Rob en Dafne de Jong July 27, 2001 Ride-on... Russia and
"Dobre Djen (Russian). There are really only two big
things in this world," Rob said while the aged Russian cruise ship
'Antonya Nezhdanova' slowly moved away from the Japanese Port of Fushiki
to start her voyage towards Vladivostok in Russia. "First there are
the oceans." I look up. "And then there is Russia!"
On board we unexpectedly already plunge into the world
that is called Russia. Big white-skinned people with blond hair and light
eyes. Relations are very open and direct, very much unlike the way things
go in Japan. The ship is being loaded with used cars. All decks are full
and even on top of what was once the swimming pool cars are hanging on,
with the wheels reaching far over the edge but that's no problem: Put
a pile of tires underneath and strapped down they will also reach Russia.
The loading is supervised by Japanese who, according the rules is dressed
in quality overalls, sturdy gloves and a safety helmet. Sweat is rolling
down his forehead while he signs the crane driver to lift up the next
car. The Russians dealing with the loading grin. They wear sandals and
shorts. T-shirts taken off in the hot afternoon. The gangways are full
of mopeds, scooters and bicycles, piled up tires everywhere. In the toilets
washing machines, ovens and refrigerators. Our sidecar and the two motorcycles
of Lorenz and Patrick, the Austrians who are also going to Vladivostok,
are put on a nice spot on the deck. We plan to travel together the coming
Our sidecar is loaded onto the Nezhdanova
With thanks to Lorenz Kerer for the pics
The days of glory have long gone for this ship, but the
colors and smells, the monotonous sound of the old engines have a good
atmosphere and we enjoy the few days at sea to the fullest. The food on
board of the ship is good, at least for our taste, as we are treated to
"Borsht", typical Russian soup with a blob of mayonnaise in
it. The Russian bread is really yummy, heavy and whole wheat, like my
mother used to bake it. "Finally people who know how to make bread"
we say to each other.
Victor, the engineer on board of the Nezhdanova, invites
us to see the engine room. Two 8-cylinder 2-stroke diesels and two enormous
generators are working hard. Rob is thrilled as he used to work inside
engine-rooms of sea going vessels. At night we meet the rest of the passengers,
most of them car-dealers in the bar, dressed up to dance and sing to the
2 musicians who entertain the passengers during the crossing. There's
also a "ship-doctor", a real big blond Russian woman who, after
a couple of vodkas, declares her love to us and insists on dancing with
Rob and Lorenz. Fortunately not at the same time. The next day we find
out there are several ship-doctors on board.
Vladivostok's motorcycle-club the "Iron Tigers"
had sent two of their members to welcome us to the port. They provide
us with a place to sleep in their clubhouse and help us going around Vladivostok
while our motorcycles are kept in customs. What a great welcome. Vladivostok
itself is a pleasant city, built on several hills around a natural harbor.
It takes us 2 days to get our Yammie out of customs. One to cover the
problems of a national holiday "President day" the other to
cover the formalities. Although the Iron Tigers stay with us all the time
to be there if we need help, we found out that it is better to deal with
Customs yourself. Why? A translator can explain a problem and then it
will be your problem. No translator means no problems.
Vladivostok has a real rollercoaster
With thanks to Lorenz Kerer for pics