The Big Trip in the c230k

DITTRICH

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S205 C200SE & W202 C230K
I am currently holed up in Kaunas Lithuania "resting". Best Western Santakos hotel - use it if you are ever in Kaunas. Very good value and good food.

I caught Eurotunnel at 0600 (very good prices at night GBP50 one way) must be the poor BrITs holidaying at home. 2nd in the Q and stright out at the other end.

The Antwerp ring was surprisingly free of traffic at 1000 and I drove on to Rhynern South Autohof. Then on to Poland where A2 is still being built for Euro 2012 in Warsaw. Tolls currently on all completed sections PLN13 x 3 and 1x PLN19.81 iirc. First 3 are cash based (cc possible) but second part is based on tickets and you pay at the exits. Polish roads much improved and even in the dead of night not a problem apart from going over a double railway line crossing with badly fitted concrete apron (at 40mph) How did I miss that. Woke me up anyway and car still in one piece.

I am going to buy a "soviet" antique in Vilnius this evening.

Tomorrow the joys of the A5 (one vast construction project last year) to the Russian border and formalities.

Having great fun on single carriageway roads with Kickdown.

Fuel economy has been nothing short of excellent so far:-
London - Germany 36mpg
Germany - Poland 39mpg
Speeds 100 - 140kmph 5 peed auto
mainly motorway and country "A" roads.
The secret is to turn off the heater / blower / air conditioner.
My experiment this year and it has added 1mpg - 3mpg to the figures.
Noiw my 4 speed auto s124 estate 3 litre diesel manages at best 45mpg at a steady 90kmph so there is really no a lot in it.

And thanks for the Russian Joke thread - one or two I didn't know!
 
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DITTRICH

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The journey from Kaunas to the Russian border in Latvia was very easy. The main Kaunas - Zarasai road is completely upgraded thanks to EU funds. Still only officially 90kmph though but at 3am... and no-one around it was a bit easier. I started early at 3am and arrived at the border at 0830 where there is a queue of only 11 cars. The border crossing was very smooth and only 2 hours. The car gets a temporary import certificate for 3 months with a 30 day visa (don't ask why the car can stay longer than me - thats between customs and immigration). Then to buy insurance at the first garage in Russia (1m=£57 approx depends on hp and engine size). Then on to Statoil where you can get petrol with a credit card without paying first (in Russia alot things are paid for first). But no, it is all coned off and a team is very busy taking apart the diesel petrol pump. So back 4km down the road to the border. Petrol 95ron is 28 roubles per litre or 28/47= 60p/l and I have to pay first and get change later . Unfortunately the M9 has deteriorated in parts and is now rather dangerous at speeds in excess of 90kmph. Think of very large truck ruts and potholes. Of course closer to Moscow, it transformed into a very nice 2 carriageway road and then a motorway. But it is now around 5pm on a friday in the summer and the whole of moscow is migrating out to their dachas in the countryside. Very very dangerous driving and it takes alot to scare me but take it from me, this is something to avoid. I eventually rolled up at the dacha after 8pm having spent a considerable time in traffic jams. All in all around 2,050 miles including my side trip to vilnius to purchase my antique.

Fuel economy:-
Baltic countries 38mpg
Russia 35mpg with air conditioner.

After a day at the dacha, I decided to tackle washing the rear seat bench. German engineering is very good but can be a right pain to take apart. The little plastic links which anchor the cloth to the seat via coat hanger wires are very difficult to remove. However, once removed, a very good pounding and washing and beating and leave to dry completely in the 32 degrees sun. Took a whole day to dry. Putting the seat back together was very easy - it all just snaps back. Seat now looks clean. Will summon up courage to do the rest next week.

Right now I have just returned to Moscow where I have completed "registration". All foreigners have to be registered to an address and so my wife has to fill out some forms and copy her passport, my passport, visa and migration card (like a landing card). And now it is free! before you had to pay. Around 10 minutes work but it all has to be in Russian (even my foreign details) so I have to fill out the form again.

So that's it so far. Maybe if time, there is another forum member with whom I might meet up with. Depends on timing of alot of things but I will try this year.
 
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DITTRICH

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Well, I managed to miss bpsorrell by a day or so in Moscow. However, we did manage to get to Rostov Velikiye and Suzdal, two of the historical towns around Moscow (they are known as the golden ring in that the town form a ring around the capital). Stayed in a private hotel with fabulous food for around £60 per night B&B - for 4 people!

But holidays are over too quickly and by 26th it was time to depart back to the UK.

Now if you ever marry a Russian Lady and travel to Russia by car, understand that there will be plenty to bring back to the UK. Whee to start... 40kg apples from our tree, sundry home made jams, garlic grown at the dacha, presents from inlaws to inlaws. The list is endless. Luckily a show of dictatorial force managed to keep the stuff manageable and mostly it all went into the boot including several bottle of alcohol in the spare wheel well.

Finally, we are off! and all was going well until we stopped in Volokolamsk to fill up with petrol. There is no petrol. And I turn out of the station onto the road. Now there was a policeman 75m down the road discussing something with a Russian motorist and we sort of eyed each other up. I should have turned left but turned right across an unbroken line. I figured he already had one fish caught but no he was a greedy man and stopped me too. All my documents - passport, V5C, IDP, Driving License - and we zip across the road to the police post (the russian driver, me and the policeman). So after a few minutes of friendly chat it is clear that the policeman's colleague cannot and has no interest in entering my details into their computer system. The russian driver gets fined 1,500 roubles and zips off. I then ask what happens next (Hint: I already know..) and the policeman replies that I have to pay 1,500 roubles and pay the fine at the state savings bank. I counter with stating that this is very inconvenient and he then says we can "resolve" the problem here. At this point we both smile and are on the same wavelength. How much money do I have on me? NONE!!! (Yeah right!!!) only enough to buy petrol. What else? Well I do have the odd box of russian chocolates. He was clearly hoping for something a little stronger or more useful but this is a compromise and he suggests I bring the chocs over in a bag and put them on the table. So, I nip back to the car and find some sh!tty chocs, bag them and deliver them and plonk them on the front desk! NO NO NO not here!!! over there in the waiting area! They aren't allowed to take bribes but if someone should forget something and leave it on the table that is another matter. I got all of my documents back, I shook his hand, and we parted "friends". And that my friends is how the "game" is played.

Much later we arrive at the Russian Latvian border at 6pm on a Friday - the worst time and day to arrive as the weekend traffic going out of Russia has to be dealt with. There are around 80 cars in the queue and it took 12 hours to get into Latvia. And the latvians were the slow ones, working at the speed of an arthritic snail. We made Latvia just as the sun was rising.

Stopped in Kaunas, Lithuania for breakfast and then on to Warsaw where I booked a suite at the Sofitel (at a very big discount). Hotel okay but the room service food was cr@p for a 5* hotel. Berlin Novotel Tiergarten was much better and the food here is very very good. Garage underneath the lobby and up by lift - so convenient.

And so finally to Eurotunnel where, having paid for flexiplus, we loaded up with goodies and sandwiches before boarding for blighty.

3 weeks and 5,000 miles of "fun".
 

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