The horror, the horror!
1st - 4th July 2013
To visit Russia you need a visa. Real Russia helped me get mine. I recommend them. As a British national it costs around £122 for a 30-day, single entry tourist visa. Nationals of other European country's typically pay £20 less, while Americans pay £30 more. If such money is beyond you then you can recreate the experience of a Russian cycling tour by staring at a breeze block for an hour and then smashing it into your face.
The European bit of Russia is very flat so your views will be provided by whatever's at the roadside. There seems to be two possibilities: dense woods or giant hogweed forests.
Russian roads are the worst in Europe. They have the neglect of Ukraine but with the added bonus of heavy traffic. The sides of the tarmac are broken up meaning that you have to cycle farther out than you'd like. The trucks will keep their usual position regardless of your presence. After a couple of days' cycling in Russia you will notice that the stubble on the left hand side of your face is shorter than on the right. Roads have a well-sized shoulder but this is a gravel pit whose depth ranges from just about rideable to several inches, enough to throw you off and into the road. A mountain bike or, more likely, a 4x4 would be a better option.
Russia doesn't have many roads at all. You could attempt to avoid the main ones but all non-main roads are gravel or dirt and they don't join up, meaning that you'd have to venture on to the main roads at some point.
If the towns were attractive or the countryside scenic it might be worth the effort and risk, but unfortunately they aren't.
My three hotels averaged €22 (ranging from €13 to €34). None of the places had hot water and one didn't have any water at all. Only one of the hotels had WiFi.
You need to speak some Russian. The only person I met who spoke anything else was a retired English teacher who herself spoke very little English.
It's cheaper than Dignitas.
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