Kursk to Saratov

The Hotel Diana in Kursk provided a convenient overnight stay with secure parking. However, the hotel declined to register our stay, as required of hoteliers. They claimed that they were not required to provide this service unless we stayed there for three nights, which is not the case. The law says that we must get a hotel to register us within seven working days of our arrival in Russia.

The only photo that I took of Kursk
The only photo that I took of Kursk

We set off late on Easter Sunday morning, about 11.00am, as we’d been hoping to get the registration sorted out. We then set off on the first leg of a two-day drive to Saratov.

On entering Russia, I had switched over from my Garmin Nuvi to my Garmin Monterra. The Nuvi’s mapping only extends to Ukraine. I have downloaded Open Source Mapping (OSM) onto the Monterra for Russia, Mongolia and the Stans. Saturday was my first time navigating with the Monterra and I was pleasantly surprised at how effective it was with turn-by-turn directions – very similar to the Nuvi. On Sunday, however, we discovered once of the weaknesses for the Monterra and OSM combination – routing. We set Saratov as a destination and during the journey, we realized it was taking us off our expected route. It also suggested (at 3.00pm) that if we continued driving, we wouldn’t get to Saratov until 7.00am the next day. By zooming out, we realized that the Monterra was trying to take us on an extremely roundabout route. Long distance routing is clearly problematic. We have therefore started referring to the paper map and then setting destinations that are fairly close along the route. As we reach each interim destination, we set another, further along the route. This ensures that the Monterra doesn’t take us on a roundabout route.

About 6.00pm (after seven hours of driving), we decided to find a wild-camping location for the night. That would give us two hours before sunset to set up the tent, cook dinner and clean the dishes. We found a little spot a couple of hundred metres off the highway, hidden from passing traffic. This was only our second night of camping for the trip and the first wild-camp.

Our wild-camping spot between Kursk and Saratov
Our wild-camping spot between Kursk and Saratov

 

Klaus gets to grips with the Ghillie kettle to boil the dish washing water
Klaus gets to grips with the Ghillie kettle to boil the dish washing water
The first camp cooking of the trip - pasta with chicken and tomato sauce
The first camp cooking of the trip – pasta with chicken and tomato sauce

We were up at 6.00am Monday morning and on the road by 7.00am. We reached Saratov by 1.00pm (six hours of driving) but it took a while longer to find the hotel that we’d booked. The OSM maps don’t have all of the hotels listed or even some of the street names. Eventually, we were able to get online and find the GPS coordinates. Once they were plugged into the Monterra, we were able to drive directly to the hotel. From now on, we will be obtaining coordinates of any hotel, before we depart on the journey!

Our current hotel has told us that they will register our stay. We expect to receive the documentation this evening – all being well!

Saratov is an incredibly dusty city. Everything is covered in dust. Nothing attractive about it at all! We depart tomorrow for Samara – another 300 mile drive.

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