Saturday, May 28, 2016
The weather started to clear up on Saturday, and it was finally getting warmer. It was the perfect day to go to Lake Baikal. Clear skies and cool weather meant you were in a good mood but not sweating in the sun.
Before visiting to Baikal you should know that ticks are a major problem. You should get some tick coverage before going. It costs about 400 rubles. You should also know when to travel. Off season (May and September or October) is the best time to visit. If you visit the lake in the winter keep in mind busses stop running around 6 pm. Also, avoid weekends if possible during spring and summer because most local Russians like to visit their dachas around this time and it might be hard to get a bus to the lake. If you plan on hiking the Great Baikal Trail you will need a permit.
Getting to Baikal
Busses run every 20-30 minutes from Торговый Комплекс. Before you enter you will see vans waiting outside. Find the one that says "Listvyanka" or "Листвянка" in the window. That's the bus you will need. You will take the bus to the very end of the line. When returning to Irkutsk you can get on the bus that says "Irkutsk" in the same place where you were dropped off or you can catch bus 524 at any bus stop along the shore. You can also use 2Gis to help you out. The bus fare is only 120 rubles, but it might increase during peak travel months.
We made the mistake of taking our time in the morning. During breakfast our host told us we should get to the bus station soon because it might be difficult to get a bus. We managed to get the last two spots on the bus! It was a miracle. It takes about an hour to get to Listvyanka, but it felt a lot quicker. Maybe it was because I was sitting next to a man who spoke English so that occupied my time. I made the worst photographer mistake you can make. I haven't cleaned my lens since I got my camera five or six years ago. I didn't notice how bad the lens was until I uploaded my photos, so I'm sorry for the bad quality. You better believe I cleaned my lens the second I realized the garbage on my photos.
When we got to Listvyanka we started walking away from the city. The man I was sitting next to suggested that we walk that way. It was beautiful and I couldn't get over the scenery. I'm a sucker for mountains, and I was awe at the mountains in the distance. I was not expecting to see any mountains because in all the pictures I saw of the lake I don't remember seeing mountains even once. We walked for some time admiring the clear water. Growing up on Lake Erie I never knew a lake could look so clear. We followed a dirt path for some time, but decided to turn around as it got more narrow.
I read about a lookout near the town so we started to walk that way. About half way we turned down a street thinking the lookout would be there. When we realized we were in the wrong place we turned around and sat on a bench over looking the lake. Then a man came up to us asking for money so we took that as a sign that we should leave. We headed back in the direction we started in to get something to eat. We ended up eating at Шуры-Муры. The food was good, and they have English menus. They also have outdoor seating right on the lake, but it was too cold for me to go out there.
After lunch we stopped to get some ice cream and then walked towards the lookout again. It was about a 30 minute walk to the main area of Listvyanka. Unfortunately, we never found the chairlift or lookout. We found a park near Дендропарк Байкальского Музея that we walked through. I think you need to pay to get in but it wasn't clear so we sort of just walked in. There were really nice walking paths and views of the lake. I'm really out of shape, though, so I struggled walking up.
There were a few other points of interest we wanted to see before we left. The first was a monument for А.В. Вампилову. It wasn't that exciting. Then, we were tried to find the Shaman Stone. The Shaman Stone is a local legend. Today, you can only see the very top of the stone since the Hydroelectric Power Station Irkutsk was built raising the water level of the Angara River.
We went back to Irkutsk around 5 pm, and got some dinner since we were both hungry. We went back to Traveler's Cafe for coffee and macarons because that is our favorite place to go, even in Ufa. Finally, we finished the evening by walking down Karl Marx so I could take a picture with a Lenin Statue. I wish we had time to go back to Karl Marx because the buildings were so colorful and fun! I was too lazy and tired to take pictures that night. I guess that means I'll have to go back!