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Full Circle

Day 13: Kodiak Island to Petropavlovsk

Michael Palin - Full CircleIgor bustles us onto an ancient bus which reeks of diesel oil. Hanging on the glass behind the driver is an English-language calendar, with a photograph of three spaniels peeping coyly over the top of a basket. The calendar is dated 1987.

We drive to Olga's Hunting Lodge which sounds romantic but is in fact situated next to a disused factory at the end of a cinder track in Yelizovo, a suburb of Petropavlovsk. Igor, who seems intent on giving himself a heart attack on our behalf, wheedles, cajoles and berates various members of Olga's family until he has set before us a magnificent repast. He is desperately keen that we enjoy ourselves and, as we tuck in to red caviar, smoked and poached salmon, borscht and cream, cucumber and tomato salad, Moldavian wine, Moskovskaya vodka and freshly-picked raspberries, alternate expressions of joy and deep anxiety pass across his face like clouds on a windy day.

There is a burly, middle-aged American staying at the lodge, on what seems a virtually permanent basis, with a striking long-legged lady friend who, we're told, is his translator. (Sniggers from the crew.) He is anxious to be of help to us. There is a firework display in town tonight to celebrate the two hundred and fifty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Petropavlovsk. Pressed for details as to when and where, he shrugs.

'We'll find it.'

For some reason, no one believes him. And it's raining.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 13
  • Country/sea: Eastern Russia
  • Place: Petropavlovsk
  • Book page no: 30

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