We had a walking tour today with a local guide. I learned that the church I took a picture of yesterday (the white and green one) is the oldest building in Irkutsk while the pretty colored church was used as grain storage during the soviet times. We walked towards the river where we saw a statue commemorating the Kazaks who founded Irkutsk; the city just celebrated their 300th anniversary.
Some things we saw:
|Monument to the Kazaks that built the city.|
|Memorial to the WW2 soldiers who died.|
|Irkutsk region is a great mining center. This is their headquarters.|
We wandered around town, making our way towards lunch and passed numerous university buildings, banks, and stores. There was an old orphanage that the soviets got rid of. According to our guide, the Soviets moved all orphanages to the suburbs because there “were no orphans during their time.” Also, the guide pointed out the “Stalin style” which was columns and very decorative pieces, which was different than what I would have considered “Stalin style” (I would have said it was the general “Soviet bloc” style, but maybe that came later?)
There were celebrations in Every. Single. Park we passed had celebrations for “children’s day”. I didn’t get any pictures of the celebrations, but just imagine a bunch of kids everywhere doing normal kid stuff. Some were putting on plays or dancing, some were riding children sized segways, others were getting their face painted, etc.
The wooden houses I noticed yesterday are the traditional of the region, but many were burned down in the Great Fire of 1892 (?). A few were rebuilt. I’ll need to go back and get some pictures to tell you more about what I learned about the houses.
We ended up in the “130th District” which was rebuilt by the government in the old slums/bad part of town as a gift to the town on its birthday. Now it is an outdoor shopping center/tourist trap. Lots of restaurants, shops, and a general path to walk along. It was very pretty and very crowded. It was a nice area, more than likely expensive.
We ate lunch at a restaurant that is a throwback to the Soviet era homes (complete with cassettes, 50s glasses, home style tables, and decorations. They gave us a lot of different salads and either an eggplant or butternut squash mustard dip thing. I had “verinki with potatos and mushrooms.” Verinki are like pelmini/pot stickers/ ravioli. They were very yummy. Then a friend and I shared a blini (crepe) dessert.
Afterwards, our program coordinator helped us get SIM cards for our phones and then dropped us off to find our own way back (we finally did, the bus stop was across the street.)
See you around the globe!