Our arrival in Krasnyarsk presented yet another accommodation challenge as we hadn’t booked a room. If I haven’t explained this before booking accommodation is possibly one of the hardest things about Siberia as there are no hostels and no one speaks English so making it impossible to ring ahead before hand, on top of this all the LP options have horribly out of date prices. Anyway we arrived and brought ourselves an outgong train ticket without too much difficulty then trolley bused our way into town pushing past annoying babushkas who insist on pushing in front of you all the time. I have never disliked old ladies quite so much as in Russia. Our soviet era trolley bus pulled on to the main street of a nice-ish town which bizarrely had speakers on every corner and played music constantly. It made a strange comparison the up beat jazz playing alongside people depressingly walking around (In Russian people on the street always look depressed). We ended up spending 2 hours walking around town trying to find a cheap bed, our first choice of hostels was “closed” as told by the guy on the desk. We tried everything from the boats along the river to the hostels right down the other end of town. During these times I am always glad of my light pack, which is probably half the weight of the boys…wearing the same clothes every day is not that bad compared to lugging around 20 kilo’s on your back. Eventually we found a very cheap hostel right on the main room. Truly soviet style, complete with cyrillic only check in forms (these took a long time with the phrase book to fill in), super angry reception girls, massive corridors but small, cigarette smelling rooms.
It had been a pretty tiring afternoon so we spent the rest of the day relaxing and getting some food before finding a nice café for coffee. We had the full day there before our train which was late in the evening and the reason we had come was to go to this national park to see some giant rock formations.
Turns out finding the place was harder than expected, as always guidebooks have out of date info on buses but eventually we ended up on one we hoped was going the right way, we got off and climbed some big hill before seeing the road leading into the park, we had to climb down this very, very steep hill face to get there but made it on to the road, which was nice to be out of the cities.
The paved road continues right through the park which didn’t make for a very authentic nature experience, but all the same we followed families and groups of friends up the path, stopping for lunch. We weren’t very successful in finding the rock formations and ended up a long way from the entrance in the cold and pouring rain. We were pretty wet by the time we arrived back into town so went back to the nice warm café for coffee, food and a glass of wine which strangely is cheaper than coffee. Actually we were the only ones drinking coffee, everyone else had wine and beer despite being an Italian style coffee place. We had some dinner, grabbed some train food and head out to the station where our train was delayed. For just about the first time since leaving Moscow we spotted a backpacker across the waiting room, obviously standing out as no one in Russia has backpacks, either they put their stuff in plastic bags or boxes or often don’t have any luggage at all. Anthony was heading to the same place but on a different train so we left him for the evening but meet up again at the hostel in the next town.
Our train to Irkutsk was around 20 hours long and finally we had a good seating arrangement with a whole section to ourselves. We spent a lot of the time watching the tiny villages go by which had huge cemeteries, a reminder of what Siberia really meant during Soviet times.
Tags: Russia, TRAVELS 2008