Day 59 Barnaul

3 Aug

Day 59 Barnaul, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

A late start by recent standards then a long ride to Barnaul, on superb tarmac through incredibly vast wheat fields, cutting it fine for petrol as we have no Rubles yet. New Dave has arranged to meet someone, who shows us the way across the city to a hotel but filters with ease through the traffic without regard for our extra width, making it hard to keep up. The hotel is cheap but wierd. The city is also wierd, that strange mixture of Soviet austerity and extravagant western modernity. New BMWs next to old Ladas, new tower blocks next to old log cabins, relatively safe modern looking main streets next to "don’t go there" dingy housing blocks. Stunning stylishly dressed girls that wouldn’t look out of place in Paris next to drunken tramps fighting in the street. Standard for the stans, but not quite what i expected here, though my only experience of Russia was St Petersburg, and I suppose that’s a very long way away. Then it starts raining and we get soaked looking for somewhere to eat so retreat to the hotel restaurant instead. A pretty dismal day but we’re only here to get onto the road through the Altai mountains to Mongolia, and there are probably very few western tourists who will ever have reason to visit Barnaul.