Saturday, September 19, 2015

Change of plans

We (Carrie) had an insight that we might be able to find a train directly to Kazan if we ask the right person. I tried really hard last night and couldn’t find anything, but we thought that we had enough attractive stuff ahead of us that we could skip Perm if we found a good enough route to Kazan. Apparently I spelled Kazan the wrong way when I did my search, because the lady at the train station found a super-fast train directly there. We asked lots of questions because suddenly we were going to travel a lot faster than we expected and we were afraid that there might be some other Kazan or maybe that funny-sounding station on our tickets referred to something else altogether. Nope, we’re really getting to Kazan in less than three days. This pleases us because it means we can spend more time in other places where we originally skimped.

Fresh from our victory, we set out to find the marshrutka from the train station to the bus station. I also wanted an ATM, but that’s another story and I’m loathe to tell it. (I should have used the ATM at the train station even though it wouldn’t give me as much money as I wanted.) Anyway, a taxi driver named Alexander told us where to wait for the marshrutka. He also asked our nationality and paused when he learned that we were Americans. Then he said that we’re all people, he has no animosity toward ordinary people, and maybe we’d be better off letting him take us all the way to Listvyanka. It was a beautiful ride and we’re glad we saved the time.

We took a long walk along the shore of Lake Baikal, stopping for lunch and finding an ATM farther on. Much farther on, actually. We walked over 20,000 steps, according to Carrie’s FitBit. Mostly, we walked on pavement, and my legs are tired. They can relax on the train beginning tomorrow night. As we returned to the hotel, we found a little market just past our intersection. They had plenty of fish; plus fruits, vegetables, amber jewelry and souvenirs. Originally, we intended to hike a bit of the Great Baikal Trail tomorrow, but after today’s extended walk we probably won’t go very far, saving a few more minutes to explore the market. I love open-air markets. And, we want to save some time to see more of Irkutsk before our train leaves. Irkutsk offers many interesting things to see and do.

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