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Alternate title: "I cycled the M10 from St. Petersburg to Moscow and all I got was this splitting headache from exhaust fumes and hearing trucks pass me by literally 24 hours a day."

The road from St. P to Moscow has been....rough. For most of its length, it's a 2-lane highway - the pavement is reasonably good, but it's narrow. Highway 7 North of Toronto might be an apt comparison. However, the volume of truck traffic along the road is more akin to what you'd see on the 401.

Trucks, trucks, constantly with the trucks. The only thing more noticeable than the trucks themselves were the countless flowery memorials placed along the roadside to commemorate drivers who weren't fortunate enough to survive the M10 traverse. I'm glad to be off it.

One skinny highway between Russia's two biggest cities - it's a logistical nightmare. Yet it seems in Russia, as in North America, truck transport, despite how dangerous and inefficient it seems, is being encouraged and growing. They have trains here, don't they?

On a brighter note, we've connected with Sorouche and arrived at our base outside Moscow! Here, Toronto could use a serious lesson in public transport - a comfortable 1-hour train ride in from the distant suburbs costs a mere 2 dollars, and the world-class subway system, with over 100 stations, costs about 70 cents for a one-way trip.

Anyway, my point is that there is a better alternative to highways and driving everywhere - and in terms of public transit, we're really not doing very well at all in Canada.

(Check the galleries for pictures, finally!)



Well I think this will be my last post... soon we will be able to post under Team... since in a few minutes I will be meeting with Damien and Zack !

(I was going to write something about the last few days ... but I have to abort since I have to go meet them 🙂



We made it across!

The border crossing (which, as Damien has reminded me, was preceeded by an 8km lineup of trucks) was completely uneventful...a breeze, even.

We rode from Ivangorod, at the border, to St Petersburg in one afternoon. Made for a bit of a late arrival, but all's well.

The Russian countryside is interesting....the first little ways almost reminded me of Sudbury - very remote, wild, northern looking forests and fields - however every now and then, you'd catch a glimpse of a huge factory, crane, train station, or run-down bridge on the horizon.
As we approached St. Petersburg, conditions became more pastoral, with small towns farming towns every 10km or so. Lots of jars of berries, potatoes, and mushrooms for sale on the side of the highway.

The suburbs of St. Petersburg were actually sort of nice - old, elegant apartment buildings, all kind of run down and overgrown, but still lively - big parks, lots of traffic.
We descended a hill (from the top of which the Nazis supposedly directed the siege of Leningrad) into the city proper. Apparently all cities everywhere have a long, straight stretch of ugly highway, flanked by shopping malls and McDonalds (Here spelled out phonetically in Cyrillic).

The city itself is quite stunning - it actually seems to gleam in the sunlight. I've never seen anything like it. We must have arrived on some holiday - sitting in a downtown park, we saw no less than 7 separate wedding parties celebrating outdoors - horns, smashing champagne bottles, releasing doves, taking highly co-ordinated photographs - quite something.
A very stylish place. THe metro, which seems to be 500m underground, is lit with antique fixtures and chandeliers, and is suprisingly easy to navigate. It makes Toronto's look dirty and provincial.

One other notable is that it seems perfectly in order and normal to walk down the street or sit in the park and drink beer. Or stronger.

In any case, we leave for Moscow tomorrow morning, and should arrive within a week or so, at which point more updates will flow?