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World Tour 2008 - Week 06 Chapter : 16 Jun ~ 22 Jun 2008




It's Week 06 of the World Tour, and our long ride across Siberia and Russia comes to an end.  We begin in Ufa, then make our way through Samara, Saratov, Volgograd, , Rostov-na-Donu, and finally reach the Black Sea resort town of Anapa.  Along the way, we cross the Eurasian Continental Divide, and trade the bleakness of rural Russia for the (normally) sun-drenched sands of the Russian Riviera.


Come Ride the World with Us!



Best Regards,


Mike M. Paull - Guide



Day 36 - 16 JUN 2008 - Samara, Russia - Dan Townsley



Crossing Siberia has been interesting from a couple of perspectives for me.  I had visions of a bleak countryside that no one lived in and roads that were, well not really roads at all.  What I found was a country so beautiful that I do want to return.  Rolling hills of forest mixed with cleared farmland.  Small villages that have the same simple home construction yet there seemed to be something personal about each one of them.  The living here is not easy for most of the people and one can see the need to be self sufficient in many regards.


The other aspect that got my attention was a comment by several of the Tour members.  We rarely saw – if ever – any four legged wildlife.  That is quite understandable since the extent of the forests is mind numbing.  Lots of habitat to hide in.  What confirmed for me that this wasn’t a country devoid of critters was the ever present birds of prey – large and small.  Hawks and Falcons were visible on any given day with the occasional Eagle just to make my day.  Unfortunately it is hard to photograph these birds under the best of conditions and impossible from the saddle of a motorcycle.


The Russian people are very proud of their historical battles against Germans in World War II.  The Mother Motherland memorial in Volgograd was constructed for just that reason.  It is a very well done memorial to a peoples determination in the face of superior technology and tactics. 


I want to come back to Russia and next time I will have a better knowledge of what I am actually seeing.








Day 37 - 17 Jun 2008 - Saratov, Russia - Mike M. Paull

Somewhere Along the Russian Trans-National Highway,


Even though Siberia is technically behind us, that huge expanse of land is only a part of Russia.  As we motor along, we're still largely surrounded by nothing man-made,  The only human artifact in our field of view is The Road, and even this is slowly being reclaimed by Mother Nature.  Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to round a bend and come upon a tiny pocket of good-old capitalism, the steaming samovar of a road-side tea stand, which totally epitomized what it takes to get ahead here  in rural Russia.


I don't remember her name, but unlike many "service staff", she greeted us with a warm smile.  No sign, no cash register, no electricity, no running water.  She had: containers of water, pine cones to fire her polished samovar, a beehive to the side to sweeten the tea; bags of pine nuts, and an eclectic assortment of recycled plastic bottles filled with honey for sale.  Except for the tea itself, totally self-sufficient.  A steaming cuppa' tea, naturally sweetened, supplemented by a thrice-melted Snickers bar (probably purchased back in China) made for a great morning break time.



Kicking Back,




Day 39 - 19 JUN 2008 - Volgograd, Russia - Mike M. Paull

Clearly, the historical highlight of this week is our layover in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad).  The history here is one of warfare.  Originally established as a fortress to defend Tsarist Russia against the Cossacks (who twice captured it nonetheless), there was heavy fighting here during the Russia Civil War. However, the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II (called the Great Patriotic War here) overshadows all.


From August 21, 1942 to February2, 1943, somewhere between 1.7 to 2.0 million soldiers were wounded, taken captive, or killed.  It's believed that over 40,000 civilians died as a result of the battle.  The photo below shows the extent of the destruction:




The fiercest battle was fought on Mamayev Kurgan, which overlooks the city.  There, a huge memorial complex has been created, topped by an 82 meter (279 feet )tall statue "The Motherland Calls", weighing 7,900 tons.  Beneath her is a rotunda, and within, a hand holds an eternal flame in honor of the unknown soldiers who died in battle here, considered by many historians to be the bloodiest in human history.


It's a somber, moving and fitting monument to all those who perished here.







Day 41 - 21 JUN 2008 - Anapa, The Black Sea, Russia - Mike M. Paull

What a difference a day's ride makes!  Our last stop in Russia is the first of several along the Black Sea, aka The Russian Riviera.  All it takes is water, a stretch of sand, and what can I say, life's a beach <g>.



Time for a tall cool one!



Images from the World Tour 2008




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