Irkutsk, Russia

So we got to Irktutsk, which has been called the "Paris of Siberia," which is not only a gross exaggeration, but downright wrong. The only thing Parisian about it is a small Eiffel Tower structure on the main shopping strip.

The city is such an architectural mix with beautiful wooden buildings like this...

2 3 4 5with plenty of buildings in disrepair like this...18and beautiful brick buildings that are Brooklyn brownstone-ish / New Orleans French Quarter like this...6 7and of course mixed in with Soviet block style apartment buildings like this...9Now we all know Parisians like to shop, but this is no Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

This is the main shopping drag that houses the Eiffel Tower and megaphone announcements. The other thing I've learned here in Russia, is they love their megaphones. In Saint Petersburg and Moscow, it was all about announcing tours via megaphones, and in Irkutsk, we found that shopkeepers like to stand storefront with their megaphone announcements. Suddenly, the very quiet country of Finland is sounding nice about now.10Below are some other iphone shots taken around town. The local buses here look as if they are about to break down and are usually packed with people. Irkutsk is on the Angara River and one night as we strolled down the river, we came across an "amusement" park or should we say, a vaguely amusing park. Nothing like a dirty jump house under some telephone wires.11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20So let's just say that Irkutsk leaves something to be desired, but serves as a great gateway to Lake Baikal.

There was however one thing that really caught my eye in Irkutsk. Find out what in the next post!