Friday 14 August 2015

The Russia of the people

When the cities are too far apart, or we decide to skip big places like Nizhny Novgorod, despite the temptation to be able to say it, we either camp in a forest or find a Гостиница (gostinitza/hotel) along the road.

This day, after hours of light rain, rough road, endless birch and pine, and a fruitless detour to a village with a derelict hotel and no apparent purpose, a big, muddy truck-stop appears. It has a gostinitza, complete with столовая (stolovarya/cafeteria), душ (douche/shower) and туалеты (toilet), all used by the several dozen truckies overnighting there. I know what you’re thinking but you couldn’t be more wrong.

For 500 roubles per person (about $AU12) we get 3 twin rooms, thereby half filling the place, and it is spotless. The rooms, the cafe, the showers, toilets, the handbasins used by the truckies, all of it, spotless. The staff constantly mopping and cleaning, the kitchen staff washing hands and wiping down benches, no sign of mud tracked through, and the truckies from their truck-cab beds, carefully shaving, teeth cleaning, and wiping down the basins.

Most trucks had gone by the time it was light enough for a photo.

We ate well, had a few beers and a laugh in the busy, friendly cafe. The whole night cost us one tenth what we had paid in the big city hotel the night before.

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