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Pole to Pole

Day 32: Novgorod to Dno

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleIf only I had been able to spend more time with the Mayor, and less in the dances, I could have asked him why, in a city of 250,000 people, there are only five restaurants. And why the one we end up in is described as a restaurant at all. It's part of the Palace of Culture, a huge, desolate, shabby, modern building in the suburbs of Novgorod, which must once have been the face of a golden proletarian future, and is now, literally, rotting. In the middle of its drab and dusty halls is a canteen serving the worst pizzas I've ever eaten. This is only a minor cloud over a grim day. Earlier this afternoon one of our drivers collapsed in great pain and is now in hospital with a perforated ulcer.

It's a subdued team that sets off from the Palace of Culture to drive sixty miles south-west to pick up the Leningrad-Kiev express at the town of Dno. Dno, in Russian, means literally the bottom, the pits. Three hours later we are completely lost. Total darkness and the lack of anything resembling a road sign have completely floored our drivers, who are all Muscovites, and know nothing of these marshy flatlands.

Eventually, negotiating country roads by a process of elimination, we bump into and over what miraculously turns out to be a railway track.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 32
  • Country/sea: USSR
  • Place: Dno
  • Book page no: 70

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