Rally Day 5: Volgograd - Saratov

Trip Start Jul 09, 2013
Trip End Aug 29, 2013

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Flag of Russia  , Volgogradskaya oblast,
Saturday, July 20, 2013

Today we got left our hotel around 9 after a brief scare with a misplaced passport and headed for a supposed DHL office. We ended up not being able to find it but it gave us an excuse to drive around Volgograd a little more and see the city. Next was a trip to the Stalingrad war memorial which has a gigantic statue of a woman with a sword and a building with a flame and what we thought were names of units that fought in the battle on the walls. The statue was very impressive at supposedly three times the height of the Statue of Liberty. The sword and aggressive stance are in sharp contrast with the Statue of Liberty. After our stop at the memorial we headed out for Saratov.
Our time on the road has been a mix of long discussions solving the worlds problems, a few books on tape and lots or music. Thankfully the younger crowd all has similar music taste and Craig and Steve have endured. After three days of about 1-1.5 meals per day we decided that we should make regular meals more of a priority, although the 20 pound average weight loss by Mongol rallyers couldn't hurt a few of us. Today we stopped at a roadside cafe and had our first Pirogi and Russian crepes. Not bad on both counts.

We've decided on the Russian route from Volgograd to Novasabirsk which gives us a little more flexibility in terms of distances we have to travel each day. Hopefully we can find some fun things to do along the way in the Ural mountains with the extra time. We all wish we could do the original route through the Stans because that's where some of the most interesting things are. But, eliminating out about ten border crossings and a lot of miles takes a lot of stress off everyone and will make it easier to enjoy things along the way without feeling rushed.

So far Russia has had good roads and a very mixed bag in terms of the people we've interacted with. Some have been very happy to talk to us and try hard to communicate while others (like the girl I asked for blankets tonight at the hotel (in Russian!)) get mad and walk away brushing you off with a gesture and talking in Russian about how we don't speak any Russian. Without Kurt's limited Russian we'd be toast.

Tomorrow will be a game time decision as to our destination. Either Samara at 400 km away or maybe pushing through to Ufa at 800 km.
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