Valentine’s Day City Excursion

Love, love, love.
Love, love, love.

Love was certainly in the air this Valentine’s Day. We found traces of it all over the city.

Our Russian “mama” Svetlana planned a day excursion for us on Saturday. We got to see some great sights around Vladivostok.

20150214_111704Our journey started at the top of the hill at an observation platform, with the Кирилл (Cyril) and Мефодий (Methodious) statue. Кирилл and Мефодий were Byzantine Greek brothers and missionaries born in the early 9th century . In preparation to introduce Orthodoxy to the Slavic people, Cyril and Methodius created an alphabet which would allow them to transcribe the Holy Scriptures and other religious texts into something understandable to the people of the region. This was the beginning of Old Church Slavonic, which later developed into the Cyrillic alphabet, which is still used by many Slavic languages today.

There is also a tradition here where couples leave locks here in order to ensure lasting love; an enchanting concept. As you can clearly see, there is much love EVERYWHERE! Here at the observation platform, we encountered our first Russian bride. After getting married, Russian couples traverse the city having their pictures taken around the city and this particular couple was being photographed on top of the hill.


After some souvenir shopping (Yasha found Chuboryashkas, he was so excited!!), we got to take the Фуникулер (Funicular–a.k.a. “The Funny Color”) down the hill. This is a very cool way to travel, a little on the slow side, but with great views. For only 10r a ride, we took this cable car to the bottom, walked around a bit, then it was back to the van for a drive to the sea.

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Look how bundled up she is! Isn’t she adorable?!

OH! I have been waiting for so long to get back to the water, I missed it so much. We walked along the water’s edge, taking in the Zolotoy Bridge and the military boats parked along the sea way. We met another bride, as well as the cutest little person, a 2, maybe 3-year-old little girl, all wrapped up against the cold. This little person was so well insulated, she reminded me of Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story. In fact, we passed a playground and that was how I found most of the children…wrapped up tight in snow pants, hats, fluffy jackets, and gloves. They seemed very content to be outside in the cold running around.  We made our way to a sculpture of sorts, “The Bed of Peace.” Pretty cool, it is a wooden bed on a metal frame with I love you carved into the wood in 30 different languages. How many languages can you name?!

Back to the bus, we ended up at the Vladivostok Fortress Museum on the other side city. Yet another fascinating place, this is a testament to the ingenuity of Russian fortifications. Found (naturally) on the edge of the sea, the Fortress Museum is located just above the Vladivostok Aquarium. The city of Vladivostok was (and still is) a vital port to Russia, and was established as Russia’s outpost on the Pacific very early on in its history. Construction on the fort began in 1889. We had a great time, wandering around, climbing up and down, and exploring. There was an indoor museum, which we also had a chance to check out. It houses pictures, weapons, military collectables, and other interesting memorabilia. The views from the summit were outstanding!

Afterward, we had lunch at a new restaurant near the Фуникулер. More on that in Olivia’s Kitchen. Overall, it was a great day with new friends, and a well needed distraction from missing loved ones at home.

These May or May Not Have Shown Up in Yasha’s Kitchen

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While wandering around Yasha’s kitchen one day, I came across something new and exciting.

What we have here folks, if you could not tell, is meat potato chips. That is right, meat potato chips. As well as barbecue chicken wings potato chips. I love the variety! It is fascinating to me. Flavors that I never would have thought to make into a chip, and here they are…although I suppose if you think about it, meat and potatoes DO get along well together, do they not? “I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl.”  Now, you can have it all in one bag!

I have tried them. They taste awful. Not my scene.

More interesting potato chip flavors to come…

 

 

 

Yasha’s Set Up

The dorm of hotel-like conditions

My friend Yasha has a slightly different living arrangement than ours. He is living at a “dorm of hotel-like conditions.” In actuality, it is located two floors below us in the same building, but can only be accessed by going outside. It is a little bit more expensive to live here than in the dorms, but not by a whole lot.

Yasha has a room to himself, with a private shower and bathroom. There is a fridge, a desk, a closet…he even has a television!! On his floor, there is a kitchen and a laundry room. Washing machines, but unfortunately, no dryers. I promise to return on laundry day and take pictures of his laundry drying process. From what I understand, there are clothes EVERYWHERE!

On the floor, there is floor woman who stands duty every day, just like the dorm set up. Here though, there is a guard who takes note of who is visiting and generally seems to be an enforcer of the peace. We do need to observe visiting hours here, which end at 11:00 pm.

Again, the women who work here are wonderful. They are always willing to assist us in anything we need. It is really nice to be so well looked after. Even though Yash cannot come to visit us anymore in our room, I think this is a good fit for him here. He seems to be very at peace. And now that a bunch of students have moved out, it is very quiet.

Хохлома Food

Our first official on our own restaurant visit was a complete success! Here is what we had:

Shayne:

Little Yasha ordered himself a big bowl of borscht. It was perfect for this freezing weather: warm and filling.He also selected Carbonara with tomatoes. He said it was very light and in perfect contrast with his borscht. I had myself a bite or two. Excellent choice.The absolute winner of the day was Yasha’s dessert. It was amazing. Bliny, fried, jam inside, some sort of milky, cream dipping deliciousness (maybe some kind of soft cheese), called Confeti. It was a little tart with a lot of sweet. Oh my goodness. Olivia would have been in heaven.

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Borscht and grapefruit tea

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Carbonara

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Confeti

 

 

 

 

 

Pisey:

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Mushroom Soup

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Творожный Рулет

Polya and I decided to try some tea as well. We selected the African Nights tea. It was a lot sweeter than we expected, tasting a lot like some type of flower I could not place. Neither one of us was a big fan. Polya ordered mushroom soup, no borscht for her. It was delicious, all the same. There was also a main dish consisting of steak with a tangy, teriyaki sauce. We might be missing a picture because it was too tasty to wait, and Polya devoured it in a short amount of time. Her dessert was a good choice, as well, definitely claiming the silver medal in our dessert challenge. We can absolutely not remember exactly what is was called, but we think it was something like Творожный Рулет (Tvorozhny Roulette).

Me:

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Mushroom spaghetti

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Черепаха

 I also ate the borscht. I know how much I like it, so I could not resist. Especially on a day as cold as this one. This soup did not disappoint.  There was even sour cream to go with it. It was just what I was looking for! Next, I tried the mushroom spaghetti. Also delicious! It looks like something I may try to make at home. Although, those things never seem to work out,  do they? In any case, it was a great addition to my meal. Dessert challenge: I ordered the черепаха. I will be perfectly honest, I have two favorite Russian words, черепаха (chiripaha–it means turtle) and американка (americanka–meaning female American). Both of these words bring me joy, so naturally, I would have to order the dessert named after one of my favorite words! It was very tasty, chocolatey on the outside and cakey on the inside. Even so, Yasha definitely won the day.