Blogs from Siberia, Russia, Europe - page 4


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 July 29th 2016

Day 5 - On the Train - Ulaanbaatar to Irkutsk We awoke in the morning to discover the rest of the train had vanished leaving us (two carriages only - sans locomotive) at a Mongolian station on the border with Russia. We were initially allowed off the train but then we were surrounded by guards while we waited for the next locomotive or carriages to join us? Our passports were taken away again to be checked by who knows this time? We spent the majority of the day being shunted around across the border and then waiting on the Russian side until 3pm in the afternoon before the rest of the train was added and the locomotives showed up. During this time there were no toilet facilities on the train and the only ones were on ... read more
One of our stops on the way
18 century fine bone china
Wife of a Decembrist (revolutionary)

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Novosibirsk July 15th 2016

Ok this becoming a habit... Greetings from the train from Novosibirsk to Yekaterinburg. This time its a short 21 hour trip so I better start writing. A childhood dream It is said that Russian scientist studied Lenin's brain (fortunately for him once he was dead) for over 40 years to understand why he was such a genius. The same might happen to my brain to understand the twisted logic and selective memory that brought us to Novosibirsk. I don't know if you remember a lot of your geography lessons at school. My memory is bad anyway and I have close to no recollection of my school years but I can clearly remember that we studied the Russian map and where the various natural resources in Russia are (god only knows why we did this. Maybe it ... read more
Ready for lunch
Linen is provided
Getting up early??

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 » Olkhon April 20th 2016

J'ai donc passé quelques jours sur l'ile d'Olkhlon, qui de trouve sur le lac Baikal. Le lac Baikal est le plus grand au monde, et c'est aussi une des fiertés de la Russie. On comprend pourquoi en le voyant, c'est vraiment très beau. De plus, la surface est encore en grande partie gelée en ce moment,ça ajoute un certain "cachet" :-) L'ile d'Okhlon constitue un très bon endroit pour en avoir plusieurs vues. Enplus c'est un endroit très préservé : pas de routes en béton, les maisons sont en bois. Par contre ça diit rapidement être plein de toutistes en été. Heureusement que ce n'est que le début de la saison touristique ! J'ai aussi pu rencontrer plusieurs voyageurs là bas, dont certains qui continuent sur la même route que moi. Demain : départ pour Oulan-Oude, ... read more
Vue sur le lac depuis l'ile
Vue sur le lac depuis l'ile
Vue sur le lac depuis l'ile

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

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Lake Baikal August 22nd 2015

Ah, a whole other story! Jana, my wonderful guide....nothing like having an organised tour booked and finding you're the only it! First the ferry to the station, then onto the train. Number 9 I think. Lake Baikal is BIG, and deep, the deepest, oldest freshwater lake ever, surrounded by big mountains, 359 rivers run into it and only 1 out. It holds 20% of the worlds fresh water! No time for a photo but I did spot a couple of the famous and elusive Baikal Seals, unreal. And a couple of rare Siberian Red Ducks, on the red list, I reckon ready for dinner, rare! It's a bit hazy, they've had some big bushfires so it's only when we get close to the sharp end of the lake we can see the distant peaks of ... read more
Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal

Europe » Russia » Siberia » Irkutsk August 21st 2015

Quick, write something.....I heard him say. 6 hours to kill at the beautifully archaic, baroque-ish, multi faceted Yaroslavsky railway station Luckily there's a bar across the street....although somewhat the way that everything in Russia is 'somewhat odd' gotta try and put my finger on it... And, I thought it odd, there's not a map to be bought within 1,500 metres of this major railway station, now here's a business idea...... The God of travelling companions is smiling on me again! Finally onboard and meet my rolling railway roommate, a 55 yo Russian doctor, he tells me his name is Vova , short for Vladimir! A neurologist, he works in Moscow and every 3 months makes this trip to somewhere east of Irkutsk to a regional hospital. He takes the train because he has a big ... read more

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