Kazan', Russia - Polarsteps
Hokus pokus... We're in Kazan! The capital of autonomous Republic of Tataristan and crossroads with Asia. After a 400 km dreadful and harsh ride behind black smoke coughing trucks. We started the day at the decathlon to buy a new mattress since I took an old leak one and everything is hurting and stiff from riding and camping. Man, I'm getting too old for this shit. We looked at the route again and the distances are really getting intimidating. We see traffic signs with next city's distances like 700, 800 or over 1000 km, not very motivating. Add the heath and constant worry about the bikes condition and fuel range and I am not surprised I am getting mood swings. Merijn gets his first birthday present today, a police fine for crossing a white line while overtaking a truck. I run out of petrol just before the gas station but while Merijn is tapping his fuel a mini truck stops to see if he can help. He even knows some Dutch words, no not from pornfilms this time, but from a visit to Belgium. It's a nice feeling that people are so helpful here. At the end of the day the landscape finally starts to change. The forests have gone, there are rolling hills with different style houses and while the sun sets we get a beautiful view of the flood plains of the Wolga. It lifts my spirits again and we end up in a really dodgy neighborhood where merijn booked his birthday hotel. Hahaha, surrounded by the local alcoholics who ask for cigarettes Merijn searches for the entrance. With some help he finds a steel door but no-one opens it. So we set off to find another hotel. We cross the water to the centre and see the Kremlin and the big mosque drenched in lights which really looks like a fairytale.....