Because of all the construction sites it was taking forever to get anywhere. It started to get dark, the temperature dropped near zero, it started to rain, and it started to get foggy. Still I wanted to get there. I put that second jacket for the first time, with that fleece allready underneath my leather jacket, and kept going. With hours still left to ride the fog and rain got to a point that I couldn't see past twenty feet in front of me, and that's if I could clear my visor. So I would stop and go into restaurants and bars asking for any type of cloth to clean my visor. Without even asking the people would just give them to me, which was nice. I would sit on them and ride like that, when I needed to use it I would get up, swipe the visor, and put it back. It worked ok for a short while but they soon got wet. So I found another way to do it. I would ride with my left arm lying on the top of my tank bag, at about chin level. And every few seconds I would swipe my hand across the visor. It didn't work well, but it was enough to see. Of course with low visibility I didn't go too fast, but still cruised at around 100 km, sometimes slower. I stopped several times along the way to phone my boss to tell him when I would arrive, he had the address and contact info of where I would live. But I couldn't reach him. At first he wasn't at home, then the phone card I had been sold didn't work in those areas, then the phones didn't work.. At one gas station I was surprised to see a security guard with a machine gun, hey it's Russia. So I just kept going planning to contact him once in Moscow, if it got too late I would stay up the whole night and contact him in the morning. Go to a cafe or something. When I got near Moscow the rain slowly came to a stop, and the fog lifted. But at this point I had been riding since the morning and was tired. Finally I got near the outskirts and the excitement was enough to make me feel a lot better. I'll always remember the first big highway I got onto to get into the city, they must have been seven lines on each side, it was impressive. But what I'll remember for ever was the moment I entered the city. I had no mental image of it and when I first saw it I was totally stunned. I've travelled my whole life and had never seen something like this. All these gigantic and historical buildings and monuments were specially lighted and were a spectacular sight to see. I had no idea where I was going but by luck I managed to go through the center and see many famous sights all at once. Not only were these monuments and buildings impressive, but so was the whole city with its architecture and its bridges. It was around midnight then, while keeping looking in awe I also had to find the school where I would have to meet in the morning. What I learned real quick was that driving through Moscow was going to be hell, and it was. Some of the big boulevards were five to seven lanes wide on each side, many roads were one ways, and finding places to get off a road or turn was complicated. The only way to tackle it was to have a map and plan ahead, otherwise it's nuts.
By now I had been riding for sixteen hours and was beat, but I was far from done yet. I didn't have a map of the city and couldn't even read the signs, so to find where the school was I first went to a hotel I had seen along the way, called the President's hotel. Which was highly secured behind fenced gates and a security checkpoint. I explained my case to them and they told security to let me in. They gave me directions and a tourist map, I thanked them, and got on my way. But I would keep getting lost trying to find the place. Luckily I asked this taxi driver and he was friendly enough to drive ahead and show me where this metro station was, which was on the other side of street from the school. I tried to give him money for his trouble but he wouldn't take it. My mistake because when I first asked him for directions he wanted money, but I told him I had very little. Now he wouldn't take it. So now here I was. I looked around to memorize what the place looked like. But it was late at night, it didn't look real safe right then, and at the same time I started to get a lot of attention. Everyone was looking, one guy came running over to me. I had no choice but to leave. So I was on the move again and had no clue where to go. I decided I needed to eat and get some rest so I headed for the centre to find a restaurant. I found a restaurant but it was closing, they suggested I go to this other one. So I went there. It was a British style restaurant pub. But as I got there I got the usual attention, but fortunately there was a security guard acting as a bouncer. In Russia this is very common, schools have them, restaurants, bars... I still didn't like it, I parked in front of him and put my cover on top of the bike. The plan was to eat and stay there all night and in the morning go to the school. I went in and sat at this table, it turns out there was motorcycle racing on tv. Right in front of me was this guy and his girlfriend, in their twenties, and they both spoke English, so we talked for a while, about all sorts of stuff. Then he payed me a drink, and another, and another. He also started asking all these questions, like my address in Moscow, my telephone number, he asked about my bike, so on and so on. He even invited me to his country house one weekend, and later to their apartment. It was obvious they had a lot of money, when I asked if the house was his family's he said yes. Being invited places is ok with me but all the questions they asked looked strange and not right. They kept trying to get my address. It got annoying. It was also obvious he was trying to get me drunk, he even said at one point I should be drunk by now and could stay at their apartment. At the same time the manager of the place kept looking at him, looking as if they were telling each other something. It was just strange, enough at one point that I left. The alcohol had made me woozy but I decided to leave. They even followed me to the bike and kept asking for my contact info. I just left. But where would I go now?
Now this day was becoming crazy. I was tired and didn't know where to go. Wherever I go with my bike I pick up too much attention. So I left the restaurant and headed for the Hotel President again where I knew it was safe to park. When I got there I called the reception again from the secutiry office, and told them my situation. All I asked was for a place to wait for a few hours, thankfully they let me in. They would help me this night and at other times later as well. I park the bike within the compound and spent the night sitting on a sofa. I fell asleep right away. In the morning I woke up with a headache and feelling nauseous. I got up and went to call my boss to tell him I had arrived. The night before I hadn't been able to reach him. But this morning also, he wasn't at home. I couldn't reach the school either. What I didn't know was that it was a holiday this Monday. I had no place to go if I couldn't reach him. Feeling sick I stayed in the hotel and kept calling throughout the morning. Explaining my case to the hotel they let me stay for the rest of the day. To get some air I went for a walk, took the metro, and went to the centre. But I wasn't feeling well and ended up sleeping on a cement block next to a fountain. When I got up I felt even worse, and went back to the hotel. I still couldn't reach him. Feelling worse I had to go to the bathroom at times to vomit. At this point I had this huge headache. This picture shows me during this time, sitting on the sofa waiting to reach my boss. I had called my family and got in touch with my mother, and asked if she could call me right back so I could give them some news on the trip. She did and I brought her up to date with everything. That my trip had gone well but now I was stuck and sick, but it would work out soon. She insisted that I get a room, but I didn't want them to pay for it. I was out of money. A room there would cost $140. There were no other hotels nearby and I needed secured parking so I had no choice. I told her I would think about it, sometime later not feeling better I decided to get a room. Ouch. It was nice to get some rest and later that night I already felt better. But I still wouldn't reach my boss.
The next morning I got in touch with the school and went there right away. I found the office on the other side of the metro I had seen before and went in. This brought my riding adventure to a close. It had been a successful and an amazing trip, and as you can see I have a lot to say about it. Still I can write all I want about it but it will never tell the story as I saw it, and all the things I saw. To me this had been an adventure, and I want more of these trips. This is traveling. Now I had a different challenge ahead of me, and that was to teach English and make my stay in Russia work.