Here’s the Easiest Way to Cross the Russian Border
Cheap groceries, a picnic by the river and friendly border officers make the last kilometers on Russian soil surprisingly pleasant
Day 2: Krasnoe Selo (Russia) – Narva (Estonia), 140 km
Some Russian foods I have grown very fond of—except for dill as a constant topping, maybe—and in Kingisepp I use my last chance to stock up on Russian groceries before the border. One thing I have especially come to love: Kozminak—caramelized nut candy bars from peanuts, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds. Lots of useful calories for cycling and an incredibly cheap, delicious alternative to chocolate.
At 30°C, Kingisepp’s Luga river comes as a welcome refreshment. The water is brownish-red, which I assume is due to an over-amount of iron or turf in the water. A quick swim also serves as a shower, which I have not had for some days now.
Entering the spacious border area, a first border officer checks my passport. Whether I’m from Germany, he asks. Well, almost. He then wishes me всего доброго (vsyevo dobrovo), which translates to “all the best“ and is a nice way of saying “good bye“.
Heavy-duty trucks line up until one kilometer towards the border; I gladly overtake them. As I queue with a few cars in front of a barrier, a half-naked truck driver cranes out his window: I do not have to wait in line with the cars, I should simply cross the border through the pedestrian access.
Following his advice, I manage to cross the Russian border easier and faster than ever before. My bike is not checked whatsoever – I simply slip my passport through to the officer, wait two minutes and that’s it. A simple do swidanya, a casual wave of the hand, and I am no longer on Russian territory. Leaving Russia is easy, while getting in was not.
Leaving Russia means saying goodbye to Russian prices, too
Not everything is different in Estonia of course: Datchas (summer houses) look virtually the same on this side of the border, and next to the medieval fortress, an appalling Soviet block sits enthroned over the city like a reminder of shared history.
Narva’s sand beaches are a hard-earned 15 kilometers away from the border post, but the cycle is worthwhile. Claiming some towel space between Russian-speakers, I kick back and relax. The only thing missing is a camping spot—but it takes me not more than 10 minutes to find a hidden place next to the beach. Oh, have I mentioned that wild camping is legal in Estonia?
I think I like it here.
This article was first published on August 3, 2016 on Facebook.
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