Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Disembarked in Petropavlovsk

Day 13 Sept 24, 2016

We disembarked and were driven to our hotel, the Avacha. We could not check in, and the clerk did not speak a word of English and looked like she did not want to even if she could. We were trying to find the fish market; the clerk could not figure out what we were saying, but a Danish hotel customer spoke English and told us it was right across the street. (Turns out that on the next day the 250th anniversary of the discovery of the Commander Islands by Vitus Bering - a Dane - was being celebrated, so the Danish ambassador and staff were in town.) 

We crossed the street (nicely graffiti-ed) and went into a huge shopping center and by chance bumped into some friends from the ship from Argentina (Michael) and from Australia (Tony and Ruth and two other women whose names we've forgotten) We wandered around the groceries but it was the fish market that caught our attention. It was a huge retail market with salmon caviar, smoked salmon, all kinds of fresh fish, huge crabs, scallops, sprats, and many other delicacies. Michael bought the best salmon caviar and shared some with us. He bought so much ... about a pound of salmon roe and several packages of smoked salmon. We teased him that the customs officials were certain to take it away from him. We went and had a nice cappuccino and then parted ways.

 We hiked up to the top of a hill by the sea to a new church being built and went into the chapel which was finished and two smiling nuns (unusual to see smiling people in Russia) greeted us warmly. It was a church which had a nautical theme. We then walked down the hill to the waterfront and saw that there was a fair of some kind going on. We walked along the sea, and then by several craft booths; by this time we were hungry and went into a grill place and had the best pork kebabs ever! We originally ordered lamb but the lady said the pork was better, so we took her on her word. After finishing the kebabs and French fries, we went out again and continued to look around the fair which had a conservation theme. A lot of posters and photos of whales, seals, sea lions, and sea otters. There was an enthusiastic band and kids waving whale flags and dancing.

 We wandered out by three topiary bears and a statue of Lenin (fronting a Gazprom building), back toward the hotel. By then it was time to check in and we relaxed the rest of the day. Our friend Edie invited us to their hotel, which, though shabbier than ours, had a better restaurant. With Geoff, Judith and Edie, we had a true Russian meal: vodka, Georgian wine, salmon roe with good black Russian rye and butter; pickled herring and potatoes, tongue with mushrooms and cream, and king crab. We taxied back to our hotel to prepare for the next days outing.

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