The first thing we saw in Russia was the border town Ivangorod. It was one of those ugly border towns and in the meanwhile we had learned that border areas don’t have much to say about countries. First thing we searched for was an ATM and found one after some attempts (yay, our first rubles) and the second thing was an insurance office, but no luck with that. In other travellers blogs and books I always read that one needs an insurance for the car in Russia and although we knew the name of the state-insurance (Ingostrakh) we could not find one. We gave up and hoped to find one in St Petersburg, hoping not to crash into someone on the way there. And guess what? we had a close call in St Petersburg.
The first thing we noticed on the Magistral was that Russian drivers must be plain crazy. We had heard many stories about them, but the stories and the reality were two different pair of shoes. Scared of the stories about corrupt police and what not else we drove exactly the speed limit and were overtaken at any possible and impossible place by new cars as well as old Ladas and with the twilight setting in we decided to have a brake. At a McDonalds. So yes, our very first meal in the mother of all former communist countries, was in one of the most globalized, capitalistic restaurant chains possible. When you kick tradition in the guts, then do it with a head start.