Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Credit Crunch

Day 475
I got to Irkutsk around 7 and went to find an internet cafe. I think that it was just lucky that I managed to get on the right tram. I didn't think that anything would be open yet and I needed the toilet so I popped into a cafe and bought the cheapest thing on the menu, a coffee. I then promptly poured salt instead of sugar into it. Gross.

Once I had oriented myself with the Lenin statue I found an internet cafe and tried to get in touch with the person I thought I might be staying with. This didn't work out so I booked a hostel and soon walked there.

I only had limited rubles so my first stop was an ATM, I was rejected. I then went to another and then another. About 7 in total rejected me. I was in a bit of a panic when I headed back to theinternet cafe. I didn't have a Skype option and it was late in the States, no one was answering my emails. My mom is kind enough to handle my finances while I travel, and I didn't even know the passwords to my bank account along with not having an ability to call anyone anyway. I ended up getting aFacebook friend named Jared who I had met in Milan to call my house and wake up my mom. In a few minutes she had looked at my account and sent me my last several transactions, there just wasn't much she could do as the information that allows her to handle things is kept at our local branch and not at headquarters.

When we said goodbye I was nervous. I didn't even have a whole lot of cash to exchange and I needed to book my train ticket as soon as possible to keep on track. I went back to the hostel just to find that they hadskype there. I was able to call the bank, my account was frozen and it would take about 2 hours for it to unfreeze. I put on a movie to pass the time.

After the movie I checked my account, nothing. I called again and they said that they would put a rush on it. I spent more time at the hostel and met London Jack and another guy from Korea. They invited me out to check out some churches. I figured that I could try every ATM in town on the way.

The first place we went to was Kirova Plaza, a huge square. There used to be churches on either side, but they were damaged in an uprising and Stalin had them pulled down and replaced by some really ugly administrative buildings. After passing a simple brick Catholic church we found the18th century Saviours's Church. The outside was the best part because there were some faded mosaics. Next up was the colorful Bogoyavlensky Cathedral. We then made our way to the eternal flam, which Jack referred to as the tomb of the undying warrior.

The real test was coming up, could I get out money? We made one more stop and I was finally successful. I could have dinner that didn't consist of dried noodles!

By the time we got to a cafe I was more than ready to eat. I ordered the beef stroganoff. It was really good, but the portion was minuscule, I could have eaten three of them. On the way back to the hostel we picked up some beers and then drank them while watching movies.

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