Vonderful Volgograd 14 June 2018
Story by Allana Goldsworthy
Images – Allana Goldsworthy, Azar Farahmand, Hugo Penasco, Bayne Morison and Dennis Grothues.
2. If you have need to use a taxi – and I would urge you NOT to – as we have had consistently bad experiences with surly unhelpful drivers (hmmm, now I stop to think about it – very reminiscent of Melbourne!) – you may find yourself lucky – and if they don’t actually stub it out or chuck it out the window – they may hold their hand holding the offensive object out of the window – returning it inside the cab just to suck another lung-full in before poking it outside again.
3. Russia has not discovered recycling. Nowhere have we come across any attempt of the separation of rubbish. Rubbish is put out on the streets in big black garbage bags for the dogs to ferret through overnight. Our lunch this day en route to Volgograd was on the banks of what should have been a lovely lake – but we were surrounded by piles of rubbish – there were no bins at all in this obviously frequently used picnic stop.
4. Contrary to our expectations – we have found the locals (taxi drivers excepted!) to be friendly, anxious to help – fascinated with our trip, our bikes and the distances we have travelled to visit Russia.
5. The food in Russia has been fantastic. Tonight – for example- in the small family run hotel we are staying in- we have eaten food that has been the equivalent of any good restaurant we have visited in Australia, This afternoon -we were introduced to an alcoholic elixir which Paul has identified as Scrumpy – a sort of mead honey cider drink which I have fast developed a liking for.
6. The traffic – which we had been warned about – has been manageable – taking our usual precautions – and we do use as our standard measure – “How Does it Compare to Tanzania” – so looking much better than there so far. Having said that – Russian roads are not very good. Many long kilometres on poor roads, two way – with huge lines of slow trucks and vans – no over taking lanes and drivers desperately ducking out to see if there is a clear run – and when there is such a thing – you find the inevitable police radar set up. Fair dinkum – they are spaced at about 15 -20 km intervals. Now we know how Putin is funding his military operations!
7. Our experience of Russia is very coloured by the World Cup taking place here for almost the whole time we have been in Russia! It is dominating the tv and there is a huge influx of foreign sports made tourists. It is bringing so much money into the economy – and as long as Russia keeps winning (2 matches so far) – the mood of the locals is buoyant.
We of course took so many photos of so many monuments – but perhaps the most memorable was one of a ring of children dancing around a crocodile- the Barmaley FountaIn (no longer a fountain) dating back to the 1930’s and it is a replica of the original. Famously, it appears in a photos juxtaposed against the background of the carnage of the Battle of Stalingrad – as shown above.