Val-Natalia (Russia)

Hello, I’m Natalia. I live in Irkutsk, Russia. Waiting for Sulo’s arriving I’ll tell about the place I live in.
Irkutsk is a city in Eastern Siberia not far from Lake Baikal. It was founded in 1661 on the banks of two rivers: the Angara and the Irkut. The city isn’t large (600.000 people) but it’s a capital city of Irkutsk Region. The city is scientific, transport and cultural centre of Eastern Siberia. The Historical centre of Irkutsk was put into the UNESCO Tentative List (1998).
I suppose Sulo to walk around the city and see a lot of interesting places.



Oh, hurray! Sulo’s come!
1  2Hello Sulo, my name’s Sonechka. Let’s be friends. I think we’ll have a great time in Irkutsk.Hm-hm, I’m in Russia, in Siberia! They say it’s too cold here. Is it really so?

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Not so cold but a little bit windy.
Today my friend Sonechka invited me to the rehearsal. My host’s daughter likes dancing and can dance all the day long. Tomorrow she’ll have a very important concert. Let’s seeeeeee!

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Oh, it’s rather interesting. I like how these children dance. But the music is too loud. I’m tired and we’re going home.
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Today I had a very busy day. My host had to wake up early in the morning and took her daughter to the theatre. She had a very important annual concert I had told you about it the day before. The theatre was full of children in different costumes.

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In the afternoon I went to the first concert. It was Irkutsk Musical Theatre. It was rather warm and I decided to take picture of the theatre.


Then I entered the theatre and saw too many children. They laughed and played games. It was a charity concert for children from orphanages.
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It was a bright colourful and merry concert. After it my host and other mums went to the nearby shopping centre to have a snack. As for the children they stayed in the theatre to have dinner and prepare to the evening concert.

Look at me! I’m on the bottle of shampagne. I even tried a little bit. But it’s not for me, I prefer water.

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After dinner and having a rest I went to the theatre again for the evening concert. It was a performance for parents and different VIPs. This dance group “Solnyshko” is very popular in Irkutsk. Usually a lot  of people come to enjoy their dances. And I was even allowed to stand behind the scenes.
Oh, it was something special. I had never been to so crazy place. Everybody runs, change costumes, special people press different buttons, sometimes shout, sometimes whisper. What a strange place it is!

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Late in the evening we came back home and I went to bed.

Today I went with my host to her work. Some of her colleagues like to grow flowers and I took pictures of them.

???? ???? ???? ????In my host’s department everybody looked at me, asked where I was from and everybody was very surprised at my so unusual travel.

Hi there,
Today I was walking around the city. This is a sculpture of a tourist; many of them come to Irkutsk and Baikal every year.

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Then I saw a building of the circus and strange figures near it.

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I climbed up the dog and after it the man’s hand. He turned out to be a famous Russian film maker Leonid Gaidai, he lived in Irkutsk many, many years ago. Usually his films were comedies. In front of him there were main characters of his comedies.
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And here is one more fountain.

Today I tasted the Vietnamese coffee. Natalia adores coffee very much. Moreover she likes trying new sorts and ways of making it.


Hi, today Natalia’s daughter invited me to the annual final concert of her singing class. And again I saw a lot of children but now they were singing.


Hurray!!! We’re going to Baikal!!!
It takes for an hour or so to get to the lake. We took a bus and went. The road is going along the heavy Siberian forest which is called taiga.

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We came to the settlement Listvyanka on the shore of Lake Baikal. There is Limnological Museum (Museum of Baikal) here. I learned that this lake is 20-25 million years old. Baikal is the deepest lake on the planet, its max depth is 1642 metres.
The natural zone where the lake’s located is seismically active. And every day they have weak earthquakes; many people even don’t feel them. The last strong earthquake happened in 2008, it was about of magnitude 9 Richter scale. Natalia says she was very scared at that day.
A beautiful path leads to the museum, on its both sides there are cedars, pines and spruce trees.

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In the museum there are many interesting exhibits but one of them I liked most of all. It’s a manned submersible “Pisces XI”, which was used to study the bottom of the lake.

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Also in this museum the Baikal freshwater seals live, they are called Baikal nerpas. They’re endemics; it means that these animals live only in this very place and nowhere else. Another Baikal endemic is Epischura baicalensis; it’s a very small maxillopod, which cleans water. And the water here is really very clean so you can see the Baikal’s bottom through 20-40 metres of water. Even in winter it’s possible to see the bottom through the ice.???????????????????????? ???? ????

Oh, who are they? They’re swimming. Brrrrr. The water’s toooooo cold.
Ah, they’re divers. And what a strange thing is that?  It’s diver’s suit. They have special costumes so they’re not cold. 

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???????????????????????? ????????????????????????I was told that many people come here to dive despite the water in Baikal is very cold even in summer.  However the Siberian people dive in winter too. Every year in December the members of the Diving club put the decorared New Year tree into the bottom of lake Baikal and drink shampagne in the bottom too. Many people came to Listvyanka to watch it.

This winter the Olympic flame was travelling around all regions of Russia. Here in Listvyanka the flame in a special container was put down to the bottom of the lake and then sent to Irkutsk.


Sometimes I see unusual trees with many colouful fabric stripes on them. What are they for?
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???????????????????????? ????????????????????????The native people of the territory around Baikal are the Buryats. Some of them are the Buddists, the others are Shamanists. Earlier they tied colouful fabric stripes in special sacred places for good spirits. Now people do that for this purpose too and to come back to the place again.
???? Who is this lady? Oh, no! … It’s a mermaid!
Shhhhh. I heard that in Siberia the bears walk in the streets. And today I met one of them.I wasn’t afraid. I’m a real brave dog! Look at me!

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Oh, it’s a chance for me to practice fishing. What kind of fish can I have?
There are different kinds of fish live in the lake. The most popular and tasty are Baikal omul, harius and sturgeon.

???????????????????????? ???????????????????????? I’ve been walking along the lake for three kilometres and I’m tired. Now I’ve decided to have a rest. The dandelions suit me well.

???????????????????????? ????????????????????????If you’re near Baikal you have a good opportunity to take a lake cruise. I saw different ships and boats here.

???????????????????????? ???? And now we’re going to the local market. It’s a sin to visit Baikal and not to taste fish.

???????????????????????? ????????????????????????Oh, what a strange fish it is! Its head looks like a snake’s one. What is its name? They say it’s golomyanka, the endemic again.
Golomyanka or Baikal oilfish is a small fish; over a third of their body weight (38.9%) is oil.
Many tourists buy fish and eat it at the tables near the water. They think it’s tastier. Also at the market many of them buy suvenires of the local Baikal spirits and make a wish.
As for me haven’t bought a small suvenire (I think it can grant a small wish) but went to the big statue of spirit to make a big wish.
There are two Deities:  Deity of the Straight Way (I’ve climbed it you see) and Deity of Fair Wind (near).

???? ????  ???????? ????????????????????????As for me,  I made a wish on the huge green axe-stone. I dropped some coins on this axe-stone and made a wish. Then I decided to find out where my wish would be granted from. I jumped up the wooden fish, pushed it, the fish started to turn around (like a merry-go-round) and  I saw that my wish would be granted somewhere in the North. Hmmm in the North???? Shall I go to the North Pole???
I can’t say I’m strongly against it….

Ohh, so many impressions! I’m really hungry.

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A “little” pie and traditional tea with milk were great.
And now it’s high time to swim in the lake.

Brrr, this water is too cold. The local people said that nobody could swim here until the end of July. So I tried to sunbathe.
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On the  shore I saw people building such piramids. I tried to bite one of them but it’s not eatable. 
???????????????????????? ???????????????????????? In the evening I was sitting near the water, looking at the far snowing mountains – the Sayany – and thought  about my family, my travels. About  sense of my life.

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Hello, today in the evening we went for a walk.
Irkutsk is 353 years old. And by the 350th anniversary a new “old” district was built. It’s called Irkutskaya Sloboda. The old houses were moved to this place from villages, the others were built on the old drawings. Now you can see small museums and exhibitions, shops, cafes, different work-shops (craft’s, hand-made studios, tailor’s workshop, smithery, etc).
At the entrance into Irkutskaya Sloboda I saw …. a terrible beast. Ahhhh, it’s huge and, I suppose, hungry. I was afraid of it very muuuuuuch.???? ????
But despite it (I’m a courageous dog) I tiptoed up to it – nothing; smelled it – nothing; and even tried to bite – nothing happened again. Ohhh! It’s not a beast! It’s a bronze monument!

Natalia explained me that it wasn’t a monster but a mythical animal called Babr. Babr is a mixture of Amur tiger and beaver; it keeps a sable in its teeth. You can see this animal on the Irkutsk coat of arms at the beginning of this page.
I jumped up the Babr’s paw and my host took this photo.
The Babr’s claws are bright because people (usually tourists) touch them and make wishes. It’s a tradition.

We went forward and saw a street musician. He was playing a beautiful tune.???? ????
Another place to make a wish is a wish circle. In Irkutskaya Sloboda there is a small square with a rotary disk in the centre. A man should turn around himself 3 times and make a wish.
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This place is popular among the newly wedded couples. They come here to take photos.
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I am a brave dog I told it ealier. My travel to Russia turned out to be very useful – I learned how to deal with bears. Hurray!!!

06.0  Good morning! Today I woke up early in the morning and went to the neighbour town Angarsk. Natalia had some work there and took me with her.
Angarsk is a small industrial town built on the bank of the river Angara. You can see its coat of arms above.  Green symbolises green taiga, blue – water of the river, gold – richness of the industrial potential of the town, the running lady – the Angara river (according to the famouse legend a beautiful girl Angara went away from her serious father Baikal to her beloved boy Yenisey (also a great river which the Angara runs into).  Angarsk is a young modern town.

It was a rainy day. After work we had dinner in the nearest cafe.  ???? ????07.06.2014
Hi everybody! Today’s a special day. I’m going to the carnival!!! Hurrayyy!!!

Today is the birthday of the city Irkutsk. Traditionally a lot of entertaining events are
conducted this day. But the main event is carnival. This year it’s devoted to the figure 7. Usually  the major of the city opens it.


h, it’s a local bandy team “Baikal-Energiya” and a trading organisation.

And this is a falk songs group and that’s a language school.

???? ????Now you can see the Linguistic University and one of the Irkutsk drug stores.???? ????A lady-Hare Krishna follower gave children in the street white tasty sweets. There were about a hundred columns from different organazations of the city. And the carnival lasted for more than two hours.
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After the carnival I decided to make acquaintence with some of these merry people. These two girls dressed like the Greek goddesses and others are the golden angels.

ere are volunteers who helped at the carnival and the American Indians.


????  ???? ????On the next photo there are the characters of a comuter game and firther are the members of the local Anime club. All of them were glad to have pictures taken with me.
Then I walked on the main square, watched the concert  with friends. In the evening the bright firewarks was in Irkutsk. I watched it on TV but didn’t go to look at it  becase I was very tired after so eventfull day.

Today I was walking around the city and came across a small square. In the centre there was ….. Big Ben. I’m not sure but it seems to me that it should be somewhere else, not in Irkutsk and even not in Russia. But still… 

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oreover I saw ….. the sculpture of the Thinker near. Mmmmm, I suppose Thinker to be kept in France. So I sat on his knees and started thinking. But the puzzle in my head hadn’t been solved. I sprinkled my head with water from the fountain and went to explore the rest of the square. I chatted with a cow, read a serious book of kindness and a funny one together with children.
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And then I saw … monkeys. Also very strange. I saw them earlier but where? …????

My previous days were very intensive and I was flaked-out. But there is a special place in Irkutsk where you can get energy. You may think about the power station or something like that. Everything is much simplier, just a socket. I connected it and? … I’m full of energy again:)

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The Historical centre of Irkutsk was included into the UNESCO Tentative List. So today I made up my mind to visit this area.

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At first I visited a small white chapel that had been built on the place where almost 100 years ago a great cathedral had been exploded. Not far from it I saw a Roman-Catholic church. Now it’s a department of Irkutsk Philharmonia – the Organ Hall where you can listen to wonderful organ music.
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Going towads the Angara river I saw Epiphany Cathedral (built in 1718–1746). It’s really beautiful. I went upstairs the cathedral and took this photo against a background of the river and the monument to the founder of the city Ya. Pokhabov. ???? ????
In front of the Cathedral there is Church of Our Saviour (built 17061710) and a little chapel near it.
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Behind the chirch there is Eternal flame in honour to the soldiers killed in the WWII.

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n the nearest park I saw a statue of the Saint knyaz (prince) Peter and his wife Fevronia – the symbols of happy family life. On the backside of the statue I had a talk with bronze hare – the symbol of fertility. People put coins and touch hare if they’d like to have children. Just married bring flowers to Peter and Fevronia and ask for happy family life.

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alking along the embankment I came up to the Moscow Gate and finished my evening walk on the central square of the city where I took a picture of another fountain.

Today I continue my walk around the historical city centre.
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The first building is the main office of East-Siberian Railway Company, the second one is Irkutsk Academic Drama Theatre (1850-s).
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Irkutsk Museum of Regional Stidies (founded in 1782) and the musical fountain on the Angara river.

Today my host told me about her hobbies: cardmaking and decoupage decorating bottles.

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nd now I’m going home. I like travelling but I miss my lovely Minna very much. So I took a farewell picture with my new Russian friends and ready to fly to Finland. Hmmm. I recalled the wish fish near Baikal. It told me that my wish would be granted in the north… Oh! I’m going home to my northen Finland. Bye-bye.





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