Blogs from Belarus, Europe - page 4

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Europe » Belarus » Hrodna Voblast » Hrodna November 3rd 2008

Come to Belarus! Part of the axis of evil? The Last Dictatorship in Europe?? The Only Surviving Remnant of the Soviet Union???" "Where?" Indeed, when I first heard that to reach Europe from Russia, I would have to get a transit visa through a country called Belarus, quickly I decided that A; Because I had never heard of the place, it would make more sense to divert north from Moscow to St Petersburg and come out by the Baltic sea, and explore Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania instead, countries which had at least, had something enough to put them on the map, and B: that because I was already paying out hundreds in Visa costs already, I might as well save myself the money and skip this country. As it happened, after Russia, I felt something ... read more
Colourful Soviet Blocks
Thirsty 2
First night out in Minsk

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk September 21st 2008

So here we are. Minsk. Who would have thought a place with such an amusing name could be so grey. And that goes for the people as well as the weather. We have arrived safely, if a little tired and dizzy spending 21hours cramped into a tiny cabin with the bag lady from Moscow taking up all available space and not a soul speaking English - which would have been ok if we weren't glared at by every person in the carriage every time we walked anywhere - or anyone walked passed us (aparently a glare is the same as "please excuse me I'm coming though" over here!) Not that we're bitter - we decided on this trip and the route and I'm sure the building of character will do us wonders when we encounter downright ... read more
Amsterdam
Amsterdam Nemo
Leaving Cologne

Europe » Belarus » Brest Voblast » Brest September 12th 2008

Regular readers will already be aware of the childish undercurrent to my sense of humour, so when the opportunity arose to explore a bit of Brest I was not going to turn it down. We did not want to milk it though, so we stayed in the small south western border town for just 20 hours. We had enjoyed a first class four hour journey from Minsk. It only cost 11 pounds but we didn't get any food. We did, however, enjoy the screening of 101 Dalmatians in Russian. Fortunately it's not a deep film so we could work out what was going on, although it was a little strange watching Mark Williams and Hugh Laurie frolicking around and being heavily dubbed. On arrival we found our way through the tree-lined streets to our hotel past ... read more
Brest stadium
Brest stadium
Brest stadium

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk September 10th 2008

Arriving in Minsk on a warm Monday afternoon, I half-expected the place to be set in black and white like an old war film. I expected serious, moustachioed men in beige trenchcoats and sunglasses to exchange briefcases in dark alleyways, stopping only to utter something like "Red Fox, November in Sevastopol is always clement" before scurrying off. For Belarus is technically a dictatorship, run by controversial president Aleksander Lukashenko, who encourages homophobia, xenaphobia, and has gotten away with tweaking the constitution to ensure he has stayed in power for 14 years. The KGB is still in operation out of a massive, grand yellow monstrosity in Independence Prospect (the main street) and it is one of only two remaining countries in Europe where UK citizens require a visa to enter or travel through (the other being Russia). ... read more
Room with a view
Island of Tears
Riverside view

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk August 15th 2008

Again we must begin with apologies to our regular readers for the lateness of todays entry. We have made it to the Crimea, but the lack of internet facilities in the resort town of Yalta is quite astounding...more on this southern tip of the Ukraine at a later date though, as we must fill you in on one of the most interesting places we have visited thus far... Minsk, Belarus All the guidebooks (including the one that was unfortunately stolen from us) have 'warned' that Belarus, and especially its capital, is like a soviet time-warp. We can but confirm that philosophy. However, it was not so difficult to enter as the books made out, in fact the passport officers at the Lithuanian border were positively intrigued by our wish to enter and the sight of a ... read more

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Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk June 4th 2008

I'm listing this as Belarus since I'll have plenty of time to list for Poland again since today is my first day of that two week vacation. Our trip was fantastic. It started out in Krakow with some typical large group drama. We had about a million walking tours and went to Aushwitz as well. After 3 days there we flew back to Warszawa to take another flight to Minsk. Both the Minsk airport and Krakow airport are tiny. Warszawa airport, on the other hand, has undergone serious renovations and the security there now rivals that of the US. What insanity we went through. Okay, so onto Minsk. We spent the night there in simple insanity. Everyone was beyond tired and tensions were high. I started to wonder if we would be able to come together ... read more
The Airport Again.
Part of the group.
The View.

Europe » Belarus April 22nd 2008

BELARUS On arriving in Minsk I was pleasantly surprised by the modern central station. It had all the facilities one could ask for. I sat with my backpack in the main concourse. It was 8:10 a.m. on a sunny August morning. Studying the map of the downtown area in my guidebook, marking places of importance. I would shack-up at the Hotel Jubileynaya. Reservations had been made. The station was busy, people on the move, others waiting patiently for their train. Arrival passengers been greeted by loved ones. I glanced at the vast timetable, destinations in Cyrillic: St. Petersburg, Brest, Moscow, Odessa, Kiev. I was in no hurry. An hour had passed. An automatic teller machine near-by did not get a single customer. I wondered how many locals had bank accounts. Unsure the value of the Belarus ... read more

Europe » Belarus January 10th 2008

I'm now in Moscow safe and sound. I enjoyed the train journey and would certainly recommend it. Talk about it being a small world. The first time I spoke to travellers was in Cologne station. They were waiting for the same train as me as they are doing a similar route. The Irish guy asked me where I was from so I told him Carlisle, expecting him to have never heard of it, but it turned out the girl he was with is from Carlisle. Bizarre. The standards went down somewhat when I got to Warsaw. The East station I had to leave from was a proper shithole with no signs and nobody seemed to know what train was the one to Moscow. The journey from Warsaw into Belarus was one of the most bizarre experiences ... read more
The St Pancras roof
T-Punkt, mental
Train from Cologne

Europe » Belarus July 27th 2007

Day of arrival - if not without problems. It's the classical situation, almost ripe for a movie...you're almost there, but yet so far...anyways, let's start from the beginning. Waking up a last time, we go through the usual ritual: I make coffee, Hans takes down the tent, we have some breakfast, then get on our way. The road is good, but my rear tyre has lost pressure once again overnight and needs to be pumped up again. Not a good sign, but we're only about 50km from Lepel, surely it will last at least until we're there! Also, we're running pretty low on water, but we'll definitely find a shop sometime soon. With the type of road condition we're on right now, we'll be in Lepel in a few hours. Spoke too soon: soon, we arrive ... read more
Finally!
First things first
Let's give them a proper welcome!

Europe » Belarus July 26th 2007

I wake up around 9 and the rain has finally stopped - no excuse to stay in bed any longer! Time to get up, make some coffee - and it starts raining again, fortunately before we start taking down the tent. So: back inside, play a round of cards, then another and another and another... As predicted by Hans' rule of thumb, the weather changes at 11 and we can take down the tent and get on the way. But the legs are tired (mine at least), the first 30kms a real torture. Around noon, we find a small shop and manage to get some bread, cheese and sausage - and Борщ, the Russian beetroot-stew, in a glass jar. At the next opportunity, we take a break at one of these great wooden huts by the ... read more
The red stew of life!
The way ahead...
Going East




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