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
The most famous place for tourists is the viewpoint reached by a funicular. After a 60 second ride for 11 rubles you need to get further up to the very viewpoint. With the city, the bridges and an impressive harbor at your feet this is really quite a sight. I went up there four times so I have photos of the bridge in fog, rain and in sunshine. The place is a must-visit for the busloads of Chinese tourists who are that carted there. The numbers are mind-boggling and their favorites pastime is taking selfies.
Nobody must leave town without seeing Vladivostok famous train station, the final stop of the even more famous “Transsib”. The many tracks passing through invited me to dream of the many exciting places they would take me.
Many times I walked past the S-56 Submarine Museume but since I could not picture myself entering the claustrophobic ambience I passed. On my last day I could not resist and checked it out. The first thing that struck me were fridge magnets depicting Stalin, right at the ticket counter, even inside the submarine was a portrait of Stalin. Exploring the interior of the submarine all of a sudden a little Chinese girl climbed through one of the small doors and I had to smile: imagine this 25 years ago, Chinese tourists crawling round the inside of a Russia submarine.
The political changes are not only noticeable in tourism – the numbers of Chinese tourist visiting Vladivostok is almost unbelievable – but also on new military cooptations. During a visit of the harbor I noticed a major commotion, navy vessel from China, South Korea and Japan were visiting. Lots of marching sailing, officer in neat uniforms and Russian lady in traditional gear welcoming the visiting crew.
My endless strolls through Vladivostok brought be to picturesque churches and awesome restaurants. Stolovaya Nr 1 looks what restaurants looked like in Soviet times and they did not change the map. Sometimes I took busses just to travel around town, doing the whole loop. On one of these excursions I passed a spectacular church, jumped out at the next stop and was truly stunned by this beautiful architecture.
A visit to Russian Island was recommended in my travel guide to I took the bus all the way out, it is about one hour. Not knowing where to get off I left the bus when it reached the big Far Eastern University University. I was thirsty and needed a toilet, but the security would not allow me in and they showed me in a rather harsh way. So I took the bus Nr 15 back into Vladivostok.The ride itself is nice since you cross various long suspension bridges, but most likely you need a car to and a local who knows the cool places to really enjoy Russian Island. To make sense of this useless excursion I focused on oddities and found them. The cute mini-curtains in the bus and sponge that served as an coin holder
My favorite bartender in Vladivostok? This guy. Why? My evenings I spent in a bar/restaurant near my hotel. The reason why I chose it was that it was the only restaurant with windows that allowed me to see the inside. Most of the time in Russia I could not identify restaurants and shops since the typical features simply were not there, like windows and doors that allow you to see that is inside and without being able to read the signs it was just another building. Later in Petropavlovsk I passed by a shop many times since nothing, absolutely nothing hinted it was a shop selling towels. One evening after dinner I realized I had forgotten my wallet in my hotel, I panicked, offered my laptop, my mobile phone….this guy just said: you are leaving nothing here…. if you don’t come back the world keeps on turning. I tried to picture a situation like this in my home town Vienna…..
I had booked into the Equator Hotel (US 70 including breakfast) since it seemed near to everything, which it was. I was the only non-Chinese tourist in the hotel and they were themselves quite a sight, especially since they always come in big crowds and talk to each other really loudly. If I had not been to China before I would have though to Chinese people as real night owls. Any time of the nights they had Chinese food delivered to the hotel and I once saw a few of them in the jewelry shop at 2am.