|ABOUT THIS TRAVEL
5 days - march 2005
alone in a wholly independent travel
25th- 29th march 2005 (5 days)
How I moved:
by train, bus and minibus (marshrutmyy).
in expensive and crappy hotels
What I liked:
the colourfull houses spread in the countryside, the safety
while travelling and not to be hassled by any policemen despite
the amazing amount
What I disliked:
as first the food (sorry, but it really sucks), then the ratio
quality/cost of the accomodations is the worst I've ever experienced,
the sadness due to the worring level of alcholism and the last
but not the least that asshole of Lukashenko
accomodations are a cost expecially if alone: the cheapest hotels
range 20- 45$. Eating at the restaurant 4-12$. Moving around
is affordable ( bus Njasvizh- Grodno (250 km), 7$). Visa
190$ (60$ (invitation, bought in internet)+ 130$ (visa in Warsaw
in 7h without the original voucher)). At the end travelling
in Belarus turns out quite expensive: 50$/day
Weather for me was nice:
the snow covered a lot of
areas and temp +2C. But the last day I was there it lifted up
not so many, maybe the main one ares by drunks loitering around.
a deep curiosity for the past and the present of Belarus and
its culture. Don't expect the highlights themselves, the few
that there are, could be enough to pay the travel off
It's difficult to give impressions about Belarus.
From a certain point of view travelling here it's nice: no hassle
with the policemen and it's quite safe, but on the opposite
the landscape is monotonous and there're not highlights enough
to justify the trip. In addition the food doesn't help, since
it really sucks, but what can push you there is the possibility
of a off-of-the-beaten-track travel in a country almost under
a dictator that today turns out the most isolated in Europe.
This situation creates a particular atmospere definitely interesting
to be lived.
It's several years that I'm curious about Belarus, a country that
15 years ago was the industrial pivot of the whole western URSS and now it's sounds so
anonymous. Living in Poland is a good chance to drop by there for a short travel that why
now I didn't miss the chance.
From Wroclaw (where I live in Poland) I got to Warsaw where I
applied for the visa. The same evening I got on the train for the 10 hours trip to Minsk.
The train was a typical russian one: light blu vagons with dusty white curtains and
plastic flowers hang along the corridor.
At the border it took two hours but without particolar
problems, but then the train stopped more then two hours for somthing that to me was more
then a surprise: the change of the wheels for the whole train due to the larger gauge of
the russian railway system (read the story).
On the train I knew two english guys who had a friend in Minsk who let me know another
friend of him who invited me home. Obviously I accepted and I spent the morning in this
flat in the outskirt of Minsk with his whole family. After so may hours on the train I was
so tired and hungry; they prepared me a typical belarusian breakfast and then helped me
finding a place where to spent the night.
Finally I went to the hotel of the institute, a crappy
expensive place without even any possibility to have a shower (20$). I visited the soviet
and serious Minsk, but the situation got quite animated when a protest against Lukashenko
rose. There were hundreds and hundreds of militaries disposed along the streets forming a
long barrier, while others where pushing away the group of protestants.
The day after I reached Njasvizh in two hours on a crowded but folcloristic
train and half hour packed on supercrowded bus. Frankly the town turned out not so
interesting and I regreted not having spent more time in Mir when later I passed by it
giving just a quick look.
By bus I got to Grodna (Njasvizh- Grodna 6.5h, 7$) where I spent one
full day. Grodna definitely is the cutest city I saw in Belrus, but don't expect nothing
special, it's just worth hanging around for a day. Then in four hours by a superfast
minibus I got to Brest, the more westernised town in Belarus, where I even found a
pizzeria, that, after having eaten shit for 5 days, was a great joy.
In Brest the WWII memorial is really breathtaking and I would say it's the
main highlight I saw in the trip.
The next day I got on the Moscow- Brussel a deluxe train who brought me back