The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saint Petersburg, Russia

After a long vacation from motorcycle travel, I have decided to ride across Russia, going from Saint Petersburg in the far west to Vladivostok in the far east. It is a long way; about the same as riding from New York City to San Francisco and then turning around and riding back again.

I am riding with Djin Sital who spends half the year in Suriname, South America, and the other half in Holland. Suriame is, or was, a Dutch colony, and so Djin is both Dutch and Surinamese.

Djin and I met up at my daughter, Jessica's, house in Holland and started our trip from there early in the morning. We rode the autobahn through Germany and got to Berlin in the afternoon after a long and tiring ride.

Djin and I had both been to Berlin before, so we did not spend a lot of time there. I didn't even take many pictures, but here is one of Checkpoint Charlie. Remember that place? World War III came close to starting there, even closer than it did during the Cuban missle crisis.

I also decided to take a picture of part of the Berlin Wall still left standing. I took the picture only because I wanted to remember how the wall was rounded on top. The reason it was rounded was because, had it been topped with barbed wire a person might be able to grab on and swing over. That was an impossible thing to do with the rounded top. The escapee couldn't get a grip.

Leaving Berlin, we rode up through Poland. We both wanted to get off the autobahn and take smaller back roads. Along the way we passed huge fields of golden Rapeseed Oil plants (called Canola -- for Canadian Oil) in North America. The fields made the air heavy and floral so that it smelled like a funeral parlor.

The road we chose was twisting and narrow. Sometimes we were wishing we had stuck to the autobahns so that we could make faster time. Rounding one bend, we came upon a wreck. It had just happened. We were the first on the scene. There was a man trapped in the small car, and his baby in a car seat in the front seat. Both were alive, and the baby was hurt and crying. We got him out of the car first because everyone was afraid of a fire. A lot of fire extinguishers were produced by the peopl who stopped to help. The baby had a huge gaping hole in its head and was covered with blood. Of course, neither of us could speak of word of Polish and felt totally inadequate at trying to help. The women who showed up at the scene immediately tried to help the baby, while the men worked at trying to get the trappd man out of the car. We left just as the energency fire trucks arrived, 20 minutes later. I don't know what finally happened, but we drove much more cautiously for a while after that.

Finally, after a long couple of days riding up through Lithuania and Latvia, we got to the Russian border. Three hours later, after going to about 5 checkpoints, we were in. After a night in a nice hotel hear the border, we got to Saint Petersburg the next day.  Now we are in a hostel and going out each day to explore the city.  Today, I went to the huge Saint Peter and Saint Paul fortress where Saint Petersburg (and some say Russia itself) began.

They fired a huge canon from the rooftop just as I arrived. I wonder if it was to announce to everyone that I was finally there. Nah. Probably not.

The fortress is huge, and one of the best things in it is the beautiful church.

The church is beautiful inside.

All the Tzars are buried here, every one of them starting with the first, Peter the Great, down to the last, Nicholas II who as executed, along with his family and most of his servats, by the Bolsheveks. All those people, family and servats alike, are buried in a common grave in the church.

After spending a long afternoon at the Saint Peter and Saint Paul fortress, I walked across a bridge to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.  It was really pretty from the outside; very different than I was used to seeing.

Inside, however, it wasn't much.

Djin and I are here for two more days. That might be too long. Tomorrow we are going to take a bus tour of the city just to get our bearings a little better. After that I am going to the famous Hermitage Museum.

More about that later,

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