Fri: Got to border crossing early – bought 3rd party insurance at caravan on side of road, 1100R for two weeks (hope we don’t have to test whether its worth the paper its written on!) Surprisingly fast process once moved past barricades allowing us in one by one. No examination inside vehicle for first time. No problems re re-entry into Russia of vehicle without documentation – guess we must be well and truly on their computers by now. Also no problems re concurrent passports. Will be difficult not to become blasé about border processes….
Sat: Nice sunny morning on way to Yekataringburg, with many cars stopped along edge of pine forests as people collect mushrooms.
Brushed up on our Russian history by GirlRob reading aloud from Lonely Planet, including dramatic history of the Church of the Blood. Absorbing facts and putting into historical/ global perspective is so much better when you are actually hot on the trail. Having spent time plotting sights to see on Pocket Earth last night, had no trouble locating Church of Blood, execution site of Romanovs who are now martyr saints. Walked past caged white doves on steps into heavily ornate interior with its candelabra, gilded murals on walls and ceilings, women bowing low and praying in front of statues and icons, toddlers taught to kiss photographs of last Tsar, his wife and their 5 children.
Walk the rest of the Holy Block, to chapel /memorial to Tsar’s sister - according to young Kazak mother with two girls who was delighted to practice her English (having spent time in Oregon). Walked down to City Pond, past ornate buildings and statues, and had delicious salmon rosti lunch at a grand restaurant to celebrate 6 months on road today (and enjoyed a second toast to the easy parking beside major attractions!) Miles sent us co-ordinates for ice caves in Kungur and a heads up that Perm 36 is closed Mondays, so we packed up hurriedly to get there tomorrow.