Thursday, June 28, 2018

"Seeing" Novogrudok

As I’ve said, I want to figure out how to visit interesting places in Belarus that I haven’t seen yet. After a few web searches, I’ve got a little list of places I’d like to reach. I’m not sure whether Novogrudok had gotten onto the list, but Tanya suggested it and it looked pretty good on the internet. It’s about three hours from Minsk, so we resolved to spend the night there. A nice hotel room with two beds costs about thirty dollars, so it seemed like a reasonable idea.

Before booking the room, however, I checked another site, which suggested that we should stay “nearby” at Alpha Radon. My neighbor had told me that Alpha Radon was her favorite place in all of Belarus and Booking.com was telling me that they were offering me their last room, so I jumped on it without thinking much. It’s more than thirty bucks, but it includes three meals for two people and I had wanted to see it anyway. It’s great, but it’s way too far from Novogrudok for a quick excursion. It worked out fine, but we didn’t end up seeing much of Novogrudok.

Long boring bus ride
We passed through Novogrudok the first time on our way to the resort. I figured we were almost there and expected to see it around every turn. There were lots of turns, but we didn’t arrive for another 45 minutes or more. It’s OK. There’s plenty to do at Alpha Radon, at least for a couple of days. We went directly to the dining room for lunch, where I over-ate in my efforts to try everything that looked interesting. Then we headed out for a walk around the grounds.

We found our way into a small wood visible from the dining room and took lots of pictures. Mostly Tanya took the pictures. She’d just bought herself a fancy camera and wanted to make good use of it. As you will remember, she can’t see what she is photographing. Amazingly, she takes a lot of very interesting photos. She has a good intuitive sense of where she might find something interesting and then she shoots lots of frames. Sometimes I help her, but she does quite well on her own. Her friend Kristina helps her sort through the photos and choose which ones to publish. I think her Instagram feed will be extra busy for the next few weeks as they go through the weekend’s work.

After our photo expedition, we repaired to the Alpha Radon aqua zone, where we swam laps in their large pool and visited the sauna and steam room. We met an interesting Israeli lady in the sauna, who said that she and her husband came to spend a week in the woods, since she tired of the seashore where she lives. They’d been out walking for about four hours that morning, and at the time I couldn’t imagine where she’d gone.

We found the big woods on Sunday after we’d checked out. There are trails, a couple of lakes separated by a dam, beaches, docks, and lots of fun things to do. Somehow, we hadn’t learned about this, but the weather hadn’t been so great that we missed anything. But it makes the resort much more appealing. I could imagine spending more than a couple of days there now, especially for cross-country skiing or beach and swimming. When I asked the receptionist about what to do, she only told me about things she wanted to sell, like medical treatments and spa services. It seems kind of funny now.

Anyway, we got to Novogrudok on Sunday afternoon and had about three hours there before the last bus left for Minsk. That was enough time to walk around the old city center, enjoy the views over farmland and valley below, stroll through the park, eat a quick meal and come to understand that we’d have to come back and see the town properly.

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