Saturday (15th), quite happy to get off the train and hopefully forget the bad luck that went with it, we immediately went to the Transit Police station in Irkutsk to report the stolen camera so that we could get a police report. We were lucky enough to have a guide with us who got a bit more than planned when he was supposed to drop us off at Lake Baikal but ended up doing a bit of translation for us at the police station. And although he seemed like he was trying to help, he ended up being a bit of a hinderance due to some of his innaccurate translations, but we got it all clear in the end after spending more than half a day at the police station.
With that finally behind us we made our way to the Lake Baikal town of Listvyanka, which was the reason we got off the train at Irkutsk. After checking ourselves into our guesthouse we had a wander along the shore of Lake Baikal, which is the deepest (and oldest) lake in the world. It is so deep that you can get vertigo swimming in it in summer or walking over it in winter when it freezes. Due to the odd Russian timezones, the sun stayed out until about 10pm, making it perfect to sit back relax and enjoy the scenery with a few beers.
The shore of Lake Baikal
On Sunday (16th) we took a boat trip across the lake to see a section of the Circum Baikal railway which when originally built was the most expensive section of the Trans-Siberian railway. The railway now operates as a tourist attraction but only a few times a week so we did not have the opportunity to ride the train itself. Though we did get to see and follow the track on foot and by boat on the Eastern side of the lake. After returning to Listvyanka we again settled in for some beers and food at a lakeside cafe, whilst a few of the locals who looked like they had been at it all day got right into the pumping euro techno!
On board looking to the glassy water of Baikal
Sunset over the lake
Monday (17th) we hung around and took a walk along a boardwalk amongst the forest. Unfortunately with a power outage in the town there was a not a whole lot to do, so after having a bit of lunch (shashik, a pork kebab grilled over hot coals with spices) we headed back to Irkutsk, from where we would board the longest and most exciting leg of our journey on the Tuesday evening.