Sunday, 26 August 2012

Day 31 - Vladivostok, Vladi good - August 25th

Oh dear.  What a terrible, sleepless night.  I just could not get to sleep and at least excessive caffeine consumption could not be blamed for that.  Day couldn’t come soon enough but I didn’t feel too good, but not bad enough to confine me to the cabin.  An even lighter breakfast of just orange juice was all that I wanted, whilst the buffet staff were flat out serving people.
We had docked early and like many people, had cancelled our official Princess tour, as we had originally been told that unless you were on a Princess tour, you needed a visa to enter Russia.  This was incorrect, though my suspicion is that immigration authorities may change the rules as they think fit at the time.
The ship berthed just one building back from the railway station so no shuttle required.  We walked off OK and Paula spent a couple of dollars on those Russian ‘family’ dolls.  That was fortunate as when she returned later, the stall was almost bare!  I did consider keeping up the table tradition of buying a hat, but they were a bit expensive as a just for fun item, so my money stayed in the pocket yet again.  If the tourism industry relied on people like me for survival, it would be extinct.
We strolled along the street and noticed that although they drive on the right, many vehicles were right hand drive.  No doubt like NZ, many are ex-Japan, second-hand vehicles.  We bumped into M & M, and Malcolm groaned as he was wearing his ‘uniform shirt’ and the very last person he wanted to bump into was me with a camera in my hand. (More of that anon.)  Hard luck Mal.  I got you!
We headed past the square which is being extensively tarted up and bumped into Alan & Alana who told us that the town had been extensively cleaned up since their previous visits.  At this point, I started a bit of coughing and didn’t feel too brilliant so excused myself and headed back to the ship where I happily lay down and had a sleep.
Meanwhile, Paula had carried on to see the submarine, walk through it; photograph the charming little church and walk through the park.  Paula managed to climb through the sections of the submarine, but a fair number of Dawn Princess passengers wouldn’t have been accepted as submariners.   One sprightly 91 year old passenger who speaks fluent Russian opted to taxi back to the ship, muttering “Getting old is sh*t”...
I could happily have enjoyed this city and am sorry that I missed out part of it.
When Paula returned, we hit the buffet where I was happy with nothing more than a bowl of vegetable soup.
Later we went down for an afternoon drink and I decided that I must get back to coffee as soon as possible, but started cautiously with just a single shot flat white instead of my usual two shot black with hot milk on the side.
I felt a lot better later on (must have been the coffee...) and we went to the “Kalinka”, folk loric show.  A packed Princess theatre again.  It started off a bit slow with a male vocalist, doing “Midnight In Moscow” then featured singers dressed in local costume.  The large gentleman playing the balalaika was a hit and the ballroom dance couple were also extremely good.  The troupe invited several members of the audience up on stage to join in at various times, but the biggest hit was the two guys they dressed up as peasant women, to join in the dances!  Paula was disappointed that there was no Cossack dancing, but a popular show anyway.
We opted to avoid the dining room and headed for the buffet instead, where yet again I stuck to a bowl of (potato) soup.  I must have lost a couple of kilos at least with this austere eating regime.
Sailaway was very foggy but apparently, the Russians on the quayside building were three or four deep to wave us away, but as that was port side and we are starboard side, we missed it.  A spirited rendition of “Waltzing Matilda” and the usual war cry of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Oy, Oy, Oy!” kept them amused.  They stuck it out through the mist and drizzle but the reason that so many were there to wave us off was that they only get three cruise ships a year, so this was a major event for them.  Pity, as this is a place that we’d happily return to and their efforts to clean up the town, must it more attractive for cruise ships.
We stayed in the cabin, away from contracting anything floating about in the air whilst I continued to rapidly recover, but we did hit the buffet again later for yet another bowl of soup.
We now have two days at sea ahead before Japan and I don’t think I can hold out much longer without a haircut.  Paula has started laughing at me.
Nice to get an email from Darryl and Sue who are missing life on board already.
Not sure when this will be uploaded as I don’t know when our access is switched off.

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