Last day in Irkutz was spent rather pointlessly belting along in a hydrofoil for six hours plus three hours ashore . We spent an hour going down the river from Irkutz then out into Lake Baikal to look at some tunnels which had been built in the late 1800’s for the Trans Siberian Railway. Does not come around this part of the lake anymore but is used by excursion trains both steam and diesel. 

Hovercraft was old and jam packed with holidaying locals , kiwis, us and a few Chinese. One of the places we stopped was v pretty and one was nasty and steep, I did the donkey trick and refused to budge. Next stop was lunch at a homestay place. Trudged thru the forest for a mediocre home made lunch. Had a pretty flower garden, even had delphiniums. Now do not get me wrong I am not grumpy but it is a bit same old same old. 

The meals we have had in Russia both then and at hotels are served quite strangely. Salad and sometimes dessert will already be on the table, soup is delivered pdq and last night at the hotel the main- basic was delivered before some had finished their salad. Makes for a lot of dishes on the table.

So about 9 am we all trudged off to bed to be woken up at 12.30 for a 1 am departure for the airport, flight leaving at 3.30 am…..sigh.

Slept a bit before leaving then again on the plane. Getting on and off was interesting, no pushing and shoving, only a few allowed on at a time same getting off  and no gates, bussed on and off and quite reasonable sized airports. New guides met us, one with us now till we leave and one just for here. Hope they are better than the last one, she was pretty arrogant, been a maths teacher. No tip for her.

Hotel Polar Star is comfy , good bed hot water, food and vodka what more could you need.We had breakfast and were sent to bed until lunch at 1.30pm.!!!!  Definitely a drinking group and a non drinking group, more in the former!!!

This pm off to the Mammoth Museum!!! There is an old  town nearby, walking distance. Some of the saggiest old wooden houses I have ever seen on the way from the airport. Basically seems to be Soviet style apartments and office blocks and very dusty .

Has a wild west feel about it, pop must be about2-300k.

We leave tomorrow pm  and not back here and the internet until Aug4th so if I am needed contact Pukekohe Travel. The ‘tour leaders’ mother died last week  and he elected not to go back. Funeral would have been over before he got there!!!