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June 14th 2013
Published: June 21st 2013
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We took an early bus to Geneva, and it was mutually agreed that Luda would stay in Geneva and I’d go to Lausanne where my total stay was a little bit longer than one and a half hour, or two hours at best. I was rather exhausted by this time and did not want more sights, but simply get home and rest a bit. The price of the train ticket was crazy, but it can be afforded once in a year. The bus to Minsk would depart at 16.00 from Geneva Gare Routiere. Luda constantly repeated how much she liked Chamonix and the Evian Water! I am just now thinking that, if there were a couple of thousand spare Euros in my pocket, I’d still be there, climb Mont-Blanc (say, from June 15 to June 19), and then go to Le Bourget Airshow.

Lausanne is situated on the banks of Lake Geneva. I quickly found a tourist information centre at the gare and took two maps, and started right off on an uphill street. The main sights I managed to see were as follows (in the order of appearance): the Railway Station, Hotel des Postes, Church of Saint-François, a panorama over the city, Lausanne Catedral, another (better) panorama over the city, stairs of the Old City, a fountain with a colourful statue, and Palais de Rumine (houses the university library, and a number of cantonal museums). What impressed me most was the Cathedral, naturally, and I also liked the wooden stairs. Well, your time is up!

Having grabbed a sandwich and Coca-Cola, I departed back. Our bus to Minsk was provided by Alsa Eggmann (web search provides little data about them and I see no customer reviews, so maybe my words will be useful for someone, though it is mentioned on the big Eurolines website as the Swiss carrier). Within quite a short period of time we dashed through the whole Switzerland, stopping in Lausanne, Bern, Zurich, Munich, and Prague. I do desire to visit the Czech Republic soon. The main reason for choosing Alsa was the seemingly direct connection between Geneva and Minsk (from Minsk, we’d take an Ecolines bus), and the price of 90 Euros only.

I would advise anyone buying a long trip with this company either to phone them or visit their office near Geneva Gare Routiere in order to ascertain the trip details, because, as regards our route, the ticket simply said Geneva – Minsk (via Warszawa), without the date and time of arrival (I wrote to customer service and they informed me of the planned arrival time to Minsk). Moreover, the ticket said nothing about the change we had to make in some Polish city (I guess, Katowice), and we nearly stayed on the wrong bus… They did not announce anything in English, and my knowledge of spoken Polish is poor. When it was announced for passengers to somewhere to change and those for somewhere not to change, we did not understand, but Luda, the clever girl, suspected it right and said “I told you!” The driver said to us that the other bus would come in thirty minutes. We arrived in Warszawa without trouble. I enjoyed seeing the ‘one-storey’ Poland – there were a lot of settlements along the highway, with mostly one- or two-storey buildings, and it was different from France or Switzerland. It was communicated to us by the only fellow-passenger who was also going to Belarus that the bus Warszawa – Minsk would depart at 22.40, only with an hour’s delay during which the three of us were quite nervous and I wanted to check every arriving bus. Gee, the quantity of Ecolines buses that came and went within a mere half hour (about 6-7, or ten within an hour)! And Wikipedia does not even contain an article about them in English!

June 15

The Zachodnia Station in the Polish Capital, Luda said, reminded her too much of the Soviet era, and indeed I cannot disprove the similarity. The fellow-passenger seemed to raise concerns at the Poland-Belarus border because he was called by the authorities, and, moreover, we spent about 3 hours there! The worst thing about bus trips is lack of sleep, because I, a tall man, can neither lie with my head on the seat not curl up in it!

June 16

We arrived in Minsk completely exhausted and far behind the planned schedule (about 1pm instead of 9am). I booked a single hotel room for Luda’s rest and self wanted to visit Mir Castle, but cancelled my plans for lack of money. The receptionist allowed me to stay with Luda as a guest and we had an excellent lunch at their café. No more Paris prices for us! After that, I walked Prospekt Nezalezhnosti, went to the central bookshop with a good selection of books on languages, bought nothing, and took the bus to the hotel from Nemiga. The ‘adventures’ did not cease, because the bus to St. Petersburg departed with a 40-minutes’ delay, and a drunken young man was refused boarding. His two girl friends were admitted, though, sat right next to us and were either Lesbians or simply caressed each other for I don’t know what reason. I did not sleep the whole night.

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