Mike and Julia


Mike and Julia

We are both English teachers, different in some ways, similar in other, but both undeniably love traveling and are going to enjoy sharing our experiences with the world

Europe » Russia July 27th 2009

When the morning came I wished it didn't. The previous night we had remembered about a bottle of vodka in on of the backpacks and drank some. Not used to drinking vodka, I got a massive headache, and was lying on my mat, clutching my head and trying to shield my eyes from the brilliant sunshine. We decided to seek relief on the beach. Surprisingly, there was no wind, the water was clear and relatively warm, so we were able to bathe and even swim a bit. In my experience, there are only two true inconveniences about camping. The first one is that I find it uncomfortable to sleep on the ground and the mat doesn't help much. We could have bought those inflatable mattresses but in the end decided not to. The other thing is ... read more
Good morning, cow!
Bathing in Baikal
Bathing in Baikal

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Olkhon July 26th 2009

When we woke up and I crawled outside the tent, my breath caught in my throat the second time this trip. Across the lake there were mountains and cliffs brilliantly lit by the sun, the blue water of the like was shining and perfectly clear but for white seagulls floating here and there, waiting for fish. Then they would fly and stop moving their wings, and sort of hover in the wind. The ever-present wind on Baikal means that it is never too hot - even if it is 30C. The further you get from the lake, the hotter it gets. But the wind can also get too strong - and that is quite uncomfortable, temperature-wise for one, and also because of the need to secure everything you use. When we got to the beach, we ... read more
Morning on Olkhon
Beach bums
Clear water of Baikal

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Olkhon July 25th 2009

Back to our journey. Our bus driver agreed to drive us to the edge of the village, from where we could proceed on foot through the forest and to the beach. When he dropped us off on a hill and we turned around, we couldn't believe our eyes. To our right we saw a desert. To our left we saw far-away mountains of the mainland and the water. Between those was a pine forest, and more sand. Still marveling at unexpected presence of the desert, we hoisted our backpacks and our bags with food and set off. (Our host advised us to buy the majority of food in Irkutsk, which we did but didn't need to as there are plenty of shops in Khuzhir selling all the food you might want). We walked through sand, and ... read more
I'm right there behind pines!
The spot where our tent was (to the right of backpaks)
Veiw from our tent

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Olkhon July 25th 2009

The journey to Olkhon is not a short one. Thanks to our host, we had tickets reserved and only had to show up at a bus stop by the Central Market. The market is awash with strawberries - apparently, the climate in that area is favorable for growing strawberries, so there is plenty of them. Of course I had to run and get some - and by the time I was done, our mini-bus, or marshrutka (coming from the word marshrut - route) was there. We ended up at the back row, cramped and uncomfortable, so the ride seemed to last ages. We stopped after 2 hours at a road-side cafe and ate some pozy - Buryat dish, a large dumpling filled with minced beef or lamb. Usually two or three of those thing are enough ... read more
Lena, our host and us
Mike on the ferry
Local hostel

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk July 24th 2009

We arrived to Irkutsk at around 6 am local time. The train station was the same as a train station in any other city - throngs of loud taxi drivers, some drunk and homeless people, dodgy characters, travelers with various items of luggage. We found a taxi which would take us to our Couchsurfing host - a girl called Lena. Now, Mike had couchsurfed before, when he'd needed to a place to stay in Moscow. I, on the other hand, despite hosting around 40 people myself have never been a guest. And I have to say, my first experience was wonderful. Our host didn't mind us waking her up at the crack of dawn and even offered us some breakfast. She talked to us in turn while the other was taking a shower (after 30 hours ... read more
Dom byta
A pedestrian street in Irkutsk

Europe » Russia » Siberia July 22nd 2009

Russian trains are nothing like other trains. Journeys take days. A train trip is a part of your holiday - after all, you spend a lot of time reading or playing cards. There is a number of traditions that Russian people follow when traveling by train - even the most smartly dressed people usually change into a track-suit and slippers. As soon as the train departs, people get hungry. They usually bring food with them - roast chicken, boiled eggs, tomatoes and cucumbers and quite often, vodka. At every stop locals come up to the train selling food - most often "pirozhki," pastries with different fillings. There are generally three types of tickets. The first, and the cheapest way to travel is in "platzcart", where a train is separated into compartments, but without doors. There are ... read more
Baikal 009
Baikal 006
Baikal 010

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