Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Tuesday, 10/01/13 Vladivostok, Russia

Tuesday, 10/01/13 Vladivostok, Russia

The ship arrived in Vladivostok at 4:00 a.m. and it is scheduled to leave at 7:00 p.m. Evidently, the timing was intended to prevent passengers from taking lots of photos of the Russian navy that is based here. Only a couple of destroyers were docked near the ship; although I took photos, they were not very rewarding. The weather in Vladivostok was really great -- low 70s and sunny -- perfect for walking and sightseeing.

I had not registered for a ship tour, preferring to go for a walk on the main streets. However, when I woke and looked out at the city, it appeared to me that walking all the way to the farthest church that I wanted to visit was too far. Therefore, I did as I have done so many times in the past; I looked for a taxi. Taxis were lined up in front of the train station, just outside the cruise terminal, and I quickly found one that would take American money, and who could speak enough English that he could take me where I wanted to go. He took me to every site that I had planned to see, and a few more, and he charged only $50, only about one-third the cost of a ship tour that would visit only a few sites. He was a really nice guy, and I enjoyed seeing all the sights I had planned to see.

After the "tour" I walked for a while, visiting the Victory Arch and submarine museum.

Afterward, I stopped in a nice Russian restaurant for borscht and an apple pastry. It was perfect, and I was able to pay with a card, so I didn't need to get Russian money.

After lunch I walked for another hour, and then went back to the ship, and on to the terminal building for free WiFi, so I could update my blog.

Several observations about Vladivostok will stay with me.  First, I have never before seen so many very tall, very thin, very pretty young women as in Vladivostok.  It seemed that every other young woman was very tall, very thin, and very pretty.  Virtually all of them wore very tight-fitting dark pants (I‘m sure with Spandex), and most of them wore very high heels, making them even taller.  They all had long hair; none had short hair.  The sight of these tall, thin, pretty women was truly striking. 

Second, I was struck that so many cars had steering wheels on the right, even though they drove on the right side of the street.  I was reminded of St. Thomas, where the same thing occurs.  I was told that the reason was that many of the cars in Vladivostok are imported from Japan, and the steering is not changed because it is less expensive to purchase Japanese cars with the steering on the right.  I noticed that almost all of the cars were Japanese. 

Third, the traffic was truly choking.  It was incredible.  It barely moved.  Making it worse was the lack of parking space.  There seemed to be no parking lots or garages, and cars parked everywhere.  On many streets, the cars parked two and three deep, leaving only one very narrow lane down the center of the street for traffic. 

Fourth, the people were very friendly.  So many people smiled and said hello, and even when they could not speak English, they tried to be helpful.  I really liked the people of Vladivostok, and I would like very much to return there someday.  


The ship was an hour late leaving the port because several passengers had not returned their passports to passenger services; the ship left the dock at 8:00 p.m., well after the scheduled time to depart, and in darkness.  However, as the ship sailed out of the port, I went up top to watch and take a few photos (in the dark), and I noticed that we passed no Russian navy vessels.  So the reason for the dark arrival and departure was not to prevent photos of Russian navy vessels, as there were none except for the few docked next to the ship. 

As we sailed out of the harbor, we passed under a huge new bridge that was very impressive.  I will have to look up that bridge when I get back home.

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