Friday, July 21, 2006

Day 1

She brought us to the hotel and helped get us checked in. We stayed at the Hotel Hyundai in downtown.


We went upstairs to the room and immediately took advantage of the bathroom that is big enough for both of us. After showering and settling in … and getting out of the clothes we'd been in for days, we went downstairs to the Café for dinner.   By now it was 5PM local time. We weren't really hungry, but know ourselves well enough to know that we need to get on a regular food schedule as soon as we could. Our meal of Spaghetti and Meat Sauce was very good, and our cokes came without ice. Natch. Need to remember to ask for ice in our drinks. I forgot that ice is not a normal part of drinks in Europe.


We tried to get a card for the wireless internet they have, but after forgetting our cash – you can't charge this to your room or your credit card – we went back to our room, got the cash, and went back downstairs. Only to discover that the money changing window was closed for the next 30 minutes. It was 1 minute after closing, and they guy was adamant that he wouldn't change it. *sigh*


So we went back to the room and decided to hang out there for a little while, go back down … well, that never happened. We went up to the room, changed into our PJ's and called the front desk because the AC wasn't working in the 90 degree day we'd arrived in. So our room is hot, no one else's air is working either, so we just decided to call it a day and go to bed.


Last thing I did was call my parents (dad answered) and let them know that we'd arrived and we'd had a good trip. $5 per minute, so I made it quick.


But in case you're interested, Cingula*r cell service does work over here. It says East Asia when you turn on your phone, but I had 5 bars the entire call. There are programs you can sign up for that will make your cell service cheaper, but I didn't even want to tempt us.


So we went to bed around 7PM and I woke up at 2AM. Wide awake. I found my PC, the power converter and power cord – all thanks to the flashlight we threw in the suitcase at the last minute!! I'm sitting in the bathroom – the only accessible plug – as I type this.


So that's what happened.


Well, I've been up over two hours typing this out. I don't know when I'll get a chance to send it. Maybe not until we get back to Vlad from the visit with the baby.


So here is what we've been told is the rest of the itinerary:


Today: Ministry of Education – Done

Tuesday: Drive to see baby. This is a three hour trip one way, so we'll stay up there. Visit baby.

Wednesday:  Visit Baby.

Thursday: Visit Baby.

Friday: Visit Baby. Drive back to Vlad. Sign paperwork.

Saturday: Relax

Sunday: Relax

Monday: Get back on plane and do the trip in reverse.

Tuesday: Collapse.


We thought we were only going to have two or three visits and one night in his city. This is a huge and really exciting surprise. We're thrilled that we get to spend this kind of time with the baby.


Today's Observations


Now for some observations we made between the when we left Boston and arrived here.


  • Korean Air has very nice staff. Their grooming was impeccable. By the end of the long, 12 hour flight, none of them had a hair slipping out of the tight buns on top of their heads. Although it did take asking three of them and over 30 minutes for a coke, one finally did arrive, with a glass with ice.
  • Seoul airport is spotless. So clean. I was very impressed. They have seats in their waiting area that you can actually lie across. DH took a 30 minute nap, which was just what we both needed.
  • Vladivostok is very green. The weather pattern here at this time of year is very like the north east. So we didn't have to bring or buy any clothes that were different than normal. Other than dressing in something other than sweats, that is.
  • Every blog you've read about gorgeous Russian women is correct. Most of the young women turn themselves out beautifully. We didn't see any sweatpants on anyone. Most of the men wore kachi's and button down shirts. There were exceptions, obviously, but this is a pretty accurate generalization.
  • One of the female officers at the Vlad airport caught my DH's eye. He later told me she looked like the really good looking Russ*ian Ar*my woman that you saw in all those 80's movies. (Note to self: bring cast iron frying pan next trip. ;) )
  • Most of the women wear heels.
  • You saw a lot of ads for everything on the road from the Vlad airport – which is outside the city. There were a lot of flower vendors sitting along side the road. There were also a lot of what we in the States would call, "cute little lunch places" as well.
  • We saw a lot of the same cars here that we saw in the states. Not many new ones, though. For example: The Lexus RX300, the SUV that was redesigned a few years ago, here it is called the Harrier. Really interesting to watch all the cars on the road. Oh, and all the cars are right hand drive. That took a little getting used to.   Although you do see left hand drive cars here, too, but they're pretty rare.
  • A double room refers to two twin beds.
  • Being in Vlad, you could be in any city anywhere in the world. The only difference is that they speak Russian. There seems to be a lot of building construction going on. You can tell that some buildings are from the cold-war era, and others are fairly new.
  • We've seen people sporting 80's hair. Spikey or mullets. Lots of 80's clothes, too.   This is not the rule, however, just an observation.
  • Don't pay attention to the driving. You'll give yourself an ulcer. Its not that the person driving you is bad. They're not. They're just driving like everyone else on the road, and its something you need to get used to.
  • People cross the street everywhere.

Tomorrow, we meet the baby!


Kay B said...

Is it really that hot? I was hoping it was going to be cooler than it is here - well, 90 is actually cooler, but the weather reports say something like 75-80.

Thanks for the tip about Cingular, I am going to call to get more details about that!

Blessings for your journey, keep posting when you can! And even if you can't keep journaling and post it when you get home, can't wait to hear about your first meeting!


Margaret said...

It's so exciting reading about your trip! I can't wait to hear about your first visit with your son!

Debbie said...

Wow so much detail. Thanks. Sounds like you have traveled quite a bit before.
Enjoy all the time you have with your son this week.

Elle said...

We asked about the cars in Khabarovsk. Apparently they are supposed to all be left hand drive, but because the cars in the East come from Japan they are all right hand drive. No one actually pays to have them retro-fitted.

And you are 100% correct on the driving. You think your agency driver might be bad... get in a cab and kiss your a** good bye. I've done it 3 times. Whoa! what an experience!

Dawn and Joe De Lorenzo said...

You must be excited beyond words! Can't wait to read more about your adventure. Thanks for sharing with those of us in the "waiting" phase.

Tricia said...

wow, thanks for your great posts. lots of good info & so exciting as well. i can't wait to hear more about your first visits with your son. i'll be checking back often! :)

Lauren&Marco said...

This is so exciting!!! Can't wait to hear more.

Have the best time ever...bring the tissues

Suzanne said...

Oh come on, the cab in Khab wasn't so bad Elle (other than the van on its side that we whizzed past). You should come have a ride with me behind the wheel sometime! Perspective is everything.

Starfish said...

Worse driving than in NYC?

Glad you arrived safely and looking forward to hearing about your meeting with the baby!

Chris & Michelle Sapp said...

So funny! I'm reading this and it reminds me of some of the same things I wrote while in Kazakhstan adopting our two children! High heels, the driving, etc...