21 August 2012

Russia: Southern Belle (Astrakhan, Volgograd, Shakhty)

It has been 1 week since I departed Almaty.  It definitely seems much longer; since I have traveled about 4100km.  I must admit that I do not like having to travel every day.  At least for this many days and kilometers in a row.  I am looking forward to being able to rest a bit once I get into Kiev and beyond.
Early morning fishing in Astrakhan...oh, and getting a tan.

It has been amazing to see how the landscape changes from the mountains of Southern Kazkahstan, to the desert steppe, to the desert tumbleweeds, to the rolling green hills of Southern Russia.  It provides me plenty to think about like why are the roads so horrible in Kazakhstan and not in Russia?  I do keep myself entertained by listening to my ipod (on shuffle), however this does not take away from all my random thoughts.    
The desert steppe of Kazkahstan
The rolling hills of Southern Russia
For a second, I felt that I was in Germany seeing these rolling hills.  It has been nice to feel the change and not only see it.  I remember just a few days ago I was laying in the desert sand in 44 degree weather and yesterday I was in a flash rain storm that soaked me making me a bit cold.  Fortunately, the Russian roads have been great, even if the drivers are a bit on the crazy side.  They seem to think that because I am a motorcycle, I don't need the whole lane and oncoming traffic can use my lane to pass slower vehicles.
One of the most famous things in Volgograd, the statue of Mother Russia
Just like every good show, the time to move on has come.  I will be heading to Ukraine next then will continue to press onward until I arrive into Amsterdam.  Russia has treated me well over the past few days.  Next time I will do a better job at researching hotels before I hit the road.  Maybe then I will not be subject of paying higher rates.  At least I was able to find my way...haha!
Downtown Skakhty. It was actually buzzing on a Monday night (although one cannot tell from this pic)
Shakhty: every Russian town has a WWII statue in their main park

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