Leaving the airport to the town
I left you in my previous post, while I was mentally frozen after hearing the captain mentioning ground temperature: -31°. As you may imagine the airport of Ulan-Ude, also known as Baikal International Airport, is not too big. The status of internationality is mainly due to few regular flight to Ulan Bator. In my previous experience here I reached the Mongolian capital by a long and exhausting trip by Bus.
This time my plans are different and I will remain in the big arms of Mother Russia. For now, however, the main goal is to reach the centre of the town and my hotel. I’m very lucky because, disembarking from the plane I met a very nice lady just arrived from USA. She’s from Ulan-Ude and she doesn’t visit her birthplace since several years. At the airport her mom is waiting and they’re so kind to invite me in their taxi to reach the city. It’s very nice to hear them talk in Buryat language and it’s with this melodic sound in my ears that after about 11 kilometres I start to see places familiar to me and it so weird to have familiar places so far from home.
I really don’t think that when I was here for my first time I thought I would ever come back here again and instead… here I am again and that is the bridge over the Uda river that I crossed on bus while I was going to the Ivolginsky Datsan.
From there, my hotel is close so I say goodbye to my new friend and I run in the hotel. It’s cold and I’m still wearing clothes fitting the “warm” Moscow weather.
First tour of the town, first walk of the trip
I’m very, very happy. After so many time, I’m away for a real trip. Covid and other reasons prevented me to travel in the way I like, but finally I can. I’m so happy that, at the beginning I don’t notice how cold it is, but a couple of minutes are enough to make me aware of the situation. For most of us, -30 is something hard to imagine. I can tell you what I feel. The first weird feeling is in the nose. I have a feeling that a frozen barrier is built in my nostrils. In the end I have warm clothes in different layers so, when I’m walking and there is no wind, this is more or less affordable but for the naked skin is hard. I’m talking about hands, when I’m not wearing gloves, and the face, when is not protected by the balaclava. Let’s stop the “complain about the freezing cold part” and let’s move forward. My hotel is well located so, first of all, I head toward the main square of Ulan-Ude, the one where it lies the biggest head of Lenin in the world, in other words, the real reason to come here… Joking of course. Ulan-Ude has much more to offer. Last time I was in this square, head of Vladimir Ilić was really the most significant sight but today the atmosphere is much more festive. Under the serious look of the Russian revolutionary and politician, there is a kind of winter park with toboggan runs for children, a big Christmas tree, food stands and beautiful ice sculptures. I’ve to say is the first time I see one of them. Many years ago I saw sand statues in Liepaja, in Latvia, but ice ones, never before. I took several pictures, one of them you can see it in the article, others are in the gallery below but then I realise I’m hungry. I didn’t have breakfast and I need also a good coffee before doing anything else. Close to the triumphal arch I found a nice cafeteria. I start getting familiar with Siberian tips and tricks. The handle of the cafeteria’s door is covered with several layer of fabric. At this temperature, the skin can stick to metal surfaces. During the stay, I check what to see in this town and I let the coffee and croissant giving me the boost and the courage to face second half of the walk. This post continues to next page