Rise and Shine in Atyrau. Today is Russia day - our time in Central Asia will come to an end and we will be on our way to Europe pretty soon.
So far we made around 13000 km and today we gonna cross into infamous Russia. We heard lots of stories on how we should be careful of the corrupt police, no-go areas like Dagestan and Chechnya and we where wondering if the situation in Ukraine would have any effect on our route. But first of all we where curious about how Russia -"the enemy" really is.
The head of the bunch - Wladimir Putin- already made its influence on our small operation when he booked up all hotels yesterday.. But this turned out to be a blessing overall as otherwise we wouldnt have experienced the hospitality of Assad and his family. Maybe Russia would be a similar mixed bag with surprises.
We left Assads house in the morning and drove up to the Russian border - the 200 km trip was all good roads but got more and more rough the closer we got to the border. The bordercrossing itself was supersmooth. I was just surprised how small the crossing was - i expected something of chinas caliber with big concrete buildings and russian flags... Instead there where just a few sheds and friendly policemen.
Welcome to Russia! We shouted at each other and drove the last 60 km to Astrakhan - the first
big city in Russia, close to the caspian sea on the volga river delta.
The scenery was idyllic. Green meadows dotted with gas stations just interrupted by the occasional crazy russian driver.
At sundown we made it to Astrakhan and checked into a small hotel. Here we gonna stay for an extra day and relax a bit. We made over 2000 km the last six days and crossed two borders - i think we deserve a rest