Minsk City

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  • Day16


    August 11, 2018 in Belarus ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    As another sign of how wholly unprepared I was for this trip, I hadn’t even looked into visa requirements for Belarus before I was in Lithuania. If I had been travelling only last year, such ill discipline would have been the end of any aspirations of coming to Europe’s last dictatorship, but as luck would have it, said dictator had recently issued a decree allowing me five days visa free travel to Belarus. The catch being that I had to enter and leave from Minsk airport, which is how I ended up on my shortest international flight of my life, a 25 minute hop from Vilnius to Minsk in a Belarusian national airlines Antonov aircraft.

    Minsk airport is 35 km out of town, and so it was with a sense of irony that my taxi took longer than the flight, but it was a highly entertaining drive as my taxi driver who spoke no English tried to get drivers in neighbouring cars at red lights to spend 30 seconds translating for us. Seeing as English is almost nonexistent in the country this was met with limited success. Eventually after a late night tour around the town centre where he tried to point out sites and/or a translator, he mercifully dropped me off at my hostel.

    The hostel was full of Russian tourists, and my dorm was full of what looked like Russian gangsters, covered in tattoos and shaved heads, which was not the most welcoming vibe. It was already past midnight and the gang seemed settled in with lights blaring, conversation and music. Not wanting to press my luck I decided to head out for a walk and to get my bearings, hoping that they’d settle down by the time I got back. At night the city looked soulless, lots of hulking communist style apartment buildings, with a smattering of over the top and blingy modern buildings. Minsk was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, which never bodes well for cities that ended up on the Soviet side of the wall.

    This all probably contributed to my immediate impressions of Belarus, which were far from positive and, while drinking a beer in a deserted bar, I was seriously thinking I’d made a serious mistake allocating my full allotment of five days to the country. Eventually I figured it was time to check whether the mafia had either gone out or gone to bed and headed back to my hostel, where I had a terrible sleep wondering why I’d come to this god forsaken country, or at least just got an airbnb and at least been comfortable and not at risk of having my kidneys removed in my sleep.

    But, as they say “the darkest hour is just before the dawn” and the new day showed a whole other side of the city that had been hidden by the dark. A few things struck me immediately in the light of day - firstly Minsk has got to be the cleanest place on earth! I had heard this was the case, but you really can’t comprehend how clean the place is until you arrive. Every sidewalk is spotless, every building is shining, every park is pristine, it’s kind of eerie. Secondly, was confirmation that language was going to be an issue, no English text, only Cyrillic, and no attempts to accomodate the western traveller. It struck me that there were only a handful of places I have been where I have truely been lost with communication, Eastern Turkey and southern Laos springing to mind. These occasions are always a good check on my western white privileged, but confronting nonetheless. Thirdly, this place is dirt cheap, cheaper than probably anywhere I have ever been (including Asia), which is saying something! We are talking $1.50 for 0.5 litres of beer in a bar, a full meal in a restaurant with wine no more than $10, subway ride around 10c, a show at the national opera $3 (largely explained by the national average income of less than US$6,000/year). Fourth, they (well at least the President) hold onto their Soviet heritage like I have never seen, Soviet flags everywhere, Lenin statues (including new ones erected in the last few years) and other Soviet statues, spotless and taking pride of place (including my favourite KFC in the world hidden beneath a large and imposing concrete Soviet mural) and the city’s largest and most impressive museum being dedicated to the heroics of the Soviet army. Fifth, this is one extremely ordered society, jay walking is unheard of, queues that would make the English proud and a raft of bizarre laws that could only come from a country ruled by an iron fist President with a penchant for issuing decrees for the most bizarre things (my favourite being a law that forbids more than five people clapping at any one time). These laws are ultimately enforced by a huge and visible and invisible police force, soldiers who’s most important job seemed to be standing guard at every bush at the beer festival I went to for the explicit purpose of preventing public urination, and the KGB, the only state security apparatus in the ex Soviet Union still going by its original name, with a reputed network of 200,000 informants (one for every 10 citizens) and occupying one of the biggest and most impressive buildings in the city.

    There was a free walking tour though in English, so I headed there hoping, at the very least, that I’d meet up with some other western travellers to at least have someone to talk to over the next 5 days. It was a small group, but the well worn strategy paid off again and on top of a number of great tips about how to spend the next few days, I hooked up with Mike and Jo from the US. The tour guide told us about a beer and food festival being held that day in a park just out of the city, so after lunch and a few errands, including picking up an invaluable SIM card, we jumped into an Uber and headed out the most socialist beer festival I have ever seen. 54 stalls all selling the same three beers and the same repeating selection of food options, attending with two Americans, this was a bit of a culture shock, but the beer was cheap and quite tasty and a festival is still a festival. The headline act happened to be Sophie Ellis-Baxter, summing up the general feeling that Belarus was still stuck in a time not long after the wall fell.

    It was incredibly busy and by late afternoon the orderly lines for the beer and toilets were becoming unbearable, so we decided to head back into the city for dinner. While waiting for our Uber at the entrance, another truth became evident, Minsk local are incredibly friendly. This just backs up my working theory that the best and most friendly people are those living in the most repressive regimes and in the most poverty. A couple of locals, in broken English, approached us asking where we were going and asked if they could join as they were running late to their favourite Russian singers concert at a bar in the city. So we joined them, meeting up with a larger group at the concert, who were all young professionals and had a basic level of English, and spent the entire evening asking endless questions about life in Australia and America. Thus backing up my other theory that the best places to visit are those where tourists are still a source of curiosity and good. We are now Belarusian social media famous (they have their own version of facebook), being featured in a number of photos from the night posted the next day. After the concert it was off to see some bars, including an awesome mad men themed one, before finishing the night at the most quintessential Eastern European karaoke bar, the kind of place you could imagine my hostel room mates would hang out.

    And thus, Minsk got well and truely under my skin. I had had plans to head out of Minsk to do some day trips, including to Mir and Brest, but in five days I never left the city, beguiled by its weirdness, beauty and hidden secrets. Having a group of locals to show us around turned out to completely transform the city from a, seemingly, soulless Soviet utopia of broad boulevards, imposing buildings and endless suburbs of concrete apartment blocks, into a city with so much soul. A place where entire neighbourhoods of abandoned Soviet factories have been turned into hidden labyrinths of courtyards full of food trucks, performance spaces and the cleanest and most pristine street art I have ever seen (not one tag to be seen), huge featureless walls, turned into amazing, bright and fantastical scenes. A city full of ordered and impeccable parks, beautiful old Soviet metro stations (photos unfortunately being a big no no!), little pockets of original colourful neighbourhoods that survived WW2 and endless pockets of Soviet murals, mosaics and statues. Much of this would have been missed if not for our awesome local guides, who took an inordinate amount of pleasure showing us around their town. Even while they were at work, we would get a constant stream of messages telling us where to go next, where to eat and what to see.

    Minsk may not have the same charm as the capitals of Lithuania or Latvia, but it’s easily more imposing and, most importantly, different. This for me is the most important thing about travelling and Minsk encapsulated the adage that travel is “that glorious feeling of teetering into the brink of the unknown”.
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    Angela Marshall

    A natural philosopher/fisherperson ...

    Angela Marshall

    Must be the beer festival - looks like a beer festival even if there were only three types of beer.

    Angela Marshall

    That’s a very old singlet or are Black Sabbath having another moment in the sun?

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  • Day57

    Apartments Minsk, Minsk

    July 1, 2014 in Belarus ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Nach 26 Stunden Zugfahrt und drei Grenzüberquerungen sind wir in Minsk angekommen. Klischeehaft übernachten wir in der Karl-Marx-Strasse, wo uns Tatiana mit dem Schlüssel ihres Appartements empfangen hat.Read more

    Das sieht sehr schön aus! Auch in Minsk gibt es IKEA :-)


    Euch eine gute Nacht in nem richtigen Bett!!

  • Day9

    La ville de Minsk

    June 12, 2019 in Belarus ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    Minsk est à la CEI, ce qu’est la Suisse à l’Europe : un pays propre, avancé, attirant et presque luxueux.

    Toute la journée, visite (organisée) de cette ville sur notre longue route vers Moscou.

    Commençons donc avec un bon repas biélorusse : petite entrée, bortsch (inévitable) et cuisse de poulet avant un dessert local.
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  • Day25


    July 28, 2018 in Belarus ⋅ 🌧 23 °C

    Had two very hectic days as such a dense living city of 12 million.
    Good organisation to get us all off train from 4 dif carriages and out of the station to our waiting bus Hotel location was near the Olympic games area of 1980, meaning that it was a bit out of city.
    We had opted fir a night tour which consisted of a local guide taking us on and off the metro trains to look at several stations. - the decor was mind boggling and when we came out to the top we wandered down a street full of overhead lighting which featured for the World Cup
    This led into Red Square and then we glimpsed the famous St Basil’s Cathedral,,,, so many photos such memories on a warm balmy night
    Next a m we had a drive by tour with important buildings pointed out to us . A memorisable part of being in Moscow was being in Red Square and going inside The Kremlin walls . So very hot and crowded. We have the use of earphones and speaker boxes referred to as Whisperers which allow the guide to speak in A quiet voice and for us not to have to group around
    So much information , such sights - can’t believe I am here
    Liz n I didn’t do a tour on the last day but walked in high humidity in city to have a better look at the Bolshoy theatre and area, being close to 10 trip with a bit of extra exploring and shopping, not much for me, no room in case( damn those unused winter clothes)
    Our last extra tour was to Victory park and an enormous building dedicated to war and the Russians victory. It featured a range of dioramas - quite spectacular to famous Arabat Street for some evening atmosphere. Unfortunately a storm came in which helped cool things down but now I have sodden sandals
    Next stop, across the border to Belarus
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  • Day4

    Den3 Zapas s Kanadou

    May 10, 2014 in Belarus ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

    Sme po ranajkach, skusame zohnat listky na dnes. Drzte vsetci place !!!
    01:00 - uz je vlastne zajtra ;-)
    No a je to za nami. Tak si to skusme zhrnut. Po mensich problemoch ohladom zaciatku prveho zapasu (Rebeka si pamatala zaciatok este zo Slovenska, ale zabudla na casovy posun) a drobnych komplikaciach so stretnutim s Romanom, sme sa nakoniec stali hrdymi majitelmi listkov na vsetky sobotnajsie zapasy v Cizovke (este raz velka vdaka Roman!). Zazitky su super, atmoska bola perfektna. Zapas nasich ... no hned som chcel dat navrh, aby sa uz hralo iba na dve tretiny, ale kedze som ho nemal komu predlozit, hra sa aj nadalej na tri :-( To ze nas tretia tretina stala 3 body asi nikoho z reglementu MS nezaujima. Nas zapas bol okoreneny nasimi miestami vo VIP sektore a tiez tym, ze za nami sedeli Kanadania. Vysledok ... no co uz, musime zabrat v dalsich zapsoch. Tak aspon nejake fotecky este, lebo musim koncit. Este treba trochu dobalit a za 4 hodiny vstavame a caka nas 1.200 km domov. Tak dobru noc!!!Read more

  • Day3

    Den2 Zapas s Cechmi

    May 9, 2014 in Belarus ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Tak si to teda zhrneme ... Po odchode z hotela sme vcera trochu maturovali pri kupe karticiek do metra ale nakoniec po ceste metrom a busom sme uspesne dorazili k Cizovke.
    Na mieste sa nam potom podarilo kupit listky aj na zapas Kanada - Francuzsko (diky Roman!). Jedna bezpecnostna kontrola a boli sme pred halou. Kratke preskumanie okolia a mohli sme sa pred prvym zapasom posilnit. Potom druha bezpecnostna kontrola a boli sme v hale.Nas prvy zapas. Francuzi vyhrali ;-), nasledovala nasa priprava pred halou - este ze my sme tu doma! Bezpecnostna kontrola, zase v hale a isli sme na to!!!

    Krasny zapas s Cechmi, nadherna atmosfera, na konci sportova smola (lepsie povedane typicke ceske stesticko). Trochu smutni, ale odchadzame aspon s bodom. Bielorusi sa nas snazili potesit aspon ohnostrojom ku Dnu pobedy. Cesta na hotel, polnocny drink v hotelovom bare a sup do postele nabrat sily na dalsi den. Stale sme sice bez listkov, ale verime si ;-)
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  • Day3

    Den2 Cesta do Minska

    May 9, 2014 in Belarus ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Podla rychlej kontroly na webe sa na nasom hranicnom prechode caka aktualne priemerne 7 minut (osobne auta) ;-) !!! Tak snad to stihneme vyuzit. Vstaneme, dame sa do poriadku a vyrazame. Ozveme sa ...
    Hranice. Total super rychle tempo na polskych. Na bieloruskych este cakame v rade.
    Captosi docaptosili, sme za hranicou!
    Stojime na cerpacke a upratujeme doklady a papiere. Potom este natankujeme.
    Upratane. Este nenatankovane. Ceresnicka na torte, zistila som prave, ze idem navigovat podla mapy z google maps. To bude zazitok.
    Vlastne 8:07 pre casovy posun +1hod. Sme zas na ceste. Do Minska mame este gps, ale v meste uz navigujem ja!
    Stojime niekde pri lesiku. Tatino cika. Uz len 3hodky, 220km.
    Predbehli nas slovaci. Isli sme okolo ,,zdochnutych'' krav. (opat zdravim Mareka :D)
    Sme v Minsku. Celkovo sme presli 1200km.
    Zaparkovali sme, netusim kde, ale fajn.
    Uz sme ubytovani. Juchuuuu.

    Tak opat moj update po Rebekinom blogovani. Cesta bola fajn, dokonca aj hranice. Tym ze sme isli skoro, sme boli prve auto vo fanusikovskej lajne. Oprasil som rustinu, pokecal s colnikmi, dali sme im vsetky pozadovane doklady, opat vyplnili migracne formulare, ktore som uz predtym posielal elektronicky (asi nedorazili) a v podstate hladko sme presli.
    Za hranicami sme natankovali. Nafta vyjde cca 30 centov za liter. Pred tankovanim som musel najprv do predajne nahlasit, kolko litrov a akeho paliva beriem, zaplatit a az potom to pustili a mohol som natankovat kupene mnozstvo paliva ;-)
    Zbytok cesty po Minsko v pohode. Za hranicami rovne cesty s rychlostou 90 km za hodinu. Takze by stacilo uviazat volat a zapnut tempomat.
    Po jednej drobnej chybe sme v pohode zaparkovali na strazenom parkovisku kusok od nasho hotela. Parkovanie na jeden den by malo vyjst 180.000 bieloruskych rublov (BLR) ... ale kolko to pre jezkove oci vlastne je?!?
    Po prichode do hotela sme za ubytovanie na 2 noci zacvakali 3.600.000 BLR. Hotel je super, prerobeny nejaky stary klastor. Rebeka konstatovala, ze mame byvanie ako na hrade ;-). Vzapati sa stavame milionarmi ... za 300 euri sme ziskali 4.163.700 BLR!
    Napriek Rebekinym protestom sme sa najprv vybalili, ulozili veci a az nasledne vyrazame smer Cizovka arena.
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  • Day4


    November 26, 2014 in Belarus ⋅ ☁️ -5 °C

    Auf die Zugfahrt von Warschau nach Moskau war ich sehr gespannt, da ich nicht genau wusste, was an der Grenze auf mich zukommen würde .

    Als erstes wurde ich von meinem Abteil, welches ich mit einer älteren Dame geteilt habe in ein Einzelabteil umgesiedelt. Vielleicht wollte die Dame alleine sein oder es war bloß Höflichkeit dem reichen Europäer gegenüber.

    Danach kamm die erste Grenzkontrolle (Polen): weder den Schaffner, noch die polnischen Grenzbeamten scheint es zu interessieren, ob man ein gültiges Visum für das Zielland hat...

    Es gibt keinen Duty-Free-Shop zwischen den Grenzübergängen, ich bin schwer enttäuscht.

    Zweite Grenzkontrolle (Belarus): Irgendwo auf einem Feld steigt ein Dutzend and Beamten zu. Es gab auch eine kleine Zollkontrolle und ich sollte meinen Rucksack ausleeren. Beim Anblick des ersten dreckigen Paars Socken, hat mir der Beamte aber sofort geglaubt, dass ich nichts zu verzollen habe.

    An der ersten Station in Belarus stürmen dann unzählige Frauen den Zug und wollen einem nervtötent Pivo, Vodka und Kartoffeln verkaufen.

    Die Nacht habe ich dann eher unruhig geschlafen, da ich jederzeit mit der russischen Grenzkontrolle gerechnet habe, die kam aber nicht.....Sie wurde bereits an der Grenze zu Belarus mit erledigt, das habe ich aber erst am nächsten Morgen bei meiner Ankunft heraus bekommen.

    Langsam aber sicher wird es auch kälter, die Fenster im Zug waren am nächsten Morgen zugefroren und die Landschaft war ebenfalls komplett mit Frost überzogen, Schnee ist aber noch nicht in Sicht.
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  • Day60

    Centraĺny ŭniviersam, Minsk

    July 4, 2014 in Belarus ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Auf dem Heimweg durften wir noch eine alten Kriegsveteranen erleben, der mit seinem Akkordion alte russische Lieder spielte. Nach den Auftritten von einheimischen Künstlern auf den Bühnen entlang der Parade - die sich alle zusammen wie die Auswahl der Ostblock-Stars am Eurovision Song Contest anhörten - ein letztes Highlight eines denkwürdigen Tages.Read more

  • Day59

    Pobeditelei Avenue, Minsk

    July 3, 2014 in Belarus ⋅ 🌙 12 °C

    Jetzt kommt das Kriegsspielzeug. Panzer, Fahrzeuge usw. 200 Meter neben uns wird bei jedem neuen Fahrzeug laut gejubelt und grün-rot-weisse Fahnen geschwenkt. Dort stehen auch die Fernsehkameras.
    Vor uns stehen Fachleute, die jedes Detail der Fahrzeuge kennen. Zumindest klingen ihre Ausführungen sehr fachmännisch.
    Und hinter uns macht sich jemand lustig, es fällt mehrfach der Begriff "Paintball". Insgesamt eine entspannte Stimmung.
    Noch besser wird es, als Traktoren, Bagger und Landwirtschaftsfshrzeuge kommen. Gemeinsam mit den Menschengruppen, die verkleidet und aus allen Teilen von Weissrussland kommen erinnert es jetzt ein bisschen an eine Landwirtschaftsausstellung.
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    ... das wirkt wie aus einem Probaganda Film


You might also know this place by the following names:

Horad Minsk, Minsk City, Мінск, Minsk, Minskas, Минск

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