We arrived in Irkutsk, Russia, half a day later than anticipated after the rain delay in Mongolia. Goal #1 was to find lodging for the night. We found one listed in the book—just an apartment that someone had installed a bunch of bunk beds in.
Though we were not yet in Europe, this certainly no longer felt like Asia. Shiny gold steeples and cupolas poked the sky, the dilapidated wooden buildings were somehow familiar, and most obviously, the adorable black-haired Asian toddlers with doting grandmothers had been replaced with adorable girls with blonde braids.
Our first stop was the supermarket. Hot damn! We’d just about gone to heaven. There was more than one kind of bread, and none of the cheese was shrink-wrapped in individual slices. We spent perhaps too much time wandering the aisles in rapture.
We exited to the still-day-lit street at 10:15 p.m. Forget finding a restaurant for dinner; we went directly back to our hostel to enjoy our haul.