Russia and beyond 2013 travel blog

Our train arrived about 6am. We all staggered off tired and unwashed. Thank goodness for hand wash as there was none in the loo. We were provided with a picnic but we didn't want it after a day of eating. Jane and I did have a cup of tea. We later worked out that there was an urn and we could have had another once we had a cup.

After a much needed shower and breakfast in our hotel we headed off to explore Novgorod. Our guide was delightful but as she had such a quiet voice and talked endlessly about Russian Icons I thought I would feint as it was so hot in the gallery. I was not the only one and I noticed many of the group propped up against any convenient wall.

Novgorod is a quiet and very pretty town. Wide streets and lovely gardens. It was founded in the 9th century and by the 12 century was called Novgorod the Great. Ivan 111 attacked and annexed the city in 1477 and Ivan the Terrible razed the city soon after slaughtering about 27,000 people for supporting the Swedes. St Petersburg became the capital in 1703 and Novogorod became a regional town but with many museums and outstanding architecture including the Kremlin. We walked around the town and looked at a couple of wonderful churches with frescos. There were once 50 churches in the city but only a few remain. They seemed more like clubs or guilds. The Monastry was lovely as well and there were some very interesting young priests and religious people. They take the religion seriously in Russia. Lots of people in the churches cleaning the icons as the devout kiss them. They seem to have their favourites. We didn't have to wear a scarf but I had one in my bag just incase. The old ladies in the museums don't look as down and out as in Moscow. The pension is so low that many have to work. One ladie in Moscow could hardly walk. I watched as she struggled to stand and then sit down. Their clothes were dreadful. Very sad to see.

Next was the open air museum after a quick lunch I. A funny little cafe. Very cheap. More borsch and a mushroom pie which was like a brioche with mushroom inside. Very light and tasty.

The wooden buildings were wonderful. The joinery was very tricky and the building very cosy and strong. It rained which was a pity but we still raced around the park and had a good look around.

There was time for a coffee when we returned and a few of us found a great cafe near our hotel. The coffee was excellent. It was good to sit down with Clive and Katherine for a chat as we had such a great time last time we travelled in Spain.

Dinner at the hotel was ok. Nothing special but it was so good to have a good nights sleep.

The hotel was good. One funny thing happened while we were there. As the door required locking, Clive accidentally locked Katherine in their room when she was I. The bathroom! He soon realized and returned to recue her.

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