Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Greetings from...Vladivostok!! :)

22.I.13
Kristen says...

Hello! Greetings from Russia!! :)

Oh I have so much to tell you!!!

WHAT A COUPLE OF WEEKS!

It started on a Thursday... a Thursday when I drove from Falls Church to Richmond, a lovely 2-hour drive, to get Pip's veterinary documents signed and sealed by the USDA, which I then scanned and e-mailed to Switzerland...

It was the night before packout and we were still trying to pack, which is never a good sign. I also had a nasty sinus headache so I went to bed early...

At 6:20 the next morning I awoke, checked my e-mails...and found out that I would be driving back to Richmond, because I had been given the wrong form by my vet. Sigh.

Of course, the fact that I had to drive back to Richmond meant that I totally missed packout, so there are no pictures of packout this time around...sorry 'bout that. :)

So that was not an auspicious start to the trip.

Luckily, things got better from there.

On Friday (after my second trip to Richmond and packout was over) some of Chris' classmates had a "Bowl Away" Party for Chris and two other classmates who were leaving in the past week...
 Needless to say, neither Chris nor I are really good at bowling... :)

On Saturday night we went out for Indian food with one of my Russian teachers, which was DELICIOUS and super-fun...and kept my mind busy from worrying about the next day's events...like flying halfway across the world. :)

We went to the airport quite early the next day, like 5 hours early, because we were traveling with Pip and everything...this was good, because we had United Club passes that we wanted to use, but this was bad because the United Pet Desk people were rude and unhelpful when we arrived early. Boo.

Anyway, we got there to drop Pip off, were rebuffed, had to go kill an hour and a half, and then were able to go back, actually dropped him off, and spent a nice relaxing few hours in the United Club. Lovely.

At last we got on the plane...we tried to upgrade to first class so we could lay down and sleep, but that didn't work out...so economy plus it was! :S
 Eight (real) hours later we were in Switzerland! How fun! It was my first trip to Swizerland, and we decided to actually count it as a real country because we actually had to leave the airport to get Pip!
Due to a random United glitch (pattern?) we had to use a pet moving company to get Pip into and out of Switzerland (which actually ended up being good because of the whole wrong form thing), but I have to say Ace Pet Moving is a pretty great company and did a great job with our baby!

We had another short layover in Switzerland, and then in a hop, skip, jump and four hours we arrived in Moscow.

We stayed at the Lotte, a gorgeous (and dog friendly!) hotel not too far from the Embassy.

Chris had two days of meetings in Moscow and I had two days of trying to catch my brain and stomach up with my body. I have never actually been hungover, but I'm pretty sure how I felt for most of the time I was in Moscow is pretty close to how one feels with a hangover. Ick.

I did manage to get away from the hotel bed long enough to head out into the city and see some fun Moscovian sights!
View from the 7th floor
The fanciest port-a-potties I have ever seen! Very impressive! :)
Bolshoi Theater!
Exit to Street (we took the metro...which was SO MUCH better than DC's)
Red Square part 1
I just want to say, I am super-impressed that the Sochi Olympics picked actual, meaningful animals as their mascots!


Red Square part 2
Я прогуяться в парке в Москве c моей собакой!
So Moscow was nice.

After two and a half days we boarded another plane, this one for Vladivostok! :) Yay! Finally! :)

The flight to Vladivostok was long but overnight and pleasant, especially because Pip was with us. In the plane. On two seats. Good times! :)
I thought the route that we took, especially at the end, was interesting...
We have been here for just under a week and have seen some fun and interesting things!
The view from our 3rd floor hotel room! You can see a stadium, fountains, the frozen bay, and probably, if you look really really hard, ice fishermen!
Pip and I chillin' in Vladivostok!
These are a few of my favorite things about Russia...why yes, that is a built-in bidet and heated seat. No words. :)
Kristen and the Bear! :)
I don't really think this needs a caption
This is the first/only Western "restaurant" I've seen so far here
View from the 10th floor of a mall Chris and I randomly stumbled into the other day...pretty
Old School Vladivostok images
The side of our current residence...
So, first impressions:
-It's cold (avg temp in the 10s-20s) but not as bad as I thought it might be. With gloves and a hat and a brisk walking pace it's not bad at all.
-WALKING! There are people walking all over the place! It's lovely! We are staying right next to a couple of very pedestrian areas and that has been enjoyable to experience.
-Expensive! Basically 1 dollar = 30 rubles, but when stocking caps cost between 1200 and 5000 rubles ($40-$166), you kind of don't want to buy anything. :)
-I need to keep working on my Russian. I am pretty proficient at saying my husband is a diplomat, but less good at things like, "I would like to order..." or basically anything else necessary for everyday life. So, something to work on.
-Dark! The sun doesn't come up until 9:30 or 10 am...but on the plus side it doesn't go down until around 7:30...

All-in-all, it's been a little tough adjusting but I'm getting the hang of it. We're not even in our final place of residence yet so I can't even unpack, so everything feels a little unsettled...I am looking forward to the next few days and weeks when we move in and all our stuff arrives...but for now, it's nice to finally be in Vladivostok! :)

KF

2 comments:

  1. This sounds like fun! I guess I forgot to mention how much and how many people walk. When my mom came here, that was one of the things she wondered about - where are the people? Because everybody drives here.

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  2. Amazing journey so far! Your pictures are great. Beautiful buildings.

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