After my unpleasant night in the train to Irkutsk I had a nice arrival because a German-speaking girl picked me up from the station. I got her contact through a friend of mine who did the transsibirian last year and it was a great recommendation. She brought me in the hostel where she works called “52°17” – the latitude of Irkutsk. It was really comfy and had a welcoming atmosphere.
We took a walk on the river promenade afterwards and she showed me the main streets called Lenin Street and Karl Marx Street – this is Russia 😉 Later I met a girl from Couchsurfing, Engelina, and we walked to the centre square which has a little park and lights in the evening. Moreover, Irkutsk is famous for the wooden houses – the old Russian architecture which you can still see in the city centre.
Engelina told me about her cultural background. Her parents are Buryats, a minority in the area to the border to Mongolia. The capital of Buryats is Ulan-Ude and they believe in the religion of Buddhism and Shamanism – that was so interesting to get to know for me! To show me more about it, we went to a traditional Buryat restaurant and I tried Buuz and a soup. Very yummy but the kitchen contains a lot of meat.
The next day I walked again though the city to have a look at the different churches and the river side again. I think Irkutsk is one of the cities I like the most in Russia until now because it is not too big, has a lot of parks and the only river which flows out of the Baikal lake – the others flow all into the lake. As well I discovered a very interesting church which looked more like a temple.
Then I took a bus to a small city directly at the Baikal Lake: Listwjanka. The bus trip was quite rough but to see the real lake was impressing. It is so clear and has a mix of green and blue colours. Nevertheless I was a bit disappointed of the little town because almost everything was closed and me and the Korean girl I met in the bus still walked 50 minutes to arrive to the real city centre. There we went into the Baikal museum which was quite interesting although a lot was written in Russian. The best was the little aquarium with the original Baikal seals!
In the museum I met the Germans I got to know in Moscow and we went on a little walk together afterwards. Then we took the bus back. In the evening I just relaxed in my hostel because some new people arrived, a Dutch girl and two boys from Germany and Japan. The next day my bus to Olchon Island departed and for this wonderful place I need to write a new article 😀