10-Oct-2006 -- Story starts at 37N 137E
The plan after visiting the confluence N58 E56 near Perm was to go down the Kama River as well as the Volga all the way to Nizhniy Novgorod, as Madame de Bourboulon had done in 1862, but unfortunately the season was already over. The temperature wasn’t very high to cover those 1000 km by road but at least it didn’t rain.
Nizhniy-Novgorod where I arrived on September 28th was one of the finest cities I had seen so far with its Kremlin overlooking the Volga. This is also where Madame de Bourboulon stopped taking notes. Nevertheless, I know that from Nizhniy-Novgorod she went to Vladimir. From there she took a train to Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, northern Prussia and Belgium before reaching France where she ended her journey. I was now planning to follow the same railway line.
Moscow where I arrived the next day was better that I expected. I still had this image of a city with terrible road conditions and cars with dying engines along the sidewalk. Not at all, and in many ways the Russian capital could easily be compared with some western cities.
I left Moscow on October 3rd under the rain and arrive in Saint-Petersburg the next day still under the rain. The weather didn’t improve much during the three days I stayed in the former Russian capital and it rained on and off during the untiring day on October 7th on my way to Latvia. I got a puncture on that day but I was lucky it occurred just as I was passing near a small hamlet. Some local villagers helped me to fix it.
It was too late to cross the border and I did it the next day. It took me one hour and a half to clear customs. All the documents I had received entering Russia in the Far East didn’t seem to be the ones the officials where asking for. Entering Latvia was a relief regarding customs. They just checked my bike registration and stamped my passport.
Madame de Bourboulon couldn’t have taken the train to go from Saint-Petersburg to Warsaw. The line opened only in September 1862. But the line to Vilnius opened in March of the same year. This is where I headed on October 10th. And just before crossing the border into Lithuania, I took a small country road branching off from the main road at Viški and went looking for the confluence N56 E27. The day was much better than the ones I’ve had since Moscow and riding on that small road at a low speed was a pleasant feeling I haven’t had for a long time.
After reaching the village of Škeltova, I turned south for a couple of kilometers to a very small hamlet by the name of Šahmani. The confluence was near the last house and in the middle of a field less than 200 meters from the road. I didn’t bother to get off the motorbike and rode among the cows to reach the point.
Story continues at 55N 25E