Blogs from Minsk Voblast, Belarus, Europe - page 6


Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk September 6th 2010

"You know, some tourists come to Minsk because it's supposed to be the most 'Soviet' city. Can you believe that?" - Natalia, a Belarusian "(mumble)" - me So, this place is supposed to be "Soviet"? Let's see.... Hammers and sickles, stars, and other Soviet emblems still prominently and non-ironically displayed? Check. Minsk's relationship with Lenin is complicated. Плошча Леніна/Площадь Ленина (Lenin Square) was renamed Плошча Незалежнасці/Площадь Независимости (Independence Square), and for a while its associated subway station was also ostensibly renamed to Independence Square, except no one ever changed the signage on the subway. Residents of Minsk protested the confusion and demanded that the signage be updated. Instead, it was decided to rename the subway station back to Lenin Square,... read more
Smiling Belarusian
KGB Building

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk September 4th 2010

Oh, Belarus. Are you as difficult and strange as you seem, or am I sabotaging myself with my own paranoia? The first noteworthy thing I learn about Belarus is that more people speak English here than in Kaliningrad. As in, I met two. The uniformed дзяўчына (girl; she was quite young) at passport control cheerfully helps me fill out my migration card, and I'm admitted into Belarus with pretty much no fuss at all. Nice. I had arranged to stay with a private apartment-rental service in the city, rather than a hotel, and they'd efficiently processed my visa invitation as well. So far so good. Until... a few days ago I got an email that the current occupant of the "luxury" apartment I'd reserved back in May wanted to stay an extra night, so they were ... read more
Apartment #1
How do you say "nemesis" in Polish?
Use the extender

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk July 8th 2010

The land that perestroika forgot. While some of its neighbours are now fully fledged EU members Belarus (classified by the US as an outpost of Tyranny) is firmly clinging to its past. The last remaining European communist dictatorship, current president Lukashenko has been in power since 1994. The economy is one of the most restricted in the world with controls on prices and wages. To top things off the state security committee has kept the Russian name KGB. Throw in the hurdles to get a visa why on Earth would you not want to visit?... I had planned to get a transit visa before I left Ireland which would have given me 2 days in the country. It’s pretty expensive and there’s not a huge amount to see so I figured it’d be enough. Unfortunately I ... read more
University Building
Metro mural

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk June 25th 2009

Now I have the time to write a little about Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Several months ago I started learning the Byelorussian language, and now stopped for a while. I have been to Minsk twice, first in June 2009, and then in November 2009. I like this city very much and it is perhaps in my top five of the cities I have seen. My general impression from staying there is a feeling of complete comfort, and it is difficult to explain this. It is not too huge, and it has many wide streets and green areas which make the city look spacious. Its centre is very harmonic, to my mind. I have in mind to go to Belarus for several weeks sooner or later and visit its major attractions, because the country is perhaps ... read more
Privokzalnaya Square
Saint Peter and Paul Church
Shopping Mall Nemiga

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk May 9th 2009

May 8, 2009 Flight: Kaliningrad (KGD) to Riga (RIX), Air Baltic, F50, economy Flight: Riga (RIX) to Minsk (MSQ), Air Baltic, F50, economy Hotel: Hotel Yubileiny, Minsk, $67 I boarded the airBaltic Fokker 50 flight to Riga, the flight was about an hour and otherwise uneventful. By the time the flight arrived in Riga, I was starving and hoped I could find a restaurant. However the next flight to Minsk left from the gate right next to where we arrived.. it was a sterile area but no restaurants, just a vending machine that luckily took a 2E coin for a candybar. I had a 2hr wait before the flight to Minsk.. with nothing else to do there but sit I was able to recharge my phone and laptop. Soon it was time to board the flight ... read more
Victory day parade
Victory day parade
Victory day parade

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 Nemo
Leaving Cologne

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 31st 2008

Geo: 53.9678, 27.5766We spent two days in Moscow visiting most of the main sites. Our first stop was the Metro. We were taken through some of the more picturesque stations, particularly from the Soviet era. For Fletc\her and I this was old territory as in 1980 we travelled extensively on the Metro and had seen most of these stations. However ,it was interesting to see that not a lot had changed. Our first stop was the Kremlin. The entrance was much as I remembered it but there was now a modern ticket booth there. We were taken in and shown through the main buildings. The Palace of Congress is now used mainly as a concert hall as the Parliament building is now outside the Kremlin walls. We walked to Cathedral Square where the orthodox cathedrals are ... read more
GUM Dept store
In the Metro
Red Square and the Kremlin

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

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.

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