Tokarevski Lighthouse/Токаревский марк
Cost: $5-10 (includes roundtrip transportation and food; destination itself is free)
“All I know about Russia is that it’s very cold.” This frequently encountered profession of ignorance, will wear anyone out after a while. I was hardly surprised, then, to note the reaction of my Russian fellow-passenger in response to another’s remarking so on my flight into Vladivostok from Beijing. The glare was not indicative of the slightest remnant of amusement or sympathy. Such a reaction, I think, is more than understandable; after all, with a North-to-South expanse of approximately 40 latitudinal degrees, to simply state that Russia is “cold” is patently incorrect. Such a circumstance I was lucky enough to confirm during my first week of residence in Vladivostok, the nation’s outpost on the orient in Russia’s Far Eastern Primorsski Krai (Приморский край).
I learned this during a day excursion to the Tokarevski Lighthouse (Токаревский маяк). The lighthouse itself is purported to be one of the oldest standing in all of Russia, dating back to 1876. While the renovations over the years to preserve the integrity of the structure are fairly evident, this in no way detracts from the intrigue that inherently emanates from those works of man which have so long endured nature’s tendency to corrode. Further, when considering the specific locale of this particular lighthouse, the ability of the structure to endure heat and cold and harsh ocean weather are all the more impressive. The lighthouse is accessible only by a narrow footpath some several hundred feet in length. This man-made crossing, however, is only present at low tides. Thus, it often happens that the lighthouse is stranded on an island hardly bigger than its own base, left to its own devices to battle the battering of the ocean’s occasional tempestuousness. But before one even approaches the path colloquially referred to as a «кошка», doubtlessly akin to the “catwalk” of English in referencing the narrow aspect of the walkway, one must first get to the lighthouse’s home in the Egersheld Microregion (Эгершельд микрорегион) of Vladivostok.
From the ВГУЭС campus, this is easily accomplished by an approximately 20 minute bus ride. Such a journey presently asks an 18 ruble/$0.50 fare, as do all bus rides within the city limits. From the appropriately named «Маяк» (lighthouse) stop, there follows a walk of comparable duration along the scenic roads that wind about the ocean-side hills. Approaching the destination on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, there was a crowd large enough to assure the worthiness of the trip without the site feeling overbearingly crowded. After walking down to the lighthouse, spending a pleasant several hours sunbathing, swimming, and taking pictures of the lighthouse and its impressive natural surroundings, we returned to the general gathering area for a pre-return bite to eat. A draft beer and plate of rice from the local open air food-stand set me back a mere 130 rubles/$3.50 while thoroughly sating my vegan proclivities. The ocean practically lapping at your feet and the lightly salty breeze pleasantly blowing about are included in the tab, providing an even better value.
In total, the round-trip journey, with 2-3 hours of at-destination relaxation, and light refreshment included, this excursion could easily be accomplished in 5 hours and for under $6.
Thus, there is no need to fret about this trip exhausting your weekend – or bank account for that matter. I made the trip in early September, and can say that late summer to early fall seems to be a splendid time to go – and a great time to prove that Russia is not always cold. Although, of course, as with any outdoor attraction, each season will imbue the site with its own particular brand of accentuation, so you will definitely want to check the weather report before you go.