Relaxing in Siberia
Lake Baikal Travel Blog› entry 4 of 20 › view all entries
It felt really exciting to be in Siberia. It's one of those places you hear about, but never think you'll have any reason for going to.
We stopped off in Irkutsk to break our Trans-Mongolian train trip; we'd been on the train for four days. We'd really enjoyed the train journey, but it made a nice change to get off. We'd booked a three-day excursion through our tour company: two days staying in a wooden house in a village called Bolshoe Goloustnoe, on the shores of Lake Baikal, and a day in a homestay in Irkutsk itself.
We were met at the station and packed into two minibuses (there were eight of us who were going to be staying in the house togehter) for the hour and a half's drive to the lake.
In any case, we got to Bolshoe Goloustnoe in one piece, and were deposited at the small wooden house, and introduced to our host, a large Russian lady with bleached hair and leopard-print leggings. The house was fairly basic, with outside toilets and drinking water that appeared to have been sourced from the lake (which is a very clean lake).
Our second day by the lake consisted of a visit to the village church, followed by a walk along the lakeshore. We stopped off at a small lodge for lunch, where we had barbecued fish, which had recently been caught from the lake. You can't beat freshly sourced food: it was delicious. The scenery is beautiful and the location very tranquil. The air feels so clean when you breathe it; you generally feel healthier just for being there.
The evening "party" in the house was similar to the previous day, but with beer replacing the vodka, and two randon Russian blokes who didn't speak any English - not sure where they came from.
On the third day we returned (via the bumpy road) to Irkutsk.
It was Zoe's birthday, so we picked up a bottle of Georgian wine from the supermarket on the way back to the flat. Our landlady had cooked some sort of turkey burger-type thing, with a salad; not ideal birthday fare, but not too bad in the end. The wine went down well. Because we didn't speak any Russian we weren't really able to get very much out of the homestay experience. Our landlady didn't speak any English, and retired to the other room to leave us to eat dinner on our own.
The three places we visited in Russia (St Petersburg, Moscow and Irkutsk) were all very different in feel. I'm glad that we spent time in all three; they each show a different side of Russia.