Japanese word of the day: Ringo ( りんご) = Apple
Today was the first port where we booked a tour because you either had three options: get a visa and explore freely, book a tour and stay with a guide, or stay on the ship.
The good thing about this tour was that it was later in the afternoon so we could get up a little later, have lunch, and then head out. The bad thing about this tour was that it was later in the afternoon so the sun was burning us despite a million layers of sunscreen.
Our tour guide was a nice girl who just graduated college and planned to become a teacher with tour guiding (?) as her side job. Right away, I noticed that there was a ton of traffic because there were barely any traffic lights. The tour guide pointed out that a lot of the cars in Vladivostok are Japanese cars because it’s easier and cheaper to buy one despite the driver’s side being on the right. The roads in Vladivostok were like American roads, so that was a nice sight for me. I still can’t get Japanese driving through my head. I can barely even drive in America to begin with.
The tour guide took us on a walking tour of the city where we hit the docks, a beautiful side street, a museum of Russian wars, an uncompleted cathedral, and the birthplace of a famous actor.
I’m going to be honest: I wasn’t a huge fan of this port. I think the fact that there were so many restrictions on where we could go and there was the feeling that we were being watched everywhere we went was really intimidating, not to mention the two Russian navy ships parked right outside our stateroom window that greeted us when we woke up.
Our tour guide also mentioned that women are still not given many opportunities for work, especially in the factories. In her words, women are expected to bear a child and nothing else.
It was eye opening to be in Russia where the atmosphere really felt different, but I think that if they lower the restrictions on visitors and invest a little more in tourism, Vladivostok could develop into a very beautiful port and become just as desirable as St. Petersburg.
We passed under an elegant, modern bridge on the way out of the port, and THAT was the most beautiful moment of the cruise. I stood out on the front of the ship with my family and just breathed in the wind, and the sun was setting behind us as the ship sailed away from the cityscape of Vladivostok.
I’m super hyped for our next port, Aomori, because we’re going to see the Nebuta Festival!!! This festival features paper floats that are bursting with color, and I’m so excited because I LOVE colors and scary-looking things and that’s exactly what these paper floats are so YAY!