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Slideshow

Russia Trip Pictures (Page 1 of 2) from July 24 to 26 and August 06 to September 16, 2010

We spent six (6) weeks in Russia, covered endless kilometers and came home with thousands of pictures.  Due to Russia's incredible size, we have broken the country into two (2) sections.  Russia Pictures Page 1 of 2 covers Eastern Russia, our ride from Mongolia to Vladivostok, experiencing the Trans-Siberian Train Journey from Vladivostok to Moscow with a stop at Lake Baikal and a small glimpse of the Altai Mountain Range.  Russia Pictures Page 2 of 2 highlights Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi and our ride back to Germany.

To proceed to Russia Pictures Page 2 or read the Russia Journal.

Our Route through RUSSIA. Covered approx. 5,500km on the motorcycles, 10,000km on the Trans-Siberian Train & 3,400km in an Airplane.

July 24, 2010. Our first entry into Russia occurs approximately 100km north-east from Semey, Kazakhstan.

By the time we had crossed into Russia, the sun was setting and we found a wild camp spot in the trees.

July 25, 2010. We rode over 800kms. First heading north-east through Barnul & then south-east past Onguday. On our climb up the Chike-Taman Pass, we have to wait for some fallen rocks to be removed.

At km681 we turn off the main road and make our way to the Kur-Kechu Campsite & Cabins.

Camping is 300Rubles ($10.00). Too exhausted to cook or have a shower we sit in our folding chairs taking in the scenery and eating chips.

Our campsite is perched on a hill overlooking the river in the heart of the Russian side of the Altai Mountains.

July 26, 2010. We are only a couple of 100km from the Mongolian Border.

A perfect morning, as the fog starts to lift...

...there is no traffic.

In the distance we can see the Altai Mountain Range and its snow-capped peeks.

We take a break at this pretty spot.

We are only minutes away from the Russia/Mongolia Border Post. Please proceed to the Mongolia Photogallery to read more about that great adventure.

Aug. 06, 2010. After spending (11) days travelling through Mongolia, we re-enter Russia at the Sukbaatar-Naushki Border Post.

Approx. 50km south of Ulan-Ude we set up camp in the forest and Mike prepares a bite to eat.

Aug. 07, 2010. At Ulan-Ude we join up with the Trans-Siberian Highway, stretching now all across Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok. We head east to Chita.

Aug. 08, 2010. As the sun rises we take a stroll downtown Chita & visit the Cathedral.

Our first Russian Orthodox church with bright turquoise facades...

...and gilt onion domes.

As services are still held in this church no pictures are allowed inside.

We are just east of Chita. The sign indicates 2050km to Khabarovsk (only in Russian Cyrillic Alphabet). A fire truck stands watch...

...and we are having major problems with Mike's rear drive. Gear oil was starting to leak the previous day & got worse as the day proceeded.

The previous evening we had phoned BMW in Germany to determine if we could fix the leak. The only way to replace the seal is by bringing in the rear drive to a BMW shop and remove the adapter plate.

An inexpensive part, but a huge headache to install without a BMW shop. The adapter plate is a heat fit, meaning it is heated up to 140Degree Celsius to then be slipped onto the rear drive.

The only other option is a brand new complete rear drive (1200Euro). Thomas, the head mechanic at the BMW shop in Germany, explains to us in detail how to add the special Castrol 75W140 oil. The entire rear drive only holds 200ml.

Too much oil & the oil will start to foam & not enough & the gears will slowly grind away, either way fatal for the rear drive. Of course we are unable to find the right gear oil (all that is available on a Sunday is No Name 75W90 Semi-Synethic). To add the oil we use a syringe out of our First Aid Kit.

Adding the oil, requires the removal of the rear wheel, brakes and ABS sensor. Mike got pretty good at removing the wheel and installing it.

It is our lucky day (not). 243km from Chita & 1922km from Khabarovsk as indicated on the sign, a bolt from the luggage rack shears off.

The Jesse bag was resting entirely on the exhaust system. Tie-wraps to rescue.

All four (4) of our Jesse bags were now held on by tie-wraps & rope. We did make it back to Germany this way.

To us the portion from Chita east to the turn off of Skovoradino had the prettiest scenery & was the most remote section. Endless trees, rolling hills, rivers zig-zagging their way through the country.

We almost ran out of Benzin as there was a stretch of 350km without a Petrol Station on the main throughway. But this old Petrol Station came to our rescue.

We set up camp approx. 250km from Skovoradino. It is a nice spot in the middle of bear country.

As usual Mike prepares dinner for us.

Aug. 09, 2010. One of our longer days in the saddle. We end up somewhere north of Blagoveshchensk.

Setting up our tent in the rain we are inudated by 1000's of mosquitoes. All the black dots are mosquitoes.

Aug. 10, 2010.We pose for a picture at the huge Moscow to Vladivostok sign. A monumental sign to the road across Russia. We are not sure why exactly at this point along the route.

We stay the night in a hotel downtown Khabarovsk. The rear drive problem of course did not go away, but instead got worse.

Aug. 11, 2010. Just on the outskirts of Khabarovsk we yet again remove the rear wheel, brakes and ABS sensor. The outer seal is now leaking a fair amount.

We are still not able find the right gear oil and add the No Name product via our syringe.

In addition we noticed keeping the speed down to 90km/hr slowed down the leak of oil.

At this point we are only 770km from Vladivostok...

...would the rear drive make it?

We rode all day from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok. Late in the evening we arrive & this is our "YES WE MADE IT" picture.

We spent from Aug. 12 to 18, 2010 in Vladivostok. Our first task is to get the oil changed on the motorcycles.

Back in civilization. The Petrol Station is only a couple of 100m from our hotel & the owners lets us use their premises.

The gang at the Petrol Station takes Ruby into downtown to get the right Castrol 75W140 gear oil.

Our very helpful Petrol Station Employees pose with Mike...

...and clean our motorcycles for free.

As a good-bye gift we receive a small Vladivostok flag. There are great people everywhere.

Vladivostok was only founded in 1860 and the name means "to rule the east".

In 1872 it became a navel base due to its strategic location. We are at the Vladivostok Fortress Museum & Ruby points the Gun out to sea.

From 1958 to 1992 the city was closed to foreigners and even Russians. Only locals with a special permit were allowed access to the city.

Today its navel history is its main tourist attraction. Luckily the size of Telephones and technology has advanced.

The museum is great...

...filled with old Ex-Soviet war memorabilia. Like this flag.

Outside within the boundaries of the fortress are decommissioned (we hope) samples of sea mines...

...and old Torpedo Set-65. Self-guided electric torpedos. Range 15km & depth of 20 to 400m.

The sign indicated "The Missle Weapon Complex - Basalt. The Destination: For defeat of the large surface naves & transport of the enemy. Range 550km. Supersonic."

From the Vladivostok Fortress Museum, we wandered along Sportivnaya Harbor and Golden Horn Harbor. These air inflated plastic balls with children inside we saw in a few places.

The danger of this type of entrapment did not seem to be of anyones concern.

Across from Vladivostoks Main Train Station is a large statue of Lenin.

A view of the Golden Horn Harbour.

In the distance two (2) towers are the first signs of a new bridge that will span across the habour.

The Monument to the Fighters for Soviet Power in the Far East at the centre of Pl Bortsov Revolutsii.

Another pretty Orthodox Church.

This is the S-57 Submarine.

We climb through porthole doors...

... check out the periscope, which still works and gets you a good view of the harbour.

Through the next porthole we enter the bunkbeds...

...and storage area of the torpedos. The little kid in the left corner is as much interested in the working of them as is Mike.

Outside we spot our first Russian Wedding. Food and Champagne is served out of the back of the SUV.

Our hotel was located only a few hundred meters from the shore.

Bored we take a stroll down to the beach and found this not so pretty picture.

A sewer pipe runs into the sea. Heavy Pollution. There are actually people swimming and sun bathing on the beach.

This picture is taken on the southern Peninsula of Vladivostok.

With the motorcycles on their last legs we had re-evaluated our journey back to Germany. Lucky Tours, a travel agency in Vladivostok, was able to arrange transportation of the motorcycles on the train from Vladivostok to Moscow.

On Aug. 17, 2010 we drop of our motorcycles at this yard. The total cost was 13,000 Rubles ($433.00).

A Russian Contract was signed, last as-is pictures taken of the motorcycles. The duration of the shipment was estimated around 21 to 25 days to Moscow on the train.

This is the view of our hotel, the Acfes Seiyo hotel.

Our room. Not including breakfast the room was 3600 Rubles ($120.00)/night.

August is the hotest month in Vladivostok with temperatures in the mid to high 30Degree Celsius & 98% Humidity. Ruby tries to fit in with a new dress.

A small restaurant in walking distance of our hotel had the best Zharkoye.

Zharkoye, is a meat stewed in a clay pot with mushrooms,onions, potatoes and vegetables, covered in baked cheese.

With the motorcycles taken care of, we decide to take the famous Trans-Siberian Railway from Vladivostok to Moscow and onwards to St. Petersburg.

This is the beautiful Train Station in Vladivostok, where the epic journey starts. Elena, at Lucky Tours (http://www.luckytour.com/) & the rest of the staff was excellent. With no notice at all we had the next two (2) weeks fully booked.

The Russia Journal gives details to how much everything cost. On Aug. 18, 2010, we enter the main hall of the Vladivostok train station.

A marker indicates 9288km to Moscow.

We had always talked about one day doing this train journey across Russia. Sometimes it all works out to the best.

The route through Russia.

A view of all the train tracks at the Vladivostok Station.

No this is not our transportation. Surprisingly enough the entire 9288km of train track is electrified.

This is an unusal sight for us. Two (2) large new Backpacks and us sitting at a train station waiting for transportation.

This is Ruby's ticket for 20,319 Rubles ($677.33) for 1st Class/SV from Irkutsk to Moscow (3 1/2-days Continuous Train Journey). Thanks to the information provided in the Lonely Planet we were able to read the information on the ticket. Very important.

Aug. 19, 2010. We had left Vladivostok at 10:20pm the previous night & this was our first view in the daylight.

We are approx. 300km south of Khabarovsk.

The scenery outside is calming, fog is lifting from the fields and a train would pass once in a while.

An old water tower, no longer in use.

At most of the smaller train station's like this one we only stop for (5) minutes, which is not enough time to get off.

The train averages 60km/hr. From our carriage we once in a while get a glimpse of the front of the train.

As the train makes its way through eastern Siberia, we saw many small villages consisting of wooden houses with pretty window coverings.

Spare train wheels, just in case we should require them.

We cross many rivers.

A locomotive from the Ex-Soviet times, still in operation. Notice the star on the front.

By noon we arrive in Khabarovsk Main Train Station. This looks familiar as we had been here with the motorcycles.

One of the longest bridges we crossed with the train spans across the Amur River seen here. Again we had ridden across it with the motorcycles.

This Train Station reads Birobidzhan. We had our GPS plugged in for most of the journey to determine our location at all times.

Approx. (3) times a day the train stopped for 1/2 hour in a larger Station, which was just enough time to run to the Kiosk and line up with all the other lads from the train for some snacks.

Walking on the train tracks is a regular occurance in Russia.

In our compartment. Our routine over the next three (3) days is the same. We watch the scenery go by, check with the GPS where we are, eat a lot of snacks (junk food) & instant chicken or beef noodle soup.

No English was spoken on the train. Mike got pretty good at communicating with our Provodnita regarding the length of each stop.

Each carriage has a Provodnita, a lady who takes care of the day and night operation of the carriage...

...Ensuring the bathrooms (toilet and sink only, no showers) are clean, hot water for tea is available and provides fresh linen for the beds.

An example of a small Kiosk, where we would stock up on pop and snacks.

At each train stop locals also sell plenty of fresh vegetables, boiled eggs, bread and potatoes or meat filled pastries deep fried.

We often would pick up something fresh from the locals.

Over the next day we travel through Eastern Siberia.

Settlements would pop up around train stations.

The number one method of building houses is out of wood.

Some of these houses would be occupied year around...

... others would be called Dacha. Occupied only in the summer time.

Large yards almost always accompany settlements.

Pretty painted wooden window coverings, a very common sight in Eastern Russia.

Another train station...

...with another statue.

Once we turned inland from the Sea of Japan, the rain returned.

It is moments like this that we really appreciated being on the train, & not exposed to the elements on the motorcycle.

The next few pictures are samples of the scenery we past through.

There is a lot of water, trees...

...and the occassional ruins of an old church.

Love this picture. Neighbours socializing. This is how the old world used to communicate. Nowadays it is texting and e-mails.

On August 21, 2010, we had an half an hour stop during the day in Ulan-Ude.

From this point forward it would be new territory we had not yet covered.

Our 2nd Class/Kupe compartment on the journey from Vladivostok to Irkutsk. Us eating Chicken Noodle Soup.

Looking down the corridor of the carriage from our cabin.

We did not use the restaurant on the train, mainly because our compartment was not lockable and we did not want to leave it unattended. The restaurant prices were quite reasonable. Us on the computer.

Mid-afternoon on Aug. 21, 2010 we reached the south-eastern part of Lake Baikal.

The train tracks follow the lake for at least a couple of hours with great views.

Some locals camping. A nice spot.

Lake Baikal in its full glory.

After Kultuk we started to climb back into the mountains,...

...away from Lake Baikal to Irkutsk. We arrived in Irkutsk at 6:30pm & are driving to Listvyanka.

Aug. 22, 2010. The view from our hotel room window. We are staying at the Hotel Mayak in Listvyanka.

We had prearranged a (2) day tour through Irkutsk Baikal Travel (http://www.irkutsk-baikal.com/).

We take the ferry from the pier Barja to Port Baikal.

We have about an hour to wander around Port Baikal.

Check out the locals...

...local transportation. Maybe we miss our motorcycles just a little bit.

The train station in Port Baikal.

An old locomotive on display with the new one in the background.

At Port Baikal we mount the tourist train to journey along the famous Circumbaikal Railway, also called the "The golden buckle on the steel belt of Russia".

We stop along the way at all the historical sites.

This tunnel was built between 1902 & 1904.

In the beginning of the previous century the whole "golden buckle" linked the Great Siberian Way by added 260km between the stations Baikal and Mysovaya (today Babushkin).

This portion was officially completed in 1904. In 1956 the new reservoir of the Irkutsk hydroelectric station submerged the railway linking Irkutsk and Baikal.

Since then the western section, almost 100km long, from the mouth of the Kulthuchnaya River to Slyudyanka II has become a dead end.

An engineering feat, the train tracks wind their way along the steep and dangerous western portion of Lake Baikal.

Today tourists are able to once again take a tourist train from Port Baikal to Slyudyanka experiencing the magnificent views and many engineering wonders.

This 100km portion alone includes 40 tunnels, 16 galleries, 470 bridges (five per one kilometer), 200 different protecting walls, 5 passenger train stations.

The train departs at 11am and slowly chugs along the railway. It is an all day excursion, which was supposed to finish at 10:30pm in Irkutsk.

Mike dips his feet into Lake Baikal.

Anna, is our guide, for the next (2) days. A Language Grad Student, she speaks perfect English, which is real handy as all video and audio on the train is in Russian only.

We take an hour break at this beautiful spot.

There is ample opportunity to stretch your legs...

...and explore at leasure.

Hey who is this handsome couple.

Lake Baikal in its calm state.

Late afternoon, just before sun set we arrive in Slyudyanka.

The Slyudyanka Train Station, is the most famous architectural masterpiece along this route,...

...as it is covered with white and pink marble.

We arrived in Irkutsk at midnight and were transferred to our hotel Europe (pink hotel). Aug. 23, 2010, there is Ruby all ready to go with her Backpack (bloody heavy).

Today's excursion does not start until 11am, allowing us a modest sleep in.

En-route to Lake Baikal from Irkutsk we stop at the Taltsy Museum of Wooden Architecture and Ethnography.

It was founded in 1969 and is located on a 67-hectares parcel along the Istok Angara River.

Over 40 architectural heritage monuments and 8,000 exhibits of eastern Siberia culture and heritage can be found here.

We even were treated to some local entertainment (folk songs).

Each room would be decorated with traditional items.

A typical stove in the kitchen.

A fur coat made from wolf fur.

The school house.

The most impressive architectural structures in Taltsy are the still active Kazan Chapel (1679) and...

...the Savior's gate tower of the Ostrog (fort) of Ilimsk (1667).

Guns on display in the Savior's gate tower.

The traditional beautiful carved wooden window coverings.

A wooden church.

Permanent Russian yurts consisting of circular building constructed out of logs.

A pole that would be found in every settlement to tie up your horse.

The Istok Angara River.

It is an amazing collection of old Siberian wooden houses and structures.

Keeping with the schedule we continue onwards to Listvyanka and the Lake Baikal Museum.

A mountain of great information about Lake Baikal, displaying wildlife and different species only found in Lake Baikal.

To get a better view of the lake we take the gondola up Chersky mountain.

Anna and Ruby having fun.

A magnificent view greets us.

Here are some fast facts in regards to Lake Baikal's uniqueness. Lake Baikal is the largest (width ranging from 27 to 80km and length of 636km) and deepest (1637m) lake in the world,...

... accounting for 20% (23,000km3) of the worlds unfrozen fresh water supply. It is also over 25 million years old and 3500 species of animals and plants can be found, of which 2600 are endemic.

Our last stop of the day is the Saint Nicolas Church in the small village of Krestovka.

We are dropped off at the beautiful Irkutsk train station which is illuminated in the evening sun setting colors.

We wave a final good-bye and ...

...are welcomed by our Provodnita as we hop onto carriage #8.

This time we are 1st Class/SV, which is a two (2) berths compartment. The train carriage is from an ex-Soviet era.

Mike checking out the food situation at the Krasnoyarsk Train Station.

We spent 3 1/2-days (Aug. 24 to 25, 2010) straight on this train from Irkutsk to Moscow.

The Mariinsk Train Station.

We treat ourselves to some Russian Beer. During our third night on the train we cross the symbolic border between Asia and Europe near the city of Pervouralsk.

We slowly made our way through Western Siberia, the Urals and along the Volga Region. The Omsk Train Station.

Population and the train stops increase significantly as we get closer to Moscow.

We are able to take the occasional picture of a train station,...

...which are colorfully painted in a range of pastel colors like pink, baby blue and green.

At the train station with 10 or more minutes of stopping time ...

...the local vendors would walk along the platform selling anything from magazines, huge stuffed toy animals, cashmere shoulder blankets, smoked fresh fish and instant noodle soups.

Some older women would get on the train with a basket of goodies, like freshly boiled eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onions and you name it all sliced and ready to be used to make you the perfect sandwich.

Every couple of hours the door would suddenly opens without a knock (very common practice it seems in Russia) & this wonderful lady pushing a trolley loaded with an assortment of freshly cooked meals, chocolate, chips and of course lots of Beer and Vodka tries to sell us something.

During the first day we were very good at not buying anything, but her persistence and jolly/friendly Russian way finally wore us down.

As our carriage was much older then our previous one, the toilet in the washroom would dispose onto the tracks.

During train station stops in villages and towns, the washroom was most often locked by the Provodnita to avoid making a mess on the tracks at the station.

The restaurant was located a couple of carriages down.

We would get our hot water for the chicken noodle soups from this boiler, located on every carriage.

Overall the scenery did not change much.

Trees and more trees, little wooden houses or dachas (a country cottage or summer house) with large gardens, colorful window coverings, old women gossiping with the neighbors.

Our Trans-Siberian Train ride was coming to an end. We reached Moscow on Aug. 27, 2010 at 4:11am.

Our final stop the Yaroslavsky Vokzal Train Station in Moscow. Please proceed to Russia Picture Page 2 for a continuation of our Journey through Russia.

To proceed to Russia Pictures Page 2 or read the Russia Journal