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We spent a considerable amount of time researching and preparing for this trip. All information gleaned from the web, the Lonely Planet, and even "experts" at the London 2004 Independent Travel Show said that Vladivostok was essentially a hole in the wall, a grubby sailor town with few redeeming features. We found it to be the opposite. Outside of Moscow, it was by far our favourite city in Russia.

The Blog pretty much says it all. Additions to the Blog:

  • They don't run boat tours of the harbour in Winter because it's mostly frozen over.

  • The left-hand drive cars come from Japan.

  • There was a hen-night, or something, going on at the Hotel bar, and two women asked Will and I for a dance.

  • We went to a Chinese restaurant. Halfway through the soup, the lights went down, the disco ball came out, and the horrible music was cranked up. It had turned from a restaurant into a discothèque in five minutes. They seemed to be hosting a private party, and a fellow came up offering shots of vodka in apology. We drank up but left quickly.

I had grown a beard in preparation for this trip. I had an image of large burly hairy Russian traders riding the trains, and I wanted to fit in, or at least not stick out. It turned out the opposite was true. I was the only person around with a beard. I kept it on because it did keep my chin warmer out in the cold, but in Vladivostok I finally shaved it off in preparation for China.

Eric - from London