The Wandelgek was leaving Irkutsk and driving in a minibus towards beautiful Listvijanka, a small wooden house village on the edge of Lake Baikal, where the River Angara, a large tributary river of the Yenitsey River, flowed out of Lake Baikal.
First the minibus crossed the bridge over the Angara River towards the other bank where the city center of Irkutsk was.
Then it drove through the still light traffic and quickly left the dreary streets of the soon bustling city. On the road towards Listvijanka we drove through endless taiga forests with Larch, Birch and Pine Trees…
Soon the spot where the River Angara was joined by Lake Baikal (it flows out of the lake, not in), could be seen from the wet windows.
Listvijanka means Larch Tree Village. So what is a Larch?
At last after an hour The Wandelgek caught his first glimpses of Lake Baikal, before driving into the boudaries of Pribaikasky National Park and into Listvijanka and…
Listvyanka (Russian: Листвя́нка) is an urban locality (a work settlement) in Irkutsky District of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, located 70 kilometres (43 mi) from Irkutsk, near the point where the Angara River leaves Lake Baikal. Population: 1,882 (2010 Census); 1,745 (2002 Census); 2,379 (1989 Census).
Almost all houses are made of wood and lots of them still have these intricate woodworks that beautifully frame the windows.
There is some tourist infrastructure too though. The road to the village and several hotels of which some are not traditionally built but new. The Wandelgek even found a beachclub where they sold Dutch Amstel Beer. But it was off season now and there were not many tourists in the village and the beachclub was closed.
Buying Omul on a Local Market
Why are there cats in the little far away and quite isolated wooden village of Listvyanka, the Larch Tree village?
- Is it because they seek tranquility in far away Siberia? No.
- Is it because they love the views over beautiful Lake Baikal? Nah.
- Is it maybe because it rains less in this area than in most other parts of Siberia and they hate getting wet? Nope.
It might be because the locals smoke, fry, cook, boil, roast and bake the endemic Omul fish and because the stands selling this fish are all along the coast line of the lake at Listvijanka. The smell of the fish is too and so are the cats. Smart animals 😂😂
Near the shore of Lake Baikal was a local market where all sorts of local products were sold. One of the things that were sold was Omul.
The omul, Coregonus migratorius, also known as Baikal omul (Russian: байкальский омуль), is a whitefish species of the salmon family endemic to Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia. It is considered a delicacy and is the object of one of the largest commercial fisheries on Lake Baikal. In 2004, it was listed in Russia as an endangered species.
Omul is a gray, oily, foot-long, endemic fish that exclusively dwells in Lake Baikal.
Siberians love the lowly omul. It can be fried, dried, smoked, baked, grilled, salted, stuffed, with internals or without internals, with and without scales. The Buryats on the eastern shore even like it slightly rotten/decayed and “smelly”.
On warm days, meaning everything above 0 degrees Celsius, they sell it from dozens of pop-up roadside stands along the shoreline. The portable cookers are belching the smoke of burning alder, with rows of cured fish on the tables ready to be wrapped in newspaper and taken away.
Dinner and a bit earlier to bed
Next plan was to climb uphill from the Lake Baikal Museum (which will appear in an upcoming blogpost) and then probably take a cable car to a viewpoint. There should then have been a magnificent view over Lake Baikal and over the Angara River running towards Irkutsk as well, but it had been quite a cloudy day and now even mist banks were starting to take away the view over the lake and the river. The Wandelgek decided to not do the climb because the view would very probably be not worthwhile with those low clouds blocking the view on the mountains. However it had not been raining in Listvijanka, whilst it had been doing that in Irkutsk (more of that later in an upcoming blogpost).
Instead he went to check in in his hotel where he had a lovely view from his room:
He was also tired of the long train journey and longing for a delicious dinner….
…a hot shower,…
… a warm room and a large tele…
…and a warm, soft, spacious bed…
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