Retrospective Russian ramblings 1 – Vladivostok

I don’t have a coherent post planned for you, but I’m enjoying free wifi with my excellent ginger / lemon / honey / grenadine / mint green tea and think I’ll order some blini so it seems an opportune time to catch up on some blogging…

So here’s the start of a look back at the Russia travels.


Vladivostok is a city built on some steep hills around a big harbour.  Often compared to San Francisco apparently, but having never been to SF I can’t comment on that…

I stayed in the home of a lovely lady called Olga.  She spoke no English, and I no Russian.  But we managed to communicate fairly effectively I thought, with occasional phone translation assistance from her english speaking daughter, Irina.

On day 2 I got my first taste of much of what was to come… it snowed!  Undeterred, I dressed like a michelin man and set out for my first day of snow-sight-seeing (a skill I’ve now just about perfected).  The russia coat and boots came into their own very speedily, and I was warm and dry(ish) as I walked for miles up and down those hilly streets.

This pic is me with a statue of a tiger.  (The eye of the tiger, in fact).  However what you should be admiring at this point is the fabulous furry lining of my coat hood.  It’s been a winner that fur.

I was surprised by many things in Vladivostok – mostly how colourful it was.  Beautiful buildings in mostly pastel yellows, blues, greens, pinks and coffee browns.  And they like a bright coloured roof in Russia – lots of cobalt blue and grass green when you look down on the city from an apartment window.

So I walked and walked and walked… Successfully caught a bus, went up and down on the funicular railway, visited the S-56 submarine and had a “Hunt for Red October” moment looking through the periscope (it’s an actual submarine, marooned on a footpath not far from the centre of town – part of the WWII memorial).  I admired statues and monuments and gold-domed churches, the triumphal arch built for a tsar’s visit (then destroyed by the soviets, then rebuilt more recently).

I perilously ordered food at street stands and in cafes having no idea what the menu said (no disasters!), including my first borsch (delicious beetroot soup).  I wondered at the crazy traffic and haphazard parking arrangements, and learned how to cross the road by spotting the pedestrian crossings (marked by signs not road markings – necessary when most of the road is covered in snow / mud / slush) and stepping confidently into the path of oncoming traffic assuming they will notice, and stop (this is not an insignificant skill!)

Russia, it must be said, knows how to do a public square.  (And I had decided this well before reaching the big red one here in Moscow!)

Vladivostok’s square is suitably imposing, accessorised by the Monument to the Fighters for Soviet Power in the Far East, and was the site of some quite impressive snow-plough team precision driving earlier that morning.

The following day dawned bright and sunny (which I’ve since learned just means the snow turns into slush much faster) and I used the fine weather to visit the Vladivostok museum of fortresses, situated in one of the many old forts that ring the town and provided Russia’s pacific defensive network from the end of the 19th century onwards.  A very interesting museum (surprising how much you can glean even without being able to read the explanations), it is still the holder of my personal awards for ‘scariest toilet experience of the trip’ (a squat in a frozen metal box in the outside back corner), and ‘most intriguing museum tableau / exhibit’ for a display showing a wall map with lit locations of all the forts surrounding Vladivostok, on the floor beneath a couple of large crew-operated guns (entirely in keeping with the general theme), and next to them… an upright piano.  What dastardly purpose had the piano served I wondered? Several goon-like plots immediately presented themselves….

And with that, I’m out of time in this cafe!  Hope you’re all well.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Retrospective Russian ramblings 1 – Vladivostok

  1. Mum

    Hi there Anna,
    Thanks for the Russian musings – a piano amidst all that – sounds a bit like the Hungarian Rhapsody Goon plot!! I can hear you whistling from here!

    I did admire the fur on your hood, as well as the tiger’s eye of course.

    Have a good time on your last leg of the Trans-Siberian tonight – what a journey!

    Lots of love,
    Mum & Dad

  2. Pip

    HI miss Anna
    So nice to hear the Ramblings. I do remember imposing squares and colourful buildings.

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