From George Square to Red Square

Moscow 1

Dynamic duo Michael Pavelka and Petra Marcel plan to drive from Glasgow to Moscow to raise cash for MND 

21st October 2014 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Five years ago my partner Petra and I had the idea of driving from George Square to Red Square. It wasn’t for anything other than the adventure – we just fancied the leisurely jaunt across eastern Europe stopping at some of the sights on the way.

Now we’re actually going to do it – and hopefully raise thousands for motor neurone disease (MND) in the process.

We revisited the idea after my friend’s brother Sam got diagnosed with MND. It came as a bit of a bombshell – he was young, healthy and happy with his life but the illness can strike anyone at anytime.

So to show our support and that of others we thought we’d put the tentative plans we’d side-lined all those years ago into action.

We’re travelling in a 1972 VW camper and the biggest challenge will be keeping it running. We’ve had it overhauled, fixed the leaks, got the cooker and heater working and made sure we’ve plenty of spares for the 3,550 km journey. But we know something will go wrong if only because it’s what VW campers do best.

Not including Scotland our route will take us through eight countries: England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Poland, Belarus and finally Russia. 

The camper is a left hand drive. We’ve been advised not to appear like tourists when in eastern Europe. Russia especially has a massive insurance fraud problem and unwitting tourists are often targeted for cash-for-crash “accidents”.

We set off in November and hope to arrive in a snow-covered Moscow four days later with each of us taking turns driving four-hour stints.

We then spend two days in Russia before retracing our journey back to Scotland in the same time frame, all going well.

The big unknown is the weather. November is when eastern Europe starts to get very cold and can be exposed to extreme weather coming in from the Baltic. We will however be prepared for this – despite both of us being from Romania we’ve plotted our course with the precision of pilots and have local knowledge of Russia, Belarus and Poland – the places to avoid and the roads to steer clear of.

With the money raised we hope to make Sam’s life a bit easier. It’ll contribute to practical changes to his life – such as an adapted electric wheelchair. Though he was only diagnosed two years ago, the progress of the disease has been rapid and he now can’t walk and has only limited upper body movement.

I’ve run a number of marathons and 10ks for charity before but this idea has really captured the imagination.

Our employers have pledged to pay for our expenses and fuel. We’ll therefore donate what it would have cost us in petrol to Sam’s fund from our own pockets.  

More than a dozen family and friends have arranged to meet us in Red Square so we plan to have an amazing party to celebrate our arrival.

We initially arranged the party for Glasgow on our return but the vodka’s far cheaper in Moscow!