Заполярный (Zapolyarniy) - Заполярный + 99km

Woke up too late. Failed to get proper breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. The waiter offered eggs (in English), and молоко and хлеб (milk and bread, respectively) was the only food I remembered in Russian. So I ended up with 3 eggs with some slices of cooked ham  on top, two half slices of toast, a glass of milk, and a coffee. Topped that up with müsli later.

Left Zapolyarniy around 11am (ouch) with 150-180km (depending on which sign you trusted) to Murmansk. While the weather was unpleasant enough yesterday, there was not a single cloud in the sky this morning. A strong wind was blowing from south-south-west, pushing me towards Печенга (Pechenga) with 30-40kph, the maximum the road’s surface would allow without risking too much. Unfortunately, right outside Pechenga the road turned south/south-east and the wind was now more like a foe than a friend. The hilly countryside didn’t help increase speed, either.

Came to a place called Спутник (Sputnik), just like that satellite the Soviets shot into space back in, ouch, have to look that up. (Edit: Sputnik I was shot into space on October 4th, 1957.) Sputnik, the place, didn’t seem to consist of much more than an Army base, though. Loads of tanks and other military equipment standing around, and the odd soldiers re-painting roadside barriers in black and white. A bit later I heard noises that sounded like shots from big guns. And a bit later yet, a massive tank crossed the road not 50m behind me. The commander(?) greeted. Even further down the road, more tanks stood in formation and were looking like they were ready to fire at some distant target. Or had just done so; maybe it was them I’d heard earlier.

Came to a Sámi-looking, non-military mini-settlement called Титовка (Titovka, any relation to Mr. Titov?), and shortly thereafter to a gate and passport control. The guy there wasn’t bothered by me wearing cap, sun glasses and beard (didn’t want me to take any of that off) and even seemed to try some smalltalk (the language-barrier was to high, though). I definitely expected more trouble from what people had told me.

Loads of people about here collecting mushrooms and picking berries. Cooked some pasta for lunch, tea, dinner, at the roadside. A guy in camouflage stopped to take some of the excess gravel they’d used when building the road and then dumped. He told me in a mix of German, English, and Russian that he’d been in Rostock and Stralsund in then East Germany in 1988, working on a fishing trawler.

After cycling for 99km, I didn’t feel like going on, didn’t feel very well, actually, and it was too late anyway, so I pitched tent a few meters from the road in the woods. I’m not sure whether I was still in restricted area; there still where those funny-looking yellow signs next to the road that I couldn’t quite make any sense of. But since people where walking all over the place collecting stuff, at least mines and shit weren’t an issue.

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