Monday, April 29, 2013

Two Beautiful Weekends by the Bay

Kristen says...

 Hello! Sorry it's been such a long time since we updated this blog, but the weather has been so nice lately that we've been out and about experiencing Vladivostok rather than inside blogging...

Also I cut the tip of my index finger last week and couldn't type for a few days! :/

 Anyhoo, Vladivostok is really a nice city. Very pedestrian, and full of pedestrians. We've had two nice weekends in a row and we and many other residents have been out to take advantage of it!

 I was awakened last Saturday by Chris' voice asking, "Do you want to go on a long walk?" The answer, of course, was "Heck no I'm sleeping!" but, like the loving wife I am, I got up, put on some jeans and t-shirt, and headed out for a long walk...

Which, of course, was really quite pleasant. :)

Here are some of the sights we saw:
Chris' grandfather was a sailor during World War II so Vladivostok's many homages to the sea are welcome.
It's a bit hard to tell, but this building has a cloth facade...I wonder what it looks like underneath...
Another lovely piece of Vladivostokian public art
 I believe Chris' purpose of the walk was to get to a new boardwalk recently built on the bay we can see from our apartment, and located not far from the Nadezhda...but we never did make it there, we were sidetracked by a small park full of soldiers.

 To be honest, my first reaction to seeing a park full of soldiers was to keep on going, but it quickly became apparent they were cleaning the park, so we decided to walk down and see what was what.

And what we saw was this:

This interesting monument caught our eye, and we walked over to see it. After a minute or so we were joined by a military gentleman who proceeded to explain, in rapid Russian, of course, the history of the monument.

 I really didn't understand most of what he was saying, but at one point he asked if we were from the US, and when we said yes, he thanked us...which I thought was nice, until I translated the plaque and found out the story of the monument, which you can read Google translated here...basically this is a monument commemorating the crew lost during a shipwreck in 1889...the wreck of a ship that began as "Henrietta", a US smuggling ship, and ended as "Kreyserok" after it was captured by the Russians. It was wrecked off the coast of Japan while carrying both Russian and US citizens after another US ship was captured...interesting stuff. :)

 Anyway, after telling us about the monument the man invited us to visit the Pacific Fleet Museum located next door to the park. Since we had nothing better to do, we did!

First we looked around at the impressive collection of military artifacts outside the museum:

Part of the Lend-Lease program, I'm told...apparently it's a long lease...
Once we went inside the museum we paid for the privilege to take pictures, so here they are:
Captain Chris!
Who knew Mark Twain visited Russia!? ;)
I found the Red October! (As well as many other model ships!)
I want to go back sometime with someone who actually speaks Russian to find out the story behind why crochet and needlepoint are on display in a military museum...
I actually felt kind of bad, I wasn't really dressed for a museum visit...
 It was a very nice museum and I look forward to returning sometime when I can spend more time and with someone who speaks Russian! :)

 That was two Saturday's ago...this past Saturday Chris suggested a drive instead of a long walk.
We were kept up on Friday night by loud sustained pounding outside, and this is what we saw all along the major street near our house...we thought they were pulling up the electric train rails to make the street wider, but they're really pulling them out to replace them...that will make driving interesting!
  Instead of just driving around, which is what I thought we would do, we ended up just down the hill from the museum we'd visited the Saturday before, on the boardwalk.

 This area is really new, and really nice. It is also very, very popular with bridal couples--we saw at least a half dozen brides and grooms while we were there. We also saw these gates with love padlocks, which makes sense in that context. :)

 There were many families out and about that day, enjoying the amenities of the area:
Ship-shaped playground
More interesting public art
Life-sized chess board!
Pip enjoyed the view
It's the "Danger Zone" :)
 After walking on the boardwalk we journeyed up the hill to this nice little park:
 Where we saw green grass and clay tennis courts:
 And the bridge, of course!
Such a pretty bridge! :)
We also walked over to another memorial area with what could be equated with our Vietnam Wall

It was such a gorgeous day, and it was nice to get out and see more of the city.

 Funnily enough it has rained continuously the past two days, so I guess we got really lucky over the weekend (although I'm enjoying the rain, too!)

 This week is Easter week in the Orthodox Church, so Chris has the next three days off from work...apparently they are shutting the bridges down to car traffic tomorrow, so that might be an interesting sight...hopefully one I can share with you all later in the week! :)


Monday, April 15, 2013

More Stuff!

Kristen says...

Well hello there!

It is amazing how busy you can be when you have nothing else to do but unpack boxes!

 Yes, we received another (our final) shipment of "stuff" two weeks ago, and I have spent most of my waking hours attempting to organize it...let me tell you, this is a work in progress!

 One of the biggest "works" (as anticipated) was the de-boxing, organization and shelving of my personal library:
There were at least 4 other boxes of books that aren't in this photo!
The books I am pointing at are Chris'...all the rest are mine :)
All organized, categorized, and yes, I do have a running list...good thing we got the two extra bookshelves! :)
Other highlights from the delivery?

New bed!!
This is the most comfortable bed EVER!! If you live in or near Iowa, I HIGHLY suggest you visit Midwest Mattress for a new bed, their Iowa-made beds are AWESOME!!!
The bed is so high I had to get stairs for Pip! :)
Chris' hair was sooo long! Before and:
After! What a handsome guy! :)
The Wii and the Wii Fit!
Good times! :)
In-between unpackings we have gotten out a bit as well:

 One of Chris' co-workers is a beader, and she invited anyone who wanted to come over and make jewelry, so of course I did! :) It was lots of fun, and a great excuse to get out of the house!

I also had a little culture in my life when I went to the opening of another local artist's showing:
And guess what...John was there! And he remembered me! :)
There were quite a few journalists at the event.
 The exhibit was opened with a few words from one of the people who worked at the museum, then the artist said a few words, then her friends/family/anyone else who wanted to could stand and talk about the artist (John spoke for quite a while), and then food was served.

 Of course, all this was in Russian, which was quite overwhelming for me, but it was very nice to see John there and another art dealer I met before, who spoke English, explained some of the finer elements of the art to me and asked the artist some of my questions.

 The show was actually held in the basement of a local "дом-музей" (home-museum, much like our visits to Monticello or Hillwood), a small house where V. K. Arsenyev, a famous Russian who was responsible for much of the early mapping of this part of the world, lived for a time.

 Once the food was served I was able to go upstairs and see the museum. It was very small but nice, and I would like to go back because I didn't get to stay long. One of the artifacts that was original to Arsenyev was this globe, which really struck me because instead of showing the Earth it showed the stars:
 I didn't really know where the museum was, so I chose to take a taxi to the event instead of driving. I was going to take a taxi home, but was told that home was just two bus stations away, so, I walked over to the train station, boarded a bus, and had my first Russian bus experience!
There it is, the end of the Trans-Siberian Railway! :)
Our bus wasn't very full, which was surprising considering how they usually look. Apparently the buses are new from the 2012 APEC Conference, but they seem to have caught on very quickly!
We also went out to a fun restaurant the other night, called Syndicate. It was an "American-style" restaurant, and offered quite a few novelties:
The Band: Called "Black and White"--the singer did an excellent Louis Armstrong impersonation!
The Menu: Notice the 4th salad down...the "Iowa" salad!! Of course, with ingredients like lamb, French beans, baby corn, murshrooms and a spicy sauce, I'm not sure how truly "Iowan" it is...but I appreciated the shout-out for my state!
The Creeper: It's a cardboard cutout, located just outside the bathroom door...weird. :)
Another funny Vladi-sight:
Horses! Good times!
So, maybe not the most exciting past few weeks, but they can't all be exciting, right?! :)