Beautiful Irkutsk. The Paris of Siberia.
In their dreams!!
As cities go, it’s not the worst place I’ve ever seen, but it’s down at that end of the bell curve. It’s cold, windy, dirty, dusty and mostly run down. The people are grim-faced and fairly introverted.
But there are some nicer aspects to it. The Angara River is wide and clean and flows strongly. There are some lovely old Siberian buildings, although many of them are falling into disrepair. There are some nice public spaces such as the square in the centre of the city. And the city has been untouched by the two World Wars.
We went looking for a Supermarket today, and found a couple of them. Coles and Woolworths have nothing to fear in terms of the local supermarket’s size and range etc, but the prices here look pretty good. Vodka is particularly cheap here – maybe a third of the Australian prices – not that we were buying vodka.
We dined again this evening in our Hotel’s restaurant. Again the food was very good, salmon for Garry, beef stroganoff for me, and it was all modestly priced. Unfortunately, it seems that the main objective of the staff there is to send the customers on their way. Dessert? Some more wine? Coffee? Nope, here is your bill, and the waitress stands there waiting for you to give her the money. I joked to Garry that the most common item on the menu was ‘Nyet’ (‘No’)
Tomorrow, we depart in the evening on the next Trans Siberian train, for Novosibirsk, which is about 28 hours away from here. It will be a much shorter journey, and hopefully easier on the body than our previous very long trip on the train.
More news in a day or two after we have arrived in Novosibirsk.