We were happy to find out that the roads were not as bad as we expected, which allowed us to reach Irkutsk in 2 days. Unfortunately due to another time change we arrived late in the evening just to find out that the whole city goes to sleep at 22:00. We were walking through the center hoping to find an open restaurant, but we knew it was a lost case. Finding food between 10 pm and 10 am the next day often is in Russia. And suddenly we saw a fully packed Toyota parked along the street. We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw it's actually a German car. It had to be the guy Emma and Andy told us about. I mean, how many Germans with a Toyota can drive this way at the same time. We looked around but the driver was nowhere to be found, so we decided to leave him a letter with out contact details. We only managed to walk a few meters when we heard someone running down the street screaming out names. It was Gerrit, the guy we heard about and he just got there too. We didn't manage to find a place to grab some food or a beer, so we ended up picnicking in front of the only supermarket that was still open. Back then we didn't know we will actually end up joining forces and discovering Baikal region together.
Reaching Irkutsk so early left us with enough time to apply for the visas before the weekend. We went to the consulate early in the morning, prepared for a long queue and endless paperwork, but we were nicely surprised. We didn't have to wait long and there was only one short form to fill in and a very friendly English-speaking workers who helped us answer all the tricky questions. No invitations, no confirmations from the hotel, no further issues. When we were done they only showed us the price list, with different amounts depending on how long we want to wait for the visa (1, 2 or 3 working days). After our Omsk experience we took the express visa and were extremely happy when we picked it up the next day. And we found a VW garage who checked our Karossi just to make sure he's still in best shape. He is! And they definitely had fun checking it.
Irkutsk itself it's not a bad city, but not an amazing one neither. For some reason the drivers there seem to be even more aggressive than in Omsk, making crossing the street a real challenge. But the place has a few nice buildings to offer. Fortunately we met a very nice Swiss couple who were much better prepared then we were and helped us explore the most important bits. We took a long walk together enjoying the company and for David the possibility to speak his mother tongue again.
We could finally relax. With visa in the pocket, some new friends made and Emma’s birthday party waiting for us in the evening. And we even got a place in the most popular hostel in town where we could finally take a warm shower. It was more luck then we needed and we spend a lovely evening talking, exchanging experiences and having fun. Or at least it was so until I fell asleep in the middle of the party, but I guess that's nothing new to those of you who ever tried to party with me... Soon I'll become an internationally known party-sleeper :)