After many a good conversation with family and friends, after way too many loaves of bread and pieces of cake and after just enough hikes in the German alps it was time to get going again. So follow us on this photographic journey into wintery Siberia!
In Krakow we stopped for a couple of days to finally meet our online friends Wendy and Jurek from dropthetension.com. We had first stumbled upon their blog when researching crossing from Australia to East Timor via boat.
It was awesome meeting you guys, joining you for the networking breakfast and even getting a small tour through beautiful Krakow.
With little breaks we traveled east through Lviv and Kiev to Moscow again. This time around we would have a couple of days to explore more.
We went to a big market / flea market without buying anything. Still nice to see the things on display.
We spent about 20 minutes in this shop talking to the owner about the special techniques they use to dye the jugs. They are all handmade and the techniques were developed by their family over a long time.
When we saw these, we had to take some pictures especially for our friends Annika and Roberto :).
After coming back from the market we joined our fantastic host Lisa and her friends for a hot drinks party. Awesome idea! In case you hadn’t noticed on the pictures… it was starting to get cold!
After a walk through the outskirts of Moscow on the next day we set off towards the train station once more…
… and found this! A station to clean and refill your milk bottles! How awesome is that?! No trash and you don’t even have to clean the bottles yourself :).
After a rather short ride on the Transsiberian we stopped for a day in Tiumen.
Unfortunately I got sick so we opted to stay in a hostel instead of accepting the invitation from Helen, a fellow couchsurfer.
We did meet up on the next day and she showed us around in her lunch break. I loved chatting to her and discovering all the fantastic wooden houses!
After stopping in Novosibirsk for a few hours to change trains we boarded our train to Irkutsk. A town deep in Siberia with temperatures plummeting to under -30 degrees Celsius in winter.
Fortunately we had just missed a cold spell and it was only around -10 degrees. One hat was still enough most of the time.
We spent a day walking around Irkutsk and marveling at all the uniquely beautiful houses…
After warming up in a cafe for an hour we were ready for the second part of the walk, this time along the river.
Funnily enough, when we walked into the central market area, we saw a couple with an ortlieb bag. We were wondering for a while if they were cycling here? In Siberia? In Winter?? Well, there is only one way to find out. So that’s how we met Anabelle and Loris, two French cyclists who were surprised by an early winter in the Baltik countries and then decided to put their bicycles on the train to China. It was awesome to meet them and so we invited them to hike along the Baikal lake the following day.
After seeing some more beautiful houses we were off into the woods and scrambled up the snowy path to get a bit of a view over lake Baikal.
Three hats! Yep, it was seriously cold at this point, so stopping for long leisurely breaks was out of the question.
The view was nice enough but even with downing several cups of hot tea we were soon frozen and chose to hike back quickly.
After one more stop in Ulan Ude where we talked about whether to stay longer we ultimately decided to continue to Mongolia. Wintery Siberia was beautiful to look at, especially with the sun out. But walking around for hours on end to discover hidden places in towns as we usually like to do is just not that much fun in -15 degrees Celsius.
So we took one more train to Nauschky, a small town on the Russian – Mongolian border. We had some time to spare, as the cross border train was due to wait for 4 hours at the border.
We will definitely come back one day, just not in November. Either in summer, to cycle the Altai region into Siberia or in February / March when the Baikal lake is actually frozen and supposedly stunningly beautiful. Next time :).