Finally I made it to the European continent, or so they tell me. Asia and Europe are divided by a little set of mountains called the Urals for those that don't know. As I was cruising over said mountains dodging trucks in the rain (as usual) I wondered if there was really a massive difference, my English interpreter mate at the Kazack border has told me it would definitely be warmer, but I only half believed it so as to not get my hopes up!
As soon as I cleared that last mountain pass and headed downhill out came the sun and it must of warmed up to about 10 degree's!! Maybe even 15 degrees, felt like summertime after the last few days! I stood up on the pegs and as I was overtaking four trucks in a row and playing chicken with a fifth coming at me I let out a whoohoo, as you do when you've just traversed a continent.
I arrived in Ufa at 19:30, plenty of time to find somewhere to sleep I thought. I rode around for two hours unable to find anywhere, thinking about how stupid it was to loose the Russian guide book I had bought with me from home. Even after loosing it in Japan I had seen another copy of exactly the same book, in English, in a shop in Kyoto. I looked at it briefly, smiled to myself and put it back on the shelf. I thought it might be more interesting to do Russia without some book to telling me what to do. My sick sense of humor was beginning to annoy me...
I gave up riding around the city and decided to head out the road towards Moscow. I was thinking this was a bad idea I spotted a large cafe on the opposite side of the road. Thinking they might have somewhere to sleep I did a U-turn and parked the bike out the front.
Upon closer inspection I found that this was indeed just a cafe. Being frustrated, tired, and hungry was making it difficult to think clearly about what to do. I drank some water and thought about going inside to try and ask if anyone knew of a bed for the night when a couple of big Russians walked past and asked something I could not understand. They must of been able to tell from my confused look that I didn't know what they were saying and came over to me for a closer look.
I managed to explain I was Australian and that I had come from Vladivostok. These two told me they were the security guards at this cafe and one of them went off to find someone that spoke English. The other told me, using some very creative sign language how he had been in the Navy and had been to Vladivostok.
More people came to have a look at me and try and ask me questions that I did not understand. I could see the security guard getting more and more frustrated that he could not find someone who spoke more than three words of English. He even ran across the car park at one stage to go and ask some girls walking past if they spoke English. He came back a few minutes later to tell me that they only spoke German and Russian. By this stage most of the staff of this place were out the front talking or trying to talk to me and amongst themselves. All the waitress', the band and security came to see me, I couldn't believe how many people worked here. They even had their own photographer who took heaps of photo's of myself and the staff and the famous motorbike I had riden from Vladivostok on. This was surreal.
I asked about somewhere to sleep and they told me they would get a taxi to come here and I could follow him to a hotel they knew to. I had completely ran out of options and decided to agree. They were all a bit concerned that this hotel may be too expensive for me which made me realise just how bad I must look.
In the meantime the owner of this place had shown up and insisted I some inside and eat. A waitress there named Alica showed me inside to a table, she was very shy about speaking English, but once she got started was very good at it and I understood more of what she said than everyone else put together.
I was served a bowl of Borsh (of course), a kebab and a cup of tea. I tryed to pay, but was told that the owner was a very kind man and wouldn't take my money!
Eventually the "taxi", who I'm pretty sure was just one of their mates showed up and led me to the President Hotel. This must of been the most expensive place in Ufa to stay, but it was past midnight by the time I arrived and I was in no position to argue. My taxi driver friend looked very concerned about how much it was and was ready to take me elsewhere when I told him it would be ok. I payed him and he left me to speaking broken English with the girl on reception.
I was eventually shown to room so I could finally sleep.