After three days and four nights on the Transsibirian Railway we have finally arrived in Irkutsk, Siberia. Already at 7.27am here it is definitely colder than in Moscow at 23.47pm when we got on the train. What other differences I can spot right at first glance? The people are weird. I mean… they do this weird thing with their mouth… ah, I remember what it’s called! Smiling! Definitely not what I expected of people from Siberia. Rather the opposite. If they already have trouble smiling in Moscow, in Siberia they probably haven’t even heard of that… BUT I was completely mistaken. On top of that the people here are very nice, friendly and very helpful. If you have a question they will try very hard to help you even if it takes hands and feet to explain things. I went to a supermarket to get shower gel. Sounds easier than it is. This girl comes up to me asking if she can help me. Once we got to what I actually need she stood by my side opening every bloody bottle shower gel they had for me to sniff and decide which smell I’d like best. As I got the Scotsman’s cold now as well (guess it’s karma for making slightly fun of him in my last post.) I had to go to the pharmacy and the lady there was lovely. Using the calculator to tell me exactly when to take what.
The whole city is made for tourists. There’s even a green line painted on the streets throughout the city which guides tourist from one attraction to the next so you get a guided city tour for free. And all tourist information signs are in Cyrillic, English and Chinese!
I am in love with the wooden houses you’ll find all over town and the whole charm it brings. It might by far not be as blingbling, clean and shiny as Moscow, but it seems more real and has it’s own character. Of course the downside of these wooden houses is that they burn like tinder.
But there is almost every type of architecture you can imagine. It almost seems like Irkutsk can’t decide what it wants to be. Do I want to be fancy? Do I want to be cool and arty? Maybe hipster and a bit fucked up? Reminds me a bit of a teenager that still needs to find himfels, which is quite funny considering how old this city is (it was founded in 1661).
Irkutsk found a special place in my heart and I think I will put Siberia in winter on my bucketlist for some other time. Now I am off to Olkhon the biggest island in Lake Bailkal to see some more of this very special piece of earth.