Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Russia: Vladivostok and Petropovlovsk-Kamchatskiy

We've recently returned from Russia to the land of shaking earth. All was well at home on the earthquake front, so we're grateful for that. Overall the trip to Russia was a mixed bag. But the start of the trip was fantastic with a visit to Vladivostok for several days on an extension arranged by Debi Shearwater for a small group of us. Many thanks to Debi for all your hard work arranging this part of the trip - we really enjoyed our time in Vlad, and made many new friends from the group.

Our host for the 4 days in Vlad was Sergei from Explore Primorye, along with bird guides (ornithologists) Tatiana and Sergei (yes, a popular name). We had an excellent time birding and seeing the sights. If you ever find yourself in Vladivostok and in need of a guide, consider Explore Primorye - you won't be disappointed.

A lighthouse at dusk with Russky Island beyond
The monument to Cyril and Methodius, brothers who created the Cyrillic alphabet.

A nightscape of Vladivostok

Birding with ornithologist Tatiana (center) and Sergei (Explore Primorye, far left)

The road back at the end of the day involved fording a river.

A beautiful convent

City tour

Erin rides the tiger

Lenin pointing the way to the post office where we bought stamps.

A fine example of the Soviet style of architecture.

Train Station

A real highlight of the visit was our group dinner on the last evening at an authentic Georgian restaurant. The food was amazing and the atmosphere fun. Stan and Racine, from our group, had their anniversary that night, which was tipped to the wait staff. Then ensuing festivities of special headwear, singing, and a VERY large horn filled with wine (that was completely consumed) made for a grand occasion. What a hoot.

Erin learns how to devour her bread and cheese monstrosity while Kay films

Stan and Racine party hearty

The waterfront, complete with Russian sailors marching back to their ship.

I didn't do a lot of photography as we birded Vlad, but manage a few.

Blue Rock-Thrush

Daurian Redstart

Long-tailed Rosefinch

Oriental Reed Warbler

Willow Tit

Next we were off to Petropovlovsk-Kamchatskiy on the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula for a couple of days of birding and sight seeing prior to our expedition voyage. The birding was fun, even with the drizzly conditions. An afternoon of walking the waterfront area visiting the many statues was enjoyable.

One of many large volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula

Lenin, every town has a statue.

Petropavlovsk (St. Peter and St. Paul)

Monument to the war dead of many wars.

Monument to Vitus Bering

After our walking tour of PK, we were hungry. We had smelled a fine aroma from a restaurant so we headed back. English speaking tourists don't seem to visit often and the menu was in Cyrillic. Asking the owner if she spoke English brought a response of nyet. What to do? 

We took photos of the items on the side of the building and went back inside, pointed and held up fingers of how many we would like. Her response was chicken, pork, or moo?  We thought moo for beef was brilliant.  It was a fine meal. After dinner they called us a taxi to take us back to our hotel.  Very nice.

Birding the boreal forest

Birding the boreal forest