Black Out

 July 7: Just when you’re almost convinced that your 5 star hotel could be in any major US city, you return from lunch ( and a city tour), to find that the electricity is out. So, OK, this could happen in the US, but here, there is no apology from the front desk (“we are so sorry, Madame, the electricity is out and you will have to take the stairs.”) and no emergency lighting in the stairwell. You grope up the stairs with one hand on the rail. Now, will your electronic door key work?  Yup, it does, however, fortunately you did carry a flashlight which is now essential to use the bathroom. (One of the travel things we did bring. Next time a cork screw as well). The room is still mostly cool for the morning AC. How long will that last? Mary and Jack, Clay and Blake had no AC last night in their rooms and this morning Jack and Mary moved into another room. Now this one doesn’t have AC. Welcome to Russia!

Seriously, we have really enjoyed our time in Russia.

Russian detour

The roads are still mostly lousy with rough surface but hotels and food are much better than China or Kazakhstan. The wealth here is evident. Shopping centers abound. 

Religion is thriving as well. This Russian Orthodox Church in Izhevsk (last stop) was just built within the last two years. I don’t know of any denomination in the US that could afford to put up an edifice like this. Now if they would just spend money on the roads. China gets first prize in road and bridge construction.

Last evening we had a surprise. Well, two surprises really. First, when we arrived, Clay and Blake and their 32 Ford were already here. They have had long days of driving and were stopped 12 times by traffic police from Astana to Kazan. If their car repairs and catch up weren’t enough, they were first responders to a fatal accident that happened about 100 feet ahead of them. The similarities between our trip and 1908 are getting spooky. There was a fatal accident then that was caused when the Italian car spooked a horse, overturned a cart and killed a child. That one ended up with the Italians spending a few days in jail until it was all sorted out. At least Clay and Blake did not go to jail.

What is this car?

Secondly, we met up with a Russian vintage car club! They had 4 Russian cars and a Model T.

 A big group of people came out to admire the cars and the head of this club invited us all to their restoration shop tomorrow on our way to Nizhny Novgorod. Not only will we see old Russian cars, but when they discovered our broken headlight, they assure us that they will locate a headlight for us and will install it! Then we won’t have to hold our breath each time we pass the Russian traffic police.  We still may get stopped, but not for an obvious violation.

Tatiana translates

The media interviewed us, me in particular. They followed us, filming the cars as we drove from our hotel to the square where we met the Russian car club. I was driving Stewball. They were really taken with a woman driving a vintage car. Lots of the questions were about how this affected me as a woman on this long trip. I admitted I shared the driving with Ed. I think they hadn’t spotted Mary and thought I was the only woman on the trip.  

Today we are in the Republic of Tatarstan. Kazan is made up mostly of Turkish Muslims, refered to as Tatars but with an ethnic makeup of the early Bulgars and not the Mongol Tatars who ruled the area in the 14th century. There are two languages and two cultures. Road signs are in both languages. We toured Kazan with its kremlin and Qol Sharif Mosque.

We had done this tour in 2009 when we were here on our train trip from Vladivostok to Moscow but it was a great day to walk around. We will see what the evening brings with no electricity. The lights are out throughout the neighborhood, which Mary and I discovered when we walked to the supermarket.  Ed is already about where we can have dinner!

So tomorrow we drive to Nizhny Novgorod with a stop at the restoration shop. It will be a long day, 249 miles of the Trans-Siberian highway. Pray for no more detours and only semi-rough roads-and of course a new headlight.


About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
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4 Responses to Black Out

  1. TBC says:

    Well, here in Hillsborough, we have electricity in spite of several severe thunderstorms. However, Embarq’s internet went out. It was soon restored, but when you’re running a business, it’s rather inconvenient. Not as much so as climbing several flights of stairs in unfamiliar territory in the dark.

    Good thing you brought flashlights and extra batteries!

    Good luck with Stewball’s new glass eye. What good luck and fun luck to run into the Russian club.


    TBC and Arnie

    • ejhowle23 says:

      Yo’re home? I thought you were still in Europe. I admit, I will be quite tired of hotel rooms after we finish this trip. Looking forward to eating at home too. Food is good in Russia, can’t complain, just tired of eating out. Tomorrow Moscow! Then just one more day of Russia. Sorry to see this part pass.

  2. jackie salitan says:

    Jan, I loved this entry because it tells me you are okay and still having an incredible trip. The background on your locations, languages, etc. is fantastic! More, more! I am in the land of the midnight sun with Erik now. No lights at your hotel? How about light 24/7? Enjoy!

  3. ejhowle23 says:

    jackie, I think you’ll enjoy the next one, but first dinner out in Moscow. I read on facebook that you were in Alaksa- a place we haven’t visited. On our to-do list. Hello to Eric too.

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