Day 11 - Nizhiny Novgorod to Kazan...
So good was the food in "Bez xob" restaurant the night before, we had breakfast there. John had fried quails eggs, which came on a small frying pan with an actual nest containing the broken shells as decoration on the side.
Nizhiny is a pretty city, but didn't hold any particularly unusual attractions to tempt us, so we pushed on out of there. The weather was sunny, it was a 7 hour drive to our next stop in Kazan, and we wanted to make it before nightfall.
I've attached a few uninspiring photos taken out of the window along the way. The roads were getting bumpier, and it was a regular thing to see shredded remains of truck tyres by the side of the road next to skid marks. As with previous days though, there were still sections of brand new smooth tarmac from time to time. So much roadbuilding is going on in this and the last 3 countries that we reckon that in 3 years time you'll be able to emulate this trip on a shopmobility scooter. In the same way, if we'd tried it 3 years before we'd
have needed a lunar buggy.
Police speed checkpoints were frequent, but oncoming traffic usually flashed a warning. John and I aren't worried about getting stopped again however, as Dave F seems to have the right technique.
The countryside was opening up now, with much less forest and more evidence of arable farming. We've all been admiring the many varieties of Lada out here. Back in our school days only a Skoda was a less fashionable car for your Dad to drive. Skoda have of course come on considerably after their sale to Volkswagen, but a Lada is a rare sight now on British roads, and are probably no longer imported. In fact Lada have continued producing many new models since that boxy Riva, and they are all on show in Russia. Our favourite is the rugged 4x4.
At one dusty roadside truckstop I was allowed to take a picture of one with a huge spoiler, alloys and a fat exhaust by its proud owner. None of this is to say that Russians are all driving cheap basic cars - 90% of those on the roads are exactly the same as anywhere in Europe - but rather that
we just like the Ladas.
We've also discovered that lots of people take being overtaken by a car with a GB sticker as an offence or a challenge. Either way it makes no difference when a car, van or hgv with trailer comes roaring back past you on the redline.
We passed 3000 trip miles at some point, and John as driver expanded the car's evolving name to 'Spi'. Some of us are glad that various avenues were closed off with that choice.
We got to Kazan just after dark. The hostel was clean but had no wifi as advertised (hence the delays to this and previous posts), but we put some laundry in to wash and wandered into the town centre for dinner. We wandered into a restaurant on the main shopping street, were the first waiter to greet us then practically pushed another waitress over to us to deal with those bothersome English instead. We liked the fact that the English menu translated buffalo chicken wings as "Bastard wing for beer".
There were few bars open other than a Coyote Ugly ripoff, complete with utterly bored bar dancers, so we had a few wheat
beers and called it a night.
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