Published on 23-08-2016

08-11 21:00 After waiting around for what seemed like ages we have been stamped in. They do take their time for everything. We were told to get a Temporary Import Document for Boris by the organization of The Mongol Rally for when he has to take the train home but they did not know what we were on about at the border. Very nice though, every single employee came and tried to explain to us in perfect Russian what was going on. Their English was either non-existent or barely a couple of words so a conversation was not really possible. We did have the idea that they understood what we wanted but just could not help. "No document, no problem" was their conclusion. None of the other teams that had previously passed had asked for such a document apparently so we decided we wouldn't either. Everyone was really friendly and trying their best to help which was a nice welcome to our last country on our trip. And seeing as everyone was so kind to help us, this may have been the reason that we had to wait around for so long at the gate..

08-11 20:45 Time difference of 15 minutes apparently. After buying a beer and car insurance we jump into Boris as quick as we can because there are literally hundreds of hungry mosquitos outside trying to eat us. Tom has been eaten alive because the insurance took a whopping 20 minutes to prepare.

8-11 23:10 While driving on fairly ok Russian roads we were wondering how Mads and Sonny, the Danish guys from team Tea for Love, where doing so sent them a text message. They replied that they were in Barnaul! Exactly the same town we are heading towards now! What luck and what a coincidence! They are drinking beer in a club with and the rest of the other rally team and gave us the address and the address of their hotel.

08-12 02:00 we found the hotel and saw two rally cars parked outside; bingo! As soon as we managed to check in we did a quick wash of our hands and faces and got connected to the wifi to load maps for navigating to the club. After then it's heading towards the club. During our walk Tom mentions that Abel, a guy from another Dutch rally team who is in the Dutchies what's app group, is also supposedly in Barnaul. We should text him as soon as we get to the club that he should come there. When we get there we see it's a karaoke club called XXXX. A real posh joint where all the guys are dressed okey and all the girls are slightly overdressed. As Tom is wearing shorts he is not allowed in and had to go back to the hotel to change. Sas is looking like she used to be a hippy but is now living in a sandbox that was slightly damp but was let in strangely enough. It's real nice to meet the guys again and to see that they as well made it so far! They introduce us to Filli, Luca and Abel..... Abel? We found one of the members of the duchies group! The first one we've met on route. Very very nice! So now we know one another it's time for beers, vodka, stories of the last days and the choice that is ahead of us. Drive east to the finish line in Ulan Ude 2000 km away and fly home or head west tomorrow morning and drive the 6000 km home.

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8-12 2:40 we decide to go to Moscow, the other two teams will join us in a convoy! Barnaul would be our Mongol Rally finish. So that's a cheers to Moscow and finishing the rally in Barnaul!

8-12 3:00 it's a karaoke bar so we can not have been here and not sang a song. Backstreet boys it is!! And after that Westlife - Uptown girl which was the crowds favorite.

8-12 4:00 the karaoke bar closes. After we round up the boys we get a cab. Apparently there is a club called Pharao. We had made friends with some Russian boys and girls who would gladly come along . So after we get some kind of bank card we may enter the club. It's awfully quiet inside, actually we are the only ones there. We try to get some beers but that does not go as easy as you would think. The card has to be used. So they put all your drinks on the card and when you leave you pay for everything at the door. Right... Not sure what happens if you lose the card. Quite a weird system.

8-12 4:45 enough is enough, we're done for today. So we take a cab and head back to the hotel. The sun is already up.

8-12 10:30 breakfast at the hotel. Filli and Sonny are nowhere to be found at the restaurant. After Tom has finished his food he heads into town to find a Russian simcard. We've heard that we could get a card with unlimited data for only €2,50! And guess what, it's true! So now we both have unlimited data for as long as we are in Russia! Lovely and the folks at home are loving it that we are in contact again.

8-12 12:00 after Sonny gave a ceremonial speech on the stairs of the hotel thanking the teams, the Adventurists and last but not least The Mongolian Government for their input in making this new finish line in Barnaul, possible it was time for our finishing photo and then we should be on the road. We changed the stickers on our car to something more fitting. We were no longer doing the Mongol Rally, it has become the CCCP Rally and this was as far east as we would be going.
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8-12 13:30 we finally hit the road. After a brief chat with a team that just arrived at the hotel we could set off.

8-12 17:00 we stop for petrol. Boris is thirsty! After we filled up the tank we noticed that Boris is leaking patrol! After a quick investigation we found the problem. The tire has scraped off a tiny part of the rubber hose going from the fuel intake to the actual tank on the bottom. So no biggy, it's just leaking every time we fill up the tank from now on.

8-12 18:00 we are driving in a town at the moment which is crowded as hell. This way we are not able to cover the distance we want to! We want to hit Omsk tonight and it's only 800km away on quite decent roads. Hope we didn't make a mistake choosing to drive home.

8-12 21:00 we stop for some food. At a local truck stop where we all order way too much food. Apparently everybody thought they needed more food than they could eat which was a shame because it was delicious.

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8-13 02:00 enough for today. Omsk is still 200 km away. Not doable, we head into a town called Tatarsk to find a hotel. After asking some girls in the street one of them offers to get in the car with the Boys from Denmark and show us the way. Real kind of her. The hotel was good, and we all could use a good night sleep.

8-13 9:00 after breakfast and coffee we hit the road. We have decided that we cannot linger around any more and should make the most of our time and because there is nothing very interesting worth visiting quickly before Kazan we decide that that will be our next stop. It will be very tough as it's a 30 hour drive of 2100 km according to Google so probably more in a Boristime. So that's non stop driving to Kazan! But with good spirits we head off and Sas takes the first leg of driving.

8-13 15:00 we hit a traffic jam. They are working on the road, so there is only one lane open. So we have to wait for al the other traffic to pass first which takes ages. Their is a traffic light that controls the flow of traffic but somehow it did not result in us moving forward most of the time. We were quite overheated due to the fact that it was well over 30 degrees and we were in fumes of parked and passing cars that we did not want to search for answers but just wait until it was our turn.

8-13 17:00 we finally go through after filling the time for 2 hours by sitting on the roof of the cars and playing catch we are driving again.

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8-13 20:30 after finishing dinner Tom tries to take the wheel. He hasn't been driving today because of a sore left shoulder. It feels overused and infected. But Sas has been driving for eleven hours straight and needs a rest so after taking several painkillers he gets in the driver seat and is all ready for the graveyard shift into the night. Sas forces herself to sleep so that when Tom can't take it anymore she is at least a bit rested and ready for the remainder of the 30 hours to Kazan.

8-14 2:00 time for petrol! And we have covered half of the distance to Kazan. Nice! After the nice lady of the gas station offers us some coffee we started the second half of the trip. We also hit 13000km or our dashboard!!!!

8-14 3:30 Saskia is fully awake and ready to drive. So now it's Toms turn to have some sleep. His shoulder did okey but that was mostly thanks to the painkillers.

8-14 5:00 very nice sunrise with a bright red sun coming over the mountains. The scenery has changed during the night from vast fields with birch trees to thick forests with thousands of Christmas trees and huge hills we have to climb up and down. When we come over one mountain we enter a valley with a huge blanket of thick mist covering most over the trees apart from there tops. The sun is now shining on this valley and giving it a very fairylike atmosphere - probably a place where fairytales come from.

8-14 7:30 time for breakfast. Well not exactly the typical European breakfast , we had macaroni, rice and burgers. With some coffee of course!

8-14 9:00 Boris is complaining about his oil levels. So we check it and fill him back up. So with some fresh oil we hit the read again for the last 450km

08-14 15:00 check in hostel. We have 7 beds in two rooms. One room isn't ready yet. That no problem, it's time to hit the showers.

08-14 16:30 we got to Top Hop. A burger joint where they sell numerous kids of beer! Even loads of Dutch ones. The waiter gives us the menus, after we concluded it was in Russian we ask him if he has English menus. At this point he drops his forehead to the ground, looks through his eyebrows and exhales intensely. At this point we all look at each other, we're not completely sure why the waiter wants to kill us at the moment.

8-14 16:45 time to order! The waiter returns. Sonny starts to orders. And the waiter nods at everything he says. Afterward we ask if he doesn't want to write everything down. He looks at Sonny like "do you know who I am!?". So we take that as a no. We start to order, and it was a mess. Burgers, salads, fried chicken, fries, beers. And that times 7. Good luck to the waiter. At some point Luca tries to order water. The waiter shakes his head. "No, water?" Luca tries again. At this point the waiter has a look in his eyes like he's trying to kill Luca with his laser eyes. So this guy isn't even trying to be polite, he is actively trying to be impolite.

08-14 18:00 it's no surprise that we did not get everything we ordered. But then luckily it was very good food and we've tasted some very nice beers. So a lovely choice after all

08-14 18:30 sightseeing in Kazan. This city is enormous. We took a look at the Kremlin of Kazan. With a grand mosque in the middle. After we walked further and stumbled on some other great buildings. Which all are very nice.

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08-14 20:30 everyone is tired so we go to the hostel for a rest before we go out. Luca realizes he does not have an immigration document and after a lot of phoning and discussion with the owner he has to go to the police tomorrow to get a statement or risks a hefty fine and difficulty leaving the country.

08-14 22:00 everybody seems to still be resting and sleeping so let's just leave it at this and to go to bed.

08-15 08:00 we all get up and pack as Luca has already left to go to the police office. We decide to have breakfast in a shopping mall and set off without Abel and Luca who will come once the immigration document issue has been sorted.

08-15 13:00 it's finally cooling down a bit and also started to rain a bit, how wonderful and pleasant.

08-15 16:00 lunch in a restaurant by the motorway and see on the news that Moscow has flooded. This could be interesting! We need to pass Moscow anyway so continue our journey but it would be great if Boris can experience some more water as that would have been in Mongolia which we have had to skip.

08-15 17:00 news from Abel who will be flying to Moscow this evening and meet us. Luca cannot travel until the immigration document issue has been solved and will stay with the car in Kazan. Not sure how long things will take.

08-15 19:00 just drove passed a shack set up right next to the motorway that sells garden gnomes AND military clothes. Perfect combination in our opinion.

08-15 22:00 time for diner! After walking in to a restaurant where no lights were on we thought the place was closed. Turns out it wasn't, so with a flip of a switch they rebooted the entire restaurant for us. The food was actually quite good but felt quite odd being to only customers.

8-16 01:50 we arrive at the Airbnb we've booked. The host isn't responding yet. Strange because we let him, Sergei, know that we would be late. So we are now standing in middle of Moscow with two shitty and dirty cars hoping the host will respond soon

8-16 02:10 Abel returns. After flying to Moscow and a train ride he is now back in the convoy! Hopefully Luca will join us tomorrow!

08-16 2:45 still no word from the Sergei. Airbnb support is on it but we don't know if they can help us here. We decide to go and find a backup hostel nearby. Abel and Filli are going in to the hostel and try to book some rooms because we just heard Airbnb can't fix the problem for us so the guys are actually in the hostel now. But there is no one to talk to.

08-16 03:15 found a hostel! Hostel Godzilla! We are now waiting in the lounge. In Russia every hotel needs to copy your entire passport, page by page. So that's 6 passports, we'll wait. There is a tv and a stereo. We are not allowed to turn the switches because Godzilla will eat us if we do according to the sign.

08-16 03:45 we are checked in and have just paid when the phone goes .. It's Sergei! What bad luck as we just paid and decide to sort this out in the morning. We are in a six person dorm but there was already one person staying there so Filli sleeps in a different dorm. Now the guy that was already in the room was awake and wandering around in his t-shirt and boxer short and came from Austria. He was quite thin, very awake and seemed both scared and intrigued by our coming. We think there was something wrong with him because he just stayed standing in the middle of the room first reading the ingredients of his shampoo bottle then cleaning the floor and then back to the shampoo bottle. Over and over again. Sometimes he would also walk around checking all his belongings that were carefully spread out all over the room take a piece of paper, read it and after putting it down again it was back to the shampoo bottle. We're not sure how long he did this because we fell asleep but we're sure it was for quite a while.

08-16 10:00 Sas wakes up to the sound of Sonny and Mads skyping with Airbnb. Tom is already awake and waiting in line to have a shower. The news is that Airbnb couldn't do anything as Sergei got back to us within an hour but after talking to Sergei he was willing to let us off paying for the first night if we did still come the second night. Great and perfect ! So we pack up our things, get Boris and Margareta (Tea for Love's car) and leave the dorm to the strange Austrian guy.

08-16 11:30 Sergei has said that Jeanette will let us in but will be there at 12:00 so we have breakfast at Dandy, a restaurant next to our Airbnb with great atmosphere, interior design, staff, service and food. Bit pricey for Russian standards and enough sugar in the food and drinks to make all our teeth fall out but fine for now. After breakfast we head to the 24th floor, penthouse baby! The view is amazing and we are glad that we decided to stay here. Everyone gets ready and we head into town.

08-16 13:30 Red Square ! It's very busy but extremely impressive and after some group photos we head to the metro. The guys are going to a Banya and Sas is going to do some shopping. She is not really interested in acsauna and it might even be segregated ~ not very gezellig. Sonny knows someone who knows someone who knows someone in Moscow. And this guy is taking the boys to Banya, a very Russian way to socialize. Our Russian friend is called Alexey, we may call him Alex.
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08-16 18:00 Sas installs herself at Dandy as there is only one key to our penthouse which the guys took with them. Shopping was a big disappointment as there were only expensive designer stores and no souvenirs or regular clothes to be found. Not even postcards, t-shirts or mugs.

08-16 20:45 the guys come back from one of the most relaxing moments during the rally. And because this is the last evening together it's time to celebrate! So we open one of the bottles of champagne Tea for Love had bought for when they made it to the finish.

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08-16 21:20 we arrive at the restaurant. We meet up with Alex and Ksenia They already ordered starters and vodka of course. So first things first. "We now take a shot of vodka, then we eat snacks!" This is the good stuff! The food was absolutely delicious. Our Russian friends orders many different thing so we could taste the Russian cuisine, with vodka of course.

08-17 00:00 time to hit the next bar. We grab some cabs and hit a cocktail bar called Bar Mitzvah. This was a lovely place in some basement. Tom Sonny and Filli had some triple espresso's. We needed them badly!

08-17 01:30 Saskia took a cab home because she was falling asleep at the table and the guys go to the next joint. It's called Propaganda, and there is a techno parry going on inside. And you know what they drink at techno parties?? More vodka!

08-17 04:00 time to go to bed. We have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow.

08-17 9:50 after saying goodbye to the guys we actuality made our goal of driving off at 10 o'clock! Really nice!

08-17 17:00 final we made it to the last border, back into the EU that is! Almost home. The border took us almost five hours but they let all three of us out of mother Russia and into the European Union.