Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December in Vladivostok

Well, I will start this out with the observation that the entire month of December (Dec 1-21) was spent below zero C AKA below freezing.

That is a bus window that is totally frozen over with ice...

In other words, FREEZING COLD!

This is a underground walkway with snow piled in it.

I got to learn new words such as "метель" or blizzard. I also got to experience cancelled classes in Russia. I would recommend that they invest in the text notification system that U.S. universities have, because otherwise, there is not a lot of ways of notifying people- students and professors just have to check the school's website.Which is interesting and informative- if you know to check.

Russians also had something I hadn't seen people do before (given I hadn't lived where there was snow before)- they used dump trucks to scoop up the snow and take it somewhere else. {I looked into this and they totally do this in places like Boston where they git tons of snow. And it causes a lot of environmental problems because the salt and stuff gets melted into the rivers and poisons things.}

Also, after one of the blizzards- I decided to go exploring and take some beautiful pictures in the snow. But I underestimated to cold and the lack of waterproofing on my shoes. But- I got wonderful pictures. The snow was piled up into the the underground walkways, along all the building and there was almost no one out there. Except a few hardy souls who were trying to hook their Siberian Husky dogs up to mush them. The dogs were the only happy things I saw out at all. No one else was happy, but these dogs were literally jumping in circles and happy barking. it made me smile.

Also in December- I went to a local art gallery. It was off the beaten path, but I had passed it when I was going to tutor the little girls. All the art was done by local artists- they even had an exhibit of student art.

the balloons had Russian poems on them,.

One day before I left, I went out to eat at the restaurant that the family I was tutoring owned. It was Korean food (well a mixture of Korean and Russian), but the older girl recommended some things to me and it was yummy!

I also went and explored the frozen salt water. Yup, it gets so cold that the salt water freezes over. Very cool and very cold looking. There were young Russians out playing in the snow and a guy out ice fishing.

Proof! Also, note how high the snow is on my jeans- I had to step through all that!

One other interesting thing-the sanctions were causing some problems while inciting nationalism in the people. It is an interesting time to be in Russia. All the people were nice and friendly. Most were amazed to meet an American. The few times I was able to discuss politics and they didn't necessarily like the government but they were super interested to meet an American. One of my regrets was that I didn't carry my camera around to start a photo-essay of "The American Flag in Russia." Everywhere I turned there were younger Russians wearing the American flag on a swim suit, t-shirt, jacket, vest, shoes, bags, etc. I would have loved to capture these with an explanation of why it was so prominent.  On the other hand there was this:

Basically translated as "Our prices remain the same."IT is in reference to the fact that as the Rouble was falling, everything was getting more expensive because it cost more to import, but at these stores- they didn't let the silly dollar matter! And it was posted all along stores in the central mall.

Christmas Time
Although Christmas isn't really celebrated in Russia- News Years is-Elena hosted a Christmas dinner for Adela & me. We had this delicious spread:

And the cool "firecrakers" that pop out streamers.

I really enjoy my time with these two ladies and will miss them when I leave. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Coca Cola Tour!

While looking for things to do here, I figured out that there was a Coca-Cola factory here! Totally cool. However, they only take group tours, so I asked Svetlana if we could go, and she made it work! She arranged a tour and offered to let the other American and Australian I had met go with us (high school students on an exchange program with the Rotary club).

We took a long (30-40 min) bus ride out to the factory and then got a tour. We had to wear hair nets and those little booties that go over your shoes. But we saw the whole process from the beginning to end. The bottles started from this little test tube like plastic things that was blown up to the 2L bottles. Then the bottling area (it looks like a normal bottling area).

We got to taste a sample of whatever we wanted to. I chose Fanta Mandarin (which is NOT Fanta Orange). It was sweeter and smoother than the Orange. But, like all of Fanta's flavors- not distributed world-wide. It also was a New Years special for that area of  the world.

But this meant I had toured corporate Coca-Cola, a factory in Russia, and Coca-Cola World in Atlanta. Totally cool!