Welcome to the Common Sense and Whiskey Companion:
Here are some photos from Common Sense and Whiskey, chapter 1, Lake Baikal. Our visit was in September, 2001.
You can buy professional prints of most of these photos in the Russia Gallery.
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Or, go on to Chapter 2: Greenland ->
To get to Lake Baikal, we'd arrived at Irkutsk, one of the larger Siberian cities (something around 500,000 people) and the capital of Irkutsk Oblast. It's some 70 kilometers from Lake Baikal, which feeds the Angara River, as this marker heralds.
Up on this bluff over the Lake, you can see the route of the Trans-Siberian railroad (middle ground), as it skirts the lake.
Here's the resort town where we stayed for a few days, Listvyanka, on the southwest of Lake Baikal, and from which we set sail on the Poruchik.
Listvyanka and Lake Baikal. That's the Khamar Daban mountains over there on the other side, in Buryatia.
Listvyanka had a shambolic, random attitude. It just sort of sprawled about.
And that was kind of endearing, in a way.
Here's Main Street, Listvyanka.
Pull out some and here's Main Street again, with the docks. And a horse cart as local transport.
It never would have entered my mind thinking about Siberia, but with that deep blue sky and lots of sunshine, on this hike we both got sunburned.
There was a lot of countryside around Listvyanka.
We visited Siberia in September and the harvest was in full swing. This lady has buckets of potatoes.
More of the harvest around Listvyanka town.
And there were a lot of farms. This is the typical tumbledown feel. That's the spire of the local Orthodox church in the back right.
Here's the town church again, the Orthodox St. Nickolai church.
Sunday after church, these ladies and kids seem to be a little over-prepared for winter. This was the day after our sunburn.
One of my favorite photos from Listvyanka is the next one. It was taken in this general store, with a lake view. All those dark objects looking out the front window at the lake are recliners and couches.
Detergent in a shop in Listvyanka, Siberia, Russia.
See the detergent on the back wall? And the recliners and couches.
This is about as close to a nightclub as we got in Listvyanka.
The day before the crossing was market day down on the Lake Baikal shore.
Dried fish seemed to be the main thing.
You could buy stuff like this.
And after a walk through the market we took a long hike down the main road back to Irkutsk. It ran along the Baikal shoreline.
And you had to go test the water. Yep, it was cold.
Eventually, you came to this guy's shashlik stand.
Where you could enjoy lunch of Baltica beer and dried fish, shoreside at Lake Baikal.
Up until the day of the crossing it had been great weather.
Time to go. The Poruchik, sailing Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia.
More clouds came in as the Poruchik sailed across Lake Baikal toward the Buryatian Autonomous Republic.
We really got tossed around. After a while all you could do was hang on.
After this lunch we went back above deck. Came down later and all the cups and saucers and even the chairs had been tossed around all over the floor.
On the other side, the main square, Ulan Ude, Buryatian Autonomous Republic, Siberia, Russia. And the Lenin head over there on the right.
The road out of Ulan Ude, or "Red Ude." Ude is the river through the town.
You can't go to Ulan Ude and not take a few too many photos of the Lenin head.
Here's the monastery we visited the afternoon of 9/11. It's called Ivolginsky Datsan. The web site Sacred Destinations has a little about it.
Prayer wheel at Ivolginsky Datsan.
September 11, 2001 from the Hotel Buryatia. Due to the time difference it was a little before midnight as we watched the news. This was all overdubbed into Russian, and we were to climb on a train to Mongolia in the morning. We really didn't understand what was happening until we got to Ulan Bataar, cancelled all our arrangements and watched CNN, a day and a half later.