A Travellerspoint blog

Irkutsk, Listvyanka and Lake Baikal

overcast 19 °C

Minibus collected us and took us from Irkutsk to listvyanka. We stayed in a log cabin with en suite bathrooms, but strange plumbing a few minutes hot, then cold, then hot water. Breakfasts were lavish, but you had to be there promptly to get yoiur fried eggs while still hot.

Lake baikal was beautiful, very blue and icy cold. How any tourist can spend more than 3 minutes swimming in the water, let alone 30 seconds, defies belief? And this was august, in shallow water!

Baikal offered us free wifi at the hotel Mayak, and a less than helpful tourist information office. Fortunately, the wonderful Julia, at the other tourist info office opposite the hotel Mayak, rescued us with her great English and sensible prices for a boat trip on Baikal.

We had long walks uphill to find the chair lifts (success) and the observatory (failure) and a long but rewarding walk to the кафе Прошлый Век where Misha met her Mishi. And we can recommend the shashlik omul here.

Irkutsk competed to be the Paris of the east, but seemed like a soviet city. The Kazan monastery, in the midst of renovation, was beautiful. The Market was full of great fruits and vegetables, though the fadidas shopping proved stressful and unsuccessful.

Most disappointing meal of Irkutsk was domino's pizza. And we finally succumbed to planeta sushi for familiar pizza and pasta. But we were tired, hungry, and in need of food before fatigue set in.

Posted by mkmp 17:00 Archived in Russia Tagged lake monastery baikal listvyanka irkutsk sushi kazan planeta Comments (0)

6 August - Krasnoyarsk.

sunny 18 °C

Krasnoyarsk. Land of hills and a very wide river yenesei. Am guessing that the city is situated inside a huge caldera based on the views from the chairlift at bobrovi log. Catch the 37 bus to the theme park where chipmunks welcome your arrival. Great food and service at the Peoples bar and grill. Best potato wedges and potato cakes (draniki). Lenin and last tsar's Siberian steamship were great, and the free talent search in the main square too. Stayed at the Sky hotel a little bit out of town, and staff could learn a lot about customer service. don't expect too much for breakfast.

Posted by mkmp 17:00 Archived in Russia Tagged krasnoyarsk Comments (0)

3 and 4 August - it must be Omsk

overcast 18 °C

The overnight journey from Yekaterinburg involved our first encounter with two Russians drinking vodka. Alexander and mikhail. They mistook Roderick for Sean Connery and Robert for Robert de Niro. A few more vodkas and they stalked us to our cabin. Thankfully Dilip came to the rescue by scaring them into submission, and after polishing off Robert's honey vodka they stumbled back to their own cabin.

Omsk, a city that cannot wait 5 years, as it seemed to be celebrating 295 years since it was created. But the plans for 2016 look good.

Stayed at the ibis, which had the best staff - very helpful and great customer service.

Plenty to see and do, nice friendly people, dozens of statues and flowers everywhere except for the seeds we collected. Nicest onion domes, and best puddles ever. Lovely river, but not much use made of it - we had our photos taken with Love (bench statue) and look forward to our return.

Posted by mkmp 17:00 Archived in Russia Tagged vodka omsk Comments (2)

3 August - honey vodka breakfast shots

One way to start the day

semi-overcast 18 °C

http://db.tt/wsigBYr

Posted by mkmp 17:00 Archived in Russia Tagged train russia vodka honey Comments (0)

Yekaterinburg - 2 August

semi-overcast 23 °C

Yekaterinburg was fun. We arrived in a new time zone and treated ourselves to cabs to our hotel. The hotel magister was unusual. No ramp to access the reception and then no lift meant a Herculean effort to carry bags up the five floors. Thankfully, beds and rooms were very clean and breakfast surprisingly quick and of a high quality.

We had to knock on the door of the tourist office to get in 10 minutes after opening times to get maps (two confusing versions) that do not tell you about the blood red line on the streets that takes you to most of the sights. The church on the blood was austere but with lots about the Romanovs, even a royal tooth. We escaped a torrential downpour while on a coffee break, and then ventured into the museum of Yekaterinburg which was great. Lots of soviet era photos of mass canteens, fake food, soviet life and a couple of rooms dedicated to yuri gegarin and space. We did lose nila, only to find her playing on a basketball machine. The museum of photography looked quite dull in comparison, and the museum of youth/children was closed for renovation. The square and fountain by the afghan war memorial was overrun by soldiers who were clearly out to celebrate something and a few were worse for wear, thanks to the vodka and beer being enjoyed.

The military museum was relatively dull, and empty, it's only redeeming feature was the mad woman at the entrance who confused all of us about tickets and prices, and insisted that we use the toilet before leaving. Fearing a trap, we escaped to the sanctity of the CCCP restaurant for soup, pies and grilled vegetables and calamari. A surprise treat was the free carrot cake.

After lunch, we set off in search of the qwerty keyboard, via various monuments and statues. It wasn't quite what we expected, but we were able to spell out everyone's names.

We then went to see the outside of the circus and the Alexander Nevsky cathedral which was closed but quite photogenic, especially with the help of various puddles.

Getting on the train to Omsk was a nightmare, as the people in our cabin were not ready to leave. Their huge awkwardly shaped luggage and ships rudders clashed with the luggage and humans getting on board. Peace eventually settled but tempers were frayed. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits and a game of cheat provided the perfect end to the day. Tomorrow we wake in another time zone.

Posted by mkmp 17:00 Archived in Russia Tagged russia yekaterinburg tsars romanov sverdlov Comments (0)

Moscow Highlights after 2 days

Best of Moscow 2011

sunny 32 °C

Have fallen in love with Moscow again! It's such a lovely city in the sun! Lots of Soviet history, lots of shiny onion-domed churches and a fair bit of slavic totty too! Have been privileged to see possibly the best art museum in the world (Tretyakovskaya), Red Square, Monument to the Cosmonauts, Novodevichy Convent and Cemetry and a fantastic evening cruise on the Moscow river!

The train journey starts for real tomorrow. Tickets retrieved from the ticket machine (phew!). Hope the company remains as good!

Posted by crogle 22:59 Archived in Russia Tagged moscow square red novodevichy Comments (1)

This is what 4am looks like?

semi-overcast 12 °C

photo (from email)

photo (from email)

Posted by mkmp 20:11 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged hill mill 4am Comments (4)

24 hours to go

Last day at work today. Packing lists, checklists, to do lists, final checks and adjustments to packing and carry on bag contents is almost at an end.

This time tomorrow, we will be on our way. Only one nagging question obsessing in my mind. Just when and where will I need a universal sink/bath plug?

I've got just over three weeks to find an answer.

Posted by mkmp 00:11 Comments (0)

Getting started

Less than two weeks to go...

rain 18 °C

Accommodation for all our overnight stays finally booked. train tickets bought and paid for - all the way from Moscow to Beijing.

Three of us will continue to Shanghai - but we can book that later. I hope!

Posted by mkmp 21:16 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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