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Old 04-02-2014, 06:32 PM   #136
tedmarshall
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My Gosh. What a Report

Hot to get to Armenia/Georgia.
Ted
Thanks for your artful photos.
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Old 04-03-2014, 05:09 PM   #137
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Ushguli

Just because Ushguli is soooo beautiful I give you another set of pictures to drool over:









































You never go hungry in Ushguli



The place where I stayed. One of the brother was an accomplished artists and his incredible work was displayed everywhere.









It just so happened that some people who had driven their car all the way from Germany where staying there at the same time. Perfect time to lighten my load and send back some gear and a hard drive with photo backups. They where kind enough to take it back for me and mail to my house.


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Old 04-06-2014, 08:39 AM   #138
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On to Russia

All good things must come to an end and so it was time to leave Ushguli.





Arriving in Mestia







On to Tbilisi



After one night in Tblissi I set oout on the Georgian Military Highway for the Russian border, stopping at

Ananauri Church

















Quick offroad side trip to Sameba monastery in Kazbegi.





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Old 04-08-2014, 10:49 AM   #139
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Russia

Crossing the border to Russia was easy enough. The road through no men's land was a construction area and it was survival of the fittest. Made it, passed all the cars.

Originally I was going to climb Mt Elbrus with a couple of friends but ultimately the time lines didn't work out and they summited a few weeks earlier. Since I was close enough I decided to check it out at least. I spent a night in a hotel at the base of the gondola and took a ride up the next morning. The weather was really crap and the gondola station was as far as I went.









Keeping it really classy at the little "Café"







Elbrus village is at the end of a 100km dead end. So I went back the way I came. There was a pretty epic ride report from this area on here recently, which I can't find right now. At the time I wasn't too impressed to be honest. Not sure whether it was the weather, the uninspiring soviet era concrete blocks, or having just come from super scenic Ushguli.




Destination for the day was the town of Elista, capitol of the Republic of Kalmykia, a small Buddhist enclave in Russia.









The town also has a monument for Ostap Bender, character from the famous novel "The Twelve Chairs".



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Old 04-08-2014, 03:52 PM   #140
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Before I scrolled to the photo I thought maybe it was this Bender:

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Old 04-08-2014, 06:22 PM   #141
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blader54 View Post
Before I scrolled to the photo I thought maybe it was this Bender:

He was certainly a scoundrel too.
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Old 04-09-2014, 08:18 AM   #142
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im in

Can't wait to get into your report! Your photos are amazing!!!


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Old 04-09-2014, 08:27 PM   #143
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Volgograd

Much has been written about the battle of Stalingrad and many movies have been made. Still, there is something about going to the site of such epic battles. It's very moving. I had the same feeling when I visited Gallipoli in 2009.

There is a museum complex in the city center









In Mamayev Kurgan, a height overlooking the city, is the famous "The Motherland Calls" Statue. It was the tallest statue at the time it was build.



In the same complex is a large memorial hall



and some other sculptures.


The Church was only build after the collapse of the Soviet Union



I found a cheap road side motel for the night and continued the next morning toward Saratov





Just exploring along the Volga



Found the perfect lonely camp spot halfway between Saratov and Tolyatti



It was so nice in fact that I had a pretty late start the next morning. Also lost my phone while going through an overgrown greenlane. Amazingly I found it again an hour later.

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Old 04-14-2014, 08:35 PM   #144
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Upravlencheskiy

I made my way toward Samara via Tolyatti and only stopped for a breakfast of champions.



You might be wondering why I went to Samara. It's not exactly on the way to Tajikistan. Well, here is why:

At 5 AM on 22 October 1946 a Soviet Army truck pulled up outside my grandparents' house in Dessau. They were given a few hours to pack and the entire family was then loaded onto a train, bound for Russia. My mom was four at the time.

Americans had captured Dessau in 1945, but the allies had earlier agreed that it was going to be in the Russian zone and thus it was handed over to the Soviet Army at the end of the war. Dessau was home to a large Junkers airplane factory with an R&D department working on jet engines. The Americans took the top tier of researchers and shipped them off to the US, much to their relief. The Russians told everyone they wanted to rebuild the factory in Dessau and lured many of the remaining researchers, engineers and workers back with generous offers of work, money, supplies and housing. Once all the key players were in place, Stalin's decree from 13 Mai 1946 was put into action. Everyone working at the factory was shipped off to Russia. They were all called "Specialists". The whole factory was dismantled and shipped to Russia as well. My grandpa was a technician at one of the engine test stands.

After two weeks of train rides my family arrived in Upravlencheskiy, a small town on the outskirts of what was then known as Kuybychev, now called Samara. They didn't return to Germany until 1953.

For those who speak German, here is an interesting documentary about this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPkR...6042916AC2904D

For the small children it didn't seem so bad and I remember hearing stories of a great childhood. The Russians treated the Germans well, due to the high value nature of their work. There were difference in the way the scientists, engineers, technicians and workers were treated but overall it seemed to have been OK, in fact they were provided for far better than many of the Russians at the time.

The Russians were supposed to not interact with the Germans outside of work and anything immediately outside the small town was strictly off limits. Of course kids being kids, these boundaries broke down over time and my parent's generation became friends with Russian kids. Unfortunately, the Samara area remained off limits to foreigners until the end of the Soviet Union and no further visit were possible, but some friendships were actually revived at the end of the cold war.

Upravlencheskiy has an idyllic location in the Volga bend, overlooking a large island in the river.

Looks as beautiful now as it did back in the 40s





My aunt always had a hand colored picture of the Volga island in her living room and I always wanted to see the place.

The large Sanatorium overlooking the Volga was used for temporary housing for those arriving from Germany. Now it is being demolished brick by brick to make room for new houses for Samara's High Society.









This is how it looked back in the 40s



German POWs from Krasnaja Glinka had renovated the wooden houses in Upravlencheskiy before the arrival of the Specialists, bringing them up to "German standard". This is the house my mum grew up in:



They added a coat of plaster after the Germans left.



Originally the houses looked like this:



A small fishing village was down on the banks of the Volga. Pretty poor folks back then. They sold fish, eggs, and milk to the Germans and made a little bit of money taking them over to the Volga Island in their boats.





Now most of the area is closed off because some rich folks have built their mansions there.







I took a boot from Krasnaja Glinka to the Island





Possibly still the same boat from the 40s





There is a holiday park ("Seagull") on the island and one can rent little cabins.


















Back in the day it was a little more basic





My mum and aunts always had stories of great childhood adventures on the island. I'm sure it wasn't easy for my grandparents but their generation must have made a fantastic effort to not let their worries trouble their kids. All the stories I have heard from my parent's generation were generally very positive. After a few years the Russians even gave permission to run a German school.


My mum actually ended up becoming a Russian teacher. Sadly, I haven't inherited any talent in that regard and despite of learning Russian for eight years in school I got never past the basics. I just wasn't interested at the time.
I had a fantastic time there and kept extending my stay.



Even met some friendly bikers



and a couple of local girls who wanted to marry me













Russian beach life is fun. Sun, water, bikini clad girls, beer on tap, ice cream and watching "Wolf and Hare" with the kids.




As an interesting aside, the jet engine that the Junkers "specialists" developed in Upra won over a competitive design by BMW "specialists" also shipped off to Russia. The Russians carried on the development under chief designer
Nikolay Kuznetsov (NK). They ended up developing the NK-33 engine for Russia's moon program. The program was canned after America won the race to the moon and the engines ordered destroyed. Kuznetsov ignored that order and stored them in a warehouse in Upra, where they were re-discovered in the 90s. A US company bought a few and tested them. Well, they worked great and they ended up buying three dozens and using them for the Antares rocket. The inaugural space flight was from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on April 21, 2013.



I think that this is a really fascinating chapter of post war history.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:18 AM   #145
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Very interesting program! Thanks for putting up the link to it! It seems that once the U.S. achieved success with the Saturn V, they did not continue working to advance the design, while the Soviets, although they had lost the moon race, kept working on perfecting their radical engine until they succeeded. The LockMart spokesman at about 5:44 on the final segment must have been a Martin guy before the merger, because one big LMSC project had many test flights as part of design development. Not to take away the achievements of the Soviets. That engine is amazing! In the West we have forgotten about the big start the Soviets had in exploring space and that they followed their own engineering path. Still not sure putting liquid-fueled missiles on submarines is a good idea, though.
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Old 04-15-2014, 12:47 PM   #146
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Quote:
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All good things must come to an end and so it was time to leave Ushguli.

Super Bild!

I sooo wanna go down this road....
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