This will be a pictorial post, because it requires less typing and I'm tired of typing, having just devoted an hour to a few emails. Please excuse the fact that I said "The View from Vlad" would be a weekly feature and then didn't live up to my promise. It appears so far to be more biweekly, but hopefully that'll be remedied in time.
The Eagle's Nest has a question mark after it in the title, because Lera, the girl I went there with, thought I must be crazy to think it's called the Eagle's Nest, and since she's Russian and the person who told me it's called the Eagle's Nest is not Russian, I don't know who to believe. (The non-Russian claims to have a map on her side, though.)
Anyway, the Eagle's Nest (?) is a little park/lookout point at the top of a hill near downtown. It's a cool place to check out not only because it provides a good view of the city and the bay, but because one way to get there is to take the funicular (you can see the uphill station in one of the pictures below), which is claimed to be one of only 3 funiculars in Russia. It's ok if you don't know what a funicular is; I didn't either, until I saw the one here. It's a cable car that goes up and down a hill. Why does the Eagle's Nest have one? Because, unfortunately for the students, DVGTU (Far Eastern State Technical University) is located both at the top and at the bottom of the hill. And this is not an insubstantial hill; those hailing from, for example, northwest Ohio might even be inclined to call it a mountain, although I'm sure West Coasters would be quick to disagree.
Here I would like to make a quick detour to point out that Vladivostok is indeed home to both DVGU (Far Eastern State University) and the just-mentioned DVGTU. This is confusing even to the locals, and it's become even more confusing in recent years. Previously, DVGTU was a technical school and DVGU was a liberal arts school, but now DVGTU has added a liberal arts curriculum as well, and DVGU is putting more emphasis on the hard sciences, so they're sort of the same thing now. On top of this, they actually used to be one university, until they split sometime in the '30's(?), and they like to argue which university was really around first (that is, which university was the university before the split – DVGU or DVGTU?). That seems completely pointless to me, but humorous at any rate. I've been told that the two schools are "rivals," but – in an instance of obstinate and unabashed Americanness – I refuse to see how true rivalry is even possible without college football.
Anyway. So we have a good view of the city and an uphill cable car so far. The third attraction at the Eagle's Nest (?) is the little park. It's called "The Park of Sun and Soul" or something similarly trippy, and it features a plaque and a modern-looking stone sculpture gifted to Vladivostok by the citizens of San Diego, which is apparently Vlad's sister city. People like to hang around this statue and drink vodka, or at least that's what they were doing when we were there (at 5:30 p.m. on a Tuesday – happy hour?) More interesting than this, however, is the monument to Saints Cyril and Мефодий, the creators of the Cyrillic alphabet. It's brand-new, like most things pertaining to religion here, and pretty cool-looking, in that it's a statue of two enormous monks holding a book of alphabet letters. (I had to write Мефодий in Russian because I don't know how it is in English, although my best guesses are Mefodii, Methodii, or Methodius.)
Anyway, that didn’t actually require less typing than a regular post, but here are the pictures.
The view to the southeast. You can see the top of the funicular in the foreground.
The view to the southwest. That bay is the Golden Horn Inlet, which for some reason is the first one you'll read about if you're reading about Vladivostok in English. I'm not sure why, since there are other, bigger bays in the area as well. Possibly because that's where all the port activity is? One funny thing about the Golden Horn is that they used to have problems with it freezing every winter, which required icebreakers, time, effort etc. They solved this problem by making it so polluted with (nice, warm) industrial waste that it almost never freezes. Yum.
Cyril and his friend, plus me.
Another view of the monument.
One of the buildings of DVGTU, plus a cool shadow from the monument.
The aforementioned trippy monument to sun and soul/open bar. (Sadly, I didn't get the imbibers in the shot.)