• St Petersburg and Velikhy Novgorod 2
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This morning again found very helpful Russians when I got off bus in the wrong place and additional bonus – a visit to Peryn Skete and church of ‘The Nativity of our Lady’ which is very peaceful with a friendly monk and had tiny chat about Russian dogs. He speaks some English too and there’s an English leaflet available.

Even getting off bus in the wrong place and in some fog, it is only about 30 min walk, mostly along one road from Peryn to St George’s monastery (although you can get the bus right there).

The Vitoslavitsky museum of wooden architecture is mostly undergoing restoration (about 5 min walk from the monastery). It will be ready next year I think (check with Red Izba for when)

I chatted with a lady whilst waiting for return bus to Novgorod and found out that Valday national park is a bus ride from Novgorod (for some bizarre reason I thought it was near Sochi). I also attempted to explain in my crappy attempts at Russian about Henry Viii & dissolution of monasteries.
After lots of helpful discussion with the brilliant Red Izba Novgorod tourist office – there’s not a massive difference in price and less than hour’s difference in bus journey between visiting Staraya Russia or Valday but there are more buses to Staraya Russia (I just missed one this afternoon otherwise may have gone).
So it comes down to personal preferences and swayed by idea of seeing a Russian national park (hopefully less fog), catching early bus hopefully to Valday for the morning before returning to Novgorod then St Petersburg in the afternoon.
Whilst it’s nice, natural to be impulsive when travelling around, I do not recommend what I’ve done at all, instead look at a map of Russia in great detail (also download TopTripApp and other guides) if you want to extend Novgorod trip further afield, plan a Valday trip well in advance (and allow extra day/s) so transport and accommodation could be properly sorted.  They recommend visiting May-Oct and would suggest easily a week visit minimum).
However who knows when I will be back in this region in the future anytime soon, so will try at least (having not got to any other national parks).
This afternoon,  visited Antoniev monstery and the cathedral of ‘The Nativity of our Lady’ (closed Mon, Tues – again plan in advance).

It’s about 30 min walk along Volkhov river from centre of Novgorod

For a lovely place to eat/drink, there’s a restaurant on a beautiful ship moored on the Volkhov opposite the Novgorod Kremlin:

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