We arrived at around 2pm in Irkutsk and was met by Lena who took us to the car. We drive just over an hour to Listvyanka – Lake Baikal. The road was pretty good and we learned after that it was because Putin has a residency here.
We stayed in an cabin just off the main road looking over Lake Baikal. It was frozen over. Completely! We wrapped up in thermals, hats and gloves and walked the 25 mins to the Lake Baikal research centre. We learned that they have their own unique species of seal and many species of fish. It is over a mile deep and is the biggest freshwater lake in the world. It holds 20% of the world’s water and most of the life lives in the first 20m.
The next day, we met Sasha, who was an ex PE teacher and his wife. He took us to an outdoor museum of an old Siberian village. The wooden houses were exactly how they were hundreds of years ago in Siberia – all wooden. The staff were so unfriendly that when we stumbled across an Ger, we went in and met a wonderful Mongolian man selling Mongolian things. He showed us Tibetan singing bowls and helped Jack rub the handles of a Tibetan water bowl. It was really cool. We then went up a ski lift to the top of a mountain to get fantastic views over Lake Baikal. There were Tibetan Prayer flags tied so Jack tied his own one and I think said a prayer…
We were invited to lunch with Sasha and his wife. We ate Borsch – so tasty and warming! We chatted with some English and our non Russian and really enjoyed our hour there. Jack left with home made cakes!
We returned to Irkutks the next morning and walked around the city, learning about Soviet times and how the churches were destroyed by Stalin and how many Polish immigrants came to live here so they built there own church – which really looks like a European church, but sticks out in Russia.
Jack really wanted a Russian hat, and after, lots of hunting, found one, ironcially, just opposite our hotel! We stumbled across a place to eat lunch. A very traditional (but extravagant!) Russian restaurant. We had no idea what it was, but we got a bit lost! So much so, that we went straight into a shop which we mistook for Subway Sandwiches! It was a Vaping room!!
The restaurant, had a Samovar museum upstairs and valuable Russian eggs (not Faberge) belonging to a Siberian Businessman.
We ate Borsch, fishcakes and had coffee. We had no idea of the prices, but were relived when it came to around 15usd…
We prepared for our 88 hour journey by stocking up at a Supermarket for food, drinks etc. We leave on the train this afternoon.
The supermarket had a tiny section for fruit but a MASSIVE section for Vodka!
We left with a big bag full of noodles, fruit, water, wine (!) packet soups, hot chocolate and dried fruit and a massive supply of tissues, Dettol wipes, face wipes and every other type of wipe you can buy! Let’s see how we do!!