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September 22 – 2011 Irkutsk and a Sledge Hammer

Posted by on September 30, 2011

We arrived in Irkutsk after a 7 hour ferry/bus ride from Ohlkon Island. Irkutsk is a lovely city of 1/2 million people and situated on the Angara River. It is filled with many old wooden homes with distinctive hand-carved trim, however, many of these homes are falling down…
The hostel we had booked did not have us reserved for 2 nights so the owner suggested we book into a “homestay” with a Russian family. We did and it was wonderful. Olga was our hostess, along with her husband and 2 grown sons. They had 2 cats, one of which was enormous!!!
We walked the city and upon arriving back at Olga’s at 11 pm., her husband announced that it was time to drink some vodka and have some omul. He took the omul right out of the freezer – solid as a rock! He then proceeded to try and cut the frozen whole fish. With no luck, he then put some newspaper on top of the fish and got his sledge hammer out and beat the crap out of it. There was frozen fish flying everywhere, which he picked up and put on a plate and served to us along with some dry rye bread – now just imagine attempting to eat frozen chunks of omul in between dry rye bread and be polite about it…needless to say, we did and had shots of vodka to wash it down. The next morning when I walked into the kitchen, the fish heads were on the floor with the cats!