Sunday, September 16, 2007

Last Post... back on Tuesday :-)

Allday storm...

"Adventure Workshop"

A tea plantation near Sochi, the most nothern in the world

"Tabletka" on the way to "Suchaja Balka" a Canyon near Sochi. I forgot the camera in the tabletka, so...

Tanja and Makita brought us honey! Thanks for this. This is the best reason do a travel to Sochi!
A ballon (the big bottle on the table) costs 1000 R = 30 Euro. It is honey from sweet chestnut, never found anywhere else something like this.

Just some other impressions of the last days.... At Day 22

Day 21: Sunset at the Camelia Beach in Sochi.

Day 20: Nastja an Danny are leaving Sochi... going back to St. Petersburg by train and the flying back to Berlin. Big Hello to them!!!

Day 20: Storm at the beach in Sochi Center.

Day 19: It will be a very sweet dellicious jam of Inshir!

Day 16: The traditional meeting place of elder men in Suhum. They are playing backgammon till late night and by the way diskussing, whats up in the town.

Day 16: Me on a teapot in Cemres flat in Suhum.

Day 15: The view to Suhum, main town from Abhazia.

Day 13: The sea. Until yesterday we had every day around 34^C air in the shadow and around 28^C Watertempreture. Now it is cooling down after two rainy nights, just 27^C, its a bit cold ;-)

Day 13: Karina with her doggie Akela, aka Crocodil...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

How to go to Abhazia, Day 15 - 17

On Day 15 Nastja, Danny and me met in Adler at the railway station to got together to Abhazia. Because Nastja was calling to the Minestry on day 14, they send at last the entrance paper per email to us. It was important for them to know, in which date we will pass the border. When we applied for this paper, we wrote just a time span. If you want get this paper, applie for it, like we did, and if you know the exact date call there again. Everybody there speaks Russian, even if they don't want. I was searching 2 h in the town for a shop whith ink cartriges for Mishas printer and then finaly I hold it in my hands!

We went by a Minibus to the river Psou, wich is the border between Russia and Abchazia. The bus drove quite near to the border, so it was not neccessary to rent a woman for the luggage :-). It was not allowed to take pictures at the border, but maybe Danny did and I can get the pictures later from him a nd post some. [ I sit right now in the flat on the bytcha-hill and write on Mishas computer. Valodja, Mishas father arrived yesterday evening. He was a bit drunken after a visiting a friend and is sleeping now (11:40, Day 19). Since he arrived, the telefone is ringing every 10 minutes and somebody is asking for him. I feel like a secretary. ]

At the russian side of the border, the police, like everytime, asks about our registration. We could explain, that we have no registration, because we are travelling all time around, and did not stay longer than 3 working-days at one place. This is right, but they wanted to see the tickets, which we had not with us. He took my passport and went away for 10 minutes, came back and I could pass (always the same). A lot of people are passing the border, the counters are crowded. There is a lot of trading between Russia and Abhazia, but the trades are brought just by feet over the border. There is the possibility to go with a car to Abhazia, but I saw a really long row of cars, and I think it lasts several hours to pass it. Maybe they need some extra papers for cars also. The people bring flour, sugar and so on on big trolleys. They pass the border a lot of times a day, and they are not really checked on the Abhazian border, they know each other.

Because there are no trains, no flights and no ships to Abhazia, I think it is the only way to supply the people (and by the way, the only way to go to Abhazia for a not russian European). The airport and the harbour are closed. Officialy there is one train a month from Suhum to Moscow, but for 100% sure, this tracks are not used by a train the last years! They are just really in a bad condition. In Suhum is a harbour. Sometimes a ship from Turkey is comming without permission to bring people and trades to Suhum. If the Georgians catch this ships, the trades are taken, the ship will be sold, and if you have an abhazian passport, you have to stay 2 month in a prison in Georgia, like it happened two weeks ago. Some old women are saying that the border will be closed for 200 days, when the olympiade goes on 2014 in Sochi. I don't know it is true or just some myth.After the russian pass control, we went over the river Psou. A woman was taking a bath, exactly in the no man's land. I think she was just crazy. For sure, the mines are brought away from this river, but I would never take a bath exactly on the border. On the abhazian side, they asked us about our entrance permission and they were really surprised that we had one. I think, not so much Germans passed this border like this this year. We had to go to an office, where some people where sitting and waiting for an answer from the abhazian minestry. We could not agree, which citizien they were, but for sure Asians.

Thanks to Nastja, that she called, so we had not to wait some hours like the others did. For Russians it is quite easy to go pass the border. A lot of tourists are going to Abhazia. There are several tourist attractions like the Monistary in Novie Afon and most deepest cave (or the second deepest, how knows) of the world, and the relly beautyfull lake Riza in the mountains near the Russian border. Tourist places in the mountains can be visited with guides without problems, but it is not recommended to go there on your own account, because the Georgians left al lot of mines after the war 92/93. Just right now a UN commando is around Suhum and searching for mines. Swimming in the sea is also very good, just somtimes avoid the places around the embouchures. It could happen, that a mine travelled with the ice from the mountains to the sea.

We took a bus to Suhum, because we had to visit the minestry to buy a visa (10 $ for 10 days), wich will be our exit paper (Russians don't need). A bus takes 3 h from the border to Suhum. When I went back I took a minibus and this is much faster, approx. 1 h 40 min., but they drive with a high speed on bad roads, hm, a big bus is anyway more save.

Cemre, Hayri and Jansel.

Cemre was our host in Suhum. Thanks a lot for it!!! Hayri is an author and wrote a book about the peoples from the Caucasus. Jansel is doing a intership at the Minestry of foreign affairs in Suhum. They are born in Turkey, but are descended from the Caucasian people, and now living in Abhazia and in Turkey. Their families were departed 150 years ago from the Russians to Turkey and now they want to build up a new abhazian state.

My exit visa, the best, nobody was interessted in it, when I went back to Russia...

A old hotel at the boardwalk, burned down in the war and next to it a very popular new one.

The view from Cemres flat

The philharmonie of Suhum

A eucalyptus-tree called in Russia "The tree without shame", because he looses every year his bark.

A good and traditional restaurant in Suhum.

The food has quite a good quality and tastes really fine. The beef is dryed over the fire and in the kettle is a souce made from beans. It is served with some white porridge made from flour, m'jam...

A ofen for lavash, a sort of flatbread.

The dough is sticked on the inner side of the stone, wich is hot and backed by this way.

The military sanatorium.

After buying a permit for 30 Rubels (which is the currency in Abhazia, it is to expensive to print own money), we went in a sanatorium guided by the russian millitary and for mebers of the military their realtives . It is a strange place, where, hidden by some camoflage, some satellite dish and tanks and some other military stuff stands in some lonley corners. People told us, that it is expensive like a sanatorium in Sochi, but here are not so much people and the beach is more beautifull. The Abhazian look with antipathy to this fenced in place. There are some discos, bars, sportplaces, beach-volleyball and so on.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Day 18

Tomorrow in the morning, I was visting the Russian Police. Someone stole my GPS, and I needed a paper for my insurance, that someone stole my GPs...I asked my friend Karina, if she could help me with it, because she is working as dog-handler at the russian police. Because I am still not registrated in Sochi, I am always afraid, that they will make me trouble about this, like everytime, when I leave Russia. But she just explained me where I have to go. I was a bit nervous. I went there and explained, what happened, and they told me to wait. So I waited. An old momen also asked for help, someone stole here passport. She is lifing in Sochi. We were waiting one hour, and nothing happened. The woman was asking several times and they told here just to wait, they cought a racketeer and after this our thing will be treatened.After 2 1/2 h I dropped in and explained exactly what happened. I is not so easy to explain all what a GPS is, with my poor Russia, where they stole it and so on. But they where ok and friendly. The GPS was stolen some days before, but I said that they stole it today at 8.00 in the morning, to avoid more stupid questions. The first what they asked, was, if it was really stolen today so early, because the gipsys do not work in this time. And then he called one and asked about a stolen GPS! (Just shit, they stole it in Abhasia, and I didn't go there to the police...) No GPS stolen. But after some discussions I got my paper. It is just in Cyrillic, because the police man could not write in latin letters, but I hope my insurance will understand it...

Day 13

Abkhazien, letzte Vorbereitungen
Und weil mir gerade danach ist, schreibe ich einfach mal auf deutsch. Sorry fuer alle, die das nicht lesen koennen, tja...
Heute hatte ich mal wieder Kontakt mit Abchasien. Ich habe natuerlich noch nichts von dem Ministerium fuer Irgendwas gehoert, aber Cemre, eine Frau aus Sukhumi, die quasi neben dem Ministerium wohnt, war heute dort und hat nachgefragt. Also eigentlich laeuft das so: Man bekommt eine "Eintrittserlaubnis" vom Ministerium nach dem man eine Email mit einem ausgefuellten Fragebogen, ein Bild von seinem Pass und ein Foto dort hin geschickt hat. Und zwar nach fuenf Arbeitstagen. Hm. Also, es ist jetzt wohl drei Wochen her, aber egal. Cemre schreibt mir, dass man einfach zur Grenze faehrt, die gleich nach Adler (der Ort heisst wirklich so, rein zufaellig) am Fluss Psou. Dort bequatscht man die russischen Grenzbeamten und sagt, dass man das Papier natuerlich schon beantragt hat und alles bereit liegt in Sukhumi (ich hoffe so). Zur Grenze kommt man nicht direkt, man kann relativ nah (1 km???, vielleicht mehr) mit einem Kleinbus ranfahren, den restlichen Weg muss man zu Fuss zuruecklegen. Autos sind nicht erlaubt, man darf nur zu Fuss ueber die Grenze. Cemre hat mir noch geschrieben, falls wir sehr viel Gepaeck haetten, koennten wir uns eine Frau fuer 100-200 Rubel (~3-6 Euro) mieten, die unser Gepaeck traegt. Na, werd ich natuerlich NICHT machen (Ich nehme nur wenig Gepaeck mit ;-). Bei den russischen Grenzbeamten soll man noch beachten, dass man nicht sagt, dass man bei einem Freund und nicht in einem Hotel uebernachtet, sondern sich kurzfristig ein Zimmer anmietet, weil das sonst zu einer laengeren Fragerunde fuehren koennte. Ich vermute, das hat was mit dem ewigen Spiel der notwendigen Registrierungen zu tun, keine Ahnung. Wenn man von den Russen durchgelassen wird, kann man ueber eine Bruecke den Fluss ueberqueren und dann das gleiche Spiel mit den abkhasischen Grenzbeamten durchfuehren. Dann wieder ein kleines Stueck zu Fuss und dann ist man auch schon in Abkhasien. Nach ca. 2 Std. Busfahrt, kommt man dann in Sukhumi an. Ich hoffe Cemre holt mich dann vom Markt ab, wie besprochen. Dann muss ich noch zum abkhasischen Aussenministerium und mir ein Visum fuer 10 oder 20 $ kaufen, mit dem darf ich dann wieder aus Abhazien raus. Natuerlich nur, wenn man sich schon vorher in Deutschland ein Mulitvisum fuer Russland besorgt hat, sonst hockt man in Abhazien fest. So what... man koennte vielleicht mit einer Faehre in die Tuerkei fahren (15 h).
Als ich die Mail mit der Beschreibung heute bekommen habe, habe ich echt erstmal gedacht, ich kriege die Krise und lasse das alles sein. Hab mich aber schon wieder erholt, was solls, wenn ich nicht ueber die Grenze kommen, habe ich Abhazien zumindest mal von weiten gesehen.

Sochi - Ju
Nachdem ich mich bei Karina einquartiert habe, bin ich zum Bytcha gefahren. Das ist ein am Berg gelegener Stadtteil von Sochi, der zumindest frueher nicht von Touristen frequentiert wurde, sondern einfach nur zum wohnen da war. Wenn man jetzt nachts nach draussen geht, ist man in den Strassen von ziemlich vielen besoffenen Touristen umgeben, die sich in privaten Quartieren einmieten. In der Waldstrasse wohnt Ju (Julia) zusammen mit ihrer Tochter Svetlana (Viele Gruesse an alle!!). Die beiden wollen nach Maikop (ca. 180 km nordoestlich von Sochi) umziehen, zum einen weil Mischa Ju's Partner dort bei der Organisation NABU arbeitet. Das ist ein sehr alter Naturschutzbund, der in Deutschland gegruendet wurde und in Maikop ein Naturschutzgebiet betreut (googelt mal selber). Zum anderen ist das Leben in Sochi nicht mehr so angenehm wie frueher. Die Strassen sind im Sommer von ca. 1.5 Million Touristen verstopft, die dementsprechend Muell hinterlassen und eben Nachts besoffen in den Strassen rumhaengen (natuerlich nicht alle, aber es reichen schon ein paar von denen, um die Nase davon ziemich bald voll zu haben). Die Stadt ist ziemlich teuer. Fuer ein kleines Haus in Maikop bezahlt man vielleicht 150.000 Rubel, in Sochi 150.000 $. Ich fahre ja oefter nach Sochi und es ist ziemlich krass zu sehen, was innerhalb des letzten Jahres an neuen Gebaeuden dazugekommen ist und was fuer riesen marmorverkleidete groesstenwahnsinne Teile das sind... Was mir immer wieder besonders auffaellt sind die wahnsinnigen Schlitten, die in der Stadt rumfahren. Da stehen Porsche Cayenne, neben was weis ich fuer ultra Mercedes Jeeps Sonderanfertigungen, von denen ich noch nicht mal irgendwas gehoert habe. Der Unterschied zwischen der normal arbeitenden Bevoelkerung und diesen Neureichen Russen ist so krass, so was kann man sich bei uns kaum vorstellen. Nur mal so zur Info, ein normaler Angestellter kann froh sein, wenn er ca. 300 Euro verdient (~ 10.000 Rubel). Der Flug den ich heute von Sochi zurueck nach St. Petersburg gebucht habe kostest 100 Euro (~ 3400 R).
Ich koennte natuerlich wieder zwei Tage mit dem Zug fahren (1500 Rubel ~ 45 Euro), aber mir ist die Zeit einfach zu schade.
Ein Brot: 10 R ~ 0,30 Euro
Ein Bier: 50 R ~ 1,50 Euro
Eintritt zum Wasser-Vergnuegungspark im Zentrum: 700 R ~ 20 Euro
Eine Fahrt (2 Runden, ca. 5 min) mit einem Cart: 300 R ~ 9 Euro
Miete fuer eine Wohnung in Maikop: 2000 - 3000 R ~ 60 - 90 Euro

Friday, August 31, 2007

Day 11

Just now I found an Internetcafe, where I can download my images to my harddisc and post them. I took me 1 h from the place where I stay to the center of the city. The bus was crowded with people, it was hot and stressful. I don't know, when I will go next time to the center. Hm, o.k. I have to buy a ticket soon, so I will come again.

The town changed a lot, since I was here last year. A lot of new shops and huge new buildings. The town covered with posters about the Olympic Games in 2014. And I found really one busstop, where the name was written in English ;-)

At the railway station the toilette and the information desk is labeled in English to, but the information does never speak English. Just normal.

So, see you sometimes...

Day 10


In the night we passed the borer between the cold north and the hot south of Russia. After the two nights my brain is slightliy damaged ;-) and despite is was not boring to go by train such a long time, I am glad that this trip is finished soon.

Before the train stops in a station the toillets are closed, becaus the excrements are just poured on the tracks. They call this "Sanitarnaja Zona". Because after Tuapse the track goes anlong the coast of the black sea quite close to the beach, all this way is such a zone, and we have to take care that we don't drink to much the next hours. This last 3 hours are the hardest anyway, the trains drives quite slowly and the sun is fireing down on us. No wind goes up, we can see the sea, 20 m away from us, but cannot leave the train, wich is besides to late...

Karina took me from the train and her friend Denis helped us to bring my baggage to Karina's Datscha. At the evenig we went to the sea, the water is SUPER!!

Day 9

RASAN (05:40) ... VORONESH ... ROSSOSH ... SHIRAVKA ... LICHAJA (23:02)

During the night we covered a distance of 500 km air-line. The air-line between Cerepovec to Sochi is about 2000 km.

Just woman work as conductors, wich is more like an attendant. By a nightly cigarette with a conductor I found out, that always three conductors are working for two wagons. They are at work for 8 hours and then can rest for 4 hours. After the 2-day trip to sochi they do the same way back to cerepovec and the have a free time of 3 days. It seems to me a hard work. They have to check the people, clean the wagon...

Day 8

CEREPOVEC (14:23) - Sheknha - Cebcara - Kipelovo - VOLOGDA - Grasovec - Ckalinu .... - JAROSLAVL ... ALEXANDROV (00:55) ...

Our way lasts around 48 h, and we have a lot of short stops along our route. All together this are 67 towns, and I try to go outside if the trains stops more than 5 minutes and the conductor allows us to leave the train.

The trains in Russia are very simple and equipped, but somehow ingenious in their elementariness (But don't ask a Russian citizyen about this, they say it is all just shit...)
In every wagon, which has place for 54 People is a Samovar, which procudes hot water for free. It looks like a real antiquity, but it works very fine. The Samovar is used to make black tea, which the people in Russia drink a lot, like coffee in Germany.

To the right and left side of a little table are beches, wich will our beds for the next days. Above us are also two sleeping places and in the "3rd floor" and under the sitting place is a lot of space for the baggage. Everybody gets fresh washed bedclothes, wich are really neccesary, because the mattresses are quite raunchy.

After the toilletes is an extra room for smokers, and this is the only critical point for me to annotate, the windows can not be opened in this little room....

Another Diary

Hi folks,

Until yesterday I was in company with Nastja and Danny. We reached Sochi, and now our ways are seperated. Danny coincidental writes a blog too. He is the second time in Russia and quite new to all things around him, wich are for me quite common and normal. He doesn't understand the Russian langugae and so it may be interessting for you what he writes in his diary. So feel free to read: "Russisches Tagebuch" by Danny Splinter

Monday, August 27, 2007

Day 5+6+7

I will comment this later..., or make your own comments ;-)

This is the datscha of Nastjas parents. We rested there from Friday afternoot until Sunday midday. The little house is the banja, the russian kind of sauna. There are four rooms and a veranda. The first room ist for resting and poke the ofen for the sauna. The second room is for changing the cloth, the third for washing after the sauna and the fourth the sauna itself. The procedure goes over some hours. Heat yourself, the wash, rest outside, heat again. A speciality is the steaming of the body with birch brushwood.

Preparations for Nikitas 14th birthday party. We were all time eating very nice food, wich Nikolaj Nikolajevich and Galja were preparating.
There was:
- perch, done over smoke
- a big knuckle of pork, with peppered with garlic
- chanterelles with fried potatoes
- four different cakes made from yeast dough, uppon poppy seed, sour cream, pizza and last but not least huckleberry
... in between drinking tea, eating jam, and selfmade gherkin with salt...

This is the so called Njevskie Prospekt through the wood. Just the way from the datscha to a huge river, called Mologa.

Pedal boat in front of the Mologa river. It is around 450 m wide, and flows very quiet in the summer. The water is quite clean. We drove over the river to the other side to take some chanterelles.

Nikolaj Nikolajevich is a real good musician. He studied music, but works now in Cerepovec, leading the social part of the very huge firm Sever-Stahl (Cever-Ctahl), which is the main employer of this region. 34.000 people are working in this really huge company.







This is the monastery of Kirillov, wich appriximately 80 km in the north of Cerepovec. Ivan, Nastja's brother was quite tired of driving us along the very bad roads.