Having to write this in the lobby as fir some strange reason my phone will not connect in my room. Had a pleasant day in Irkutz yesterday, quite hot, about 32c. Feel a bit sorry for the guide as we were all a bit unresponsive, still a bit stunned by the last five days.

Irkutz has a population of 500,000 and seems very quiet and well behaved trafficwise after UB correspondingly the people are a bit dour. Did the Russian Orthodox church round in the am, three of them, all beautifully restored after having been used as bakeries and various other uses, storehouses, whorehouses(?) during the communist regime. Went to a monastery with a lovely garden full of our old fashioned flowers, golden rod, etc etc. We terroised a poor monk  with our cameras as he was trying to do a contemplative walk, nasty tourists. Quite a few tourists around, Japanese and Koreans in the majority. Good lunch, beef stroganoff on mashed potatoes with truffle crumbs. Plus borscht and weirdly a croissant for dessert.

Quick trip to a diamond outlet where I found at a good price a replacement for the earring I lost in UB, searched high and low for it but no joy, new one not quite as nice. Then out to the House of one of the ‘Decemberists’ a group who tried to revolt against Alexander2 (?) in 1825. Army officers who wanted philosophy and art to dominate rather than fighting and drinking. This was during the Romantic era in Europe. Banished for twenty years to Siberia to work in the mines, 9 if the wives came too… These women had a profound effect on Irkutz society and the prison camp. They stayed initially in Irkutz then went and stayed  with their husbands in the prison camp. The house belinged to…. full of beautiful antiques including delicate embrodiered garments.

we were treated to a musical soiree representative of the time, Chopin et al. Two fabulous sopranos plus a pianist followed by champagne. Soiree held in the ballroom, big house where  x and x lived after his release. They lived to a ripe old age. 

There are still quite a few old wooden houses beautifully decorated, it was not till St Petersburg was finished  that stonemasons were allowed to work anywhere else, the churches were stone.

Dinner a bit ho hum then back to the hotel and bed. Good day.