A warm day in Siberia

Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
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103
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Trip End Mar 11, 2011


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Where I stayed

Flag of Russia  , Siberia,
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Our pick up is at eleven, but we are both awake early, or better, did hardly sleep at all. We have our last breakfast at the home stay. At breakfast, the Finnish couple came out to join us. The also had a difficult night and apparently their beds were even worse.

We have mixed feelings about this experience. Olga is friendly in a way, but makes absolutely no effort in communicating with us. Her house is pretty modern for Siberian standards, but her bedrooms have horrible beds. It was a good experience, but I don't think we will ever do such a thing again. We say our goodbyes to Olga and get in to the little van, back to the city, back to Irkutsk.

The lake area is pretty clouded, but as we get closer to Irkutsk the skies clear up. The landscape along the way is beautiful, if we could only keep our eyes open to enjoy it. At the hotel we were greeted by Lena's boss who had our onward train tickets and helped us with the check-in.

We got ourselves a room on the 7th floor of this soviet style building, The hotel was not fabulous, it would probably go for 2 stars, but it was a relief to see a close to proper bed and a shower that had nice hot running water that we could use for as long as we desired. There was not much chance to enjoy all of this, as Lena was picking us up for a tour of Irkutsk, so we head down to reception where she was already waiting for us.

Irkutsk does not have much to show for, there were three sights that Lena found that we had to see. The old churches, three of them close together, one with original frescoes on the outer walls. After that we went to the banks of the river, where the view was nice. It's a place where wedding couples bring a lock, to hang it from the balustrade. Then they trow the key into the river symbolizing eternity. We should have brought a lock and hang it here.

The sun was shining pleasantly and it even got a bit 'warm' in Siberia. After a short walk along the river we reached the third attraction of the city, a statue of some General. Lena was right, there is not much to see in Irkutsk, the town is small and most of the historic buildings have been destroyed in the many fires that the city has suffered from.

There are only a few historic wooden buildings left, but most of these are in very bad shape. The owners of these buildings are waiting for developers to snatch them, so that they can cash in on the land. After saying goodbye to Lena, we headed back to the hotel. On our way we grabbed some lunch and walked a bit along the city's main streets.

Back at the hotel we had our long deserved long and hot shower and got a bit of rest. For dinner we went out to a Mongolian restaurant to get a bit of a taste of our upcoming Mongolia adventure. As we walked around the city we were amazed by the way the Irkutskers drove their cars like rally cars around the square and through the streets. Their gas peddle is completely binary, its either full throttle or no throttle, and nothing in between. Crossing the street back to the hotel, we almost got clipped by a 1980 Toyota that ran a red light.

In the evening we catched up on Internet in the hotel coffee shop in the lobby. This was the only point where they had some sort of internet connection that was free of charge. We had a drink and checked some mails until we were smoked out by the Russians.
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