Location, location, location is the word and lesson for the day. While I knew this before, I got attracted by a good offer and did not check properly where my hotel was located. Turned out to be located near the airport, which is great if you fly in and out but not good for anything else.
This meant that had to spend longer travelling in to town and then from there to Listvyanka at Lake Baikal so only got there after lunchtime, despite getting up early.
It was a grey start to the day in a pretty much grey city here in Siberia. On the other hand, Irkutsk was more of what I expected an ex-Communist city to look like and both Moscow and St. Petersburg did not quite fit in there with their older and historic buildings. I am sure in the suburbs Moscow will look the same but after walking around in Irkutsk, I had a sense of deja-vu and felt almost transported to Romania.
The market however looked fantastic with proper, fragrant fruit and vegetables, not the tasteless stuff you get in England. The watermelons especially an tomatoes were massive and I was very tempted to get one but it would have been bigger than my backpack.
After making it to Listvyanka at Lake Baikal, things became more colourful and less drab. Maybe it was also to do with the sun coming out and the day turning into a fantastic sunny and very warm day, just the right day to be by the lake outside.
This also explained the hordes of tourists, Russian and otherwise, getting there.
Getting to Listvyanka you have the choice or their minibuses, whizzing along the roads, or the speedboat along the Angara river. I have done both and went there with the minibus and back with the boat as I was lucky to get a standing place. Worth remembering to pre-book if you want to go there on a weekend, especially if the weather is nice.
The only advantage of the hotel location was that it is actually very close to the ferry port so it was a short walk back through their housing estates, with more deja-vu for me, to get to the hotel for dinner and drinks.
After getting a few hours sleep, I will be heading to the train station again for my midnight/5am train (the train and station times being set to Moscow time still confuse me) to Ulaanbataar.