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Elderly German traveler arrives in downtown Petersburg in tractor

July 04, 16:04 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG

The traveler said that the locals managed to talk to him along the way, despite the language barrier

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© Piotr Kovalev/TASS
© Piotr Kovalev/TASS
© Piotr Kovalev/TASS
© Piotr Kovalev/TASS
© Piotr Kovalev/TASS

ST. PETERSBURG, July 4. /TASS/. Elderly traveler Winfried Langner, who traveled from Germany to Russia by tractor, reached the destination point - downtown St. Petersburg - on Tuesday. He received a warm welcome there, but came in sight of the road patrol service for violating parking rules.

As agreed with the Consulate General of Germany in St. Petersburg, the 81-year-old traveler arrived in the Tauride Garden located not far from the German diplomats’ office. His tractor was immediately surrounded by reporters and curious citizens with children who wanted to learn the details of the journey and make photos of the driver’s vintage tractor. "I was a bit startled to see so many people around, interested in me, but I’m very happy to have received such a hearty welcome," Langner said.

He said that he had already talked to Russians in other cities, especially in Kaliningrad, where he had to stay for some time because of the back axle breakdown. The traveler said that the locals had helped him to repair it and managed to talk to him, despite the language barrier.

"We repaired everything: people there helped me. The Russian language seemed pretty hard, but we used hands, legs and gestures for communication, so we understood each other," Langner said.

After arriving to St. Petersburg, Langner told reporters about his travel eagerly and emotionally and gave the city the flag of Lower Saxony (he was born in Lauenforde) through Germany’s consulate.

Why a tractor is better than a car

Winfried Langner has traveled in his tractor, manufactured in 1961, through many countries since 2006. He bought it from a farmer after retirement and repaired himself, as he had previously worked as a construction equipment mechanic.

Langner is most scrupulous about the state and appearance of his vehicle - the tractor looks like a retro car museum’s exhibit. The 15 hp agricultural vehicle was manufactured 56 years ago in Cologne. Langner covers 110-120 km a day at an average speed of 18 km per hour by tractor. The traveler leaves the car in a parking lot and switches to a bicycle that he carries with himself as a "leg workout."

"Traveling by tractor is much better than (traveling) by car," Langner said. "When you drive slowly, you can admire the landscape and talk to people who come up and ask questions very often."

A route without a navigator

Prior to his trip to Russia, the German traveler drove through Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Norway by tractor. He planned to visit Latin America, but abandoned this idea later upon his brother’s advice, opting for St. Petersburg instead, that, according to Langer, "has a climate similar to that in Germany."

His daughter, who came to St. Petersburg with him, helped him to make the travel route. Their course led from Germany through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. He made a note on the map saying that the total length of the route was 6,000 km (including the return journey).

Langner does not use electronic navigators, but lays out the route on a paper map instead. It is fixed to the motorhome trailer’s window. He has not been following news during the travel, and he learnt that Germany had won the Confederations Cup held in Russia only in St. Petersburg.

In his travel, Langner uses a motorhome for sleeping, but he is staying in a hotel in St. Petersburg.

The traveler plans to spend about a week in the city and then return home by the very same route. "I plan to see St. Petersburg and go back home in the near future, and then I will think of what to do next," Langner said.

The traveler believes that such trips can develop friendship between people from different countries. "It would be great if someone from St. Petersburg made such a trip to our town," he noted.

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