train to Irkutsk
Lake Baikal

As you travel around Lake Baikal, if you happen to blink as you drive through Sludyanka, you’ll miss it.  Sludyanka sits on the southwest shore of Lake Baikal and is the jumping point for the Baikal Circle line – the 10 hour train that circles Lake Baikal offering spectacular views.  However, the train only runs on Friday and we arrived in Irkutsk on Friday a few hours after it already departed Sludyanka (still a 3 hour train ride away).  We ended up bypassing Irkutsk completely and went straight to Sludyanka.  I’m not really sure why, it just seemed like an adventure.

Standing in “downtown” Sludyanka, the following 3 photos are a look left down main street, looking straight across the street to the bus station, and the 3rd photo is looking right looking up main street.  Yup, that’s it, that’s Sludyanka, the whole of it…

Did you blink?  Did you miss it?  Yeah, that’s pretty much the whole town center.  I shot the above 3 photos from the only cafe/restaurant/bar in town.  It was  a little hole in the wall that sold pretty nasty food and was frequented by Russian men who drank too much Vodka.  We visited the cafe 3 times and 3 times drunk men where pawing and slobbering all over Anja.  It was quite embarrassing, or so we thought.  Even on Saturday night, there were no more than a handful of people at the “only” public venue in town.  We joked that the two men on the right in this photo were mafia because they were VERY agitated when we took their photo.  So much so that they went outside to the porch until we put our cameras away.

Before we started our “Sludyanka grand tour,” I decided to take a beer along for the trip.  In Russia, public consumption is legal, and I’d never tried it, so why not, just so I can say that I did.

The town sites included an old train, a memorial “rock” in the middle of the park, the “famous” Sludyanka “all stone” railway station, and the town cathedral.

Our search for a hotel was an interesting experience.  The first (and only hotel in town) was “closed.”  Actually, it was still open, but not accepting guests.  The 4 women in questionable clothing in the reception area and the “mama-san” told me that this hotel had been converted to a different use.  The second attempt at lodging, the hostel at the “rock museum” was closed for winter and we crossed out fingers as we tried the 3rd (and only) available lodging; a homestay/hostel.  It turned out to be quite a good place.  Andre, Anja, & their 3 year old son Ivan kept us entertained and gave us wonderful tour advice for Lake Baikal and the surrounding mountains.


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train to Irkutsk
Lake Baikal

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