistake.

He seems to be angered about this and wants to have a look at my documents. Ferry tickets, a map of Norway, the commercial Karelia and Murmansk maps, some copies of my official documents and - Gulp! - evil self printed maps of Russia!

His face turns dark as he scrolls through the 20 page heap of the maps. He picks one of the pages seemingly random and gives the rest of them back to me. It's the page showing parts around Petrozavodsk with Kivach waterfall marked on it.

Not good. He shouts at me and asks what this is. "A map!" is my answer. He points to the circle around the waterfall and asks me "WHAT IS THAT?" - "Kivach waterfall, a tourist thing." He walks away a few feet and mumbles something into his radio.

Big boss shows up, even more annoyed than the first guy. Same question-answer-game again. When I learned something when speaking to authorities, it's this: only speak when spoken to! They debate about me in russian while I just stand there smiling like an idiot (deja vu, anyone?).

Finally, they ask me about where I got this map and their facial muscles relax a bit when I say "yandex.ru Maps" (russian version of Google Maps).

I couldn't last my pokerface any longer when I put on the helmet. A short ride to the duty free shop, where I buy lots and lots of cigarettes for about the 10th of the price in Switzerland (or about the 20th of Norway's!).

While the duty free shop clerk has to go to the back of the store to get change for my 1000 Rub bill (about 30$), I snap a highly illegal border picture as my trophy for all this hassle.



The norwegian border is a totally different story. I am greeted with a smile and the smile turns to a laugh when I hand over my swiss passport. "Willkommen in Norwegen". He knows a bit german and asks me about my trip. A farewell later, and I'm back in Europe. Not in the European Union, but in one of the few other rebell european countries not joining the EU.




That's all for now, folks. Wanted to get a bit further today, but remembering all the details and arranging the pictures took more time than I thought.
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:14 PM   #58
Frey Bentos
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Fantastic. What is it about being a border official that turns people into such fucktards?
Keep rollin'.
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:53 AM   #59
AlpineGuerrilla OP
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Maybe it's the other way round and the fucktards are attracted by jobs like this?


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Old 02-28-2012, 04:35 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by AlpineGuerrilla View Post
Maybe it's the other way round and the fucktards are attracted by jobs like this?
I vote for that too...
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