Listvyanka Lake Baikal Sat 7th July

Listvyanka Travel Blog

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Woke up very late than we should have  It was nice to sleep in. I had a restless night, being a big girl in a small bed, every time I turned, I fell out. I do love how all these Russian hotels have cotton sheets. They are divine to sleep in. Breakfast was lite on which was disappointing. Not really a suitable breakfast for the day we had planned ahead. We had a 4 hour hike through the town of Listvyanaka in the heat. PHEW! Our older members turned back in the first hour and some others a little later in the piece. The main town is filed with these little traditional houses, all wood and lots of gardens for potatoes. The town has a 200 year old church that was originally on the shores of the lake, but was moved when the dam at Irkutsk was built. The walk continued to the limnological Institute where there is an excellent display of the fish life of the lake and other fauna of the surrounding environs. The institute has the most amazing aquarium, in that the fish in it are amazing. Some colour changing fish were in display and we saw them in all sorts of camouflage. The Baikal Seal is also in the aquarium. The cutest little seal you have even seen, they are little balls of fur that moved so elegantly in the water. It was a shame their tank was so bare, their little faces were so animated, I felt that they needed more stimulus in their home.  David took many pictures so stay turned for the Lake Baikal Seal pictures when we get home.
The guide then led us up the mountain to anther hotel but all the eateries were closed. Some people were very very angry as they were tired and thirsty. Some people didn’t have water so we were forced to share what was available. Some became quiet sick. David and I heard a Steam train nearby, which was confusing as the guide told us there were none. Never tell a train buff that he is not hearing a steam train. Con and a David saw them across the lake at Port Baikal. David was then extremely angry. We are on a train tour and doing hitch hiking instead of travelling on the historical Circumbaikal railway. We stalked down the mountain in a huff with the guide trailing behind. David mumbled to me and himself how he should just get a boat across the lake (Travelling via road is via Irkutsk so around 2 hours travel). I asked the guide about the chances of getting a boat and he waved vaguely towards the fishermen in the distance. He was not willing to help us. David stalked off whilst I asked Con and Maria (From Broken Hill) if they wanted to go on a boat. They were happy to pay half as Con was also upset at missing the steam trains. By the time Con, Maria and I caught up to David he had found some fishermen, and had started negotiations. We all settled on 1000r for the 4 of us. We went in a tiny 4 seater tinny. The crusty old man was happy to take us and his little boat had an outboard motor with no cover. If the men had leaned back too far, a hand would have been taken off. The old man gave us all life vests, lit a cigarette and off we went into the fog. We found the fog was only on the shores of the lake and when we got to the middle of the lake, it was clean. The water is so very beautiful, I had an almost overwhelming urge to dive in. The tinny got us abreast the trains just in time for the engines to move off. Con wanted to land but I had no language skills and we didn’t want to get dumped at the wrong side of the lake. The man took us on a tour of Port Baikal and then back across the lake to our hotel, saving us a long walk back. (3 hour walk) Partway across the lake, the tinny ran our of fuel, but being Aussies we were sure there was a solution if we just left the Russian to his own devices. He shoved the men from the back seat, and dug around for more fuel. We have the nicest time just floating peacefully on the world’s most beautiful lake. We dipped for water, famous for its purity and found it tasted as wonderful as people claimed.
The old man filled his tank, managed to start his little engine, after lots of swearing (deerrrmahh) we zoomed off again. (I say zoomed but this tinny was wonderfully slow.) We beat the walkers back the hotel by and hour. They were even more angry than before. The walk was just too long for them. The tinny trip has been the highlight of the tour so far. It was magical. The lake is a magic place to be.
I am sitting on level 7 on the balcony in the sun overlooking the lake. There is rain on the horizon and everything looks blue. The whole palette of the scene in front of me only uses different shades of blue. The boats are white but everything else blue. Will have to move as David has gone in search of the boat wreck on the north of the town and I am attracting annoying young men who want to talk. It is ruining my tranquillity.
Dinner soon!
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photo by: Biedjee