The last five weeks have been quite a ride and very intense, for mind and body. I went from a city life with sport, lots of yoga and movement to driving most of the day, plus the Russian roads treatment to my back. Many nights in small hotel rooms didn’t leave a lot of space for taking care of my back. And in the past ten days I started to get cramps in the ankles when running. The Mini has been getting checked regularly, me less so. The time had come to take a break, 2 days off. The first one I mostly slept and went to see the local BMW service center.
On the way back to the hotel I walked for some hours incl. lunch break through this brand new capital city in the steppe. It was called Astana until it recently got renamed after the former president, Nursultan. By an unanimous vote in parliament, by the way. A former Russian outpost, boosted a bit by the Soviets in the 1970’s, the city as it appears today got built since the late 1990’s after it was designed as the capital of the newly independent Kazakhstan. This meant most of what I saw was max 20 years old. Cranes are everywhere, shiny new skyscrapers and residential buildings the norm. There is little Paris, little Holland, little New York, little Stalin Moscow. At night, many buildings are covered in a light show, like the Empire State I could see every night from my living room window in my former hometown.
The second day I took care of myself. Gym, yoga, sauna, swimming and a massage that felt like a torture. The Balinese masseuse had great powerful hands, I was in pretty bad shape after five weeks in the Mini, and she found all the painful spots with Swiss precision. Another wake up call to balance driving with exercise. I can see my family nodding as I write this.
Tomorrow morning I’ll head south, Almaty is the next stop. It will take at least two days. I’ll have to drive slower because the Mini has a broken part on the front right wheel that BMW Kazakhstan needs four weeks to get from Germany. No time to fix it, it’s not critical I’m told. I’ll find out over the coming weeks. The next bigger service station is in Baku (8-10.000km depending on the route) or Istanbul (add 3.000km).