I found one of the really helpful Russians, in fact they are everywhere and this time it was a man called “Juriy” who was my roommate on the boat. About 60 years old and with a great willingness for a chit chat. I asked him where he is from, which is a question that often yields interesting stories from people of the former Soviet Union since the answer might be that parents and grandparents have many different origins because of the big mobility of people in the old times. It therefore also gives a good chance to learn something new about some place that you haven’t heard too much about before.
It also helps that Russians often love to tell the story of their life even on the very first meeting. Another thing to appreciate is that Russians are often very helpful to strangers (or let’s say, helpful to people they feel that they know, which can be a really quick process). Juriy was originally from a small city near the Ukrainian border on the way between Moscow and Kiev. When I told him about our planned road trip with an old Lada from St Petersburg to Moscow, he offered to call his cousin still living there, and ask him if we could stay in his place over night if need would be. From my previous experience of Russia, this is not a surprising or strange offering in any way, and I am also quite comfortable in thinking that his cousin would probably be happy to put aside whatever plans he had in order to show some hospitality.