Vladivostok Walking Tour: Trans-Siberian Train Station, Arseniev Museum & Shopping
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Although it's called "the San Francisco of Russia" because of its postcard-worthy bridges and bays, Vladivostok owes more of its influence to a very different city: Hamburg.
Two German entrepreneurs, Gustav Kunst and Gustav Albers, founded a small trading post here in the 1860s. Their business flourished for the next decade, and they built a more permanent stone building to replace their modest wooden store.
Another Hamburger added his imprint: Georg Yunghendel, the architect who designed what was to become the GUM (just an abbreviation for "main universal store" in Russian.) He turned the two Gustavs' wooden shop into a gorgeous art nouveau jewel, with intricate arches and detailed statues portraying angels and characters from German fables. It was the first building in Vladivostok to feature telephones, elevators, and steam heating.
Yunghendel also constructed another Vladivostok highlight: The mansion where Yul Brynner was born, a pale, three-story building commissioned by his grandfather, a Swiss businessman. Grandpa Brynner's story is a classic rags-to-riches tale: After running away to Japan at 16, Brynner ended up settling in Vladivostok, where he set up a successful import/export business. But outside of Vladivostok, it's the handsomely hairless head of grandson Yul that people remember, and movies like The King and I and The Magnificent Seven. Yul's son still returns to Vladivostok for film festivals, keeping memories of the King alive in the city whose name translates to "Ruler of the East."
Ironically, one of their biggest hits was "Hush"
Vladivostok's most famous son is one of only nine people to win both an Oscar and a Tony for the same role, but the King and Others frequently clashed. Known as one of the prickliest celebrities in Hollywood, Brynner once got into a shouting match with Deep Purple (the Guinness Book's "Loudest Band" in 1975) because a band member was making too much noise.
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