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Top 10 Travel Destinations Irkutsk

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  • Day24

    Rückfahrt nach Irkutsk

    September 24, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Außer Rückfahrt, Ankunft im Hostel, Wäsche waschen und Abendessen gibt es für diesen Tag nicht viel zu erzählen...

    Auf der Fahrt haben wir einen kurzen Stopp gemacht und dort haben wir ein buntes und künstlich schmeckendes Eis gegessen... Ein Unicornetto ☺️

    Zum Abendessen gab es mal wieder leckeres russische Gerichte 😊 (in einem Sovjetstyle Restaurant. Neu war für uns die Suppe Rassolnik. Sehr lecker war auch der Tee. Leider haben wir mal wieder vergessen Bilder vom Essen zu machen... 🙄)
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  • Day20


    September 20, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Mal wieder kamen wir morgens in der Stadt an. Nach Bezug der Unterkunft sind zur Besichtigung der Stadt aufgebrochen. Dafür haben wir uns entschieden an einer Free Walking Tour teilzunehmen. Unser Tourguide Mary hat wirklich eine super Tour gemacht, auch wenn es manchmal schwierig war sie zu verstehen. Doch sie hat uns viele interessante Dinge aus Ihrem Leben und der Russen erzählt. So z.B über den Zweiten Weltkrieg, den großen Einfluss der Deutschen (daher gibt es auch einige deutsche Wörter im Russischen) und über das Leben jetzt, z.B. dass sie als Lehrerin nur 300 € verdient. Sie hat uns erzählt, dass Sie die Touren auch macht um ihr Englisch zu verbessern. Viele Russen können kein Englisch, obwohl sie es in der Schule lernen. Grund dafür sind wohl der schlechte Unterricht und die Tatsache, dass sie englisch nicht wirklich brauchen bzw. denken es nicht zu brauchen.
    Zum Abschluss der Tour waren wir auf dem Zentralmarkt und haben typische sibirische Produkte, wie Baumharzkaugummi, mongolische Stiefel, Omul (Fisch aus dem Baikalsee) usw. angeschaut und teilweise probiert.
    Danach haben wir uns dann mit Lukas zum Mittagessen getroffen. Es gab Posi (mongolische Teigtaschen), Pelmeni und Suppen. Danach haben wir den Rest des Tages mit Sightseeing verbracht.
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  • Day15

    Beautiful Lake Baikal

    June 22, 2017 in Russia ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Today's visit to Lake Baikal has been one of the highlights of the trip so far. An early start and one hour on the bus from Irkutsk, following the River Angara, brought me to this wonderful place. Lake Baikal is the world's deepest lake, and contains 20% of the world’s freshwater supplies If all the rest of the world’s drinking water ran out tomorrow, Lake Baikal could supply the entire population of the planet for the next 40 years! Known as the Blue Eye of Siberia, it can apparently be seen from space.

    The main town, Listvyanka, is a bit touristy as you might expect. I joined in some of the tourist fun and enjoyed a show at the Nerpinarium by Lake Baikal’s famous freshwater seals. Not exactly Sea World, but the kids, and this adult, enjoyed their performance. I had a lovely walk in the sunshine along the front, and found a nice restaurant where I dined on fresh Omul, a fish only found in Lake Baikal, baked with cheese and potatoes - lovely (and I’m no’ a fish haun). A highlight however was going on a short boat trip to experience part of the lake. Again the weather hot and sunny, and it was a pleasure to feel some breeze about you and admire the beautiful scenery.

    Back safely in Irkutsk, no thanks to the marshrutka driver, who insisted I sat in the front of his packed minibus, while he drank coffee, smoked, ate his lunch, used his mobile phone, played loud Russian ballads which he sang along with, while driving at breakneck speed. When he stopped to pick up more passengers, an old woman got in the front beside me and I signalled to him that I couldn't find the seat belt - he dismissed me with a wave indicating I didn't need it - and I noticed he wasn't wearing one either!

    Once back in the city I had a walk round the extensive market. Although it was late afternoon it was still thriving with a huge selection of fish, fruit and veg, meat and bakery items. I decided to stock up on goods to get ready for tomorrow’s marathon train journey - 3.5 days to Vladivostok! As I probably won't have wifi on the train you may not hear from me for a while. What's that you say - thank goodness?
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  • Day13

    Life on board the Trans Siberian

    June 20, 2017 in Russia ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    For those of you imagining the Trans Siberian as being pulled across the frozen wastes of Siberia by a puffing steam locomotive - think again. The whole line has been electrified by Russian Railways (RZD). Gone too are the days of the marble bathtub, ingeniously designed not to overflow as the train rounded a corner. Tanks full of fish in the dining room are sadly no longer a feature of the cuisine in the restaurant car. However the Trans Siberian still has a mystique and attraction of its own, and so far I am loving it.

    For someone more accustomed to 10 minute trips on the Cathcart Circle, journeys of 24 hours plus are a different matter for me altogether. This leg of the journey takes 48 hours. I am sharing a compartment this time with a young military guy, who fortunately speaks some English. When I said I thought soldiers travelled in the multi occupancy 54 berth carriages, as opposed to our comparatively luxurious 4 berth kupe (2nd class) compartment, he laughed and proudly declared that he was an officer. He kindly offered to share his food, but I headed for the restaurant car for breakfast. Again it was largely deserted but, in wee Jean’s style, I asked for a table for one!

    As ever, most things I pointed to were ‘aff the menu’ and I ended up with some kind of cold fish with olives, eggs with small slices of ham, a bread roll and black tea - all in all not too bad. I was disappointed however not to have experienced the ‘pickled pike with stuffed cabbage’, or the ‘rabbit living with onions and potatoes served with greenery’. Ah well, another time.

    As if it wasn't confusing enough, Russian trains run to Moscow time, and even local station clocks show this. This is regardless of the fact that this huge country spans 7 time zones. When I was due to catch this train at 03.54 in the middle of the night, my ticket said it departed at 01.54 - panic! But ours not to reason why..

    The weather is sunny and hot today. The countryside whizzes by - mainly forests, lush fields, mighty rivers or woods of birch trees (that reminds me of being beaten in the banya - ouch!). Occasionally, small isolated train platforms sit in the middle of nowhere (reminiscent of Fiddler on the Roof - ‘Far From The Home I Love’, Liz!).

    Our carriage is fairly quiet. I decided to explore the train to get some exercise. The next carriage had a party of Germans heading to Siberia. They had put up a huge poster/map of ‘Russland ’ with pictures of wildlife such as bears and wolves they might spot en route. Sadly the only wildlife we've seen so far have been the local neds, hanging about some of the stations as we zip through!

    As I was taking my stroll through the length of the train, I saw some SV or 1st class compartments - not much different from mine, but for 2 people instead of 4, and a lot more expensive. At the other extreme, the platzcart, or 3rd class, is an open carriage with 54 berths, mainly occupied by students and soldiers - the smell of sweaty socks and drying laundry were overpowering, so I quickly retreated to the safety and comfort of my kupe compartment.

    Along the whole length of the Trans Siberian Railway there are markers on the track on black and white poles every kilometre, telling you how far you have travelled from Moscow. They are hard to spot as the train whizzes by, but I'm told if you look closely out of the window on the south (left hand) side of the train you can glimpse them. I have to say I got some peculiar stares from folk passing down the corridor as I pressed my face flat against the window pane, squinting, and looking quite demented.

    We are in Western Siberia now, and there seem to be more ponds and rivers rather than just forests. The train stops occasionally and Madame Provodnitsa lets you know if you are allowed off. I don't stray too far, for fear of the train leaving without me. On the platform various women sell their wares - bakery items, soft drinks, fur jackets and smoked fish. I had been warned not to buy anything hot to eat, as it has often been cooked in the station toilets. I opted for a a soft bun with a sausage through it (not unlike a Gregg’s sausage roll). It tasted not too bad, and the sweet old lady came chasing down the platform after me insisting she give me my change - I had only given her the equivalent of 50p!

    The Provodnitsa keeps busy, hoovering the corridor and compartments, and telling folk off: ‘whit have a tellt you - get yer feet aff that seat!’. She also sells snacks (anything that can be re hydrated with boiling water from the samovar), and comes round selling ice cream, souvenirs and what looks like bingo tickets. However I certainly wouldn't like to give her a false call! She also keeps the toilets spic and span. There are always plenty of towels and loo roll (I haven't had to use those huge supplies you provided me with yet, Campbell). There is apparently one shower somewhere, but some folk just attach a piece of hose to the tap in the bathroom and give themselves a hose down. The water all runs away down a hole in the floor on to the track - just like a kind of wet room on wheels. I think I'll just stick tae a Paisley wash!

    According to my phone, the time has changed again! I don't know whether I'm coming or going. Apologies for the lengthy blog today, folks - I can't get off for more than 15 minutes every few hours, and there is a lot of time to fill
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  • Day15

    Walk through the forest

    September 9, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    On Sunday we enjoyed a few hours hike up to a 400 metre hilltop to get a view over the Village, led by our guide Ksenia. We have been so lucky with the weather on this trip and today was beautiful and sunny for us once again.

    We left our guest home and within a few yards we were joined by two identical Village dogs who decided that it would be good fun to tag along, which they did for the rest of the morning. Sometimes they were by our side and other times they disappeared for a while then came belting up behind us or had overtaken us out of our sight and came hurtling back towards us. It was a lovely walk through fir and silver birch forests. Nothing too strenuous but plenty of fresh air and it was good to give our limbs a decent stretch before another home cooked meal.
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  • Day16

    One night in Irkutsk

    September 10, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

    So we had an afternoon and one night in Irkutsk on Monday before we left Russia for Mongolia. This city of 600,000 people is the Capital of it’s Region and is the furthest City to the East in Siberia. Ksenia gave us a 2 hour tour of the City and there are some photos from our walk below.

    In the evening we decided that after two nights of dumplings and soup at the farm house we needed a solid ‘normal’ evening out so we decided to walk 5 minutes from our hotel to what is called the Irkutsk ‘Trendy Quarter’! Harat’s Irish Pub was our venue and we thoroughly enjoyed Beef Burritos, Fries and Harat’s own brews, Stout for John and Lager for Janet, served by a couple of very friendly, highly tattooed Russian barmen. Retiring for a night in a comfortable bed in our very nice hotel we were ready for the Trans-Mongolian on Tuesday morning.
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  • Day14


    June 21, 2017 in Russia ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    I survived the 48 hour train trip from Ykaterinburg and arrived in Irkutsk promptly at 7.18am. Took an extremely old rackety tram No. 1 to my hotel just outside the city centre (20p ride). Although I was very early, I breakfasted in the hotel by which time my room was ready. It is a lovely comfortable hotel with free wifi. I asked to get some laundry done, and it was back in my room washed and ironed by the time I came back later in the day. It definitely helps to travel light.

    Irkutsk is a popular stopping-off point on the Trans Siberian due to its proximity to Lake Baikal. It is a big, spread out city and I did a lot of walking. To be honest I found it a bit soulless and not as attractive as Ykaterinburg. A unique feature of the central area however is that there remains a significant number of wooden houses from the 19th century with beautiful carvings on the eaves and windows, and some beautiful churches (apparently the most beautiful, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan was demolished to make way for the ugly bulk of the Soviet HQ).

    Although I am now in central Siberia you would never know it - it was 33 degrees today - and after me packing my fur hat, great coat and winter boots!

    To get some respite from the heat, I visited the city Art Gallery (not memorable), and a museum of wooden houses dedicated to the story of the Decembrists, a group of nobles involved in the unsuccessful coup against the Tsar in 1825, and who were sent into exile in Siberia to do hard labour. Interesting story and exhibits.

    For dinner, I went to a nostalgia themed Russian restaurant, and enjoyed some delicious local food - great after two days of British Rail type catering. Well, off to bed early - Lake Baikal awaits tomorrow...
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  • Day15

    Ulaanbaatar - Irkoetsk

    April 21, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Mooi gedeelte. 37 euro voor dit stuk van 24 uur. Het gedeelte in Mongolië was mooi omdat het ook wat onweerde, en de grensovergang duurde knijterlang maar dan kon je slapen. In Rusland werden we wakker bij het baikalmeer, uren langs dat meer gereden. 1 en al ijs en dan soms wat ouwe houten industrie. Aangekomen hebben we treinticket naar moskou geboekt, 40 euro (3 dagen en 5 uur) en een auto gehuurd voor komende 2 dagen. Nu ochtend en gaan zo naar het meer rijden en dan kijken of we op het ijs kunnen rijden. In de trein joh wat mooie lui ontmoet uit MongoliëRead more

  • Day27

    Yekaterinburg plus

    September 12, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ☁️ 6 °C

    This post comes from train number 100, Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk, travel time 53 hours, local time at destination three hours ahead of departure.

    We hopped on this train in Yekaterinburg, after a couple of days looking around. Yekaterinburg is a bit dour and dusty; the cars and in particular the 1960’s (or prior) buses, trolley buses and trams haven’t seen any soap and water for many a year.

    It is, however attractive around Istorichesky Skyver, the parkland around the expansive City Pond, and we enjoyed walking around, following a red line painted on the pavement joining the attractions.

    The handsome Church Upon the Blood marks the spot where the last of the Russian Royal Family - the Romanovs - were rather cruelly done in by the Bolsheviks, and the city was, of course, the birthplace of Boris Yeltsin.

    We rode up 52 floors to the viewing platform of the Vysotsky Tower, and enjoyed the views to all ends of the city from there, but in truth it was really just a big city without a lot to see.

    We checked out of the pleasant Marins Park Hotel, with their free laundry service, and wandered over to the station to catch our next train. Due to some flaw in the system the Brickwoods actually checked out with still-damp laundry, which they proceeded to hang all around their compartment Chinese laundry style.

    It was our third overnight train, so we were familiar with having people speak in Russian to us and send us on our way without knowing what on earth they were talking about or asking us to do.

    We had smuggled some wine and beer on board, but naturally this was gone pretty quick smart, so from then we had cause to use the dining car, and that was quite interesting.

    Not interesting for the food, perhaps, which would best be described as nourishing and rather bland (the sort you should have when sharing two toilets between 36 people, in fact) but eating out is all about the experience, after all.

    We walked in for lunch, and a waitress with a set of metal front teeth to rival Jaws from the James Bond films plonked down a couple of wrinkled old menus and stood with her pen poised.

    There was English on the menu, but it didn’t help really, as almost everything we pointed to she shook her head and said “Nyet”. For dinner we ordered three pork somethings and one chicken, and got two of each.

    We ordered a bottle of wine, which arrived sans glasses, and every time we ventured up to tell someone they shooed us away. Then when you picked up your glass to have a drink the carriage would get up such a shimmy shake that you nearly lost all of it anyway.

    At dinner time the dining car was a bit rowdy. It’s a requirement that you eat, so two funny young guys opposite were having a meal of potato crisps, washed down with endless beers to which they were adding some kind of mystery hooch. They were actually very friendly, if completely pissed, and we had a long and unintelligible conversation with them. They took one look at Don then used (probably) their only English word - Santa!

    In fact, a few other people used the expression Santa when we left the train. Despite being completely innocuous and keeping entirely to ourselves (as indeed did most of our fellow passengers) we (or at least Don) had apparently made an impression. We were even given gifts by some of them.

    At the next table were two older guys, already red eyed and staggering, settling down to lose a few more days with a freshly opened bottle of vodka.

    Kim and Sharon asked to have their photo taken with the provodnista, who had been exceptionally friendly the whole way and insisted on putting her whole uniform on for the photo.

    The scenery was amazing, particularly if you are partial to trees. Trees when you have lunch, trees when it gets dark, trees when you wake up. Trees when you wake up the following day. Winter comes early and hard so the leaves were already turning quite beautiful shades of yellow with the odd patch of red.

    We slept pretty well, and our accommodation was quite adequate, but we are still looking forward to our next stop in Irkutsk, where we will no doubt be swaying for a day or so until we regain our land legs.
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  • Day31

    Irkutsk and Olkhon Island

    September 16, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    We left the warmth of our cocoon-like train 100 and emerged into a cold, rainy Irkutsk night. Temporarily discombobulated, we ended up paying about ten times the going rate for a taxi to the hotel. The driver then stayed straight faced enough to ask for a tip as well!

    The following day we explored Irkutsk, which has been called the “Paris of the East”. That’s a bit harsh on the original Paris, to be honest, but the riverside is very nice, with parks, churches and memorials.

    We spent some time looking around the Eternal Flame, a World War 2 memorial. School children stand guard over the flame (hopefully not in winter, but who knows?), diligently goose stepping their way to and from their posts with eager parents and teachers looking on.

    We walked through the old part of town, full of timber houses in various states of painting and repair, and made our way down to the city centre, with numerous Paris-esque buildings and a smattering of other items of interest.

    Then our walk took us back to the waterfront, where we took a snapshot of the statue of Tsar Alexander III, the man responsible for starting the whole Trans Siberian Railway thing in the first place.

    The following day, after spending 28 days either in the middle of a city or on a train or plane, we took a tour to Olkhon Island, largest in Lake Baikal and about 5 hours drive north.

    What a change. The drive, through yet more of Russia’s endless supply of trees, was good in itself, our guide friendly and informative.

    Apparently the usual lunch stop cafe was closed, so we drove on to the next one. When it came into view it turned out to be - an Irish Pub. Mind you it was Irish in beer and decoration only, with nary a beef and Guinness pie in sight. We had dumplings for lunch.

    Khuzhir is the largest settlement on the island, about two thousand people and a slightly lesser number of dogs, with wide, dusty potholed streets on which there are apparently few restrictions on which side to drive.

    The scenery was second to none. We visited Shamanka Rock, late on a bitterly cold afternoon, taking in the vibe of this sacred site in a howling gale and surrounded by fifty other jabbering, selfie-taking tourists.

    The following day we drove to the northern tip of the island in a UAZ minivan, a sturdy, grey vehicle like a high stumpy bread van originally developed for the Soviet Army. It needed to be sturdy, too, as the roads which criss crossed the open hills weren’t the best. It seemed that whenever a track got a bit rough the enterprising drivers would just forge a new one next to it, meaning there were often four or more alternative tracks, all joining up again in fifty metres or so. The driver belted along, bouncing his load of tourists all about the cabin, and decided at the very last second which of the alternative tracks to take.

    At the northern tip of the island we joined a host of other little grey vans and took in the highlights of the area - spectacular cliff views and the foulest, smelliest toilets in Russia - while our driver cooked delicious omul (it’s a local fish) soup for lunch.

    We also enjoyed our rustic accommodation, a yard full of small cabins and a communal dining hall in which meals were taken. Many mysteries remained but we did work out a few things about the food - “cutlet” actually means “rissole”, and all the varieties of cold meat taste exactly the same.

    By the following evening we were back in Irkutsk, still savouring our recent island experience and packing for the train to Mongolia.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Irkutsk, Irkoetsk, إيركوتسك, İrkutsk, Горад Іркуцк, Иркутск, Irkoutsk, Эрхүү хото, Irkùck, Ιρκούτσκ, ایرکوتسک, אירקוטסק, इरकुत्स्क, Irkutszk, IKT, イルクーツク, ირკუტსკი, 이르쿠츠크, Ircutia, Irkutskas, Irkutska, Эрхүү хот, Irkotsk, Irkuck, ارکٹسک, Irkuțk, Иркутскай, อีร์คุตสค์, Өркет, Іркутськ, ایرکتسک, אירקוצק, 伊爾庫茨克