24 Hours In Irkutsk Russia
Irkutsk Eastern Siberia Russia
We were all hot and bothered by the time we reached the hostel, or what I’m calling the cave as our rooms were downstairs with little natural light, to discover there was no hot water…at all…we were told by the hostel people that this is a regular thing in Russia. Really where are we?? I didn’t think Russia was third world Hmmm not sure I believed them BUT a (very) cold shower it was. We had no hot water the two days we stayed in Irkutsk.
On our first afternoon we were there we went in search of a bank and food, the bank was the easy bit the food a little more tricky. We ended up miles from our hostel in an area called District 130 which has several restaurants and pubs which were all closed as it was Sunday.
District 130 is a strange place, it has a number of replica Irkutsk style wooden houses that have built to create a tourist precinct. They are quite nice but I struggled to understand why they would build so many new replicas when all over the city stunning original Irkutsk style houses are falling down and in desperate need of restoration.
By the time we arrived in District 130 we were all hot, tired, hungry and cranky, so we managed to navigate the Russian buses and caught one back uptown to our hostel and discovered a nice bar just around the corner where we enjoyed a much needed couple of drinks.
We had dinner at a cute restaurant nearby that did excellent pilmeni and pancakes along with big mugs of tea…..delicious.
The next morning we wandered around the corner to a cafe for breakfast to discover the had no food – at all – just coffee and tea, now strange. After coffee and tea we ventured across the road to a Boulangerie (just like in France) for more tea and quiche.
We then set off to explore Irkutsk, the city has a beautiful style of housing that is unique to the area. A number of these houses have been restored, although as I said before a number are also quite dilapidated and in need of some TLC. We spent ages wandering the streets in awe of the amazing architecture.
Irkutsk was also the home to a number of exiled Decembrists, a wealthy group of people who attempted to get better rights for all in 1825.. Their attempt failed and they were sent to hard labour in a Siberian mine before finally ending up in Irkutsk, building beautiful homes and becoming influential in the city.
We wandered through Trubetskoy House Museum. the once home of a Decembrist and read the history of the movement – very interesting.
We also visited the Regional Museum which was interesting but only in Russian which made it a little difficult to understand the full story (or actually any of the story really). One of the ladies in the museum demanded we sit and watch a video of the explorers which I am sure was very interesting- if only we understood. We snuck off when she wasn’t looking and quickly escaped out of the museum and headed to our now favourite bar The Library for our evening drinks.
That night we ate a lovely restaurant with delicious shazlicks and people all around smoking water pipes. Nice bit a tad smokey.
On the way home we explored a local supermarket where you could by caviar by the scoop full and picked up a few bits and pieces for our onward journey the next morning.
In the morning we were off to the famous Lake Baikal and the village of Listvyanka for 5 days.
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