Walking Around the City.
To appreciate its hodgepodge of history and commercialism, beauty and crumble, you have to explore on foot--and without fear.
Unloading Japanese Cars in Vladivostok
Photo by Kevin McCaughey
So get off the main streets. In the center, off Fokina, Semyonovskaya, and Svetlanskaya, it’s worthwhile to take detours through every arch. Wend your way through courtyards with crooked wooden houses, remont rubble, shiny hair salons and slot machine places.
Required walks include the waterfront areas. Find the mermaid statue (a tribute Hans Christian Anderson) in the water of the Sporty Bay (Sportivnaya Gavan), near the Dinamo Stadium. Walk north, to the right, to observe strolling partakers of ice cream and/or beer. Or walk left, up the steps, towards the cinema complex Okean. You might drink an espresso upstairs there.
Continue uphill along upper Naberezhnaya, passing the Amur Tiger statue and taking in views of the Amur Bay. Just past the Hotel Vladivostok, the road veers left and turns into Pervaya Morskaya. A quick detour down and to the right will take you to Arsenyev
By Kevin McCaughey
For the high views, follow the stairs alongside the funicular (cable car on rails), from Pushkinskaya Street to Sukhanova. The funicular isn’t currently running. At the top, take the passage under Sukhanova street, emerge, and climb more steps to the look-out. The whole of the Golden Horn Bay is visible.
From here, those who aren’t tired might head for the Orinoye Gnezdo (Eagle’s Nest). Look for the big antennas atop the next hill. Don’t worry about private property getting in the way! Another way to reach the Eagle’s Nest is to head up Utkinskaya St. and follow the dirt road.
Vladivostok has been the sentinel of the Russian east since its founding in 1860. It’s a city of fortresses, and visitors should make an effort to see at least one.
Easiest to reach is the Vladivostokskaya Krepost at Beterayanaya 4a. Find the entrance behind the oceanarium. A canon booms everyday at 12 noon here. Open 10:00 – 18:00. Telephone: 40-08-96.
If you get into Vlad’s hills, you’ll eventually find a fort. Fort No. 7 is the most visited. Take one of several busses that go to “Zarya.” Get off at that stop, 20 mintes from the center. An unpaved road will lead east, and you’ll see sign: ???? N?. 7. Follow the road about 20-30 minutes. Fort #7 will be on the left, just past a new-Russian’s brick mansion. Built circa 1910, this fort held 400 troops. You might be able to arrange a guide on the spot (US 5.00 per person). You need one; it’s dangerous to walk around inside. Or just climb around outside and enjoy the views. (Fort 7 online http://www.fortress.bosfor.ru/image/fort/fort7/eng-index.shtml)
For the adventurous, continue up the same road, same direction, another 30-40 minutes. You’ll pass a cemetery, then a gutted brick building with two words written on it. They mean “To
Photo by Kevin McCaughey
True fort lovers should take a ferry to Russky Island. Seven forts there guard the approaches to Vladivostok. Generally, if you can see a fort on the city map, you can get there. Just takes a little effort.
If you have a group, or hope to join one, try this number: (4232) 40-08-96; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. They offer tours ranging from 3-6 hours. Or check the website http://www.vlad-fort.ru/english/
The most complete information on the forts can be found at http://www.fortress.bosfor.ru/english/index.shtml
Museums in Vladivostok
Oceanarium: There are live exhibits and dry exhibits, mostly of creatures from Peter the Great Bay and the surrounding areas. Nearby is the outdoor Dolphinarium where you can see live fur seals and white whales. Hours: 10:00-19:00. Closed Monday. Address: 4 Batteraynaya. tel: 25-59-65.
The Arsenyev Regional Museum houses three floors of local history and ethnographic stuff. Interesting photos from Vlad in the 1800s. A few references to Yul Brynner, who lived a stone’s throw away. You’ll see a Katyusha rocket launcher from WWII. Try to find out when the folk group Traditsiya (Tradition) is playing there. Their shows are very irregular, but they sing beautifully, and they will make you dance. Address: Svetlanskaya 20. Actually you will probably have to enter on Aleutskaya. Just go around the corner. Telephone: 22-73-13; 41-40-82. 10:00-18:00 daily except Mondays.
Brynner House. Not a museum, but you can see the big art nouveau house where actor Yul Brynner grew up at Aleutskaya 15. Yul was (probably) born on July 11, 1920.
The C-56 Submarine Museum is located inside a World War II C-56 submarine, at Korabelnaya Naberezhnaya, tel: 21-67-57. Working hours are 10:30-6:00. Closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.
Children's Picture Gallery. If you like kids’ art, this is for you. Address: Partizansky Prospekt 12. Tel: 25-98-48. Hours: 9:00 - 18:00.
Before arriving in Vladivostok, watch Dersu Uzala, about explorer and naturalist Vladimir Aresenyev and his native guide Dersu. The 1975 film, by Japanese director Akira Kurisawa, was filmed in the Primorsky Region. Though there’s little to do with Vladivostok, the action takes place just to the north, in this lovely and unusual region.
Night Clubs in Vladivostok
BSB Club. The closest thing to a college club, BSB is a small rockin’ place with wooden stools, plates of fries, and people in jeans. Laid-back service. Loud live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Cover charge up to $10. Small groups are hit with a table reservation fee. Open for lunch.
Address: 66 Prospekt Krasnogo Znameni, tucked away by the underpass. Bus stop: Gogolya; Telephones: 300-800 for an automated message; 456-350 for table reservations; web: www.bsb.ru (only in Russian).
Beer Bar Bottomless Barrel (Bezdonnaya Bochka). Actually, you are quite likely to find womanly bottoms at the Barrel. The joint is reported to be a rollicking wild time, packed in the evening, including the de rigueur strippers. Open 12:00 noon to 4:00, and to 6:00 on Friday and Saturday. Or just come for lunch: meals are 50% off before 18:00.
Address: Fontannaya 2 (but don’t let that fool you.) The place is near the Vladivostok Fortress, just up Zapadnaya street from Bateraynaya. Telephone: 22-13-83
Nautilus. Next to the Amursky Zaliv Hotel. Mostly 16- to 18-year-olds. Thumpity-thump pop. Favorite pastime at Nautilus: checking out your moves in the giant mirror. Advantage: easy to walk home if you’re staying near Tiger Hill or near the train station.
Address: Naberezhnaya 9; Telephone 26-71-67
Royal Park. This place wins the girl-to-boy-ratio: 20 young girls per wanna-be gangster boy. Or maybe they’re real gangsters. In ‘96, a local mafia boss was gunned down out front. Casino. Food served. No Russian beer—is that supposed to be chic? (This reviewer never made it to Royal Park, but it was his dream).
Address: Russkaya 17 in the Vtoraya Rechka region. Out near the bus station. Not too convenient. You’ll need to stay till 6:00 a.m. or get a taxi to your hotel. Telephones: 31-92-64, 32-06-20