Day 15: Irkutsk-Sljudjanka
Our guidebook said, that the rail between Irkutsk-Sljudjanka is one of the most beautiful parts of the whole Transib. So we decided to go to Sljudjanka by train, do some sightseeing there and go back. At noon as we were asking for the next train to Sljudjanka at the train station, we’ve been told, that it would go there at 5pm. That was much too late for our plan, so we made a new plan, to go there by taxi. A nice young taxi driver called Alex made us the best offer: For 25RUB per kilometer he drives us to Sljudjanka. That sounds good, so we jumped in the car and the adventure began immediately. Because you should know, that Alex is, like most Russian, a very ambitions driver. You don’t have to tell him that he should go fast; he always drives as fast as possible; he over take trucks even when he cannot oversee the street ahead and you sometimes get the feeling that he’s driving on two tire around the curve. At one of his psycho overtake maneuvers we almost crashed frontal in a minivan. We were lucky that the approaching minivan could sidestep on the gravel side lane. After one and a half hour of fear we reached Sljudjanka alive and were lucky to get of that taxi.
After a few 100m walking around in Sljudjanka we began to realize, that that village couldn’t keep up with our romantically imaginations of having a nice walk along the beautiful coast of Lake Baikal. The coast there is more a mix of swam land, industrial zone and rubbish dump. The village also made a very seamy impression. We haven’t had the feeling to be save there, so we skipped the walk at the coast and were back to the railway station. We were lucky, because we haven’t had to wait very long for the next train to Irkutsk. This time we bought tickets for an open wagon and it was really funny to travel with the Russians. One of the old ladies in our compartment could speak a bit English so we had a nice conversation. The other lady were so nice, she suddenly toke her bracelet and put it on my mother’s arm. She meant, that it looks very nice on my mother’s arm and that she donates it to her. My mother was very delighted and gave her a big hug.
That was funny a day and for me this is the real Russia.
Day 13 and 14: More Irkutsk
Now that we were back to Irkutsk we had plenty of time to relax. Because of the reason that we had Sunday, it seemed to be appropriate to visit another church. Lucky me, that it was not a catholic church and there was no church service, so we could go back to the city and on the market watching clothes for 3 hours!
The next day we walked along the Angare up to the dam. Behind the dam is the old museum ship also called Angare, which we visited. After a good lunch with fresh Omul we crossed the dam. That seemed to be a good idea, but actually was not. On the other side was nothing to see and we ended up in some kind of industrial suburb. We couldn’t catch a taxi, so we decided to go into a garage nearby and ask if they could call us as taxi. None of them spoke English – what a surprise – but we could manage that they made the call for a taxi. So we were waiting there, but the taxi never appeared. After half an hour of waiting, one of the boys at the garage asked us if he could drive us. We agreed and he drove us directly back into the city. So that was our small adventure aside of the tourist trails.
Day 12: Lake Baikal and Listvjanka
It should be some sort of a highlight on our trip, to go to Lake Baikal. Listvjanka is a small village at the lake with a nice harbor. It is actually some sort of weekend trend for many Irkutsk inhabitants to go to Listvjanka and have a picnic at the lake. So we were there at a sunny Saturday and it was really crowdie. But we managed it to get a table at the lake and had a wonderful dinner like all the Russians. And finally what is a village without a church so we had to go there and see it. Unfortunately the Hotel we had was not very nice, so we decided to go back to Irkutsk and make our short trips from there.
Day 11: Irkutsk
Irkutsk is a nice city and it is obviously that the economic is growing very fast. They are building everywhere new houses or renovate old heritage.
We had a nice walk through Irkutsk. We visited some Churches around the Kirov Square then went to the market. Afterward we had a nice café at the new wood house place, walked the Island of the Youth and finally went at the Tsar memorial.
Day 9 and 10: From Novosibirsk to Irkutsk
What did you do if you have to hang out for 35 hours on the train? Now there is not much to do than: watch the landscape; take some pictures; go in the restaurant for a café; sort out the photos; take mo pictures; having dinner; write on my blogs; go to bed; have breakfast, take more pictures……
The landscape is not bratty much changing and after a while it is not so much breathtaking to see the endlessness of Siberia. But autumn give nice colors and the weather is not too bad. Since we started we haven’t seen many clouds, it is something we call an old women summer (in autumn continental-weather can be very stable so anticyklons can stay for more than 3 week over middle Europe).
To be honest, the temperatures outside are fine here in middle Siberia but at sunset when the sun shines directly in the wagons it gets uncomfortable hot inside. So I don’t want to make this trip in the summer.
We are now for 34 hours on the train and I’m getting tired. We are really happy that we will be in Irkutsk in one hour, get off the train and have a fresh shower in the hotel. I cannot understand how some dudes can do the whole trip at once. Fortunately we already mastered 5100km and for the next 5 days we will stay at the Lake Baikal.