Archive for May 27th, 2008

May 27 2008

Red tape in Rostov

Published by under World Tour 2008

After only 45 minutes, 3 forms, 6 control checkpoints and a quick look in one of my bags by a border guard, I enter Russia. It was easier than I had feared!
The next day I meet Olivier at the Alliance Francaise in Rostov. He’s left France in February and has spent 2 months cycling through the mountains in winter. I’ve had an easy trip so far compared to him! We are going to cycle together to Astrakhan, and both relieved to have found a partner to ride with in Russia. Everyone told us that cycle touring in Russia isn’t a good idea. We hope that in villages people will be more easy going than in a large city like Rostov. Our route will be a straight line from Rostov to Elista and Kazakhstan, trying to avoid the main roads as much as possible.

Today Olivier has a lot of shopping to do in Rostov. He had most of his equipment stolen (sleeping bag, tent, stove, clothes, …) when he was in an Internet cafe in Ukraine. His rear wheel is also split along the rim (Mavic 719, Mavic rims are known to have bad batches…). We spend a day looking for all the bike and camping shops in Rostov. We find a fantastic little bike shop called Samokat on Tekoutchiova Ulitsa. The shop is tiny and very hard to find (between the swimming pool and the stadium) but they have all the top of the range Shimano kit and even the extremely rare oil specific to my Rohloff hub! The prices are the same as in Western Europe though, Russia isn’t cheap! The staff is very helpful and Olivier find a great new wheel for 100 euros. They also gave us a T-shirt and a couple of beers when we leave!

We also found a great camping shop (Kemping-Don) that even stocks a Primus Omnifuel (the stove that everyone uses in the Himalayas) but it’s a bit more expensive than in Europe so Olivier decides to wait to get a replacement sent later. In the meantime we can use mine to cook for both of us.

I also tried to find a local SIM card with Internet access, and it seems that I need to have some sort of registration for 3 months in my passport to be able to buy a SIM card in Russia! I find a helpful shop that makes a few phone calls but the final answer is nyet. I’ll try again in other cities but I’m not very confident. The twitter updates aren’t working anymore either so in the coming days (weeks?) I won’t give as many updates as I did in Ukraine.

Our hotel (Starry Rostov) was also supposed to register our visas with the local police but we’re still not sure if they have actually done it. Wait & See

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