Vladivostok


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Europe » Russia » Far East » Vladivostok
August 1st 2010
Published: August 2nd 2010
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Vladivostok can be translated to "possess the east" and is a port city on the pacific and the end of the Trans-Siberian rail line. It houses the Russian pacific fleet in the golden horn bay and was closed off to foreigners during the Soviet era, reopening again in 1991. It is sometimes called the "San Francisco of Russia" due to it being on the ocean and the hilly area on which most of the city sits. The city is the midst of a construction and development boom with a couple of bridges, several large scale hotels and new roads in the works for the APEC summit the city is set to host in 2012.

I arrived by train in the afternoon and had arranged to couch surf with a local there called Dimitry. Couch Surfing is a website by with travelers can connect to and get hosted by locals in their homes. It's a great way to save on accommodation costs but better yet to connect with a local who lives in the town and get a much better overall experience (in theory). I contacted Dimitry when I arrived and he came to pick me up from the station and then brought me to his flat which was a five minute drive from the center, on a hill with a nice view. We made small talk and he came across as a very nice person, he had to get back to work though so he left me there. I took a shower and settled in and then we met up a few hours later at a predetermined location in town (since I have no cellphone to be contacted with). I waited for him and checked out all the pretty ladies walking by, this town is teeming with them. When Dimitry showed, we talked some more about my trip and he gave me loads of facts about Vladivostok on the way back to his place, where we got our bathing suits. We then picked up his girlfriend named Xenia and we drove off towards the outskirts of the city. On the way we picked up a friend of his who was coming along as well. On the way we passed this former dump site by the sea, now being covered up with grass. They told me they used to have to shut off their ventilation when driving by cuz the stench became so aweful. We arrived at the beach, not the nicest by any means but even in the evening it was still full of people, and went swimming. The water was nice and warm. After the swim we went to these food stands along the beach and had this meal called Shashleg which is bbqed meat, and some tea. It was tasty.

The following day I went off and explored Vladivostok on my own. First off I checked out the Dynamo stadium and beach area. Then walked and doubled up past the train station, getting a great view of the Russian Pacific fleet anchored in the bay. One thing I noticed right away in this town was how everyone drives on the right side, and almost every vehicle is Japanese. There's a huge market for Japanese cars here, I guess because of the proximity and cuz Russian cars are viewed as crap. Continuing on I went to the S-56 Submarine on display, nearby was a church where loads of married couples were getting photos taken.

Nearby was the ferry terminal and I got a ticket (cost about a buck) to go over to Russky Island, which was a former military base. I stayed on the boat however and instead got a budget cruise of the bay. From the boat I got a good view of Vladivostok and the pacific fleet in the foreground. I walked towards the center of town to a warrior's memorial and then went to the place I had previously met up with Dimitry, to meet up once again. This time we headed to a park I met some of his friends, most who spoke great English. Then Dimitry brought me to the lighthouse, at the tip of the city. Great views to be seen here, of all the bays in the area. We then returned to his appt and some of his friends came over. We sat around and ate some Russian food for dinner and then drank liquor all together. As the night got late we went to this club nearby called BSB. On the way we passed a drunk guy, I mean drunk out of his mind, trying to flag down a vehicle and almost falling over. Dimitry's friend was a DJ and had formerly worked there so he got me in for free and even got me some drinks which was amazingly kind. I met many other people and drank with them. It was almost 5am when we got back and I slept for a good two hours before getting up. My time in Russia was at an end and I had a boat to catch. I thanked Dimitry extensively, who woke up to see me off, and then walked into the distance.




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