After over a week of westbound exploration along the Aleutian chain, we are finally in sight of the Russian mainland and plan to spend the day getting acquainted with Petropavlovsk, the largest city in this remote corner of the country.
This bustling city of 180,000 residents sits on the southeast corner of the Kamchatka Peninsula and looks east into the bounds of the North Pacific. After a beautiful approach through Avacha Bay, we joined a small army of local guides who escorted us across the city, sharing historical insights and guiding us by foot and bus from one highlight to the next. From quiet parks filled with locals pushing baby strollers and chatting on park benches to interpretation about the large number of local monuments, our guides offered a varied stroll through the main part of town before a jaunt across the city to the local fish market.
The market, despite its fluorescent lights and sterilized displays was a feast for the eyes and the olfactory senses. Rich smoked salmon, mixed with the briny aroma of buckets full of caviar and held thick in the air while canned goods lined the shelves and walls, offering a wealth of photo opportunities.
Back at the port our guides had one more surprise to share with us before we set sail for the northern reaches of Kamchatka. With our very own National Geographic Orion in the background a local dance troop had been arranged for us and put on one of the most energized, engaging performances I have seen in a while. With skin drums to set the beat and intricate dress to accentuate the dance, our final hours in Petropavlovsk was yet another feast for the senses.
Back aboard we are now steaming east out of Amacha Bay before heading north, out of the city and into the wilds of the Kamchatka Peninsula.