Vladivostok – population 600,000, was a part of China until 1860. It is built on a series of hills so you are always walking either up or downhill. It was renovated in 2012 when it hosted the 24th APEC summit. The two most popular attractions according to Tripadvisor are the two bridges built as part of the renovation the Zolotoy Rog bridge and the Russky Island Bridge which is the longest cable stayed bridge in the world, though the C56 submarine was my favourite. Buses cost RUB 20 a ride so you can afford to get on the wrong bus several times as I did, its pot luck when you cant read or speak the language hahaha. Taxis are few and always full, you have to order them over the phone, cost to the airport is RUB 1,100.
My Russian SIM card got blocked after about 2 weeks, hotel staff tried to help by calling the phone company but no luck, the solution is to buy another one. When you withdraw cash from an ATM they take an extra 2% over and above the standard Mastercard/Visa Exchange rate but you need very little cash in Russia, only for emergencies. Russia belly is a real problem, bring appropriate drugs.
I organised shipping my bike back to Europe through Links, Ltd cost USD$1,300 which must be paid in cash (US Dollars, Euro or Rubles equivalent). There is a $50 discount if you pay cash upfront which is what I did and I paid with a combination of Rubles and Euro. The bike goes into storage and has to wait until they have a full container load and it will be shipped to either Rotterdam or Hamburg, shipping time approximately 6 weeks. I will update this entry when I know more. Yuri and Svetlana go out of their way to help.