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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Russia - 16 August, 2003



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Irkutsk train station N5217.461' E10416.812' 433 meters .
Taltsi Museum of Architecture and Ethnography . . . .
Listvyanka . . . .
Finish Listvyanka (home stay) N5150.800' E10452.370' 457 meters 90 km (by car)

Total (by train):

7,122 km

Total (Mongolia):

2,880 km

Total (Kamchatka):

1,339 km

Total (other):

289 km


11,630 km


Weather: Overcast, cool and rain.



We arrived in Irkutsk aboard train #005 from Ulan Baatar and were met by Artem, who helped us with our luggage down and up the various stairs to get to the main exit.  We then loaded our stuff into his car for our drive down to Lake Baikal.  As we headed off, he told us that for the last two weeks, it has been raining non-stop.  We can only hope and pray that we may have brought with us some break in the weather.  But they needed the rain, as they have had two months without a drop.  Our first stop is at the home stay in Irkutsk, where we will spend a few days on our return from the lake.  We are dropping off the bags that we do not need, so that we do not have to carry them around with us.


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Then, on our way to the lake, with one stop along the way at the open air museum known officially by its very long title of "Taltsi Museum of Architecture and Ethnography".  We arrive there shortly after 4 PM and it is a bit of a shame that it is still raining, as it is quite an interesting museum and has a very nice spot on the Angara River.  But we take as best advantage as we can of what it has to offer.  We wander the several kilometers around the grounds taking in the many old, original wooden buildings that have been re-located here and restored.


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They have buildings from a number of different periods and owned by people of different occupations.  Some were owned by farmers and some by priests.  They have one that was used by a school teacher.  While they have many common elements in the construction, they have all got unique attributes.  One of the most common features was the huge oven in the kitchen that warmed the whole house.  The best beds in the winter must have been the ones that were on top of the elongated chimney and fire place.


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They had a wooden church and the gates to a town.  There were even some wooden buildings built in the shape and concept of a ger by some of the native people.  These were some of the most interesting and in some respects looked the most comfortable.  After spending about an hour and a half there (we did want to have a drink in the cafe, but it was closed), we headed on.


We arrive in the small, port town of Listvyanka at around 6 PM.  We do not bother getting out at the scenic viewpoints - there is no view due to the low laying clouds and rain.  Down at the pier, we are shown where the ferry leaves from and how we get a ticket.  Then we go and buy some of the famous fish - the omul - which the locals are freshly smoking on the pier.  We pick up a few fish for dinner, but also decide to go to the nearby cafe for a bite to eat (as the fish may not be enough).  A big mistake - they have lousy service, the food is poor and they want to charge us for music and singing (which never took place while we were there.  They also try to over charge us for what we ordered.  A waste of time and money.


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On our way to the home stay, we decide to make a quick visit to the local church - St Nicholas Church.  It is a simple, but nice church.  A bit unusual as it has big windows that brighten up the interior. A service is ongoing, so we just peek in and then head on.


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We arrive at the home stay near the ethnography museum (which we did not visit), staying with a very nice elderly lady who has a two room flat to herself.


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She welcomes us to her home and after dropping off our stuff, are ushered into the kitchen for a cup of tea.  This soon turns into a dinner.  Our smoked omul is laid out on a plate and bread placed on the table.  While we are eating this, a salad is quickly made and cakes and coolies added to the table.  Then, our host cooks up some eggs and meat for all of us.  We are soon stuffed and ready to head off to our room to relax and get ready for bed.


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