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Published: October 1st 2014
My home for the night beside a Russian cafe adjacent to a very busy road.
Finding the border crossing point was not a problem, I just drove on the E117 and headed north. The road was typically mountainous and dusty in parts and the surrounding scenery was unspoilt natural beauty through the Kazbegi National Park. After about 3 hours drive I encountered a long queue of traffic and then I saw the border crossing on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. Fours hours later having gone through the Georgian Immigration, the Russian vehicle check and immigration and some form filling in Russian language, I finally emerged into Russian territory. I was pretty exhausted but happy to have made it this far.
More mountainous countryside awaited me on the Russian side. So at around 4pm I continued on E117 to find food and shelter for the night and some Russian Rouble (or Ruble) to pay for my stay in Russia. I stopped at the first available cash machine (with the Visa sign) and managed to withdraw some local currency. Progress.
By dusk, I was still on the road and there were no hotels or campsite and I began to worry. I was tired and very hungry, I stopped in a small town near Vladikavkaz, somewhere on the E117 (it is a long road) where there were many roadside Cafes. I thought this would be a safe place to stop for a break and may be ask the locals where is the nearest hotel (which can be challenging when I didn’t speak any Russian).
Having been fed and watered and made an attempt to ask for the nearest hotel using my universal sign language. Not many tourists come to this part of the world and all I got was a head shake from the cafe owner. I looked at the map on my SatNav and the next town was hours away. Without panicking, I enquired the cafe owner where I could sleep for the night and she kindly pointed at my vehicle and then the side of the cafe. I guess it would be safe because the road was quite busy.
I slept in the car that night because I did not feels safe enough to sleep in my tent on the roofrack. After a long cold night, I emerged from my car feeling cold and with a slight backache. I had slept across the two front seats with the gear stick and handbrake sticking on my back all night, very uncomfortable. I headed next door to the cafe for some breakfast. I ate what the locals ate and washed it down with a pot of tea. I gave the lady cafe owner a present from my car to thank her for her hospitality before continuing my journey. She was very happy and gave me a big smile.
I can make out tea, coffee and kebab from the cafe sign in the photograph. That was the limit of my knowledge of the Russian language.
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