Gatchina and Novgorod

We have to get up early. Why is not exactly clear, for on board ship we are on Finnish time, which is one hour ahead of German time and one hour behind of the Russian. Confusing. Especially since our ever so clever smartphones and laptops are constantly adjusting their built-in clocks – for the most part incorrectly.

We enjoy a peaceful night at APG. Breakfast is a rushed affair (I’ve only got time for a quick coffee, unfortunately.) I am welcomed by Vladimir Dorofeev, chief marketing officer and his colleagues Viktor Karpunin, Executive Director and Sergey Sokolov, Technical Director. After an interesting conversation about APG’s formation and its products, and another cup of delicious coffee, I am taken on a tour of the factory which has five Netstal and one Husky machines. Rolf takes a few pictures of all of us standing in front of the Editourmobil, and then it‘s time to say goodbye, so that we can be on time for our next appointment at Deka and Veliky Novgorod.

This part of the journey begins with a massive traffic jam. It takes us an hour just to get out of Gatchina. We’ve only been underway a short while when the road just behind Luga suddenly becomes a hellish journey. Huge, deep potholes along the entire road surface stretching over 70 to 80km. Getting up to any sort of speed is unthinkable, since dodging around all the potholes is just not on with all the traffic. It all brings back bitter memories of negotiating that horrendous mountain pass in Georgia during our last tour. I seriously wonder whether the Editourmobil will survive the battering it is getting. Eventually, the nightmare is over, and the only casualty seems to be the cover of the parking sensor. We can fix that later. Meanwhile we need to get to Deka by 4 o‘clock.

We are greeted by Aleynikova Victoria, Deka’s PR manager, and Igor Jasnogorodsky. We are joined later by Executive Manager Dmitriy Pinchukov. The most fascinating aspect of this interview is to learn about Deka’s main product: kvass. A traditional Russian drink, (practically) alcohol-free, it rather reminds me of an isotonic malt drink. Delicious and unlike anything else, is my first impression of its taste, and it comes in a variety of different flavours. We spend some time in discussions followed by a tour of the filling lines and finally we manage to obtain some sample bottles for our stand at the Brau Beviale.

A member of Deka’s staff very kindly shows us to a parking place but sadly we are not allowed to park there overnight. We quickly take the decision to go on to Moscow. Little more than an hour later we find ourselves yet again in another massive traffic jam. We turn off left to a service station. We have run out of water, so we try, with much waving of arms, to make ourselves understood at the garage. Two of the mechanics can indeed help us out and by cobbling together a bit of hose we manage to get a full tank of water. This is followed by the obligatory tour of the vehicle, which leaves them duly stupefied with amazement Then we allow ourselves to be persuaded to enjoy a meal in the 24-hour restaurant. The house speciality is shashlik. We have run out of roubles so we pay in dollars. To our delight, the Editourmobil can also remain overnight in the service area. Sometimes it’s as easy as that

And because it is still light, Felix succeeds in repairing the parking sensor with no problem. Nice