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Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk April 27th 2019

April 27, 2019 – Vipassana *Spoiler alert If you’re interested in taking a course, you may not want to read about my experience, as it’s different for everyone.* The Location The course was held at Borok, a children’s summer camp about an hour outside of Minsk. It was in a nice location, with a small wooded area that we could walk in during free times. There were several residential buildings on site, but we all stayed in one, with women on the ground floor and men on the floor above. I was in hallway 7, room 3, bed 14. There were 8 beds in the room, and only 6 had numbers, so that seemed ok. The layout of the room was such that the beds were arranged so that there were 4 on each side of ... read more
My spot
Borok Camp
The residence hall

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk April 16th 2019

Tuesday April 16 – Saturday April 27 Today I’m leaving Minsk to attend a 10-day Vipassana meditation course. It is an hour or so outside of Minsk, in a rented children’s camp, and I am getting a ride there with another course participant. They had a board that allowed people to offer and request rides, so I put my name on the list as needing a ride. At first no one was offering, but then I saw someone was, so I contacted him through the Vipassana website. He emailed me his cell phone number and didn’t respond back when I emailed him to let him know I didn’t have a mobile. But my friend Kat sent him a message for me on Friday and found him on facebook, so we were able to correspond and he’s ... read more

Europe » Belarus April 15th 2019

Monday April 15 – The day started with a bit of a lie-in, which was quite nice. I slept from about 11-7:30, so I’m starting to catch up on my sleep. I repacked, used a little internet, and had breakfast in the hotel. It was funny, because I picked the more traditional local breakfast of potato pancakes with bacon, toast, cheese and tea, and was told it would take 20 minutes. I said ok, and then ran upstairs to get my computer, thinking I could be productive while I waited. But when I got back, maybe 5 minutes later, my breakfast was ready. Not sure what that was about, but it tasted good. Back in the room I got everything together and headed down at 9:25 to meet my driver for the day. A friend in ... read more
First view into park
And we're off
Me and my ride

Europe » Belarus » Brest Voblast » Brest April 14th 2019

Sunday April 14 – My alarm went off at 5:30 today and I woke up with a headache. Never good. I ate a few peanuts and took some advil, then started to get everything packed up. I’m not bringing that much, so it all fits in my daypack, but with the water and laptop it’s a little heavy and inconvenient. I checked email and facebook, which was a waste, since the “most recent” feed is coming up random, so I’m not seeing most of what anyone posts now. I don’t even have a reason to use it now if nothing is there. I left at 6:20 and walked to the train station. It took just over 10 minutes and there was hardly anyone on the large, open streets. The city doesn’t have a lot of feeling, ... read more
My fave church
My fave church
Pedestrian street

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk April 13th 2019

Saturday April 13 – This vacation will be similar to others in some ways – new country, new adventures, no idea which shoes to pack – but it will also be something new, as I’m going to attend a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation course which begins on Tuesday evening. This will be new for me in many ways. Today, however, I did my normal thing. Went to bed last night more stressed than I wanted, got me and Jeroen up at 4am so he could take me to the airport for my 6:45am flight. We left 20 minutes later than I’d intended, but somehow we were there nearly when I’d planned, and it didn’t take all that long to get through security though I do still have a knack for picking the slowest lines, whether ... read more
KGB Building
Park
Fast food is everywhere

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk December 2nd 2018

Belarus: the final frontier. The last vestige of the former USSR, the last bastion of Soviet Communism. Located far behind the old Iron Curtain, Alexander Lukashenko has ruled here since 1994, the country known as Europe's last dictatorship. Isolated from the world, Belarus is a place most average people have never heard of and a place seldom in the news. But what kind of place would it be? Exactly the kind of place that fascinates me apparently; exactly the kind of place I had to check out. Belarus is also a final frontier for me. The first time I tried to go there, things went horribly, horribly wrong. About a year later, a second expedition had to be prematurely abandoned. It has been one of the most difficult countries I have tried to get to. Therefore ... read more
Modern Minsk Skyline
Presidential Administrative Building
Holy Spirit Cathedral

Europe » Belarus » Minsk Voblast » Minsk September 24th 2018

We are having a break this rainy Monday, which is appreciated since so many on this tour are sick. The coughing and sneezing and various aches and pains spread quickly through the bus, especially since many do not cover their coughs and sneezes, even though all of us are adults. Our immune systems are getting a strong workout anyway, going from sunshine and 80s/28 (Fahrenheit/Celsius) in Moscow (such a gift this time of year!) to chilly rain and 40s/8 (F/C) in the space of one day. Add in three new countries so far, plus sick people on our bus, and everyone's immunity is quite challenged. I've spent this down time packing, trying to catch up on insidiously, continuously accumulating emails, taking Echinacea root tincture prophylactically, and giving my raincoat and boots a chance to dry out, ... read more

Europe » Belarus » Brest Voblast August 25th 2018

Day 15: I woke at 3am. Creeped past the kids and Yuliya sleeping. Carefully unlocked the door. Sneaked across the lawn, bent over and screamed at the top of my lungs” Get up you tw@t” into the dogs kennel. The dog yelped and ran backwards to the other side of the kennel hitting the wall. “See how you like it you bastard!” I then walked back to the house with a grin of satisfaction on my face. Yuliya is awake by the time I get back and announces she is still drunk from her gin bonanza last night. We all sit down for a cup of coffee. We decide to drag the kids up this year and dress them rather than carry them in the car in their PJ’s. They dress bleary eyed but are excited ... read more
The cockerel dog
#loveBelarus

Europe » Belarus » Brest Voblast August 24th 2018

Day 14: The dawn of the new (and our last) day was heralded by our faithful dog. Does he not realise that most normal animals don’t get up at this hour. I swear that I am going to learn taxidermy before we next come. Bastard thing. Even the cockerel can be heard shouting profanities in its direction. Oh well best make the most of the last day. Yuliya makes coffee and I get up out of bed. I feel really tired but ready for the day ahead. Yuliya changes and departs for her last run of the holiday with both Dasha’s. I get dressed and pack my bags ready for my morning walk. I am determined to get a 15km walk in in my last morning. I set out past the brickworks, over the railway tracks ... read more
Belarusian graffiti
Babushka Zoeya
Grandad Zhora

Europe » Belarus » Brest Voblast August 22nd 2018

Day 12: I wake up without a hangover!!! I feel dreadful. I have the shakes I’m craving any drink immediately. Only joking. I feel great but I am still very tired from the last few days. Yuliya gets up early and makes a brew. She and the two Dasha’s are going for their morning run whilst I decide if I can be arsed to go for a walk. Surely a day off would be a good thing. They return and I have made my mind up to do a short one. Jamie has sprouted a stye on his eye lid and Yuliya asks me to go out to the chemist to get some eye drops. It is a 4km walk into town so I agree not really realising the practicalities of the job at hand. I ... read more
Evening Walk
Sunset
#loveBelarus




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