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Published: October 12th 2019
We get up early and go for a run in the forest. The park isn’t open yet so I have the road to myself (the old man runs separately because apparently I’m too slow) apart from a bus containing Santa and his helpers heading to the grotto to start work. This morning, I actually spot a wild bison, much to my excitement.
It’s 9.30 by the time we go for breakfast. It’s a set menu, including pancakes (obviously) but the man at the next table goes off piste and orders a beer.
We check out and drive south to Brest; first stop Brest Fortress. I love a bit of Soviet sculpture and it doesn’t get much better than here. In 1941, Soviet troops held out against the advancing Germans for a month. As a memorial, you enter the complex through a huge Communist star to view an enormous carved soldier’s head entitled Courage and a sculpture of a soldier trying to collect water from the moat; Thirst.
There are two museums charting the history the war; The Defence of Brest Fortress Museum and the Museum of War, Territory and Peace. These are both quite interesting but again, there
is a lack of English and an excess of scary lady attendants. The only English is a summary of the room’s contents on a sign in each doorway. In order to read it, you must stand in the doorway, thus blocking entry/exit to the room and suffering the wrath of the scary ladies.
We continue to our hotel – Vesta. The room is enormous; it has a separate living room and 2 bathrooms. It’s a warm day and I try in vain to find a shop selling cold drinks. Here, one does not waste precious fridge space on water or coke. Fridges are purely for beer and vodka. According to Google, Belarus has the highest per capita alcohol consumption in the world.
In the evening we walk along Gogol Street (Gogol was a writer and the street in lined with sculptures based on his characters) to the pedestrian Sovetskaya Street. We are heading for a restaurant recommended on Trip Advisor. Unfortunately, we stop one door too soon and accidentally end up in a pizzeria with no English menu. We opt for the Belarusian pizza, with no idea what this entails. It turns out to be a pizza base,
topped with tomato, cheese and ham topped with another pizza base. Who would do such a thing? After a veritable bread overdose, washed down with beer, of course, we take a walk to the river.
En route we encounter the lamplighter lighting the street’s gas lamps. It’s quite an attraction; a large group follows him from lamp to lamp and even wait outside the bar when he stops for a cheeky drink. On the way back, we spot him again, relighting the many lamps which have gone out.
Back at the hotel, we spend the rest of the evening listening (involuntarily) to a very loud Belarusian folk concert taking place next door. Every time the music stops, we hope it’s over but it’s just a cigarette break. Belarus has the 3rd highest consumption of cigarettes in the world.
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