Belarus Surprises


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January 25th 2015
Published: January 25th 2015
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Belarusian rublesBelarusian rublesBelarusian rubles

Some mighty big numbers!
A new teacher coming to Minsk next school year asked me to talk about some of the surprises we have had here in Minsk.

1. There are many new and modern cars on the streets; not old Russian ones like I imagined. However, we use public transportation to get around the city and find that it is easy to use and mostly reliable.

2. I expected a cabbage-smelling apartment in the soviet style. Instead our apartment is new and has very modern furnishings. It is also upstairs from the high school so our commute is very short. Kevin’s commute was one hour each way last year.

3. We expected that there would be no wine, so therefore we couldn't be disappointed. Wrong. Back home we have grown to love the rich red wines from Washington state. Here they mostly have Maldovan wine, and though it is cheap, it is disappointing. We can't help ourselves trying it, though; expecting to find a good one. The beer is good though.

4. There are many places to shop and you can find almost anything you want or need at the large grocery chains (BIGZ, Corona, Preston). I was pleasantly surprised that many locals still shop at the large fresh food markets. I try to join them most Saturdays to buy local vegetables, cheese, and bread. It is some work to buy local but it is worth it! And I love the experience.

5. Money – It is a little difficult to keep track of the local money. I constantly have trouble getting the correct bills to pay for my items. There are no coins and the 50 blr bill is worth about half a cent, so my wallet is bulging with bills. When we came the US dollar was worth approximately 10,000 Belarusian rubles, so we could just cover up the first four place values and voila, you have the $$ conversion. I would get one million rubles for $100. You feel a little richer. Recently the exchange has plummeted for Belarusians and the dollar is about 15,000 blr. It is a little more difficult to convert now. Cover up those zeros and then think of groups of 15.

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17th February 2015

Wine
Do they have Georgian wine there? It's better.

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