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Photo by Michael Jordan, enjoying a meal at sunset, Zangskar Valley, India

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by Michael Jordan
enjoying a meal at sunset,
Zangskar Valley, India

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Old 13 Sep 2016
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We cross again the bridge, this time by bike, and we are in Europe: it's a particular feeling.
All the straight road today sounds in my mind as a long bye bye to Asia and to Kazakhstan, a greeting that is not a farewell, but a goodbye. I'll be back.
The camels that wander through the drills also seem to greet us when we pass and look at them as we did for days: it will be strange not to see their looks always a little funny and curious, as we proceed on our trip.

We arrive at the border and change the remained tenge, we quickly cross the Kazakh side and then we overtake the very long queue of cars to Russia.
Arrived at the head, the guard stops us and tells us that on the paper that they gave us at the first check there is a number, and that is the order of entry: we can still put there by side waiting. We are 118 and 120.
We get there peacefully, but I know I have an ace up its sleeve.
Two foreign bikes are always noticed and in a few minutes comes a graduated guy, who also speaks a bit of English.
"Can I see how you compiled the registration card, so I can help you if you did it wrong?" he says, and I understand that it's time to play my card: I'm careful to put Roberto's passport over the other's and I give it with a smile to the guy.
He opens it and reads the surname: "CELENTANO?!?"
Oh yes, Roby's surname is Celentano: the row and number are no longer important and it's our turn to go ...

Shortly after we are in Russia: the scenery here is green, we cross the Volga on the floating bridge and stop in Astrakhan, where the Russian bikers, as usual, greet with enthusiasm foreigners visiting their country ...

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Old 14 Sep 2016
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In the morning a short visit to Astrakhan, which is a beautiful city, with its Kremlin and along the Volga ..

Then we go up the river to get to Volgograd.
The road is long, straight and boring: occasionally some good views of the Volga river, but we don't stop even for a picture.

At the first service area we are approached by one of the gas station guys, he looks like Putin's poor cousin wearing gas station suits:
"Where are you from? Where do you come from? Where are you going? Do you speak Russian?"
"We are Italians, we come from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, and we go to Volgograd, we speak just a little bit of russian"
"No problem, I will talk!"
and he starts a quarter hour monologue I think I can summarize like this:
- He loves Italian music and he is very happy to be able to watch Sanremo Festival
- The countries from which we are coming from are crude, backward and inferior, and populated only by ignorant people with almond-shaped eyes (as he explains pulling on the sides eyes, mimicking the neighbors with Oriental features, who obviously he does not like so much)
- Gagarin was cool
Then he takes from my hand the bottle of iced tea, drinks a sip, returns it to me and greets us warmly.

Another stop: we get petrol and we are going to buy something to drink.
Roberto disappears for a moment and comes back: "guys run away, fast, fast!"
Since he does not like the holes and he likes to do it outdoors, he left his print behind the gas station, but only when he ralized he was 40 centimeters from the door of the lady, he understood that the choice of location was wrong.
Knowing well what it means to make furious a Russian petrol station lady, we follow him with gas wide open ...

We continue, takes some funny pictures with a cop, and then we reach the goal, or so it seems...from the first sign to the city center there are 40 km of traffic!

We're almost in the center and I have a strange feeling on the back: oh yes, it is my turn ..
We repaire the tube in not so much time and then we spend the following hours looking for a place: it's summer and many hotels are filled, others charge too much, and at the end we stop at a time when 24 hour shops can not sell more .
I go to bed in a bad mood.

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Old 14 Sep 2016
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We pass the station, theater a few years ago of a terrorist attack, and continue until the siege of Stalingrad museum.
Yes, because Volgograd is the old Stalingrad, the scene of a fierce battle during World War II.
Imbued with western stories, we often think that the history of the Second World War and the defeat of germany have changed with the invasion of Normandy (June 1944), when in fact, the first great real beating, the nazis took it right here, in this city (1942-1943), right here changed the history of the world.

After history and memory what better to do but to take the marshrutka 64, cross the bridge and go to the beach on the Volga?
Here I will say it: of all the trips I have done in my life, that someone likes to define adventure-travel, nothing has ever been so adventurous and dangerous as coming to a beach on the Volga: try to explain to Sabrina that all those shots I made only for scientific purpose, in order to show to friends back home what a show offers a beach on the Volga ...

as the sun begins to fall we go back the city center, but we do not miss a visit to the enormous statue of Mother Russia

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Old 18 Sep 2016
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Elista is a unique city, capital of Kalmykia, it is the only Buddhist enclaves in Europe: walking around, it seems to have been suddenly thrown to several km further east. Temples and monuments are at every corner, and the faces of the people betray unequivocally Asian origin.
Mongol origin, the Kalmyks arrived in this area several hundred years ago, then they decided to return to Asia. Some of them were unable to cross the Volga and the Ural rivers and remained in the area, where they lived without too much trouble until the Second World War. During the war, some sided with the germans, and the revenge of Stalin was the deportation of the entire people in Siberia. It was only in 1957 that Khrushchev allowed them to return, and today they inhabit this particular and unusual region.


We leave Elista and Kalmykia and head south. At a stop, I notice that on the drink bought by Roberto is shown a kiwi, but I ignore it.
We meet a couple of newlyweds from Ekateringburg, who, for their honeymoon, have decided they want to see the sea: from where they live it's only 3000 kilometers, and riding more or less than 1000 per day in a maximum of 4 days they will arrive on the Black Sea coasts ...
At another stop, Sabrina decides she wants to teach the ducks that staying too close to the road is dangerous, but despite also this new animal vein, in the evening we reach Vladikavkaz, in North Ossetia.


In the morning we decid to go back a few kilometers to visit Beslan school and its memorial.
Here in 2004 took place a massacre that, after three days, left on the field more than 300 deaths, two-thirds of them children.
Around the gym, which like the rest of the school still has visible signs of terror and battle, it was built a gold-colored monument, that makes the visit even more impressive.
Sabrina runs away as almost she just entered, I snap some photo to remember: this testimony of human madness is definitely touching.

The road begins to climb, we cross the border without wasting too much time and Georgia and its mountains are in front of us ..

In the evening we decide to stay in Kazbegi, where, in the main square, visitors are welcomed by ladies that offer rooms for rent: Sabrina and Roberto go to see a few but are not convinced, then Roberto follows an old woman with a cane.
A few minutes later he comes back with breath saying that it is ok and has found the accommodation. The elderly woman actually uses the stick to pull the cows and on the steep climb has left back Roberto like only the good times Pantani ...
When we ask for towels, she give us laughing just little more than the napkins, but that's okay as well.
A glass of wine, a good dinner, and even a bit of low temperatures are things to which we were no more used since a few days...

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Old 20 Sep 2016
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In the morning the lady has to show the room to other tourists, so she asks us to bring out our luggage; we do not have time to finish the egg and say ok, that others are already walking around our things, while she shows them all the services the place offer: she is good at marketing and for every one thing, she describes at least three, so "room, beds and linens", "bathroom, toilet, sink and shower", "door, key and window," icing on the cake, there is also the "fi-fi" .. (wi-fi, ed)
We don't understand if she manage to sell the room or not, but for sure she can't wait to get rid of us, "baggage, baggage!"

We go and ride all the Georgian Military Highway, stopping a few times, first to visit a curious and apparently abandoned automobile graveyard, then the Ananuri fortress; then we turn right and continue west to Kutaisi.

The lady of the beautiful house at which we stay, on our return from dinner, offers us a plate full of fruit and a bottle of wine, probably thinking that we'd just tasted a glass: we are impressed by the thought and kindness, but, as we are beasts, we drink all the bottle, and as well we are able to make too much noise at night ...


A walk in the city center, the bazaar and the Bagrati Cathedral and then we're back on the road ...

Did I already written that cows in Georgia are the bosses, and especially love being out on the street? Sometimes they also feel hot and take shelter from the sun under the old shelters of petrol stations in disuse: yes, because here when a petrol station is old, they just build a new one next to the old one, do not ask me why. ..

Then the road starts to climb and goes into the mountains; we stop to eat something and we have to deal with the longest and exhausting preparation of a khachapuri of history: after more than one hour of waiting, finally the lady bakes the coveted cheesy focaccia, while in the background the radio transmits at all volume in our honor Toto Cutugno and Laura Pausini ...

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Old 20 Sep 2016
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A few more turnes and we are in Svaneti ...


With its ancient towers scattered a bit everywhere, Mestia has over the years become a tourist destination of great appeal: hordes of backpackers roam with their backpacks between the main square and the bus station.
We must decide whether to leave immediately for the smallest Ushguli or not, when a strong storm decides for us, so that we adapt to the local habits and walk around until evening ..


We want to reach Tbilisi in the day, but before we get there, we allowus a visit to the particular location of Uplistsikhe, an ancient cave city on the bank of the Mtkvari River.

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Old 20 Sep 2016
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I do not know if it's me who become accustomed to places a little bit more unusual, but I find that Tbilisi has changed a lot compared to 6 years ago, when I visited the first time.
Luxury cars, lots of tourists, shops of all kinds: we are at the bottom of Turkey, not far from Azerbaijan, not too far from Iran, one day from the Caspian Sea, but here it seems in every way to be in a great - beautiful, beautiful, for heaven's sake - European capital.


We prepare the bikes for shipping and make one last walk into town; in the evening we do a chat with a cheerful mix Poland-Italy-Kuwait-Iran and then at night we moved at the airport and wait for the plane that will take us home ...

Oh yes, the journey came to the end, and it's already time to start thinking about the next destination ...
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Old 20 Oct 2016
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Hey man, what a journey! I really envy you. Thanks for sharing.
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
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