Home Ben Galleryblog Gear New FRiends Videos Contact Live Tracking Comments

08 05 2011

Day Off In Volgograd

Voronezh – Volgograd

354 miles 8hours 32 minutes

It was quite a pleasant night on this little gastinitsa (truck stop) which looked like your typical movie knocking shop with the fake purple silk curtains etc.

We got an early get away being on the road by 7am and put a few miles down – well I say we but I think I was a little more keen than Simon after last nights banya escapade.

It was around 9am when we had our first fuel stop and breakfast Twix. It was back to the hard drive, it wasn’t so much the trip but the shocking roads and even more shocking Russian driving skills or lack of… But hey it’s all part of the experience I suppose. It was amazing to see the scenery change from woodland to farmland as far as the eye could see. It was strange as we were driving through a section of forest that reminded me of the new forest back in England.

We did a pit stop to have a drink and stretch our legs at a small memorial of a plane crash of a jet fighter. It was a little odd with the tail of the plane sticking out of the ground and the picture of the pilot on the side as the memorial.

We had great delight when we were stopped by two police men at a check point. We had been stopped for supposedly doing 61kmh in a 60kmh zone. Both were very friendly with one being larger character it was hand shakes all round. They wanted to know what we were doing so having a map on the side of the Land Rover I was able to show them, the amazement in their faces was a picture. So with a good luck and a hand shake they sent us on our way. They seemed keen to move me as I was in the way of the speed gun. Once away we had a good laugh about it over the radio and how they didn’t want to see any paper work so they probably just wanted to see what we were doing.

We were passing through small town and villages, amazing to see they were still using all the old wells maybe around 5ish scattered through each village.

We arrived around 3:30pm in Volgograd and finding the hotel with ease and with relevance a small amount of traffic. It just felt good to be hear and on such a special weekend. It put both of us at ease being able to put the bike and Landy in secure parking as it was such a big city and with the thousands of tourists about to embark on the place this weekend.

We both went for a short walk and even down to the river Valgor. As we were there standing looking across the river in amazement at the size of it there was a group of women dressed it traditional clothes singing and soon came up the steps where Simon and I were standing.

Our stomachs were rumbling and as neither of us had much to eat today. As Suzie was due into the city around 9pm we found a small place called bar & grill well the name says it all a great place to wait as it was in the square too. Wile we ate we had some entertainment provided by the local police department. The were all hanging around closing off the square to all traffic, now while they did this one of them had a motor bike (a Jowa) with all the others taking it in turns to have goes. So in their smart short sleeved shirts and shinny shoes so off they wobbly well went with a few stalls and sudden braking. I don’t know who had more fun them or us watching them.

We were lucky enough to see the final dress rehearsal for the victory day parade to give us a little taster of what was to come. It wasn’t long before we heard that Suzie had landed, but disaster. Suzie was here but her bag wasn’t. She was quite upset as I’m sure any of us would be and I’m sure it’s happened to most of us I know it’s happened to me before. Still we popped back to the bar to reassure her and get a drink in to reassure her. It was a pleasant evening with smiles all around.

It was around 8:30 when I woke, such a good feeling to have a little lie in. The morning started in a relaxed way – with no rush. After breakfast Simon had a contact here that we were going to meet. Sofia came to the hotel at 10:00 am. She had organised for an English student – a very polite, friendly guy called Ilya.

It was a beautiful sunny day in the city as we walked round. We started in the square and headed down the avenue of heroes. As we walked by the Red Army Monument and the Eternal Flame there was a group of soldiers laying wreaths. There was a huge number of people laying single and bunches of flowers at the monument.

Further down there were lots of signs the Victory Day Celebrations would soon be under way. We soon reached the River Volga – the huge river that helped save and resupply the troops and the city.

We walked along the river bank to the Panorama Museum and next to that the shell of the old flower mill – the only building from the old city of Stalingrad left standing. It was around this time that Sofia had to reluctantly go to work – Ilya took us into the Panorama Museum. It was a little like the Tardis inside – it was spectacular to see the displays of weaponry and uniforms. It was easy to see the poorly equipped Germans with their thin uniforms compared to the very thick warm clothes of the Russians. There was a stunning 360 degree painting and display of the Stalingrad battle.

It was now around mid afternoon and Susie had to go to the airport to see if her bag had arrived. The decision was made to have a quick bite of lunch first before Susie and Ilya left for the airport. So Simon and I went for a wander through the park, up to the beautiful grand building of the city railway station. We then headed back to the hotel to do some photos and blogs.

One very happy Susie arrived with her bag and early evening al lfour of us decided to go and see the statue of Mother Russia. Ilya was kind enough to take us on Volgograd’s underground tram. As we mounted the steps we saw the statue for the first time – she took my breath away. Even though we still had a fair walk up the hill she had such a presence, standing 84 metres high with an almost goddess feel.

As we walked up the steps we were climbing between two walls which had battlefield carvings of soldiers and scenes – it felt to me as though the soldiers depicted were embedded in history. We passed through the Stalingrad Memorial with a sculpture of a hand holding the eternal flame with all the names of the soldiers around the building. The stairs followed the inside edge of the building in a spiral to exit at the top. As we exited we turned to our right and there she was – towering above us into the sky. Just sheer magnificence is the only way I can describe it. Apparently she faces west with her sword held high.

There was a happy feel that night as we had dinner with lost luggage returned and a pleasant feel to the evening.

Looking forward to The May 9th Parade tomorrow…

7 History imbeded in the walls on the walk to Mother Russia
19 20
21 22
26 27
      Top of Page      
Home Ben Galleryblog Gear New FRiends Videos Contact Live Tracking Comments

I have negotiated a 10% discount on all Sawyer filter products to all my followers purchased through my website.