Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Siberia, our first steps in Russia

We woke up to snow as we rolled into the Irkutsk train station. We were booted off the train by our strict provenistas (train conductors) and we threw on every bit of clothing we could find and haphazardly stumbled off the train to avoid getting yelled at.  Eric was told to "go to bed!" the night before. It was a flashback to college dormroom days where we kept our rooms open and invited a party in whenever possible! The provonistas did not appreciate us!
Our Siberian guide, Lina, took us to our homestay an hour away (next to Lake Baikal) where our hostess greeted us with a stack of crepes and some of her rhubarb jam and sour cream, better known here as blinis.  It reminded the boys of their Mamie in France.  Her home was impeccable and her cooking was delicious. We were in heaven! All bundled up, we had a great hike to town to see the local museum about Lake Baikal which holds 20 percent of the world's fresh water and is 5,000 feet deep. At the end of the day we bathed and warmed up the traditional Siberian way with a Banya, basically a sauna. Each home has their own detached banya and an outhouse in the garden as running water is very expensive with the freezing temperatures and long winters.
Our second day in Irkutsk we spent walking around town on streets with names like Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin.  Every other woman on the street looked like a model. The men looked like they stepped out of a Bond film. People were definately not oppressed but no one smiles.  People in the hospitality business give you the feeling you are annoying them. Its so fun to witness. Now, on to the continuation of our Trans Siberian journey to Moscow with 80 hours ahead of us in cozy quarters.

No comments:

Post a Comment