After having spent a couple of days sightseeing in St. Petersburg with dutch and russian friends and having got accustomed to Russia bit, it was time to start the hitchhiking. Early in the morning I took the metro from my hotel to station Zvezdnaya. From there, it is a 500 meter walk to the meat-processing factory Samson which is easily recognizable by the two sculptured cows at each site of the gate. At this place, the Moskovski Shosse turns into a highway, the M10 St. Petersburg - Moscow. Cars slow down near the crossing in front of the gate and there is plenty of space for cars and trucks to stop. Just a perfect spot !
It needs to be said that I was a bit anxious after the fear mongering by friends and family at home. Some of them reckoned hitchhiking in Russia to be a certain death. Fortunately, after a while I managed to raise my hand and found myself doing the actual thing, hitchhiking in Russia.
Furthermore, carrying around cardboards is unpractical: they need to be at hand constantly, are easily forgotten during the hasty process of entering or leaving a car, they get unuseful in rain, the accompanying stylos start leaking etc.
While hitchhiking, try to make contact with the cars passing along. Look them in the eyes and watch if they signal things back to you, like making the 'full car' gesture, or a gesture indicating they are going a different direction or drivers indicating they are just local traffic. If you do not receive any of this signals, start looking for a better place since something is wrong with the current spot.
After having waited for approximately 45 minutes, a truck stopped with a driver named Igor. Loaded with audio devices, he was underway to Moscow, coming
straight off the Finnisch border where he had been waiting for 12 hours. He was very tired but still had a long way to go.
Igor was from St. Petersburg, married with two children and turned out to be a very friendly guy. He told me about his dog, a boxer that recently died
and his wife whining about buying a new one. Igor had used all his excuses and told me the new dog would be purchased real soon now.
At lunchtime he treated me on a perfect lunch at a truckerstop. Allegedly, a previous hitchhiker had shown him this place once. Lunch was soup and porkschnitzel. Igor drunk the coffee he badly needed.
Igor spent quite some time explaining me his view on the problems Russia is currently experiencing in the Kaukasus.
He warned me not to believe things they showed on the television in the west. According to him, the real problem lied
in the fact that the Kaukasian people are just unwilling to work. They are just lazy people and prefer kidnapping and other
crimes over decent labour. Furthermore he asserted that this kind of criminality was not a typical russian problem, it
happened in the west as well, a fact I could not deny of course.
The last kilometres to Novgorod I drove with a guy who merely stopped his car to empty his bladder but was not unwilling to give me a ride.
He was quite taciturn except for the difficult question: "Why don't you just travel by train ?". I mentioned the motivations of my hitchhiking trip and he seemed to find it funny. He dropped me off me at the edge of town and from there I took a trolleybus to the city centre.