Well, with work keeping me...
Well, with work keeping me busy, it was hard to see anything more than the inside of the hotel and some 'business tour' locations that 'were determined ahead of time'. Either way, the best part my trip to Irkutsk was definitely Lake Baikal. A wonderful lake (and, for you Guiness Book of Records Fans -- the deepest lake in the world!), it is incredibly beautiful and undeveloped....there are some 'modern hotels' and accommodations but they are still only few -- Yea! for us. It is still very much 'family cottage territory' -- cottages dot the landscape and it brought back endless memories of summer's spent at my friends' cabins at the lake. Simply fabulous..... The people. Although I was a little 'put off' at first by the tough, macho, 'too direct and not friendly enough' comments and conversations that I received or was a party to, after a while, all of this blended away and I realized that it was just the exterior. And, as generalizing as it might sound, after having a few good, strong, straight glasses of 'Moskovoskya' (I think that's what it was called but, honestly, I was plastered!!) with the 'guys' and you were one of the group. I have never met such warm people (the vodka might have helped)....and it wasn't even winter yet!!
P.S. This ad has been copied from Funny-R-Stuff - May 1st, 2000.
again I suggest to pack according to my 'onion principle': many layers to keep you warm, but that also give you the freedom of just wearing a T-Shirt, when it gets nice and warm or in one of those overly heated rooms!
If you are a nature lover, then Olkhon is the place to go. Olkhon is the biggest of the islands in the lake Baikal… and probably also the most interesting. The bus trip to Olkhon is very tiresome, 6-8 hours in bus, but it is worth it… just don’t go there for 1 night! Busses leave from the central bus station everyday during the morning. And just in case you are wondering, then there are plenty of things to do and see to make a trip last for 5 days, or longer! One thing you have to be aware of is that only now power lines are being established from the island to the mainland, which also means that many of the everyday comfort are not available. But if you love wild nature, a clear starry sky at night, adventures, mysticism, bird watching… yes you more or less name it then Olkhon is the place to go. when you choose to go back then buy the ticket at least one day before, preferebly two days during high season, otherwise you might not go back the day you want to.
Sort of off the beaten path...
Sort of off the beaten path (even though it is in central Irkutsk) is the Spasskaya Church. This fantastic church should not be missed. The artwork and Russian/Siberian craftwork are fantastic and the church is in excellent shape.?@With everyone traveling out to the lake, it is sometimes skipped over -- but shouldn't be.
by plane or by train...
To get to Irkutsk you can go by plane or by train
We took the train both times and Irkutsk was right in the middle of our trip: 3 days from Moscow and 3 days from both Khabarovsk and Beijing...
If you are interested in the Transsiberian Railway, please have a look at my Russia page
Within Irkutsk you can walk or take a bus.