Vladivostok and San Francisco have quite a few things in common. The phantastic setting on hills overlooking a huge bay, streets climbing up and down these hills and the most elegant bridges taking you to green islands. I spent four days simply walking and discovering this great city
On Olkhon Island shamanic symbols are omnipresent with Shaman Rock being the most famous one. I had expected the island to be green, but it looked more like a savannah. Later I learned that Olkhon is the driest spot in the whole of Lake Baikal. The cliffs around Cape Khoboy are spectacular even on a foggy day. Khuzir, the not so lovely capital grows on you, watching the Russian holiday makers with their beach gear became my favorite pastime.
The city celebrated its 350th birthday a few years ago, hard to imagine. It is not a hectic, cosmopolitan place but definitely a thriving city with beautiful architecture. Famous are the 19th old wooden houses of Irkutsk with beautifully painted window panes. Some of them are nicely renovated, whereas others look neglected.
Moscow’s metro stations are still a sight on their own. My last to Moscow was in 1983, even back then I marveled at the beautifully decorated stations. My absolute favorite became one that is dominated by a dog chiseled in black marble. To touch its nose brings good luck. I could not believe how many Muscovites rushed by, quickly brushing over the nose that has changed color already into a dirty white. Some things even outlast Communism.
The start of this one-month trip to Russia’s far east was super easy. My first stop was Moscow where I was welcomed by Sanita and Yuili in their riverside apartment. I met Sanita in 2011 in Ethiopia and we have stayed in contact ever since. There is no better way to get to know a place than with local friends.