On the Banks of Volga

The Saturday morning in Valdaj was once again gray. To our surprise the bikes were still there. Still, even when we were loading the bikes, we were instructed to take them to guarded parking area (stajanka). Despite of our plans, we decided to push on one more day and have a look a Tver. Before leaving I also adjusted the valve clearance in my Urals left cylider which had made knocking sound.

We also stopped by the local Internet club to try to upload some pictures. The square where we had walked in solitude the previous evening in look for food was crowded with people. We left our bikes by the market place and Bergie went to check out the Internet club. In the meanwhile a crowd gathered around our bikes and old men came to talk with me about the them. As uploading the pics wasn’t possible we turned our bikes toward Tver and opened the throttle. Again, when driving in the city I noticed that that one of the cyliders was’t functioning properly, but once we got to the highway it worked normally.

The ride to Tver was uneventful. Twice we had to wear our rain suits, but that was it. Tver was a surprisingly big city with dolby cinema theater and everything. We checked in to hotel Centralnaja - another legacy of the soviet times - and went to find some beer and walk around the city. At that time Bergie noticed that almost all of the pictures waiting to be uploaded - about 20 of them, covering our time in Novgorod and Valdaj - were broken. We bought a new Compact Flash card, ate our first pizzas on the trip and turned in.

Sunday morning wasn’t any different from the ones earlier. We left the town with plans to drive as long as we feel like - or goal was to be in Pskov near Estonian border in two or three days. Slowly the sky got brighter and after an hour or so we even saw sun shining every once in a while. The roads were boringly straight with nothing but fields as far as the eye can see on both sides. At least there were small villages here and there to cheer up the scenery. The asphalt was in some parts new and in good shape but mostly it was bumpy and worn out by the countless trucks.

Some 30 km before Veliki Luki - where we had decided to stay for a night - we were stopped by the milizia for the first time. In Russia there are these milizia checkpoints on the border of the cities and this was one of them. Apparently we hadn’t done anything wrong and the officials were simply bored as they were only interested in our bikes and how fast do they go. After answering their questions we were asked to show and accelerate all we could. A stupified smile on our faces we did as asked.

In Veliki Luki we checked in to a hotel which from the outside did’t look like much but turned out to be pretty nice from the inside. After a quick shower we decided to go search for some food. Not more that two steps after we had stepped out from our room, our administrator - as they call them here - asked if we’d like something to eat. We gave a positive answer and were directed to a small empty dining room. We sat down and a moment later we were brought a can of every beer they had and some juice and water. We picked the beer of our choice. Another moment later, without being asked what we’d like to eat, we were brought some chicken salad as the appetizer. While eating the salad we could hear microwave oven being used and shortly after that we were brought a simple but tasty meal of rice and pork in mushroom and onion dressing. After a walk in the city and a few beers it was time to get a taxi back to the hotel and get some rest for the ride to Pskov the next day.