It was glorious having such a lovely sleep last night. After sleeping on the train for four nights, the beds were an absolute dream at our guest house; soft sheets, soft pillows and above all, big enough for your arms and legs to remain on the mattress. The view I woke up to his morning was so beautiful, the sun creeping over the hillsides, glinting off all the snow, I could never get bored of that view.
After breakfast Ksenia took us into a nearby village to see a traditional Russian blacksmith at work. In the same village there was also the option to do dog sledding and horse riding. Myself, my Tom and Florina opted for the horse riding. The horses were so cute, they had really fluffy coats to protect them from the cold – it was -17 today. My horse was named Rocky and would not stop eating. We had a ‘training session’ first to make sure we all new how to operate the horse (is operate the right word? You know what I mean, how to use the different commands etc), this did seem a tad unnecessary though as all the horses followed one another and ignored any commands as we trekked through the forest. Again the scenery was beautiful, snowy wooden landscapes, the sunshine bouncing off the mountains across the lake, just gorgeous.
I kind of wish we’d done the dog sledding but it was quite expensive – 1700 rumbles per person for approx 10 minutes. The dogs here are not huskys, they’re working dogs that are bred with wolves so they have a very wolf-like appearance and are very slender. We couldn’t go and stroke them either as they’d also charge us for that too. I’m not entirely sure but maybe because we have come out of season, things are more expensive? There aren’t many tourists around that we’ve seen, at the moment. Maybe the cold puts people off. The scenery alone is totally worth it though.
Whilst we went horse riding Aussie Tom was busy making his rune charm with the blacksmith. Runes are like medieval symbols, kind of like an alphabet, where each symbol means something different. For example Aussie Tom made one which means ‘wealth‘ which is supposed to encourage wealth and prosperity in your life. My Tom also made one, he chose the rune which means ‘warrior‘ – it is supposed to give you strength – as he wants to quit smoking. We will see!
By this point it was about 3pm – the day had gone so fast! We went to get some lunch at Ksenia’s favourite pastry shop, they were delicious! I had a meat one and a cherry one (obviously I didn’t eat them together), my Tom was his usual gannet self and had, three pastries (two savoury, one sweet) and Russian dumplings in a broth. He even contemplated another pastry! He eats so much.
We’re having another chilled evening tonight, taking full advantage of the comfy beds at the guest house. Tomorrow we have a day out in the city of Irkutsk – I shall be back on my hunt for the perfect Russian doll – before boarding the train for another two nights to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. We have a border crossing to tackle the day after tomorrow, I’ll keep you posted as soon as I have wifi. Apparently it’s around -28 in Ulaanbaatar, I’m already wearing five layers when we go out so I’m sure a couple more won’t hurt, I just might end up waddling rather than walking.