Irkutskaya Oblast’

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102 travelers at this place

  • Day14

    View from the train

    September 8, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    Just a couple of short video clips through the train window, first as we travelled through a Siberian Village (with musical accompaniment) and then a typical view as we travelled through a silver birch forest in the rain.Read more

  • Day79

    Colours of Baikal

    September 18, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Fantastic day today in Listvyanka with the most stunning weather.
    We started the day with a visit to Baikal Museum which sadly included an aquarium with 2 of the saddest looking cute seals ever seen. I fluctuated between wanting to cry and wanting to break them out and throw them into the lake!
    After this we cheered ourselves up with a walk up the hill to the cable car and a v slow chairlift to the top which has magnificent views of Lake Baikal.
    We walked down and followed the lake to town for an hour in the sunshine.
    K then spotted a seal for real- a free swimming cutie in the lake. This made us feel a bit better about the sad one in captivity.
    Next was a coffee and some local berries right on the waters edge with the most stunning view of life on the lake.
    A trip to the market, a purchase of some rare Charoite ( only found in Baikal), a non purchase of some Seraphinite ( a mineral also only found here) and then an amazing dinner was all completed before sunset watching. No swimming today sadly.
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  • Day15

    Galina's Homestay

    September 9, 2019 in Russia ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

    Just to close up on our time in Bolshoe Goloustnoye we thought we would just mention our accommodation. There are very few tourists that come to this Village so only a few places offer accommodation. We stayed in a chalet attached to a farm and enjoyed what you could best describe as a homestay.

    Galina was the lady of the house and she looked after everything. We saw her husband wandering around from time to time but apparently he is a victim of the booze, as is the case with quite a few of the Villagers here as modern day life takes it’s toll on small remote communities.

    So she looks after all guest related issues herself and also runs their small farm, with some support from her two girls and grandchildren. She prepared for us very good, filling home-cooked Russian food and despite having not a single word of English was the perfect host.

    The Banya facility was great and our room was fine with the exception of the beds which were hard beyond belief (we both agreed on that!). But it has been a very different and enlightening experience living with a real family, in a real Village, in the real forest, of the far East of Siberia.
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  • Day80

    New Zealand Pie Shop in Irkutsk!!

    September 19, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Yes that is correct Random Russia keeps on giving!!
    Whilst searching for the way from the bus station to the hostel K spotted the New Zealand pie shop on google maps.
    Despite carrying our backpacks we decided we would go out of our way to pay it a visit.
    What a random find as the photos show!!!
    Luckily the pies were only $2.40 because my beef one was pretty average although K loved her apple and cinnamon.
    On questioning the Russian counter girl told us that the owner was Russian but had visited NZ and then came back and set up this pie shop of which it looks like a chain of at least 3 shops according to the brochure.
    K was v v happy with her pie.... meanwhile Vanessa’s Cafe In Hampden has nothing to worry about!!!
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  • Day78

    Lake Baikal Dip

    September 17, 2019 in Russia ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

    Even K decided that it was essential to have a dip In Lake Baikal as it wasn’t frozen... just freezing ( ? 10-12 degs)
    Off we stripped at a little rocky shore by our accomm ( ignoring the main road above us!!).... and in we went.... just like that!!
    We both went in a few times because it was hyperventilatingly cold but got easier with repetition and breath control!! It was v refreshing!!
    Followed this off with a celebratory bottle of nasty bubbly, crackers and processed cheese squares whilst watching the sunset.... classy birds we r !!!
    Great day at Lake Baikal
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  • Day15

    Lake Baikal and Bolshoe Goloustnoye

    September 9, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    We arrived bang on time in Irkutsk at 6.22am on Saturday and as we manhandled our substantial luggage down about a yard onto the platform there was Ksenia, our new guide, waiting exactly at the right place with our name on a sign. It was a quick hug and goodbye to our train friends and then we were in a nice new black Kia Sportage (yes another Kia) with Ksenia and our driver Igor for the two hour journey to the small village of Bolshoe Goloustnoye on the shores of Lake Baikal.

    Ksenia is in her twenties and an English teacher at a local private school who does Tour Guiding part time at weekends and during school holidays. She will be with the two of us exclusively for the three days we are in the area. We will be living in guest accommodation attached to a farmhouse.

    We arrived and were shown to our basic but comfy looking wooden chalet, one of a row of four. Breakfast (and all 3 meals a day) was in a separate unit and lo and behold in there was the Indian couple who we spent the day with on a tour in Yekaterinburg. They are the only other guests and they are leaving tomorrow morning.

    Our location is a proper working village of 700 with one shop, one cafe and very little tourism. The local trades are primarily fishing and agriculture. The indigenous population are Buryats who are very recognisable, looking like Mongolians. They represent about 80% of the local population now.

    In the afternoon Ksenia takes us on an orientation walk around the village and a 10 minute stroll down to the shore of the main reason for being here, Lake Baikal. This lake is a monster in size and staggeringly holds over 20% of the World’s fresh water! It is 395 miles long from end to end but what creates it’s volume is it’s depth as the lake is over one mile deep in places. In winter it freezes completely to a depth of several metres. Today the weather is mixed with sunshine and showers but tomorrow is supposed to be better and a long walk up into the hills is planned.

    Back at our chalet it’s bath time or as Russians call it ’Banya’. Our accommodation has a very smart Banya which is attached to our row of chalets. It is very similar to a sauna so was very welcome after several days on the train without proper washing facilities. 40 minutes in the hot Banya and then mixing hot and cold water to tip over yourself is a great way to clean up.

    Then it was a hearty home cooked dinner, with a couple of beers from the local shop, and an early night. The beds are pretty hard but bearable and despite the cold outside temperature we have two good heaters in the chalet to keep us warm. No problem going to sleep.

    Awoke on Sunday to shocking news.........Watford have sacked their Manager!! Anyway after recovering from this it was an early morning tea and then breakfast back in the dining room. We also woke to cocks crowing, cows mooing and the odd dog barking, all very rural. Weather windy but blue skies.

    What better for a Sunday in Eastern Siberia than a long walk with Ksenia which we’ll cover separately. We were back for lunch and then sat in the sun on our terrace reading, the silence only interrupted by a large Asian Sparrow Hawk appearing at high speed from nowhere and attacking a bush filled with sparrows. The bush was only about 10 yards from us and it gave us a real surprise when the Hawk made it’s initial attack and then smashed it’s way back in the bush for a second go. There were no fatalities as far as we could see.

    Things then settled down for the rest of the afternoon and after a 4 o’clock Banya (we were braver with water temperature this time) we walked down to the lake for a beer in the only bar in town (which had wi-fi....hallelujah!). Dinner was being served at 7:30pm prompt and as we were the only guests we made sure we were back in time and enjoyed our soup and dumplings.

    It was then time for a bit of packing, a coffee and a read before bed. It’s time to get on the move again and tomorrow (Monday) morning we are being driven back by Igor to the City of Irkutsk for a day and one night before boarding the Trans-Mongolian train for the first time on Tuesday morning.

    We have had a very enjoyable time here at Bolshoe Goloustnoye on Lake Baikal. It has been very basic, but given us a chance to see how life really works in a Siberian village. As we have thought before during our time in Siberia, what must it be like in a few weeks time once the snow comes and temperatures start dropping to -30C? It doesn’t bear thinking about how we would cope that’s for sure!
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  • Day78


    September 17, 2019 in Russia ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

    This little town wasn’t as much of a shit hole as we were expecting.
    After dumping our backpacks ( we have left our big bags in the Good Cat Hostel in Irkutsk) we walked the 3 kms along the lake edge into “town”.
    We stopped off at this fab little cafe and had what turned out to be a huge lunch. I had Omul which is a Baikal fish but due to over fishing they r banned from catching it on the western shores.... so they catch it on the eastern Side of Baikal and ship it over!!
    We then went to the market where they sell nothing but smoked fish and souvenirs. Luckily we resisted both.
    We bought bus tickets back to Irkutsk for Thursday at a grand price of $3 so god help us!
    We headed to the mineral museum to find it closed for the 2 days we r here!!
    By now it was 5pm so we headed back to the accommodation via a bottle shop where we bought the cheapest bottle of sparkling wine we could find ( and I found cans of Newcastle Brown Ale and Boddingtons Bitter from Manchester!!).
    It was then planned for a little dip In Lake Baikal before a sunset tipple....
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  • Day77

    Sports bras, vodka and fish head soup!

    September 16, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

    Today consisted of a trip in a Russian military vehicle up to the northern tip of Olkhon Island.
    What a beautiful trip?!!!
    Alexander our Russian rally driver handled the car expertly over the hugely diveted road, up steep hills and down steeper ones!!
    We made stops at the 3 brothers rocks and then had lunch of traditional Omul (fish head) soup at the northern top of the island.
    Our vodka offerings to the spirit world worked as we had the most incredible light, cloud, sun and newly snow dusted mountain views..... we even had a rainbow!!
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  • Day78

    Irkutsk to Listvyanka via hydrofoil

    September 17, 2019 in Russia ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

    Checked out of our 2 x rooms ( thanks to us double booking the same place and also having another room booked in Listvyanka we ended up with 8 beds last night!!!) and got into a dodgy looking taxi with no meter. However our serious looking taxi driver deposited us at the hydrofoil terminal in good time and didn’t even want to keep our tip.
    The hydrofoil was a lovely hour up the Angara River Into the main basin of Lake Baikal.
    It deposited us 100m from our dodgy accomm at Malinovka Inn so we weren’t complaining.
    Lake Baikal greeted us with pure sunshine and a lovely temperature... and no wind!
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  • Day80

    Around the World in 80 days - not quite

    September 19, 2019 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Listvyanka to Irkutsk
    Woke up to the rain which made having to go downstairs for an empty bathroom first thing a bit of a wake up call.
    Next big disappointment of the day was I had Tokyo Olympic tickets in my basket after they were released at 9am only for the visa page to show the wheel of death for 12mins and I lost them - thank u BNZ/Visa ( yes I did have enough money on the credit card to pay for them).
    After breakfast it was a 40 min walk to the bus and a sad farewell to Lake Baikal.
    An hour later we were back in the big smoke of Irkutsk. Nothing much to report here except we found a “ New Zealand Pie Shop”!! A dedicated footprint to follow.
    We were both relieved to be reunited with the luggage we left at the hostel and now just repacking and sorting for our TST tmrw to Ulan Ude. Sadly our Russian holiday is coming to an end in 3 days time.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Irkutskaya Oblast’, Irkutskaya Oblast', Oblast d'Irkoutsk, Irkutsk, Irkutskaja oblast, Иркутская область

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