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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk March 10th 2019

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 » Krasnoyarsk March 9th 2019

R: So by now it was Tuesday and we had one more day across Siberia before our first stop in Irkutsk. We had a lie in in the morning, mainly because the cabin was now so hot that it was difficult to move! The scenery had changed by now and there were more scattered villages, small holdings and animals roaming around. It certainly felt more rural. Between us, we had tonnes of information about the route. Richard had brought the Trans-Siberian Handbook, which has incredibly detailed information about the things you would pass. There are little white markers along the track that show your distance from Moscow which help you work out what you are passing. (We were now 4098 km from Moscow). This was quite entertaining, especially when there was nothing else to look at, ... read more
Siberian countryside
Buffet Car feast
Carpets of Orange wild flowers

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 » Krasnoyarsk October 22nd 2018

Our first taste of early winter on the south shore of Baikal was a real awakening. Following days of rain at lake level the mountains were covered in snow just above us. We think of ourselves as rather cold-hardy people and we have saddled up for some pretty bad weather over the years, but we still felt a sense of urgency to get rolling and not stop. Back in Chita, when we bought our return tickets to the States, we chose Krasnoyarsk as our departure city thinking that we would take a leisurely pace in the fall and make a few stops. We also knew from experience that the highway to and through Novosibirsk would be very busy, making Krasnoyarsk a fitting place to stop. But the winter in the Baikal region started to press ... read more
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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal September 11th 2018

A note to our readers: To see all of the images, scroll all the way down when you are finished reading and select pages 2 and 3. Enjoy! Maintaining a foreign language that you aquired abroad, while living in a mostly monolingual household, is not easy. Since we left Bishkek four years ago, we have tried hard to maintain the investment we made in our Russian language skills. We listen to Russian music, play with Cyrillic refrigerator magnets, wrestle our way through magazine articles, and strike up conversations with any willing party at work who we hear speaking the language. It is a bit taboo in the U.S. to speak a foreign tongue with a stranger simply because you think they might know what you are saying. After all, we are a multicultural nation and ... read more
Hello Russia
Across Border - Homeland
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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Ulan-Ude July 31st 2018

We arrived in Ulan Ude at 9-30am We were taken straight to a local hotel and allowed an hour there to have a shower and be ready for the day. Then it was off on a city tour. Ulan Ude is the capital of the Buryat Republic of Russia. It is one of three mainly Buddhist Republics and was originally settled by nomadic Mongols. So this has an Asian flavour but overdressed with Russian influence. This was clearly seen in our first stop at the city square. This square is dominated by a huge head of Lenin, the largest in the world. Surrounding the square are various public buildings, all built in the soviet style. It is a large space and quite attractive. We walked from there to another smaller plaza which had a dancing fountain ... read more
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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
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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal July 28th 2018

We left Irkutsk at 10-30 on a lovely sunny day. We drove into the countryside, heading for the largest fresh water lake in the world. Lake Baikal contains 20%of the world's fresh water and I was very excited to be able to see it. We reached the shore in about 45 minutes and stopped to take a group photo overlooking the water. Our first main stop was at the liminolgical museum, one which concentrates on the lake and its history and ecology. It was very crowded, with tour groups, not only from our train, but from China as well. LArisa took us through the different stages in the formation of the lake and then the ecology, explaining why the water is so so pure and the different organisms essential in its ecology. As we went through ... read more
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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Krasnoyarsk July 27th 2018

We arrived in Krasnoyarsk about 10am on Friday. We were met and immediately taken off for a city tour. Unfortunately the weather had turned and it was misty, grey and threatening rain. We drove into the city centre and the main square, where predictably there was a theatre .There were some intersting "dancing" fountains which were amusing a lone small child in the centre of the square. To the left we were told to look at the clock tower. This was described as Krasnoyarsk's Big Ben. On the side of the square was another fountain which would hve been very pretty, but it was undegoing repair and restoration. This depicted the local rivers as maidens and the god of the river in the front accepting his guardianship. At the bottom was also a statue to Anton ... read more
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Europe » Russia » Siberia » Novosibirsk July 26th 2018

k and Krasnoyarsk We spent the day on the train, travelling between Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk. We stopped for about half an hour at Omsk and were able to walk along the platform and stretch our legs. We had lunch on the train. Fletcher continued to work on his computer while I read and chatted to Elizabeth whose cabin is next to ours. At 4pm we went down to the restaurant car and Olga gave us a lesson in the Russian Language. Having been here three times before I can decipher most of the Cyrillic but some letters still give me problems. So this was fun, looking at the alphabet which has 32 letters and learning simple phrases such as “See you tomorrow”, “Where do you live?” and the numbers from 1-20. We had to write our ... read more
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