We had the idea to go by car to Europe for a long time. And, basically, it was dictated by the convenience of traveling with the dog. Our cute beast – Kuzya – is very afraid of everything new, and traveling by plane would bring a large number of restrictions. Dogs who don’t exceed 8 kg are allowed into the cabin along with the carrying, from which the animal cannot be released during the entire flight (it cannot be even opened). All the nuances of the dog’s life are also not clear how to deal with while the carrying is closed. Plus, the rules of airports for departure and arrival regarding traveling animals are also not simple. In general, we decided to try a long car journey.
Previously, we regularly traveled by rental cars in different countries, and understood the nuances of using rental cars in a variety of circumstances: how to cross the borders, how to get a technical support or replace a car and other nuances. But how to solve similar issues with your own car – we had yet to figure out. In general, everything wasn’t so difficult: the minimum necessary requirement – the presence of a “green card”, an international analogue of the local obligatory car insurance, and “good condition of the car”. This vague wording is clarified in many thematic forums – depending on the border crossing point with the EU (Poland, Finland …), there may be some nuances. For example, you may be required to show a first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher, or the presence of reflective vests according to the number of passengers of the car, and the vests should not be in the trunk, but in the cabin, otherwise how can you get out of the cabin and get to the trunk in the dark without them : ). In general, the requirements are not so complicated, and in practice the car’s inspection was carried out simply – the trunk was opened, it was shown that there were all the suitcases inside.
It was more difficult with a dog. Not only did it take to issue the different documents in different instances in Moscow: veterinary certificate at the veterinary station and a special customs form on the basis of an international passport taking into account vaccinations, drug treatments issued by the government agencies. The dog must also have a chip, like the corresponding certificate says about it in two languages, enclosed in an international passport of an animal. At the border, most of the time was occupied by the issues related to the dog. First, we looked for a device to scan the information from the chip, the documents had been under the check for a long time, (as well as thier input into the database, which was opening for a long time). In general, the longest issue when crossing the border turned out to be a “doggy” one 🙂 Although it could turn out to be different: during holiday season, queues at customs can reach several hours (or even days), so it makes sense to check in advance via the Internet, modern services allow you to receive data in real time webcam and estimate each queue of vehicles at every point remotely.
During this journey I personally was struck by one moment, about which I want to write more. I’ll start from afar. Winter in Moscow is now a special season – it snows a lot, and local services use “reagents” to fight with it. Because of their composition and (most importantly!) their excessive amount, it is wet and very dirty on the streets even at sub-zero temperatures. A car wash should either be done every other day (otherwise it will be covered with a thick layer of brown slurry), or “loose this battle” and wipe with napkins only that part of the glasses that is required for orientation :). It’s even scary to look under the wheels on the roadway – the thoughts about the composition of this brown slush will not make it particularly impressive to fall asleep. Shoes come out of use in about a season, and it’s not quite clear how to protect dog’s paws, even special treatment means for paws don’t help much, and shoes are lost during the first walk …
Many public figures in Russia have spoken about the reasons for this condition of the streets. Most popular are the blog posts of a well-known blogger about that the streets have been ordered all wrong, the level of sidewalks are often below the level of lawns, which are not always planted with evergreen armor-piercing carpet grass, and there are no drainage systems at lawn and road junctions. Thus the listed problems plus our climate (some special one!) give such an effect. And that the reagents don’t worsen the situation, and, moreover, don’t themselves create a separate problem. That’s why, they say, in European countries with a similar climate – the roads are clean, but Russian roads – not…
This reagent problem is of particular importance to me. Because of it, I stopped loving Moscow winters, which is used to be my favorite season: everything is white-white, the snow crunches underfoot, and the light of the lanterns at night was scattered by falling snow and reflected from the white snowdrifts. White Moscow winter… Now it has become a dirty brown horror. Therefore, I personally wanted to make sure that the “generally accepted” rules of road maintenance would exclude this brown slurry.
Well, first of all, after leaving Moscow, in 50 kilometers from the city, the roadsides became noticeably cleaner and the road itself was drier – even with a small minus (-1 approximately), the windshield remained clean and the use of the windshield washer wasn’t required. I emphasize that the climate and road design are the same, there are simply no reagents. Secondly, having entered Belarus, we generally saw a marvelous picture – white snow at the edges of the roadsides, or just earth (without special “drainage”), and everything is clean! i.e. TOTALLY clean – even driving into a puddle on the highway, the water flows through the car transparent and doesn’t leave brown sticky strokes, as in Moscow. The climate in Belarus is the same, the roads were built according to the same standards since time immemorial. The only difference is the absence of reagents. Third, after passing the border and finding ourselves in Europe, we were finally convinced that, with a similar climate, the snow along a busy road remains white. Stopping at gas stations, I looked carefully – the roadbed was dry almost everywhere, white snow lay on the sides of the road, which, even when dissolved, doesn’t mud everything around, but flows with clear water without consequences.
The same situation in cities. Already in Minsk we paid attention to the cleanliness of the sidewalks and roads – you can safely walk on them in bright suede shoes (we, of course, didn’t have those with us according to the Moscow habit of recent years, but the desire remained). In a couple of places on the sidewalks there were small piles of salt – apparently, the snow beneath them melted, and the salt was not yet removed (in other places, salt was not visible, or not strewed, or removed). In Warsaw, we did not see anything like it at all – just clean streets, even during sleet they remained clean, just glistened with moisture, without puddles and dirt. In Dresden and other cities of “classical” Europe there is nothing to say, everything is clean and tidy, neither dirt, nor puddles, nor reagents.
Of course, I am not a professional city planner (or who is in charge of sewage and cleaning), however, I simply assess the situation in Moscow as a complete failure of the city authorities with a simple philistine look. This is at best. And at worst – the deliberate creation of problems with which their authors “struggle”, then they create for themselves imaginary achievements to take the credit. Like, such a terrible problem (Climate! Dirt! Snow!) was so effectively solved. With the same basic data on climate and soil (often, and on the road construction), in other places they do without reagents and provide excellent road safety and cleanliness.
In general, traveling by car in Europe, as we have previously repeatedly tested, can be quite comfortable. You can book hotels along the way taking into account weather and road conditions very quickly, thanks to hotel comparison site advantageous offers. It is possible to park the car in any city (except Moscow) easily and conveniently, where it is required. And again it turns out the dream route, only now with additional comfort – movement on your own familiar car.
To explore a new city during your visit with a guide you may through excurzilla.com.