Published: July 7th 2012July 6th 2012
'After a 3 hour flight we were last ones off the plane as Steph had to see the end of the film she had been watching, much to the annoyance of the rest of the passengers on the flight who were waiting on a bus. The bus then turn right and drove all of 50m to the terminal before we headed into the free for all of immigration (only 2 lines open). Other than that we made it into Russia without any problem.
Fortunately we had arranged a transfer into the city, as its quite a way from the airport, and after settling into our hotel, had a look round Russia. At this point, the absurdity of what we were about to do started to hit, as we struggled to find a restaurant in the rain - they dont seem to be very obvious, and we dont speak Russian beyond a few basic words. It seems to be that you go through doors to see what's in the building so we found a couple of small shops, and eventually came across a bar which had an English menu, and a couple of waitresses with some English (think they tossed
up and the loser got to serve us), so between that and Coral's phrase book we had a very nice meal.
An interesting breakfast spread, but we decided to stick to pancakes with lemon and sugar, and thus fortified headed into town, this time armed with a map. We'd been advised to pick up the train tickets which are not e-tickets so headed to the rail station, an impressive Victorian-type building. Eventually managed to find the right queue, and watched the beaurocracy as our ticket passes were turned into tickets (even one of the e-tickets went through the process. We then took the opportunity to explore.
Vladivostok is not as grey and drab as I'd expected - its been likened to San Francisco. Not sure about that, but it has some colourful buildings, hills, some nice architecture and a couple of large bridges - amongst the highest suspension bridges in the world - although neither looked to be open yet. We eventually managed to find the S-56 submarine (easy when you get the hang of the road names) which was fascinating to clamber through. Not sure that I would have liked to have a bunk next
Don't be bad kids ....
This is what they do to bad children in Russia!!
to one of the missiles, or how 46 men would have lived on it. From there we wandered on to a church (the first of many on this trip, I am sure)and listened to the chanting, and finally found the funicular to Eagles Nest Hill to get a good view of the city. There looked to be a couple of naval vessels in dock, and its easy to see why this is such a good harbour. Making our way back, we paid respects to the house where Yul Brynner was born and managed to find some milk for tea. Hurrah!
By now our confidence had grown so next day we decided to catch the ferry over to Russky Island, which has only been open to foreigners since early 2000s. The car ferry is small and open, but a great way to see Golden Horn bay and Vladivostok from the water. Arriving at the island we decided against catching a bus and exploring further to make sure sure we could get a ferry back in time for our train. We spent a couple of hours in Podnozhne, failing to find anything of interest there except an ice cream (nothing
wrong with that!)
Heading back to our hotel, we had just enough time to make some new Aussie friends (reminding us that we'll probably be travelling independently for a few more years yet!)then headed off for our first night on the train....
There are more photos below