Cruise Report Five – Sept 29, 2007

At Anchorage – Petropavlovsk Bay, Petropavlovsk, Russia

Day 8 – Saturday, September 29, 2007

From the Navigator

We will pick up our local pilot at 5:00 am. Thereafter we will drop our anchor in the Bay of Petropavlovsk. The weather forecast predicts an outside temperature of 44 degrees and a strong breeze from the south-southwest at force 6. There is a 45% chance of showers. After venturing out on deck briefly after breakfast, I would say the weather prediction was right on.

Nice Shipboard Touches

Individual rolled terrycloth hand towels in the public restrooms, one time use only. Plush floor mats recessed into the floors of each elevator, indicating the current day of the week.

Our Visit

Hmm, sounds a lot like Port Angeles weather. Yes we did hear the anchor chain as it seemed to travel through our stateroom, but we were prepared for it. I imagine for some it was their wakeup call.

This evening, after we leave anchorage, the quite large jewelry store on the Promenade Deck will be hosting a Russian Bazaar. Currently the display for Russian wares is behind the locked plate glass doors of the store, with tables loaded with Faberge Styled Miniature Eggs, Icons and Icon Eggs under the heading of “hand made, hand painted genuine Slavic Souvenirs”. This could be a portent of “Bazaars” in future ports.

Petropavlovsk, (PK) founded as a Russian fort in 1752, soon became an important center of trade between Russia and Central Asia and the Kazak steppes. By 1917 the population was nearly 50,000.The city was founded in 1740 during V.J. Bering’s Second Kamchtaka Expedition. During the Soviet era the town retrained its military role and became a sizable Pacific Fleet submarine base. Its present prosperity is owed to the fishing industry, bringing in a million tons of fish a year. Oh yeh, this region is considered in Siberia.

Our Shore Excursion – Summer Home Visit and Tea

Our excursion, which required “tendering” to the dock some 10 to 15 minutes away was scheduled to depart at 9:45 am. We were on the tender at 11:30 am. We were told that the reason for the delay was the Russian Immigration Officer(s) were required to do a face-to-passport comparison of everyone leaving the ship. Everyone pretty much took the delay in stride. Since our excursion was only three hours we were not concerned. Upon our arrival on shore, it was raining, we were quickly loaded onto our bus and taken under wing by our driver Igor and our guide Yaroslva, a young attractive slender woman who was born in Crimea and moved to PK with her mother. The bus was quite comfortable, in spite of the road conditions. To say the city and the countryside were dreary would be accurate. Our excursion was to take us to a village with Russian summer cabin called dachas. Although dachas are mostly for weekends and vacations, many Russian people build green houses for growing tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, as well as potatoes, carrots and beets. After about a half hour ride on the main highway south out of the city, we turned off onto an unpaved country road (one lane) and were soon at our destination. The living quarters were very small and colorfully painted, however the bulk of the property was occupied with a large garden space, a couple of green houses and several outbuildings for storage and personal hygiene. There was hardly enough room in the living/cooking quarters for the twenty-five of us to fit into. Eventually all were treated to fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, potato pancakes which were very thin almost like crepes. Homemade jam and syrup were served to spread on the “cakes”. Our tea was from individual Lipton packages. After we had eaten, we were given a tour of the green houses with their oversize plants. Since this was their Fall season, the growing season was coming to a close, so the plants were mostly stripped of their produce. The only person that spoke English was our guide, with the ladies of the house speaking to us in Russian as though they expected us to understand what they were saying. Hand gestures and body language did most of my talking.

On our return to the city, with yesterday’s two or three inches of snow along side the road at higher elevations, we did witness a couple of accidents. Our guide told us that when the roads are in good shape, drivers tend to speed and have more accidents, and more deaths. The city experiences 3 months of spring, summer and fall, with 9 months of winter. Snow accumulations sometime reach “second story”. Parts of the city public and private buildings are heated with geo-thermal power, taking advantage of volcanic thermal activity throughout the peninsula. The gas stations we passed were advertising gas for 25 rubles per liter bringing their gas prices to over $4 per gallon.

A small souvenir shop was set up in a barn like building at the tender pier making it very convenient to dispose of any left over rubles before heading back to the ship.
The weather had turned sunny and the large harbor was clear and beautiful.

The ms Amsterdam was scheduled to depart around 6 pm, however once again our departure was delayed by slow-as-snails Russian immigration officers. Every passport had to be gone through to make sure no one stayed onshore – how naïve to think that might happen.

Clocks will be set back again tonight. Tomorrow we will be sailing along the Kuril Islands. Barbara just returned from her third expedition to the Russian Bazaar

Jack and Barbara

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