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wiz0rd May 1st, 2007 10:02 AM

Anyone ever been to Minsk, Belarus?
How is it? Share some personal experiences.

traveller1959 May 1st, 2007 12:46 PM

It is a typical Soviet city. It has a grand "prospect" (boulevard), some Stalinist buildings and a small and quite charming old town.

Not much of tourist infrastructure (hotels, restaurants).

I spent 5 days in Minsk and can't remember too much of the city (not many things really memorable). We had one evening in the opera, and that was really great. I was with my interpreter on the market and bought wonderful caviar for nothing (8 dollars for 100g of beluga).

One evening, we had dinner in a Russian restaurant. I remember that the price of the menu was 1 dollar per person.

jill_h May 1st, 2007 04:53 PM

i believe Phoebe's boyfriend, David (friends episode from years ago!)

traveller1959 May 2nd, 2007 05:21 AM

Some more experiences from Minsk:

- Extremely tough passport controls and customs. You have to declare all your money. Be prepared to corrupt the officers. Do not try to smuggle something.

- Caviar: You are allowed to take 100g caviar from Belarus. Directly after customs, the customs officers will sell you more. While I paid 8 dollars on the market, the officers charged 20. Still a great bargain, and good quality.

- Cold. I was there in November,and we had -22Celsius.

- Caution. Do not talk about politics in public. In private, everybody is critical about the government and Lukaschenko.

- A student wanted to come to Germany to write her dissertation. Why she did not write it in Belorus? "With a dissertation about market economy I will make no career but land in jail."

- People are extremely poor. Those who have a piece of land on the countryside are lucky, because they can sell produce on the streets. On the other side, billionaires with bodyguards and everything.

- Police is stopping cars at random, charging money for nothing. Each family is happy to have either a policeman or a customs officer in the family - they bring extra income.

- Vodka: 50g for breakfast, 100g for lunch, 500g for dinner. Go regularly to the toilet and throw up to survive.

- Water: So salty that it created an urge to vomit. But it compensates the vodka.

- Hygienics: After one member of our party has visited the kitchen he stopped eating completely.

- Food: Typical Russian fare: First course, cold vegetables and salad. Second course, cabbage soup. Third course, pork with fried potatoes and cold peas. Every day the same, except that the cabbage in the soup is either white or red (then they call it bortscht).

kleeblatt May 2nd, 2007 06:13 AM

What a description. Minsk sounds like the perfect place for a reality show. Which candidate will come out of Belarus healthy and happy?

Stormin280 May 5th, 2007 03:33 AM

Be as my wife (a native Soviet Citizen) says very careful. I can't publish what my In-Laws say.
It is typical Soviet era, nothing very memorable.

Cimbrone May 5th, 2007 03:40 AM

Sounds dreadful. Add to that the fact that Belarus bore the brunt of the Chernobyl cloud. Thank God Grandpa left when he did!

Jean May 5th, 2007 09:12 AM

Friends of ours from Minsk emigrated to Canada about 10 years ago and never looked back. They hold absolutely no nostalgia for their home country and have no desire to return for any reason.

wiz0rd May 21st, 2007 03:12 PM

wow that is crazy.

but i have to go, it is the birth place of my parents and i have family there that i've never met before.

i was thinking 2 weeks, but now considering shortening it to 1 week.

linjudy Jun 4th, 2007 08:57 AM

We just came back from one week in Minsk to attend a relative's wedding (he married a girl from Belarus).

First, everyone we met at the wedding was wonderful. Warm, generous, hospitible, very fun loving. The wedding lasted all day and was extremely fun with lots of dancing, singing, vodka and tasty food. They were really happy that we showed "respect" by coming for the wedding, and treated us like royalty. So, if you have even very distant family there, you should absolutely go. You will have a wonderful time.

Now, just as an ordinary tourist, I would say there's no reason to go. There's really nothing to do or to see. Most of the older structures were destroyed during various wars. Minsk has a fair number of restaurants and shops, but nothing to write home about. We spent 4 days in Volkivyst (4 hrs from Minsk), and this suburb had 1 hotel and no restaurants. People simply don't eat out. You can't get a cup of coffee anywhere.

Other things of note:

* As mentioned, long line for passport control. You have to buy mandatory medical insurance upon landing. This costs $1 per person per day. They take dollars and euros, so make sure you've got that. The custom officer seemed only interested in whether we brought any alcohol. So don't bring any.

* Food is bad (except for the wedding food which was very). It is exactly as described: cabbage soup (pretty tasty), fried pork with potatos (one meal of this is enough). This is served nearly at every meal.

* Wine is very bad, nearly undrinkable. I don't usually drink hard liquor but switched to vodka at all the social events.

* Don't drink mineral water. It is VERY salty. Instead, drink Evian or the local soda. The clear ones flavored with fruit is nice.

* No one speaks any English. You'd be pretty lost without an interpretor.

* Anything official takes a long time. We waited over an hour to exchange traveller's checks. ATM works better. It took an hour to pay the hotel bill.

* I didn't think people seemed particularly poor. It was kind of middle class, though probably trails most European/Asian cities by 30 years. Except for the fashion, which was pretty out there.

* Very few stores accept credit card, even if they have the Visa or Mastercard logo. We even had trouble at the hotel. It's ok, as there's really nothing worth buying.

* Most importantly: no one has a hot water heater. The hot water is provided by the government and comes through the pipes at certain hours (I think 7AM-midnight). However, in the summer, this will be turned off for 2 weeks at a time on a rotating basis. We nearly had this happen to us in Volkavyst but somehow someone convinced someone else to turn it on. So, unless you don't mind cold showers, find out the hot water outage schedule before you go!

Feel free to email me if you have other questions.

Libby123 Jun 11th, 2007 03:26 PM

Hi, Since a couple of you have mentioned having family in Minsk, I have a question for you. My grandparents immigrated from a village called Rybitvi-Nove. I think it is near Bobrovniki which is near Minsk. Has anyone ever heard of either of these? Any info. you have is appreciated.

kleeblatt Jun 11th, 2007 11:26 PM

Hi Linjudy:

Great info. Thanks for sharing.

guiseppe Aug 20th, 2009 07:35 AM

I'm italian and i want to say that
i'm in love with Belarus and especially Minsk. I've
found your forum, read some posts and i should say that i
completely disagree with some statements. May be Minsk is a bit
"soviet city", but since my first trip (2005) it'has changed dramatically.
It is a wonderful place to spend a holiday for a man without relationship.
I don't know may be women can find something interesting for them as well(like very cheap but high-quality local clothes or cosmetics)))...
It's a paradise for a single man. I don't promote this side of travelling, i just tellyou what i know for sure. Belarusian girls are the best girls in the world. They're kind,very-very beautiful, smart and approachable(in the sense like communicating with foreigner gentlemen). There is a little problem with English, though many people speak it. Restaurants are very cheap if to compare to italian ones, but some restaurants are really very decent, even chic ( i personnaly like Renaissance, bella Rossa, Falcone)

Hotels are expensive, but there is an alternative to rent an apartment, which is cheaper.
In a word, there's no better place for me on Earth!))))
If it's your first trip to Minsk, i can recomend to afford a guide, that's not that expensive, but will help you avoid many troubles.
If you've got any questions, you can contact me. My skype is nonenone335. I'll be really glad to tell
you more about my favourite travelling destination.

P.S. Just in case. I'm planning to stay in Minsk from 29 August to 12 September. If there is somebody willing, you can join me, or we just can meet for a beer :-)That wiil be my 5th time in Minsk, and i just can't wait anymore.

And the last thing. My last trip was organised by (airport transfer, apartment booking, guiding etc), i was totally satisfied with their service. So if you want to, you can try them.
Good Luck!

traveller1959 Aug 20th, 2009 02:14 PM

>>>It is a wonderful place to spend a holiday for a man without relationship. <<<

>>>Belarusian girls are the best girls in the world.<<<

Absolutely right. A very high-ranking official of Belarussian goverment welcomed me at the airport. With his Lada (imagine a FIAT built in 1973) he drove me into downtown Minsk.

On the way, he taught me some Russian. The most important word was "lovely girl" in Russian. I told him that I was married. He replied "I am married to the mother of my children".

Then he led me to Minsk's department store (imagine Woolworth in 1955). He introduced me to a certain salesgirl (I admit, a very beautiful girl - as all girls in Belarus) and whispered to me to practice my learnt Russian for "lovely girl".

You may continue the story by yourself...

I only say that I did not get photographed in my hotel room in a compromising situation (which obviously was the intention of the whole thing).

But, again, the Belarussian girls are beautiful. Really. And EVERY girl. Really. In winter, they wear fur coats. Real fur. EVERY girl.

Cimbrone Aug 21st, 2009 06:19 AM

Really,traveller1959? That's an intereting story. I don't doubt it's true, but I'm curious as to why they would have wanted to photograph you in particular in a compromising situation.

traveller1959 Aug 21st, 2009 08:48 AM

I do not know if they really wanted to photograph me but I have heard from others (who accepted the generous offer) that they did and blackmailed them (it IS a special country).

Maybe they just wanted to make a little money for this kind of "service"...

Dayenu Mar 4th, 2010 02:31 PM

I didn't see this thread... we left Belarus in 1989, 20 years ago, and from what I'm reading here, it seems nothing has changed.

I only have to correct Traveller: cabbage soup is white, added beet roots color it red, this is why it's bortshch - slightly different dish.

daniel333 Sep 8th, 2010 09:42 AM

i have a question about Belarussian girls,who visited or live there please answer my question?
ofcoures Belarussian girls are sexy and pretty but the notice is,
do they have sex before marriage?
virginity is not important?
i don't mean salesgirls my question is about all society.

Dayenu Sep 8th, 2010 09:53 AM

do they have sex before marriage?
virginity is not important?

Starting probably from 1960s the answer to your questions would be yes and yes - and I'm speaking from my classmates experiences (if you mean Belarussian girls by nationality, not everyone who happens to live there)

daniel333 Sep 8th, 2010 07:25 PM

I mean Belarussian girls who live in Belarus,if the virginity is not important in Belarus,
Do Belarussian men married to none virgin girl?

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