Blogs from Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia, Europe


Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk August 18th 2019

Lake Baikal - Water, water everywhere and most of it to drink! Day 21 to 23 of 80 Irkutsk is a fairly compact city. Thursday and Friday we were able to walk from sight to sight without stretching ourselves too much at all. After our self orientation on Thursday we had booked, for Friday, a free walking tour. We use these quite a lot, and most are very good, but we do get the occasional bummer. Friday's was not one of the best. Our tour guide, Maria, a primary school teacher of special needs children, was doing this - her first season - during the summer break. Her English was OK. .. whilst it was on script. I know, we can't speak Russian, but nor are we getting paid for our Russian language skills. Add to ... read more
130th District repurposed house
A wooden houses problem - fire.
Monument to Firefighters

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk November 22nd 2018

Just be thankful you were not on this flight: From George Steer of TIME magazine: Passengers aboard Air France Flight AF116 to Shanghai were left stranded in Siberia for three days after their plane was forced to make an emergency landing and a replacement plane suffered a technical issue. “The crew of AF116 on a Boeing 777 from Paris to Shanghai decided to divert to Irkutsk in Russia after an acrid smell and light smoke appeared on board,” the French carrier told wire service Agence France-Presse. The plane landed safely, with no one on board hurt. When engineers realized the plane could not be fixed quickly enough, a second Boeing was dispatched by Air France from Paris to pick up the stranded passengers. It arrived the next day without a hitch – the passengers having spent ... read more
Get me home!!!!
Stuck in Irkutsk
How about the train instead?

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk July 30th 2018

Saturday morning, after a sleep in and breakfast, we arrived in the city of Irkutsk at 10-45. We were met by our local guide, Larisa, who was to be with us for two days. We first drove across the river, Angara, and stopped at a beautiful park containing two churches and monuments to other saints and heroes. I immediately felt drawn to this place, it has a life and spirit to it that we had not seen in the other three cities we have visited along the way. St Saviour’s church was an imposing sight with a tall bell tower and icons painted as mosaics on the outer walls. In front was a memorial to people whose graves had been found when they rebuilt the church after its destruction by Communists during the Soviet era. Unfortunately, ... read more

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk September 17th 2017

On the platform at Irkutsk we were met by Helen, our tour guide for the next two days. Although all of our group were in the same carriage, number 9, Helen seemed to think she had one more guest who had been travelling in carriage number 7. We all stood around whilst she went to investigate. Several minutes later she reemerged with a new addition to our party, Tobias from Germany. A twenty-something who had been travelling as a solo passenger starting his trip in Moscow. Until now, for reasons best known to ‘Go Russia’, he had been escorted around Moscow and Yekaterinburg as part of a German group (quite understandable). However, now he is alone so I guess the other Germans had taken a different route. Tobias spoke English fluently so immediately was ... read more
Boats moored on Lake Baikal
Autumn leaves in Eastern Siberia
Autumn in Listvyanka

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk June 7th 2017

R: To recap; we were in Irkutsk for a single day. It was raining. We were on a tram into the centre of town. It was pretty drab. Most of the roads appeared partially destroyed, and if not, flooded. Richard and I looked at each other, both wanting to maintain a positivity while each wondering what we would do to spend the day here. We made a bee-line for the bus terminal where Marshrutkas collect. We had decided we wanted to see Lake Baikal - the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world, and is the rift lake where Russia will one day divide. We got to the bus station about 5 minutes before the departure of the next Marshrutka and we quickly found tickets then made it out to the mass of similar looking ... read more
Time for Blinis
Omul Kebab
Irkutsk Wanderings

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk February 28th 2017

Firstly, Irkutsk (Иpкyтcк) is not to be confused with Yakutsk (Якyтcк). Irkutsk (south of Yakutsk), a vibrant, artsy city dotted with beautiful and fun sculptures was where we spent a lot of our time wandering along the waterfront admiring the Angara River. The city told a story of shiny, golden-domed cathedrals, glittering marble buildings and collapsing wooden houses that were being consumed by permafrost deterioration. Fishermen lined the river banks, while young cadets marched by the war memorial. Vibrant outdoor markets pulsed in the city centre. As we prepared to order food in Russian at the fashionable Irish Pub in the flashy, yet unimaginatively named, 130-Kvartal Neighbourhood, we were pleasantly surprised as to the waiter’s English-speaking ability, and the English menu that he presented to us after he heard us struggling with what to say in ... read more
Fishing on the Angara River. Irkutsk.
Baikal Ice

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk July 9th 2016

Again greetings from the trans Siberian train. This time we are on our way from Irkutsk to Novosibirsk but more of that in the next blog. The train The last time I wrote we were on our first of four legs on the trans Mongolian/Siberian train heading from Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia towards Irkutsk in Russia. Mongolia can be surprisingly hot and we were sweating in our non aircon compartments. You are mistaken if you think this was due to me wanting to save some $$$. There just was no aircon carriage in sight. Then again I wouldn't have booked it to save $$ anyway :) The trains are of an older rolling stock with a lovely 70s interior but are kept in pristine condition by the Provodnitsas who are ticket inspectors, carriage attendants, cleaning ladies, provider ... read more
Just in case you were wondering what we do
The joys of travelling is to learn foreign languages
Gettting on the train + our Provodnitsas

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk April 16th 2016

Je viens de terminer le premier tronçon de mon voyage dans le transsibérien: 4 jours d'affilé entre Moscou et Irkoutsk (4000 km). J'aurais pu faire des arrêts et visiter certaines villes sur le chemin. Mais j'avais envie de faire l'expérience de la vie dans le train à fond, rt les villes etntre Moscou et Irkoutsk (où je suis maintenant ne m'intéressaient pas plus que ça). J'ai voyagé en troisième (et dernière) classe - les russes l'appellent "platzkar". C'est une voiture de 54 couchettes. c'était une très bonne expérience ! Bien sûr, il faut sacrifier un peu de confort et d'hygiène, mais déjà ce n'est pas si incofortable, et ça favorise grandement les rencontres (encore plus vu que je voyage seul, j'imagine). Bon, les autres voyageurs etaient essentiellement Russe ou Ousbeks (pas un seul autre occidental dans ... read more
La voiture 3e classe
Le samovar : grosse boulloire.

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk January 20th 2016

Day 4-8 and life on board the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Trans-Siberian Railway is not fast, it seems to trundle along the Russian countryside. I know it is snowing and icy, but I can’t imagine it being much faster in normal conditions. The train is basic but functional, we have four beds in our cabin, a lovely snow covered view, a toilet at the end of each carriage, a samovar in each carriage which provides hot water for making tea, making meals, you can even use it to boil some eggs. The ‘Provodnitsa’ -our stern attendant, there are usually 2 to a carriage, one working while the other rests, is in charge of the carriage, and customer service is pretty low on their priorities. They can be pretty fearsome. Their job apart from checking tickets, is to ... read more
The Route
I spy something beginning with S....

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk January 20th 2016

After 4 nights, along 5185km of track and through 3 time zones (now GMT+8), we leave the train to stay in Listvyanka a small town on the bank of the huge Lake Bakail 70km from Irkutsk. Its -28 C when we embark on a walking tour of the town with our guide. Another ‘Lena’ this one is 20 years younger and has a masters in English she gained without leaving Russia. Lena was keen to tell us about the special Lake we were staying beside; Lake Bakail ‘the Pearl of Siberia’, shaped like a banana, 636km long but only 60km wide is world’s deepest lake 1637m containing one-fifth of the world’s fresh unfrozen water. Well it was unfrozen on the day we arrived, but subsequently froze over, so much so people walk and drive cars across ... read more
Frozen Eyelashes
Dog Sled Ride
Lake Bakail

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