Sensing my homelessness, some curious young boys point me to Sverdlova and Baikal Streets.
I manage to locate the Baikal Home guesthouse at 6 Sverdlova St, but pushing the bell twice doesn’t achieve anything, perhaps no-one is at Home.. But I do find the bus stop and take a picture of it for future reference and language-less negotiating.
A friendly cafe sells me a plate of Borscht (soup with meatballs) and tea. Its translucent green roof offers an upbeat perspective on the grey day outside. The ladies running the joint are attractive and friendly, but more interested in the Russian soap opera playing on the TV. At least it’s a cozy distraction from the snow and I take some time to research freelance business requirements for my upcoming remote work contract.
The soap opera pauses for an ad break, so I ask them if they know of any local guesthouses that I’ve missed. As luck would have it, there’s one right next door! It looks suitable, but the owner, ‘Maria’, is nowhere to be found. Apparently she may have departed for a month away, taking the padlocked door keys (and maybe Guesthouse by Anna Anna) with her.
The unwashed elderly caretaker is apologetic about the missing keys and offers to rent me his own room at the gate. It’s a kind gesture, but the bed sheets look ancient, there’s a smoky smell (which I mention) and flies buzzing around old food (which I don’t). He looks seriously bummed out by my swift rejection and I feel like a selfish tourist for turning down his well-meaning hospitality.
Still afraid of paying beachfront/drive-in prices, I head back to
Guesthouse/bakery/dairy by Anna. Someone is there now, but unfortunately there are still no rooms. But they suggest the souvenir shop over the road.