Day 45: Nizhny Novgorod to Moscow

Number of tie wraps: 29 (holding steady)

Countdown: 6231 miles down, 2354 to go

Quote of the day: “Where did they go?”

We woke up to a beautiful morning in Nizhny Novgorod, as you can see in the photo I took during a short walk before breakfast. The water in the picture is the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers, where the city was originally established as a fortress in 1221.


Views of Nizhny Novgorod

Views of Nizhny Novgorod (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

We left Nizhny about 9:15 in good weather and on good roads, but after about an hour, we encountered a rain that followed us all the way to the city of Vladimir, where we stopped for lunch.


Our rainy entry into Vladimir

Our rainy entry into Vladimir (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

No, Vladimir isn’t named for Vladimir Lenin or Vladimir Putin. Due to its age, the city’s history is a bit sketchy, but it appears to have been founded in the early 12th century and is named after Vladimir the Great, who converted to Christianity in 988 and is considered the “father” of Russian Orthodoxy.

Vladimir is home to several historic cathedrals, but at 1 p.m., we were more interested in lunch, and we discovered a magnificent restaurant named “Panorama” down an alleyway. The photo of the interior of the restaurant that I snapped really doesn’t do it justice; trust me, this was one of the nicest and tastiest restaurants we have visited on our trip.


Yes, there is a beautiful restaurant at the end of this alley!

Yes, there is a beautiful restaurant at the end of this alley! (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Inside the Panorama Restaurant in Vladimir

Inside the Panorama Restaurant in Vladimir (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

By the time we finished lunch around 3 p.m., the rain had stopped and we had high hopes for a smooth ride into Moscow with only about 100 miles remaining. But not long after leaving Vladimir, we ran into construction delays that continued on and off into Moscow. At one point, it took us about two hours to go 10 miles!

We finally crossed into the city a little after 9 p.m., took one of the traffic rings, and then exited on the highway towards our hotel. The hotel was on the left side of the highway, and all we had to do was take an exit, make a quick U-turn, and head back to the hotel.

However, as we headed toward the exit on the right, I turned around and realized I couldn’t see the Roadster through the back window of Leo’s Envoy. Instead, there was a truck behind us, which I assumed was blocking my view. I used the walkie-talkie to call the Roadster and said, “We’re moving to the right, we’re exiting to the right.” I didn’t hear a response, so I said it again as Leo drove onto the exit ramp. There was still no response, and as we moved onto the exit ramp, the truck blocking my view passed and I saw that the Roadster was no longer behind us.

We had no choice but to continue the exit, and then it took us several minutes to turn back around to search for both the Roadster and the hotel. I fumbled unsuccessfully with my cell phone to call Luke and I finally gave up and sent him a text message, “Where are you???”

To my relief, a few seconds later Luke responded, “I don’t know, a space building.”

By then, Natalia had found our hotel, so we stopped and I texted her phone number to Luke. By the time Luke called Natalia, he and John had found the couple in the picture below. They spoke English, and they guided the Roadster to our hotel. Once again, we have been saved by the kindness of strangers in Russia!


Our saviors for the day -- note that it's still light out at 10 pm

Our saviors for the day — note that it’s still light out at 10 pm (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

After a late dinner, I snapped this picture of a Moscow sunset from my room about midnight.


Moscow sunset about midnight

Moscow sunset about midnight (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

This morning, John and Natalia headed to Immigration in Moscow to try to sort out John’s visa while the rest of us relax. Tomorrow, we take a city tour and visit an aviation museum, which I hope will extinguish my aviation low-level light for a while.

Day 44: Kazan to Nizhny Novgorod

Number of tie wraps: 29 (holding steady)

Countdown: 5971 miles down, 2614 to go

Quote of the day: “I’m shocked that there is a jam on a federal road between two cities.” Natalia, our guide, after we had been at a dead stop for 30 minutes in a construction zone during our drive today.

The roads today were good overall, but it took us 8 hours to drive 240 miles, mostly due to construction delays on the M7 road between Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod. We had some nice views of the Volga River (called the Nile of Russia) on our way out of town. The photo below is looking to the north, but looking to the south, I saw the skyline of Kazan and it reminded me of the view of Washington DC from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River.

The Volga River

The Volga River (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Kazan is in the Tatarstan region of Russia, so for dinner last night, I tired a traditional Tatar dish, a delicious appetizer that was similar to a potato pancake. We also viewed a gorgeous sunset from our dinner table.

Sunset last night in Kazan

Sunset last night in Kazan (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

This morning, we set out at 9 a.m. for a Kazan city tour. First, we headed to the Kazan Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we saw a mosque that was rebuilt in 2005 — the original mosque had been destroyed during the Soviet era.

Kul Sharif Mosque at Kazan Kremlin

Kul Sharif Mosque at Kazan Kremlin (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

We also saw this leaning tower in the Kremlin — Syuyumbike Tower. it’s not as famous as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but it leans almost as much.

Leaning Syuyumbike Tower of Kazan

Leaning Syuyumbike Tower of Kazan (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Since kremlin means fortress, you might expect that it would provide a nice view of the city, and it didn’t disappoint. I hope the panorama from my iPhone does it some justice.

Panoramic view of Kazan from the Kremlin

Panoramic view of Kazan from the Kremlin (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

At one time, Kazan was divided into a Tatar section and a Russian section, but these days Russians and Tatars mix freely. The house below is in the old Tatar section and is typical of Tatar architecture — notice that the whole house is painted, not just the shutters like many traditional Russian houses.

Traditional Tatar architecture

Traditional Tatar architecture (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

After driving the last two hours this evening through rain, we arrived at our hotel in Nizhny Novgorod about 9:15 p.m., where we were greeted by the hotel kitty cat.

Azimut Hotel kitty

Azimut Hotel kitty (Eileen Bjorkman photo)


The hotel is located at the top of a hill overlooking the city, and if the weather is good tomorrow morning, we should have some nice Nizhny views before we leave for Moscow, about a 418 km drive. One last thing — there won’t be any new Roadster shocks waiting for us when we arrive in Moscow tomorrow — the latest plan failed as well. With the better roads we have now, replacing the shocks isn’t as important as it was, but Luke still has some ideas, so stay tuned!