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Full Circle

Day 20: Vladivostok

Michael Palin - Full CircleThe Vlad Inn is a long, low prefabricated building on the outskirts of the city with nothing Russian about it whatsoever. It's a joint-venture project between the government and the Canadians. In the bar last night the predominant language was English, as American Peace Corps workers mingled with London accountants. I was pounced on by one of the accountants who couldn't contain his enthusiasm for life in Vladivostok.

'It's set to boom,' he kept saying, 'set to boom. And the women are the best in the world. If it's girls you want, this is the place...'

I asked him where he met them. He looked as if he hadn't considered this for a while.

'Oh, in the street,' he said, vaguely.

There are taxis outside in the hotel car park, even a limousine. I find myself becoming positively nostalgic for the rigours of Magadan.

Then I discover the secret garden. Not entirely by accident. I could hear the sound of trains close by and was told that the last few miles of the Trans-Siberian railway pass close to the hotel. The path that leads down to the line passes through the tranquil precincts of an old military sanatorium. The main building is a big, elaborate, neo-classical edifice, from which two curved staircases descend between thickly-plastered balustrades. On top of the building are perched three male statues depicting various post-athletic activities. One lies back, resting languidly on his right arm, trailing a plaster tennis racket over the parapet.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 20
  • Country/sea: Eastern Russia
  • Place: Vladivostok
  • Book page no: 41

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