Monday, September 10, 2012

Vladivostok–Of Forts and Furry Animals


Friday 24th August

Sadly, our time in Vladivostok was only short.  We would be catching the first train of our journey at 10.30pm so that left only one more day of exploring.  Luckily hotel check outs are usually at noon in Russia, so we had time to go out in the morning before packing up and leaving the hotel.  With that in mind, after breakfast we headed to the I M Arsenyev Regional History Museum, a grand building on the crossroads of the main streets of Vladivostok.

You have to pay for museum entry in Russia but generally it isn’t much – I think this was about 100Rubles, or NZ$4.  The museum is staffed by sweet little old ladies who speak no English but who will carry on explaining things to you in Russian even if you have no clue what they are saying.  They mill around in each exhibit hall directing you along the route.

The first hall was full of stuffed animals, all native wildlife from the region.  There were some slightly baffling displays and some rather strange looking creatures but it was interesting and amusing to look at – it perhaps wasn’t meant to be amusing though?


I'm late! And I seem to have lost my pocket watch!


Some kind of rare vampire deer, found only in Russia...


Somewhat bemused looking wolf.


Clearly a community meeting of the forest natives.


An Amur tiger and a bear having a friendly hug.

This museum is huge and I don’t think we actually found all of it.  It seems to wind up and down through stairwells and halls.  There were several other interesting exhibits, including one room full of hand weapons from all over the world, and some bizarre rooms, such as one filled with various kitschy needlework displays and dolls.  There seemed to be some exhibits detailing the early settlers into the area, but it was all in Russian captioning so the details were lost on us.


I thought this model was lovely, perhaps it was a model of one of the settler ships?


Time for a cup of tea! Just the right amount!


A room full of heads!

Although not strictly a museum display, we were in awe of this amazing stain glass window which was huge although that is difficult to tell from the photo:



The glass was actually stacked horizontally, so it was 3D!

After the museum we headed back to the hotel to check out and take our bags down to the railway station. There are left luggage services at all the stations so you can leave your heavy bags and still spend time sightseeing during the day, which is very useful when your train is not until late. 

Our next stop was the Vladivostok fortress museum.Vladivostok was a strategic military town and has a lot of forts, and the one closest to town has now been turned into a museum.  Rich was in heaven, the grounds were full of tanks and guns that you could play with!


Rich in front of an anti submarine gun!


These ones look like they are aimed at the city!


Some kind of artillery weapon…


Rich playing with a 20mm anti-aircraft gun.


An ‘armoured personal carrier’ – looks like a tank to me…

The weather brightened up considerably in the afternoon and it seemed most of the city’s residents were at the local beaches and promenades.  We had a wander around the area, where yet more building work is taking place.



I really liked the old-fashioned lampposts.


A musical fountain which changed the spray pattern along with the music that blared out around the square.

I had heard about a funicular tram we could take up to a good lookout over the whole city so we walked to the other side of town to find it. Unfortunately it was closed! Oh well, we had already got this far so we thought we might as well walk up the rest of the way…


Heading towards the tram, we walked under the new bridge!


The tram at the top, closed for repairs.  This was only the start of the hill climb…


The view was worth it!


We also saw two separate wedding parties here, getting their photos done.  This would become a regular occurrence for us during this journey, I’m beginning to think the wedding industry in Russia must be huge!


Padlocks symbolising a couple’s union were also very common on bridges and popular local spots everywhere we went.

After our long walk up the hill we headed back down for some dinner and to wait for the train.  We had plenty of food provisions for our three night journey to Irkutsk and were very ready for a bit of a reprieve from all the walking we had done!  Time to say ‘dasvedanya’ to Vladivostok and head off on the Rossiya train across the continent!