I’d like to put emphasis on Pudozh, about 10 hours north from St. Petersburg. Why? Strategic location, half way between St. Petersburg and Kandalaksha. Several hotels and lots of guesthouses that normally cost $20 per person per night in and around Pudozh. Probably the best place to fix the car that, by the time it reaches Pudozh, especially if moving south, may be falling apart as a consequence of beaten up roads. We had several jobs done by Serezha and Dima, +7 911 665 1396, and ours is not an easy car to work on. Speaking of car problems, torn our shocks, bearings, and exploded tires are most common victims of holes in asphalt. Check suspension before going, and don’t forget to deflate tires on rough stretches of the road. Alexandra’s Chow-Chow dog Tasha comes from Pudozh and Alexandra maintains active connections with Tasha’s breeders. Pudozh definitely belongs to what feels like familiar territory.
I haven’t inspected this one myself but judging from the number of billboards the “Bear Corner” a major tourist center. more >>
Igor Podgorny, a downshifter from Moscow, makes excellent photos. See http://igorpodgorny.livejournal.com/452094.html
My own familiarity with Pudozh is based on staying there 24 hours while local car mechanics searched all over and found ball bearings for our decaying LandRover, and successfully installed them, and enlightened us on what specific auto breakdowns are provoked by Karelian roads, and on the importance of keeping tires a bit deflated. Alexandra has connections through her Chow-Chow network.