It’s Sunday morning, and we are back in Irkutsk, where we have an unplanned, but welcome, down day. We intended to leave on a train for Krasnoyarsk this morning but couldn’t get seats on the trains we wanted. So we bought tickets for tomorrow morning, and we get to spend the whole day here. Not just any day, but our friend Laura Germain’s birthday. In Irkutsk!
This is actually quite a charming place. Earlier we posted some pictures of the many old wooden buildings; they are everywhere, sometimes in varying stages of disrepair. The city also has some monumental architecture as well, crossing the lines between Grand European, Russian Imperial, and Soviet Monstrosity. Our hotel is near a lovely square flanked by the whole variety.
With no travel or other big plans today we’ll take it easy. We’ll do some genuine sightseeing. And we’ll run some needed errands. We have a pile of Mongolian money that we need to exchange for Russian roubles. And we still need to replace a few items from the toiletries we lost on the train. Yesterday, in fact, my need to replace my finger nail clippers reached a boiling point, and that became my paramount mission for the day. Mission accomplished.
Given the trouble we had getting train seats for Krasnoyarsk yesterday, we’re going to try to buy seats for the rest of our Tran Siberian journey, all the way to Moscow. Yesterday we mapped out what we want to do, including stops in Krasnoyarsk (a bustling Siberian city set in the mountains), Novosibirsk (the Siberian capital and Russia’s third largest city, Tomsk (a very old Siberian settlement that it now a vibrant college town and arts community), Yekaterinburg (where the last tsar and his family were massacred), and Nizhny Novgorod (an ancient Russian capital with a dramatic ‘kremlin’ set above the town).
Here are some photos of the grand architecture from Kirov Square. And happy birthday, Laura!