A more modern street in Irkutsk, whose only charm at this time emanated from the pre-revolutionary buildings lining the road. Note the lack of stores or signs of any kind. Not yet two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the streetscapes retained a basic and dreary look. Outside of the downtown, Soviet-style apartment blocks created an even bleaker landscape. Yet Irkutsk lies on the Angara River, the one tributary which drains beautiful Lake Baikal, about a 45-mile drive east.