"BELARUS - THE LAST OASIS OF FREEDOM IN EUROPE" Top 5 Page for this destination Belarus by A-Friend-Of-Belarus
Belarus Travel Guide: 902 reviews and 2,344 photos
When I first arrived at Minsk International airport, it was so empty and lonesome. It looked pretty old and I don't think there were more than 50 people altogether, including the passagners from my air plane. I passed the passport and custom control without any problems. A custom officer, blond woman dressed in green uniform looking like Helga from famous British comedy entitled 'Allo 'Allo, aksed me what's the reason of my visit to Belarus, and if I have any newspapers concerning elections in that country. Notice that I arrived on March 24, just 5 days after elections. Since I didn't have any newspapers she let me go and didn't even ask me to open my bag. An innocent man has nothing to be afraid of.
My next step was approaching to a bus full of Americans who came to visit children whose parents died after Chernobyl explosion. I asked their quide - a Belorussian lady if I could come with them to the downtown. She was very kind and didn't even let me pay for the transport. In addition, she offered me some money to buy a token for subway (metro). She said in Russian to some of her colleagues in the bus: "Let's help our Serbian friend". How could I refuse it?
However, my first impression on Belarus was quite disappointing. Lonesome highway, bad roads and communist-style bulidings. But I learned that the first impression can be wrong. I got out of the bus in the place called Vostok (meanigng "east" in English). That's the last metro station in Minsk. I bought a token ("жетон" in Russian) and entered the metro. It was like in a pharmacy, everything was so clean and tidy, like the whole city, but that comes soon.
This hotel is located some 5km from the city center. By metro it takes 5 minutes to famous Oktobarskaya square (Ploschad in Russian and Ploscha in Belorussian), and the token is 460 rubles (1 Euro = 2570 rubles). I must admit that the staff is not really kind. Don't get me wrong, they're not unkind, far from that, but it's not like in Western hotels where they smile, stand when they talk to you and stuff like that. Well, at least I got a room - very expensive one, if you ask me. The price is about 40 Euros per night, including breakfast (continental one: eggs, cheese, ham, bread, juice, tea) and registration. The front desk agents hardly speak any English but it wasn't such a big problem for me because I had a dictionary. Besides, my native language is Serbian and it's quite similar to Russian. All in all, the hotel is okay.
"When you're alone and life is making you lonely you can alwasy go downtown" - a verse by Petula Clark. So that's what I did. I went to Prospekt Nemiga located by the bank of Svislosh. The river was frozen, grass was covered with snow but streets were so clean and young people went skating. I felt like I was in some Russian novel, Anna Karenina for example. That's the feeling I'll never forget, and that's when I fell in love with Minsk. In whole my life I've never seen such a clean city. It's not that somebody controles the people, beats them up if they throw garbage on the street, or something like that. No, they just have a very high conscience, patriotic conscience, and that's what I like about them.
Men wear fur caps, so to me they look like real Russians, white Russians (Belarus, or Byelarussia means White Russia). Women are gorgues! In spite of low temperatures they wear mini skirts and look so pretty and feminine. They're so pale, most of them are blonde and have green eyes. They look just like real, pure, white Russians. And that's just what they are.
- Pros:The last oasis of freedom in Europe
- Cons:Communist legacy
- In a nutshell:Вечна жыві і квітней, Беларусь!
Something like GUM and CUM, if you know what I mean. This is how department stores in the Soviet Union looked... more travel advice
If you imagined Belarus as a country of old Russian cars, fear and poverty, then you were wrong. If you heard stories... more travel advice
- "Custom declaration"
- Communist mentality
- Taxi and registration
A-Friend-Of-Belarus' Related Pages
Belarus Travel Guide
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