Novgorod,Valday, St Petersburg

The bus left Novgorod at 6.50 and sunrise around 9.15 (due Valday 9.20) so got to see dawn as we neared valdaisky national park which was a fairyland of snowy forest and snowy wooden dachas.

Valday is smaller than I imagined but pretty with snow by the lake side. It wasn’t too cold, I was able to sit with 2 thermal tops and no coat for quite a while on the lake edge of the pier opposite a monastery.

It must be stunning here in the summer. Very quiet at the moment – like Bodrum used to be with seasonal business probably.

Back to Novgorod and present buying, catching a train to St Petersburg. After several days here with incredibly warm, friendly people and beautiful sights, it’s a shame that UK press and unfortunately people who should know better are using Brexit politicking and the forthcoming Russian presidental election to scream abuse at Vladimir Putin, Russian government and Russians in general.

Russia is beautiful and sometimes deliberately misunderstood,   the many Russians I’ve now met are deeply thoughtful, caring and passionate. I think Vladimir Putin is same, overall a kind, busy man with more than enough issues for one lifetime. I can’t read newspapers really yet and not watched Russian TV but wish him great success and sanity at all times if he decides to stand.

Some young people I’ve met who criticise Russian government (yes, it’s allowed) are convinced that the UK is very different to Russia in terms of society and politics – the grass is always greener – I was probably like that too at their age.

I’ve decided to stay on social media until after the election, to play whatever role I can in correcting fake info from US/UK/EU etc, however crappy it gets – to quote Mastermind – I’ve started so I’ll finish. I have kept promise made to myself to return to Russia this year and kept promise to family to keep myaelf as safe as possible (in light of my earlier behaviour in life).

Off to St Petersburg in a few minutes, then fly back tomorrow afternoon, exchanging the mighty Volkhov for the majestic Neva or vice versa. One final post probably for this trip.

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