So, I’ve been here in the Siberian city of Irkutsk (bar half a day at Listvyanka), since Tuesday. Tuesday I did the bulk of my sight seeing on that day. That cold, blustery day where the mercury hovered just above freezing and I encountered quite a few flurries of snow.
Today it’s time for the longest transit of the entire trip, around fifty hours on the train from Irutsk to Yekanteringburg, where I will spend another two nights.
I have to say, despite the devilish weather, I like Irkutsk and think it’s quite a decent town. There are trolly-buses, trams and normal buses to get you around, there is probably enough for two days of sight-seeing, and generally I’ve noticed people are generally happy with more smiles than I’ve seen out and about in any other Russian city before.
I saw most of what I did by foot, but there was one attraction that was too far out to reach walking. That was the Icebreaker boat the Angara, named after the river that Irkutsk sits on. It has a very ho-hum museum worth around 2 minutes, but, I was allowed to walk into the belly of the ship pretty much on my own seeing all the workings and machinery. It was pretty cool.
There are gardens, some nice buildings, squares, and the river itself which I walked along to get to the Church of the Holy Sign Paper. I passed other interesting churches on the way and the Moscow Gate, erected in the spot of the original named because this is where people got off the boat from Moscow when they needed boats to get this far away from the Russian Capital.
The Church of the Holy Sign Painter was quite ornate – the Orthodox style includes a large wall of icons, often mostly in gold, and other icons around the place which people will come and pray to. They are very quiet places, but te lady there was happy to allow me to take a couple of photos which was nice.
Another church I visited was that of the Holy Cross. Inside there was singing going on, four people from outside a chamber, and a priest inside replying also in song. The priest would come out now and again and greet people who came to prayer, and although he donned the full orthodox beard and gowns, he was a warm friendly man whom the people seemed to like.
This church was at the end of a district called ‘130 Kvartel’, Kvartel I think actully means district so maybe I’ve used too many words. This area has been recreated in the old wooden-style you see in many Russian homes, and it’s interesting here because they are all in pristine condition.
Today, as I prepare for the train here at my hostel, I have taken the chance to go and see a couple of beautifully houses preserved as museum of the Decembrists Trubetskoy and Volkonsky. The houses are really interesting and well presented with English explanations amongst other languages. The Volkonsky House was bigger than Trubetskoy, but both were worth visiting and I saw them on a combined ticket.
And thus I leave Irutsk this afternoon for my long long train ride. I’ll catch with you in a few days! May the Journey Never End!