Every year in September we do Moscow-Sochi tour. Temperature in most regions of Russia goes down, but in Sochi its warm and sunny because of the sub-tropical climate. This year we did the same and below you can read ride report by our guides, who made notes on a daily basis.
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Our guests in this tour:
- Don and Donna from USA. Don won our grand prize (a motorcycle tour in Russia) at BMW MOA in 2019 and decided to take his wife Donna with him
- Ed and Andy were two other Americans from Milwaukee, the birthplace of HD. They were not sure about joining this trip, besides they didn't want to ride a BMW as they were so much used to ride Harleys. Eventually we managed to convince them that BMW GS series is undoubtedly the best bike for this kind of a tour. So they joined the group
- Jens from Denmark, a journalist with an impressive collection of old motorcycles of 60s-70s, a lover of history, including the history of the second world war, and USSR and Russia in general was planning a trip to Russia for a long time and finally decided to make it
- Igor was the only Russian. He was working in the IT sector so he had a decent English. It was his first motorcycle season and the very first long motorcycle journey
The team of guides was formed by our “golden tandem”: Vlad and Max. Vlad had just returned from three Trans-Siberian tours in a row. It is not about that he was very tired, but obviously he wanted to return back home to Sochi, where he lives. Max was driving a support car, carrying a spare motorcycle and all of our guests’ luggage as it was a one-way trip where Sochi was the farewell point. All the guests flew back home directly from there. Going forward, technical support was not needed and a spare motorcycle was not used. Despite the fact that the Russian rider was the one with the lack of experience everybody in our international group immediately became friends with each other and started riding in a pretty good tempo.
All the foreign guests had arrived to Moscow one day before the tour started so Igor had kindly invited everyone to one of the best restaurants in Moscow, showing his traditional Russian hospitality. One of the first highlights of the tour, besides the city-tour in Moscow, became a night stay in a noble 17th-century estate in Skornyakovo - Arkhangelskoye. We stayed in a small wooden apartments and had a dinner in the dining room with a big fireplace where by the light of candles we were served with traditional Russian dishes. Here we first tried the delicious Don zander. The next day we had a small dive into the history of the Cossacks in Russia, visited small traditional settlements where Cossacks used to live. There were a lot of well preserved wooden houses, a mill and an old cinema, where we watched a film about the Cossacks.
Then, through Veshenskaya and Rostov-on-Don, we arrived Stavropol, one of the best cities to live in Russia. Here the landscape began to change - after the forests and fields of the Central part of Russia, we were approaching the mountains of the Caucasus. Hills and small mountains began to appear. Stavropol is one of the greenest cities in Russia, the center of the agro-industrial complex of the country. The city is sometimes called Caucasian Paris, because the city is famous for its Orthodox shrines, dense parks and non provincial elegance. We walked around the center, visited a beautiful observation point on the city, the Central square with a cascade of fountains. The next point in our journey were the majestic mountains of the Caucasus. First, along the scenic road we rode to Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe with an elevation of 5642 meters. We settled in the best hotel right near the cabin cars station, at an altitude of 2300 meters. From here we raised up to 3850 meters where the snow was still laying.
On the way here one funny thing happened. In one of the turns our guest from Denmark crossed a solid line, and we were immediately stopped by the local police crew, who stood right behind the turn. Cops wanted to fine our Danish guest with a substantial for Russia amount of money (75 euros), which was just nothing for our guest as in Denmark for such a violation the fine would be around 300 euros. But Jens did not lose his head and played along with the leading guide, asking to provide him with an interpreter from Danish, which is a legitimate request in Russia. Obviously, it was not possible to find another Danish guy in the Caucasus besides Jens, and we were released in peace.
We had a rest day in the mountains. In the morning we were lucky to have a brilliant weather. As soon we climbed up the mountain all the clouds were gone and we found ourselves surrounded with the sunny peaks. We were resting at the height drinking some local herbal tea when we noticed a fox running around the venue. After that we moved back to the hotel. From Elbrus passing Dombay and Adygea areas we went to Sochi. There was a tough dirt road mountain pass 7 km. long, which was safely crossed by everyone. And then the last 200 km. of serpentines along the sea to Sochi. Our guests stayed in the heart of the city, at the Park Inn hotel, next to the historic building of the railway station. We parked our bikes and happily drank a beer, thinking that the motorcycle part of the tour was over.
But the next day the group got a surprise. The thing ism, that Sochi is a big city, which stretches along the sea for almost 200 km, partially going into the mountains. We decided to show our guests the maximum of Sochi so in the morning we took the bikes, and rode to Akhun mountain, the highest point of the city. There is an observation tower, which was built during the construction of Stalin's dacha. After looking at the city from the top and taking cool pictures, we went to the Olympic Park, where we showed our guests the sport facilities built for the Olympics. We had lunch in an old noble castle, where we enjoyed some of the Caucasian food: khachapuri, kebabs and hashlama. After that, we had some more of a mountain ride - we showed the guests the sport objects that were built up in the mountain cluster. Leaving the motorcycles in our garage, we took an Express train and returned back to central Sochi. In the evening we had a farewell dinner at Olivier's restaurant, where we drank local beer to a successful trip.
Our guests said that they were mostly impressed by the people-openness, sociability, desire to help and show their country. All stayed absolutely delighted with food. And everyone noted how clean and maintained with modern infrastructure the big cities were. And of course everyone was pleased with the good condition of motorcycles, hotels and general organization of tours. Plus, sea and mountain views, and generally the nature.
Thank you for being here, we were happy to see all of you, hope to see you again!
Vlad and Maxim.