Packed and ready for our drivers to arrive, we saw the young tourists heading for breakfast. We thanked them for being so courteous as to let the golden oldies get their beauty sleep. They looked none the worse for their night revelleries. They made hubby's day when they joined him for a parting picture.
The cars arrived. I like to think that a little London Land angel had taken note of my previous plight. Pristine vehicles and a driver who told us various tales of the area. Are there really Siberian tigers ? A steady drive into Irkutsk with the occasional wobble. The roads here have improved but there is still the occasional awkward camber which sent us towards the oncoming traffic. Our driver smoothly corrected our direction. Either that or there was an angel on the car roof.
Our homestay hostess greeted us in a warm manner. We were shown to our rooms. We had beds in the dining room while K and J were in the lounge. All clean and tidy. She could converse in several languages and had once been a teacher of Russian as a foreign language. Brilliant.
She produced our meal voucher and explained that the driver would take us to the restaurant. She gave us maps so that we could find our way home for dinner at seven. Has she heard of our current lack of spatial awareness??
Lunch in the Petruschka restaurant was a four course affair. Delicious local food. They even gave hubby an alternative for the fish course. The toilets even had those fluffy little white hand towels. They used to have similar ones in House of Bruar until recently. Expected tourists took them away. I must point out here with vehemence that I never did.
Waddling out of the restaurant, we went in pursuit of my childhood hero. We found him eventually but not before we spotted several other famous figures. I expect you have heard of Stalin and Lenin? Hubby found himself a hero. A bevy of beauties emerged from a crimson limo. They posed as he took their photo. As a reward, they swarmed around him like bees to a honey pot. Patricia Piglet took his photo. I don't think I have ever seen him look so happy!!
Along by the riverside there were advertising billboards covered with pictures of angels - young children looking for new homes. I welled up. I would if I could but I can't. So many of them.
We wandered on and discovered a picturesque church. The stairs had flowers on either side to greet the heavily pregnant but radiant bride.
From here it was back into the centre. We sat by the fountain and drank bottled water, watching the world go by. Sometimes, it went by in the form of a Cinderella coach. Once round the fountain for a lucky child with enough roubles.
Time for home. A refreshing shower then we were gently summoned to dinner. Oh I forgot to mention, our hostess looks like Mrs Turtle from Crossroads. You must remember her?! Before us were plates of soup, a bowl of garlic dip, a plate of salad and an enormous bowl of pelmeni. For the uninitiated, this is pasta wrapped around what tasted like haggis. Another one for the recipe book.
The four of us were pretty whacked. Our hostess asked if we minded being left while she visited her neighbour. She took the remains of the palmeni for the children. What a kind angel she was.
After talk time, time for bed, hopefully to dream of angels. X