Today we made our way from Ivalo in Finland 50 km’s east across the Russian and Finish border.
As we exited Finland one of the officials asked why we were going there and stated the only 60,000 people crossed the border per year and 70% of them were Russian, 29% made up another group and we were among the 1% of Europeans. While I found those stats hard to believe we pushed on and soon we were facing tyre spikes and a Russian border post.
We expected the worst with stories of being searched either at the border or 15km’s down the road. The jokes began to fly as Phil moved forward as or test dummy concerned about his potential body search. (Concerned !!! maybe hopeful)
The truth is that this was a very friendly and straight forward process, maybe the letters from the Russian Ambassador in New Zealand helped smooth the way or maybe we were just friendly looking kiwi’s.
The process took 1 hour, soon we were back on our bikes and with the pass of a piece of paper the barrier was lifted and we drove onto metal/mud roads. We were told not to stop until we were past the 15km no go zone. 15km’s down the road we came across another set of metal gates manned by a young Russian solder (photo above). He opened the gate and his comrade checked our passports. I got talking to this young guy and he told me that he was studying to be a body guard.
I said I had been to Russia before and he said “Welcome Home Comrade”.