Hello all, this is Clarisse’s Corner and I’m here to tell you all about our excursion into the lovely city of Vladivostok! We had been saying we were going into the city many times. But, as our days progressed we grew lazy and would put of the adventure for another day. But today we finally decided that this procrastination is an abomination, we’re going’ in! Joe arranged for Dmitry, our driver that picked us up from the airport, to come get us and take us into Vladivostok for the day and show us the sights. But first, we had to go to a mall so Joe could buy some cord for the camera or something like that. Mom and I decided to explore while the boys were getting what they needed. As we walked we giggled at the store clerks gawking at us, “Do you think we stick out like a sore thumb?”, my mother asked. We meandered in and out of a few tiny clothing stores, most were the size of large office cubicles. At one point I gave a small squeak when I walked past a store window and saw a manikin. Note to future adopters: Russian manikins are scary. After we found the boys we headed off to see the sights. Dmitry said he knew just the place. As we wound up streets that were more like the dark, run down back alleys you see in West Side Story, mom and I look at each other and I know she is thinking the same as I am, “where is this guy taken’ us?”. Finally we arrive on top of the world, or at least that’s what it seemed like. “Most beautiful view in city” Dmitry says, obviously very proud of himself. Mom then says, “oh yes, our driver brought us here on our last trip!” Dmitry immediately deflates in the realization that he has not brought us to one of the few moments in our lives where we are truly in awe. When I hop out of the car and gaze down at the Russian city miles bellow us, I am in awe (this is my first time seeing it because I was not here with mom and Joe on the first trip). I’m not even quite sure how to describe this view because it really was magical. I remember laughing at myself because it was an unusual kind of beauty because it was almost all man made. I have never seen anything like this. I have been to Florida and watched the sun set, into the ocean, seen the hilly, clear plains of Idaho, and even the wide-open space on the Mediterranean Sea. But, I have never seen so many big apartment buildings whose beauty increases with the amount of wear and damage on them. All different colors, green, yellow, cream, tan, and even baby blue. Behind this sea of buildings, or should I say works of art, was a vast body of water stretching to what it seems to be the edge of our flat earth. There were four or five war ships in the harbor to our right, black and grey. Directly in front of us was the construction of a massive bridge probably as big as the Golden Gate, though I have never seen that bridge to be able to really compare.
The railing that stood between the huge drop and us was adorned with padlocks. All different sizes and shapes of pad locks with an inscription of the date the lock was placed on top of this great city and the initials of who had put it there. The was also a huge statue of 2 guys, maybe saints? Dmitry told us newly married couples came here to take pictures with the statue and place a lock for luck in their marriage.
“Souvenirs, yes?” Dmitry says. And we walk down to the souvenir shop. We spend what seems like hours picking out presents for our selected few. I have never seen so many of those stacking dolls (you know, the wooden ones that when you open them there is a smaller one inside her and the same for that one and so on). Every color, many different characters. I picked out a few frilly ones for my friends and a panda one for my sister Mallory (SHOUT OUT!). She and I share quite the infatuation with panda bears and I was elated when mom discovered this unique find.
After buying almost one of everything in the shop we headed back out. Dmitry told us about a war memorial that has a submarine you can tour for just 100 rubles a person (plus 50 to bring a camera in and take pictures?). One hundred rubles is about $3.50 in US dollars for those of you who are not familiar with the ruble. The front part of the submarine was gutted out of all the pipes and tubes and stuff and made into a small museum, decorated with pictures of the inhibitors of the submarine and the things that belonged to them (old cameras, pocket watches, metals, etc…). When you make your way to the back it feels like you really are in a working submarine. We took many pictures; mostly silly ones of us pretending to be subineers looking out the periscope and sleeping on the hanging cots (even though the sign said keep off hahaha!). In our defense, we saw the sign after we took the picture. We left the submarine and took more pictures of the war memorial, the eternal flame burning in honor of the men, old cannons, and machine guns on large marble pedestals.
I then chose to announce I was hungry and wanted food. Dmitry said he knew a little fast food burger joint that we would like called Royal Burger. Mom and Joe repeatedly ask if it was anything like Magic Burger, because they had that a few days before while they waited for their medicals and hated it. Dmitry said “no, no, nothing like Magic Burger, this better!”. I never had the pleasure of eating any of Magic Burgers cuisine but I don’t think that Royal Burger was any better. I’m not sure why, but Russians are against pickles and don’t put them on their burgers, instead you get two cucumber slices (like what??). I don’t care what anyone says that “meat patty” was anything but meat. After smiling and nodding saying “mmm” so many times it was almost obvious we were faking, we left the Royal Burger to start for the hotel.
After lying around all weekend and Monday, this trip into Vlad knocked us all out. Forty-five minutes later, we arrived back at the Vlad Inn and stumbled out of the car, thanking and paying Dmitry. We headed straight for our room where we crashed down on our beds and almost immediately fell asleep, regardless of the fact that it was about 5:30 in the afternoon.