The city sight-seeing photos I added to the previous post are from today.
This hotel is pretty cool. We had the friendliest waitress ever last night for dinner at the hotel restaurant (very posh and almost completely empty as usual). He started by apologizing for his poor English and then went on to recommend Buuzy, a local dumpling specialty, and local vodka. It was delicious. Then he took us out to the 14th floor balcony for us to localize the city attractions and see some fireworks.
Today morning we went back to the 14th floor to have some pretty nice breakfast, and then went to change some euros to Roubles. We walked to the giant head of Lenin statue and saw a fountain which played the Radeczki march.
Then we returned to the reception and asked some help to find a hardware store, to which we took a taxi. There we met another super friendly sales guy, who gave us an extensive tour of the multi-floor complex, and helped us buy fasteners, wire, chain oil, and two old school metal frame backpacks. We returned to the hotel, then went for an overpriced pizza lunch and grocery shopping.
Jerome also bought himself some swimming trunks so he could try the hotel pool. This was seriously anti-climatic. The hotel has a subterranean floor devoted to a gym, a pool, and a sauna. There was even a lady overseeing all this at a desk, but when she realized that we wanted to use the pool and needed some towels, she appeared positively shocked, and went on to nervously search for something in what appeared to be an enormous pile of keys for five minutes. We went back to our room, got our own towels, came back down, changed, and then realized that one pool was ice cold, and the other was … a few degrees above ice cold. It was pretty obvious that nobody ever used these facilities. We did not stay long. It was interesting to note that when we got there, the sauna was open, but by the time we got out of the pool five minutes later, someone (probably the lady) locked the sauna and then left, to be replaced by another lady at the desk. She then motioned toward the elevator, indicating that it is best if we leave now. Bizarre.
In the room I took the backpacks off the metal frames and reassembled them in a way that will make the metal racks not hang down so far, which will let me corner better. I then went down to the bikes in an attempt to mount them, but hurricane strength winds stopped me from doing that. The locals did not seem too disconcerted, apparently such huge winds are normal here!? Supposedly it will even rain tomorrow morning. Depending on how intensive that is, we plan to continue toward lake Baikal tomorrow where we hope to camp. I will probably only be able to write from Irkutsk, in 48 hours from now.
I’ll go now and enjoy my hotel bed while I can.