• St Petersburg & Velikhy Novgorod 1 – it is ok to visit in November
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Russians as beautiful, friendly and helpful as ever. Flew in yesterday afternoon and was recommended Faberge museum which has late opening hours on Saturday (different museums have late openings on different days). The art & craftwork in all of the museum is fantastically intricate.

Then caught train first thing to Novgorod – haven’t caught train before and because it was a) dark and b) some station refurbishment going on, I missed the local terminal but thanks to a fantastic taxi driver who turned into a walking taxi, I ended up in the right place.
Train staff very efficient and train fine –  little things like hooks which slide along like curtain hooks make it easier for everyone esp families to put their coats up together.  Drinking coffee grounds by mistake helped shake off the habitual commuter early morning bleariness.
It is rainy here (saw some snow in distance from train). Once daylight emerged so did the forests which are next to the railway line and they have that wonderful autumny slushy look with little pools between the trees.
Somewhere between St Petersburg and Novgorod is a station called Platform 64 which sounds out of Douglas Adams Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy or similar.
Veliky Novgorod, the birthplace of Russia – is simply amazing – what has been collected and/or preserved and restored over the last 1000 years is incredible. Visited Kremlin & State Museum today which has amazing birchwood carvings and collections of icon paintings where you can see the styles change over centuries. I liked St Nicholas cathedral best – if you’re a fan of the Sistine chapel you won’t be disappointed. Been busy collecting Orthodox church photos for office mate too. 
BTW If you’re in V. Novgorod definitely go to Red Ibza tourist office if you haven’t made plans – staff are fantastic.
Finally made it to a Russian theatre – a mix of Russian poetry, dance, opera with ochestra. I didn’t know artist, just happened to be on today – рустем галич at Novgorod Philharmonic Hall

Wonderful, passionate performances. Couldn’t follow much of spoken language but not a problem. Russian language practice going ok but Turkish words appearing in sentences before I can stop them. This will be last tourist trip – friends probably coming out next year so if I do manage work related projects that involve Russia visits, will tag touristic stuff onto those.
There’s something ‘romantic’ about starting with the beginning of Russia so early on in overall Russian journey. 

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