We have been on the road for month now!
SNOW! We woke from our gently rocking slumber to the bright whiteness of snow, everywhere. It was a shock even though we are in Siberia and a light flutter of snow had been promised by the BBC weather app.
We are slightly confused by the time though as our phones haven’t jumped an hour we were promised, my FitBit is 2 hours out and the train clock shows Moscow time which is about 3 hours out so all in all we are pretty stumped when it comes to what time it is.
As stomachs were rumbling we had a pot of noodles for brunch (breakfast in Moscow, lunch in Irkutsk) they were delicious, in a pot noodle kind of way.
The train etiquette is slightly different here in that no one really opens their doors and chats, which we are slightly surprised at having heard stories of drunken nights and lots of new friendships. However as we are both getting older, and sometimes grumpier, we are actually happier having a cabin to ourselves and being able to relax and do what we want, and not have to share our vodka!
On arrival in Irkutsk we had decided to get a taxi from the station as it would would be a 30 min walk. We were tired and slightly out of sorts and so so fell for the oldest trick in the book and didnt ask the price of the taxi before getting in, realised there was no meter and you are at at the mercy of the driver. I went to put my seat belt on, he said ‘No’ and sped off out of the car park. The only issue being there was no official exit point so on turning out of the car park he came across someone coming in at the same time I bent down the get my bag. I so wanted that seat belt after the screech of brakes and me being flung across the floor. Still, suitably woken up we had a 10 min journey for the princely sum of 10 quid, which is more than Kenilworth taxis! We were so annoyed, but life goes on and you (should) learn from these things, eh?
We then spent another 20 mins looking for our hostel which was where we first went but as the sign was in Cyrillic and we didn’t think to translate it we didn’t realise.
Finally we had our room and laundry sorted so we set off to explore Irkutsk. There was snow around but not much so no snowball fights for us, so instead we decided it was mealtime. Went to a Soviet style restaurant filled with Asian tourists (we found out that this is one of their 2 weeks off a year, hence the high number of Chinese everywhere.) It is quite odd being back in the world of tourists especially young ones who do no interaction with their friends at the table only interact with their phones. We did the same whist waiting for our meal which seemed to take the same time to cook as it would to queue for bread in soviet times. It wasn’t great but it filled a hole!
We then set off looking for a tour place we had seen on Internet and again came a cropper looking for it was no signs any where, still we got there in the end and booked a Lake Baikal tour for Saturday.
After walk around Irkutsk Guy decided he needed yet more food, so we went to a modern food court, where the longest queues were for KFC. As tempting as that was Guy went for sushi which turned out to be in tempura batter, which he liked, and I chose noodles using the point it method which was disastrous as they were cold with tofu, ugh. So I consoled myself with a massive sweet cinnamon bun slathered in sweet sticky sauce, truly dirty. Guy had Baskin Robbins ice cream which was so bad we couldn’t figure out the flavours apart from the plastic banana tasting one.
A short, cold, walk home, temperature is about zero degrees, we were back in our hostel room which was about 28 degrees and we couldn’t work out how to open the window or turn down the radiator so a hot sweaty night in Siberia commenced.