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Published: October 13th 2012
Self service canteen
We got a marshrutka* from Lake Baikal to Irkutsk which dropped us near the bus station.*this is a common form of transport in Russia,they are minibuses that use fixed routes and are relatively cheap.We knew our hotel wasn't far but, not sure of the actual location and with two heavy rucksacks, we negotiated a price with a taxi driver who drove us the short 5 minutes to the hotel Viktoria.We were checked in by a lovely English speaking receptionist and chilled out in our large room.It had an en-suite complete with bath which is unusual in Russia.We had some laundry to catch up on and attempted to log in on the pc but there was a network problem so we headed out to eat.The hotel was just off Karl Marx Street,one of the main streets.This street has a few international shops-Nike,Mont Blanc,Benetton and Nike;restaurants&cafes;a cinema,internet cafes and supermarkets.There is a British themed restaurant / bar that is decked out in photos including David Beckham;the Beatles;double decker buses and black London cabs plus union jack flags.We had dinner at a self service canteen style restaurant that served lots of traditional Russian food with no English menu-time to be brave and join the
With some English translation
locals! The staff didn't speak English either so this was meal decided by pointing and luck.We had meat and vegetables which was actually very good.
We had a nice breakfast in the hotel.It was a limited choice on a menu card but they cooked us two lots of pancakes so no complaints from either of us.We checked out and left our luggage before heading off on a whistle stop tour of the city.Irkutsk celebrated it's 350th birthday in 2011 so there were some new city maps dotted around and a few new museums.We walked through the city and saw some of the old log cabins with intricate wooden fretwork trim.We went to the Museum Of City Life where an elderly Russian lady showed us around.There are 6 rooms that show how merchants used to live in the 19th century and the exhibits have been donated by the residents of the city.They had period wallpaper and clothes.Next to the museum was a small park dedicated to the twin cities where each city had donated a statue.Then we caught a tram down to Lenin Street that was driven by a lady from Tracy Island,she was even wearing the Thunderbirds uniform! (
photo evidence to follow )
The city lies on the Angara river so we walked through the park where the world war two memorial and eternal flame is situated to see the river.The city is full of churches and the most impressive by far is the Cathedral Of The Epiphany which stands on the riverfront.It has been restored and has colourful towers,onion domes and inside the walls are covered with frescoes.As we left here we were greeted with the sounds of the bells being rung in the Church of our Saviour.We made our way back to the hotel via a disappointing meal at an Italian restaurant and the supermarkert where we stocked up for the next stage of our journey on the Trans Siberian ................
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