We were driven the seventy kilometres back to Irkutsk from Lystvyanka for a tour of the centre. This city on the Angara river is famous because the Decembrists who revolted against Tsar Nicholas l in 1825 were exiled there.
Now half a million people live in this main city of Eastern Siberia. It feels far more foreign than Yekaterinburg.
It rained a lot while we were there so we took refuge in the shopping centre which had good cheap food and the museum which had helpful Russian ladies and interesting art.
A day trip to visit the Buryat people and to see a Shamen was a new experience. Being blessed by a shamen (for a small donation) means I should be lucky forever. The elk dumplings and vodka for lunch were good too.
Now for three more days on the train. This was beginning to feel like a real feat of endurance. J even got interrogated by the police for sneaking a cigarette at the end of the carriage which they let Russians do with no comment. We had passed great looking dachas on the edge of towns seen a few very ornate roundabouts and some very beautifully kept stations, rustic villages and big towns. We kept a lookout for the kilometre posts that mark the route, often inaccurately, right up to km 9289 at Vladivostok.
By the time we arrived in Vladivostok in the evening on day three we were very glad to see the last of our carriage. We are pleased we did it – a real experience of a lifetime but would we do it again? Probably not!(But on the other hand I’d really like to go to Ulaanbaatar).