Back to Irkutsk to catch a Train
Irkutsk Travel Blog› entry 121 of 136 › view all entries
June 3rd, 2009 – by: Kramerdude
So we arranged a bus and headed back down the Angara River to Irkutsk. Found a hotel that would let us leave our luggage in a storage room for a small fee and then headed out to the Volkonsky House and the Decemberists Museum for a little bit of history of Irkutsk.
What's the first thing you think of when you hear Irkutsk? It's the big Siberian Territory in Risk for one. Also the gulag comes to mind as well. But Irkutsk is actually for all intents and purposes a large cosmopolitan city in Russia and on this warm summer day seemed quite pleasant. Part of this reason goes back into the history of this city. After the Napoleonic wars there was an uprising against the tsars in St. Petersburg by many of the Russian military that spent significant time in Western Europe during that time period. Those that weren't killed were sent to work camps in Siberia to serve out their sentences. Many of their families followed them into this self-imposed exile and settled in Irkutsk. After the sentences were served the men were able to return to Irkutsk to live with their families and settle in the region.
One of the Decemberists that was forced into exile was Sergei Volkansky and his wife Maria Volkanskaya. Their house, built in the 1840's still stands in Irkutsk and is today a museum about this history. We had a walking narrated tour through the house where we picked up much of this story in even more detail. A small bit of history often glossed over in American teaching at least.
After the tour we headed back to the city center. There is a pedestrian street where we were able to stop at a pizza parlor for lunch, and I got to attempt a bit more of my halting Russian.
The departure time for the "Baikal" (Train #9) was at about 4:30 in the afternoon from the rail station, so there wasn't much time to waste in they city. Back at the hotel where we had stored our luggage, I paid for some internet time to find out what was going on in the world for the last time for at least three days.
Next: we're off
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