The few days we had in Russia were very relaxing. In Irkutsk we stayed in a small hostel for the day. We slept because we had a late night in Beijing. We had a short time at lake Baikal (one hour from Irkutsk) which is really large and 1500m deep! The deepest lake in the world and freezing cold! If you put your hand in the water for thirty seconds you would get frost bite!
Four days without having to do anything tiring was so nice! It was enjoyable sitting in my seat watching the scenery go by. It was hard to find decent food at the stations though, all there really was, was chips, ice cream and drinks. Occasionally you saw a few people selling home made things like fruit, deep fried bread and chicken or fish with potato. It was hard to find something vegetarian, but as soon as we knew what ‘meat’ was in Russian it became a lot easier, so we found a few good things.
There was a dining car which we visited sometimes to play card games. We were in third class which had four bed sleepers that were all next to each other without any doors. The train attendants were quite grumpy sometimes. It was hard to change what they didn’t like because they said everything in Russian and we didn’t understand a single word.
Terry, Dave and Theodore got left behind in Irkutsk because Dave had lost his ticket so Theo and Terry somehow helped him get another one but the train was leaving when they got to the platform. Everyone was all stressed but eventually we calmed down. Luckily they got on the next train.
We spent four relaxing days in Moscow. Our hostel was really close to the Kremlin-the Russian parliament. St Basil’s cathedral was beautiful, it had designs all over it and the towers were painted so they looked like lollipops! All over Moscow there were Russian orthodox churches with gold painted onion towers. Russia feels a lot more relaxed compared to China because it is so much less crowded. The buildings are lower and seem older and at the markets it is more enjoyable because the salespeople don’t harass you to buy as they do in China.