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From Russia around Europe

#1
So, let me start the story about my travel to Europe by car Toyota Corolla in October 2017.

Before setting off I read many reports of car tourists to understand what I should be ready for. Thanks to them! Especially I would like to highlight work of a traveler Mari Zaychik in Youtube channel #EUROTAZ. Then I made an approximate route of the trip and chose main landmarks that I would like to visit and hotels for having rest. After that, I gathered documents and to get a visa. In two weeks there was a visa in my international passport with validity up to December 2017.

To prepare my car for the trip I changed oil and filters for new ones.

I didn’t take a canister because there was a chance that it would smell in the car and take additional space. Reflective vest, spare lamps, medicine, wet napkin, thermos, sandwiches, and currency were not forgotten.
As a navigation system, I chose Yandex Navigator and Maps Me. As for the last one many people didn’t advise it to use as a navigator. Looking ahead, I want to say that Maps My brought me some problems on my way. For example, once it led me to wrong way from autobahn to a small town. I was leading me through the town and brought me back to Autobahn at the same place. After that, I became watch the navigator more attentive to ignore its mistakes. And on my way home I used Google Maps as a navigation system. This system I can recommend without hesitating, but you have to have internet connection on your device to create a route.


Departure was planned at 6 am on the 3rd of October, but preparing lasted longer than expected and I set off at 8 am when it was a rush hour. After driving in a traffic jam I left my city and my navigator led me to Moscow that waited for me in distance of 900 km. In the capital of Russia I planned a stop in “Moscow-City” area in order to take some pictures, but when I arrived it was dark time and I decided to travel Moscow on the Moscow Ring Road without stops.

I planned to stop to have a rest in a hotel “Burzhuj” of a town Mozhaisk and I came safely to that late at night after 1200 km driving from home.

Next morning after having a breakfast in the hotel I checked the level of oil and headed to the next destination. Next stop was planned in Minsk (Belarus) at the National Library. I didn’t notice the border between Russia and Belarus and just road signs told me about that. There were no any controls. I was enjoyed with surface quality and double lines of roads for every way in Belarus. Additionally, the speed limit was up to 120 km/h during the whole way.


In the afternoon I entered Minsk. And I faced a good surprise. The speed limit on my way in the city was up to 80 km/h. I spent not much time to achieve the National Library. I took some pictures and found a bank where I bought some Belarus rubles.


The strong cold wind didn’t let me walk much and I hurried up to achieve Brest before midnight. Driving through the main road of Minsk I was surprised with an architecture of the city. Along the long wide road, there were different bulky buildings on the left and right. And all these seemed endless.

I didn’t have any communication except for the radio. And there was no wi-fi connection in petrol stations. Only when I arrived at a hotel in Brest I could inform my relatives about my location.

I decided to enter Europe early morning in order to cross Poland without staying for having rest. Later I regretted it because there was a large queue and I spent 4 hours to cross the border. On my way home late night It took just an hour to leave Europe.

After 4 hours of crossing the border, I finally crossed the border. Hello, Europe! Russian tourists are here!


An unknown town in Poland...


This is Warsaw. A lot of traffic jam. It was rainy so I didn’t want to stop for a walk.


As soon as I crossed Warsaw I got on toll highway. Places to relax appeared regularly on my way.


As I spent much time crossing the border I didn’t have time to arrive the hotel in Frankfurt an der Oder I had planned to stay in. I had to stay the night at the gas station in Poland where I found wi-fi connection and canceled a German hotel reservation. After some hours of sleeping in the car, I was fed up with that and set off when it was still dark.

I didn’t almost notice the border when I crossed it between Poland and Germany. Only a sign “Deutschland” told me that I was already in Germany. Following my plan, I arrived in Furstenwalde to buy a sticker which permits driving in Green zones.


Because of bad weather, I decided not to enter Berlin and set my navigator straight to Marburg where my German relatives were waiting for me.

That is how German roads look like if you pull off the autobahn.


The small town Marburg


Even in such small town there are paid parking places almost everywhere


After meeting my relatives and relaxing during a couple of days, I started to plan the new journey to the next city in the nearby country. Paris is the furthest destination of my trip. I booked a camping near Paris and headed to visit Napoleon early morning after breakfast.

I saw nothing new on my way to Paris, just autobahns again and toll highways. I have to say that toll highways in France are more expensive then in Poland and fuel is expensive than in Germany.

Crossing the border between Germany and France is easy as well, but when I stopped at a gas station before the border to have a rest, German customs came to me and searched my car thoroughly. I remembered this for a long time. They were opening all bags in the car. They asked me thoroughly about route and destination of my journey. And of course, they didn’t forget to ask me if I have guns and drugs with me. Fortunately, I didn’t want to joke and didn’t say that I forgot it all home.

The road to Paris didn’t differ from the road in Germany. I just had to leave more money for toll highways.
Camping was a wagon on wheels and looked like a small flat inside, which had everything for living.

I entered Paris early morning when it was dark and there were no cars and people. Parking places were still free.


Driving through Paris I remembered that I had to be on time in Dusseldorf Airport for flying to Italy.
Departure from Dusseldorf is at 2 pm and arrival to Iceland Sardinia is in 2,5 hours. Looking at the illuminator it seemed that we were coming to Iceland. There were many small black Islands everywhere in the water.


We were driving through the Island by rent car trying to find flamingo and met them not far from a beach when we didn't expect to meet them at all.


In many places, the nature of Sardinia looked like Africa that I saw just on TV.


10 days of enjoying landscapes and lying on beaches passed and it was time to go back to Germany. Our vacations were going to run out.


Having had a rest a couple of days I looked in the mirror and set off to home!


The journey back as always seems faster, but somehow it took one day more. I came to the border between Poland and Belarus at 10 pm. There was just one car in the queue.

Having passed the border and having appeared in Belarus I had a feeling that I was at last at home. Everything was written in Russian and people looked and spoke like Russian. I stayed in the same hotel I had stayed before in Brest. Owner of the house didn’t recognize me after three weeks of my traveling.
The next day I quickly crossed Belarus and entered Russia. This time there was a border guard who asked to give him a passport. The stop took a few seconds.

During the whole way from Germany, an onboard computer showed me temperature which was decreasing gradually from +15 to -3 degrees Celsius. And Russia met me and my car’s summer wheels with snow.


The overnight stop was in Mozhajsk in order that I would arrive at Moscow in the daytime. And so it was.
That is the picture I planned to make.


The vacation is going to finish so not having spent much time in Moscow I headed to Nizhny Novgorod for the overnight and sightseeing. That was the most difficult part of my trip. I learned what Moscow traffic jams on Friday are.


Nizhny Novgorod was seen and the last journey home was started. This part of travel wasn’t easy as well because it was dark after not much time and the road was dirty. The water in my car that is needed for washing a windshield frozen and I had to buy a bottle of bad quality non-freezing washer fluid at a petrol station.

Hi Ulyanovsk! I haven’t seen you for four weeks...

As I don’t like to pollute the environment I organized a trashcan on a passenger mat.

Finally, I got home. I was tired but happy.
To sum up I would like to give some details:
- Distance – 8,000 km;
- Average fuel consumption – 6,5 liters;
- Car malfunction – vibration over 120 km/h because of bad wheel balance;
- Police stops – 0;
- Fines – 0 (Surprised)
- Car wash – 0.

That’s it! :D
 
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Pauline

Forums Admin
#2
Interesting report. In 1987 we drove a Toyota Corolla across the United States, spending 2 months going from the West Coast to the East Coast, where we lived for 6 months and then drove back a different route again spending a few months. It was a great little car. Back then we could drive all day on $10 of gas.
 
#3
Cool report!
I'm not such a comfortable road traveler, but getting a balance between fast autobahns / autostrade etc. and smaller roads can make a difference. A good choice of car I reckon, I recall an older Corolla that was very easy on long distances (though nothing like 8,000km!).

Yes the tolls add up in France, but at least they take maintenance and cleaning seriously, even if that involves litter pickers doing their work whilst people drive past at 100-150km/hr. Brave people.

Regards
Ian
 

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