After 5,178 km the train draws into the city of Irkutsk where a break in the journey has been planned. Yes – a night in a hotel with a bed that does not rock and roll. Yes – a proper meal and a large cold beer. Yes – a long hot shower after four nights in the same clothes with only a pack of Boots wipes to take into the cramped toilet. The shower was magnificent, the meal was glorious and the beer was out of this world. The bed was so soft. Sadly the body was on Moscow time (you did get all that stuff about the time on the railway system?) so in effect I was going to bed at 7 o’clock. Little sleep followed.
Still, a day to spend in a large Russian railway city. How best to see it? Follow the faint green line, painted on the pavement around the the historic centre. Tall apartment blocks stand out above the wide streets of weathered traditional houses all standing at rickety angles and defying gravity by just remaining upright for the inhabitants.
Statues abound – Lenin, of course, lords it over Lenin Street. Down by the wide river the two Russian Orthodox Churches and the single Catholic Church pop their heads over the promenade to oversee the fishermen holding steady in the swirls of the current.
Enjoy the images of this large, industrial city. Tonight I return to the train for the last leg of my journey to Mongolia. See you in a few days.