Russians are liking the vodka

Trip Start Feb 14, 2009
Trip End Mar 06, 2009

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Flag of Russian Federation  , Siberia,
Monday, February 23, 2009

Shane says:


Listvyanka looks like Santa's
neighbourhood. Every house has about 3 feet of snow on the roof, and Lake
Baikal is completely frozen over. Our driver Leonid said that there is 3 metres
of the lake completely frozen over, and that 3 metres of ice can hold 12
tonnes; the equivalent of Milli's backpack.


Russia for some reason unsettled me a bit,
but I'm glad I got to come to this sleepy little fishing village, an hour away
from Irkutsk first. There isn't much to do here except eat smoked omul (fish) -
a local delicacy is to smash this frozen fish with a rock to make it tender and
easy to remove the bones from, and then eat that frozen pulped fish with spices
and a shot of vodka.


Today we stood on the frozen lake,
purchased some cheeses, bread & gherkins and then came back to bed to watch


Our driver Leonid also has a hostel in
Irkutsk & we changed our booking to now be at his place. It has just oped
and not many people go as it is not in the lonely planet (which is a few years
old now and due for an update) also it is the off-season. We felt bad for him,
and whilst his hostel has a full kitchen, he also has 6 bed dorms and no wifi.
The place we originally booked had 4 bed dorms and wifi. However Leonid is
super nice, he mentions his friend from Brisbane who brings him XXXX &
vegemite and they go travelling together (I've been craving some vegemite. And
XXX, my guilty pleasure). Leonid also purchased an inflatable raft and it
arrives tomorrow, so he wants to put it together when we arrive and then we
drink vodka. He also gave us a smoked omul as a give for staying with him. Nice


Last night whilst we were having dinner in
the hotel restaurant a drunk Russian came and sat with us last night, he was
having trouble talking, his excuse; Russians are liking the Vodka.


Milli says:


Our place was a gorgeous wood cabin type
hotel and we got the better room for the lesser price so we thanked the
reception girl by way of fudge that we shopped for outside. We went for a walk
and had a bit of a snow ball fight, and I did my first snow angel! Looked kind
of like a transformer...

Was told it had been really cold last week
but now it was nice and sunny. Still minus 27 though. Shane gave his boots a
workout as the snow was heaped up and we plied through it. Got to the lake as
the sun was setting and it was the most beautiful thing I've seen in a while! A
peach ball of sun lowering past mountains as the frozen lake reflected the
peach and blue. The choppy water at the edge had frozen in chards like glass
and was all heaped up. We were given a fresh smoked local fish by our driver as
we planned to stay with him upon returning to Irkutsk. He had a new hostel and
not many people in it. So we have that fish and local beer to look forward to!

Had dinner at the hotel which was expensive
but great. Stuffed eggplant and local fish cooked beautifully, with sour cream
sauce (loving their sour cream!) and good brown bread! A drunk Russian
befriended us, and he struggled with English but gave Shane a few high fives. His
godchild who was running around had a magnificent mullet.

Saw them the next morning as I went for
breakfast (Shane had fudge). Hearty breakfast and my omlette was like a

We went for a walk, busy along the coast
and it was hard to master the art of walking on the hardpacked snow beside the
road. Its VERY slippery! Walked on to the lake like heaps of other people and
it was a very strange experience.

There were cars driving past (one was
pulling children on rubber tubes behind it) and some were skating around. There
was an ice exhibition on the edge of the water but we walked straight past it.
The choppy stuff on the edge really was weird but further into the lake as it
got deeper when the snow is swept away its just black all the way down. Really
kind of disturbing! There are also lots of cracks across the ice and there are
bubbles and snow frozen in the ice too. We could hear rumbles and cracks that
weren't just the cars going over, but I guess that's normal. 3 metres of ice
can hold 12 tonnes we were told. So I felt sort of ok, though I had eaten a big
breakfast. Hehe

  Stopped for a drink in a restaurant, there
were three guys drinking vodka, and three older guys having quite a feast. Lots
of tea and fish and then meat and potatoes, it all looked very nice. Beer here
is cheap, as is the vodka! The restaurant made me think of Croatia as it was
quite Eastern European with its bad fashion and dorky music. Went home and had
some bread, cheese and pickles with vodka and watched some DVDs. It started snowing
and we watched it from our balcony. Really beautiful!

As we drank our beer on the balcony it
froze into a slurpee so we had to go inside to drink it properly. I was going
to go dog sledding but we just really didn't have the money. Bum. The next morning
we were picked up and came back to Irkutsk.
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