The Moscow „victory parade“ – a parade to celebrate the end of World War II, is not for everyone. The whole city center and streets through which the procession passes, are closed for the general public. Only a few VIP guests are invited to the Red square. They then watch the entire parade from a stand. The only possibility of seeing this parade is therefore somewhere outside the city center from a side street, overpass or underpass. Unfortunately we weren’t lucky to find such a place and so didn’t see it. In the afternoon the city center is finally opened – though only for pedestrians. And so for a few hours, the wide boulevards become giant pedestrian zones. Very interesting experience. Unfortunately, due to the pulling-down of the stands on the Red square the next day, the mausoleum of V.I.Lenin was closed. Let’s hope it will last until we visit Moscow again one day.

We leave Moscow and head towards St. Petersburg via the M10 – a journey 666km long. The “motorway” is full of pedestrian crossings, traffic lights and runs through many villages. One of the traffic lights even caused a 13km long traffic jam (an hour wait). There are so many trucks on the road that it looks rather like a queue at a border crossing. In terms of quality it is probably something like 8th class, shortly before reconstruction.

After almost two days of driving hell we finally arrive to St. Petersburg, where situation doesn’t get much better. Because of the numerous waterways and narrow streets, the majority of the city is just one long traffic jam. Getting out of the car and walking is far more enjoyable. The city reminds us of Venice. It has many amazing orthodox churches, a huge czarist fortress (with a beach lining the river, where you can play beach volleyball with the locals even at this time of the year), Winter palace and a Sun, which doesn’t set before midnight. The combination of a very nice weather with a relatively small number of tourists makes it one of the most memorable places we have seen on our journey so far.

The long polar day is very nice when you are in the city – yet the exact opposite is true for when you are camping in the nature. Finding a place to hide our car and tent becomes very difficult. Short night and the birds singing most of the time, make it very difficult to sleep, but we will have to deal with it for some time now. After today’s visit to the Hermitage museum we are heading beyond the polar cycle to visit the largest city northward – Murmansk. So keep your fingers crossed for a good weather!

P.S. Despite all the warnings we got regarding the corruption in Russia (and Ukrainian police) we haven’t come across any even slightest problems. The only two incidents (described in the previous post) were our own fault. Otherwise the police don’t seem to care about us and we continue without any fines and bribes.

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