In due course, we arrive in Irkutsk, to a beautiful day.
As the train pulls away from the station, I set to reassembling the Troll on the rapidly vacating platform. It is a group effort between myself, the sniper, his mate, and various curious bystanders. The rear dropouts take some fiddling, but eventually we get there. I bid farewell to my new friends, including Wanna, who is staying elsewhere.
I ride across the Angara river, along leafy side walks, passing tall, fashionable ladies and a bottle store playing cool house music.
And then, into Rabochaya street, up Rabochaya street and down Rabochaya street. Up and down, up- and down. My booking.com confirmation contains instructions for guests arriving by bus, but not for those arriving by bike.
But eventually I find it, on the other side of the street. Ushanka.
Leaning my bike against a bulky air conditioning unit, I clamber up the steep staircase. Framed by ornate wooden railing with keyhole cutouts, it leads to a wooden door. Inside, there is a cosy waiting room, furnished with couches and tourist brochures.
My hosts, Bolina & Seemon (Polina & Simon) welcome me inside and show me around. It’s obvious that they’re a couple. She’s a bit bossy and he’s a bit annoyed at her bossiness, but it’s clear that he’d do anything to make her happy. Imagine Miss Piggy hooking up with Manuel.
I ask if it is always this hot in autumn, but Polina says that it is unusual and it will probably snow tomorrow!
The hostel is only a few months old and it’s nicer than I expected, though, with no other guests around, it’s a tad lonely. They check me in with my dodgy paperwork and tell me that they’ll get the required stamps in the morning. Handing me a map of the district, they send me on my way.