Destinations: Volgograd, Vladikavkaz, Stepantsminda
Distance Travelled: 1380 km
Recipes Collected: 2
Yannic and I woke up early to the sight of our driver making us tea in his cosy truck where we had slept for the night. We shared the tea and some biscuits and by 7am we were on our way!
Until we stopped for breakfast.
Then again for another tea.
And later again because the truck behind us broke down.
We sat there in the truck for an hour waiting for our driver to return, only to realise that we were within walking distance to a bus stop where we could catch a bus to Volgograd’s city center. So, after travelling together for 26 hours we decided that it was really time to leave our driver friend and get to our new hosts place.
Ia and Jina on the other hand were still having trouble getting to Volgograd and were forced to stay another night at the halfway point in Saratov, but the next day we were reunited once more! (Seems to be a familiar occurrence with these two.)
As an avid fan of socialist realist art, I was most excited at the prospect of marvelling at the largest statue in the style of its kind, “The Motherland Calls” which graces Volgograd’s skyline. Standing at 85m tall, the figure was certainly a sight to behold!
After we had strained our necks looking up at the statue for about an hour, we did a bit of shopping before heading to a new host’s place for another spontaneous (M)Eat Up event! A pan caught fire and nearly burnt part of the ceiling but otherwise it was a very relaxed and successful event. In addition to the German and Korean dishes that we always provide, we also got to try delicious Italian, Russian and Malaysian cuisine. We can’t wait to add the recipes for those dishes to our collection!
With just a few days remaining on our Russian visas, it was time to move towards Vladikavkaz, our final Russian destination.
Again, it was a long and exhausting hitchhiking leg but the generosity that we received from those living in the southern Russian federal subjects made everything so much more enjoyable. All of our drivers offered us hot meals, snacks, drinks (or in my case, a bottle of “Russian” vodka from Finland) with some of us even being driven, fed and looked after by the police! Of course a crazy driver, having to bribe a border control officer at a regional border to return Ia’s passport and a seriously uncomfortable nights sleep in a truck with 4 people were also included in the trip towards Vladikavkaz, but at this point in our hitchhiking journey these are all the kind of things that we have come to expect.
Eventually, we arrived at our host’s beautiful home and were welcomed by more tea, biscuits and homemade marmalade whilst our host’s mother baked mouthwatering Ossetian pies before our eyes. In time, we were also introduced to the rest of our host’s family and after a few laughs and some interesting conversations over dinner we all went to bed.
It’s been 3 weeks since we first arrived in St Petersburg to when we arrived at the southern border just outside of Vladikavkaz, but it was now time to say a sad goodbye to Russia once and for all (or at least until next time).
After passing through the border (surprisingly quickly) we were driving blissfully through Georgia’s side of the Caucasus mountains. We soon arrived at Stepantsminda, home of the famous Gergeti church, where we decided to camp for the night. With the help of some new traveller friends, we found an amazing campspot in a small forest where we had an incredible view of the stars and mountains.
Unfortunately for me however, not even our good company, yummy campfire cooked noodles or spectacular view helped to ease the extreme pain that had developed in the back of my throat throughout the day.
Needless to say, this is not how I wanted to kick off my first day in Georgia! I really hope I feel better in time for tomorrow for going up the mountain to see the church…