Bilzzard In Deepest Darkest Siberia!
Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
402Trip End Dec 31, 2013
Well not really - we are thrilled to be here, it has long been on the "bucket list" of places to go.
We did feel the force of a Siberian Blizzard however. Our guide Lena tells us that it made the Moscow news and anything that happens in Siberia rarely does. In 24 hours more snow and sleet fell than a normal winter month - and this is Spring!
We woke on the train, again to a wonderland of snow and ice with pine trees loaded and bowed down with heavy snow
Our driver then got a phone call to say the road to the village of Listvyanka, on the banks of Lake Baikal, where we were heading for a two night stay, was closed until at least 12 noon. It was now 8.30am. Our guide quickly rang a hotel and organized that we could wait in the foyer, out of the cold, until we heard more news of the road.
At 12 we headed off on what was to be a real adventure
Eventually after a three hour journey for 70 kms distance we arrived at the village to find that the power was totally out and could be out for days. Further as electricity is cheap in this area due to hydro electricity EVERYTHING including heating, works by electricity, so our hotel had no heating and no hot food or water and no means of creating any. Further some guests already there wanted to come home early due to these problems and the fact that if the weather continued they might not get out the next day for their next scheduled train. Our guide Lena strongly suggested we should not stay. Sharkey and Andres were booked into another establishment that cleverly had wood fires for heating and cooking, so they were going to be sort of OK, but still no electricity for pumps, so no flushing loos or showers
It is quite bizarre that up until yesterday the lake was totaly frozen and now there is not a bit of ice! The blizzard caused snow to fall on the ice, which was already thinning and the weight of the snow pushed the ice into the water and melted it. Then the wind further completed the lake meltdown, so that here we are looking at a lake with no ice and the surrounding area is covered in snow and ice. The day before it had been the complete opposite!
So another grueling trip through the blizzard took us back to Irkutsk with the company, this time, of two men from the Isle of Man. At one point on the return journey, we opted to help some police push their car out, which was blocking our progress. Lena organized a lovely hotel for us and arranged to meet us the next day for a walking tour of Irkutsk.
Freaky weather over, we awoke to sunshine and loads and loads of melting snow
Being Saturday and Spring, both optimum times for weddings, we saw stretch limos and bridal parties everywhere at scenic spots for the wedding photos. It seemed ludicrous that the women wear the highest of heels and nonchalantly walk through ankle deep snow and slush as if it just doesn't exist. All the guests come with the bride and groom for the photos and there is much hilarity and popping of champagne corks. One party we saw had a waitress in a cute little outfit (and high heels of course) carrying a plate of savouries for the wedding guests, plodding through the slush. Another carried a tray of full champagne glasses. Lena pointed out the historic sights of the city centre in a two hour guided tour and then it was time to say goodbye to her and go back to our hotel for the evening.
Then 9pm the phone rang. It was Lena.
"Would you like the driver to take you back to Lake Baikal before you catch your train tomorrow? The road has been cleared with snow ploughs"
Would we ever!! Lake Baikal is UNESCO World Heritage listed and although we glimpsed it through the blizzard we would like to have a better look. It is the deepest lake in the world and has so many amazing statistics.
So we are off now in an hours time for another trip to the village of Listvyanka and Lake Baikal.
Blizzards, however are good for one thing........we are now totally up to date with our blog!!!