Belarus – the forgotten tourist destination
Watching the titled programs about travel, a man begins to count the days until vacation, dreaming of conquering new corners of planet Earth. The most popular destination is Turkey. However, sometimes it is necessary to deviate from the beaten path and consider non-standard options. We are not talking about eating insects in exotic countries or dancing with a strange African tribe. The article offers a dip into a country near abroad: Belarus.
1. How to get there?
– Airplane. – Train. – By car.
A person chooses the transport according to his financial possibilities, phobias or makes an emphasis on the time spent. In general, the fastest way to get to Belarus is by plane, but the price policy of airlines is high. There are two airports in Belarus: Brest and Minsk. As for the train, due to the cancellation of the railroad through Ukraine departure is possible only through Moscow. It is necessary to take this information into account when departing from another city.
1. How to get there?
The most convenient way is by car. But you can not ignore the point of departure. Perhaps the distance will be too long, and there will be no point in such a trip. However, departing, for example, from Rostov-on-Don, where the minimum distance is 1800.4 km, which is about 22 hours and 29 minutes, the route can be laid through cities such as Orel, Belgorod or Smolensk. Thus, on the way have time to get acquainted with the historical spirit of the Russian streets.
2. Choice of city.
Most choose the capital – Minsk, but in Belarus there are other interesting cities with their own history. One of them is Brest. Its calling card is the Brest Fortress. This place is steeped in heroism. The fortifications that came under fire remind us about the war days. – Monument “Thirst”, which does not let the current generation to forget the price of victory in the Great Patriotic War. – Monument “Courage” – a warrior with a banner, which is the main composition of the Brest Fortress. – Sound design, penetrating to goosebumps.
2. Choice of town.
In addition to the fortress, there is a street worthy of attention in the city: Sovetskaya Street. This is the local Arbat, where only walking is possible. There are cafes and stores on it. But the peculiarity is that in the evening there comes a lanternman who lights the lanterns, as it was customary back in the 16th century. Another location worth visiting is “Belovezhskaya Pushcha”. The distance from Brest to the national park is 58.4 kilometers, which is about 54 minutes by car. In the park is equipped with recreational areas for picnics, and there is an opportunity to rent a bicycle. Be sure to bring mosquito repellent.
3. nuances of visiting the country in 2021.
In connection with the pandemic, it is necessary to remember that from the day of arrival in Belarus you will have to observe isolation for 14 calendar days. And upon returning to Russia by any mode of transport, it is necessary to: – fill in the form “Registration of those arriving to the Russian Federation” at www.gosuslugi.ru; – take a PCR test (not later than 3 calendar days); – stay in self-isolation at the place of residence (stay) until receiving the results; – if a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19 within 6 months, or has suffered the disease, it is not necessary to take a PCR test.
3. the nuances of visiting the country in 2021.
Plunged into the familiar leitmotifs of the Belarusian streets, parks and squares, one lifts the veil to the world of new emotions. And old buildings open up in a completely different light. And such nuances as choice of transport, finances and tests pass into the background, leaving the opportunity to enjoy the seen beauties.
Rest in Belorussia 2022 -11 reasons to go and what to see
Why and how to make a tour insurance online, I have already told in this article.
Everyone speaks Russian in Belarus.
The Russian language is spoken in Belarus. In my opinion, it is even better than the Belarusian language.
All locals speak Russian and most of them even without an accent, so you won’t have any problems finding a common language with the natives here.
Signs, menus in restaurants, television – all in Russian, at least duplicated. So, for those who are difficult to learn a foreign language, there are no problems with the language barrier in Belarus. But there are peculiarities, too. What are they? Well, as for example in this funny video, advertising language courses of the Belarusian language with Sherlock Holmes in the “leading role”.
Well, the grammar-nazi here you can go crazy with such an abundance of “mistakes” in our Russian words, especially at first.
All these “Chugunachnye vakzaly”, “Kamsamolskaya”, “Byarozavy sok”, etc., etc. at first they strongly attract attention … How you hear and write it – that’s the main rule of the Belarusian language.
Which is certainly convenient, but hardly familiar to the Russian eye.
It is easy and inexpensive to get to Belorussia
Tourists from the European part of Russia go to Belarus with their cars, but it is worth remembering that transport system in the country is well developed and, if you want, you can go to Belarus by train or by plane.
Moscow – Belarus by Car
It’s very easy to get from central Russia to Belorussia by car – 700 km are quite manageable by an ordinary car. The roads are excellent, beautiful scenery, if you have the opportunity and desire, why not take a ride?
Trip will take about 9-10 hours. On the map below there are different automobile routes from Moscow to Minsk.
To Belarus by train
From the Byelorussian Station in Moscow you can go to … in Belarus. Minsk, Brest, Mogilev, Vitebsk … almost any city in the country, large and small can be reached by train.
Tickets cost from 3.4 thousand rubles in the coach, travel time is about 9 hours.
As an alternative – you can also go to Minsk by BlaBlaCar – there are enough offers in this direction. The trip costs from 1 thousand rubles per person.
In Belarus by plane
But the fastest way to Belarus is by plane. You get 15 direct flights from Moscow to Minsk every day, a little over an hour in the sky and here you are on the Belarusian soil.
The flight there and back from Moscow costs about RUB 5,000 per person. It’s even cheaper than the train.
One way I flew to Minsk from Moscow by Aeroflot, the other way from Minsk to St. Petersburg by Belavia, a Belarusian airline (those are the same planes with cornflowers).
What was surprising, even on this short flight, was the provision of food on board. It would seem that someone takes a bus from home to work, but no one even thinks
At the Minsk airport, to avoid waiting for a cab after long flights with change-overs, I ordered a transfer from the airport via Qiwi-taxi.
Immediately upon arrival a driver was waiting for us and drove us to the right address. The cost is comparable with the local bambilians, but you do not have to deal with currency exchange on arrival or look for a driver at the airport (which is always more expensive in any city in the world). A driver from Kivitaxi will find you there and escort you to the car, and he will also help you carry the bags.
Architecture in Minsk: Back to USSR and futurism
The main thing they talk about when they talk about recreation in Belarus is that it’s a country preserve of the Soviet Union. Stalin era houses are interspersed with futuristic buildings, where sometimes you feel as if you are not in Minsk at all, but in Singapore,
The apotheosis of futurism in Minsk is the famous National Library of Belarus, a glass building in the form of a diamond, which was built in 2002. The building is one of the symbols of the city – the image of the library can be found on magnets, postcards and other souvenirs.
For me, the library building was the first in the list of attractions of Minsk, from which I began to look at the city.
Besides the fact that this library building is interesting from the outside, so even inside you can take a tour and even ascend to the observation deck to the level of a 23-storey building.
And next to the library is a small and cozy park, where, as elsewhere in Minsk -0 clean, quiet and not crowded. Indeed, as if in Singapore!
For those who are nostalgic of the Soviet Union or for those who are familiar with the Soviet times only through films and books it will be very interesting to plunge into the era of stagnation with its pros and cons, with reservations, of course. (There were no casinos in the Soviet Union, for example, or maybe I do not remember them.)
The iconic building and perhaps the most famous architectural landmark of the Soviet era and another symbol of Minsk can be safely called – “Gates of Minsk. Two symmetrical towers in the Stalin Empire style – with towers and statues of worker, collective farmer, engineer and soldier, the left tower is decorated by a German clock 3.5 meters in diameter.
These towers are located on Privokzalnaya square directly opposite the railway station, and are especially good in the evening with lighting.
But in general the general spirit of the Soviet Union has remained in Belarus – the same Stalinist buildings in the center of Minsk, reporting about the success of agriculture on television and even in the stores with products “those from childhood” about which people are nostalgic and repost memes with photos in “classmates”.
Rest in sanatoriums of Belarus
Health resorts in Belarus is another side especially for people like me “exhausted from the narzanom,” in need of peace, solitude and comfort. You understand, birds are singing and flowers are blooming. For this reason I started my vacation exactly in the sanatorium district of Minsk – in Zhdanovichi. The long way is always rather tiresome, and the resorts in Belarus are quite numerous and are situated around the largest cities of the country, you have no time to choose .
If you want you can come to health resorts in Belarus by voucher, where everything is already planned and there is no need to bother with transfers, hotel reservations, besides, it is even more profitable than to organize yourself a spa vacation in Belarus.
Of course, if you buy a trip to my favorite Level-travel 8).
Belarus – the country of 11 thousand lakes
Belarus is a blue country with 11 thousand lakes, big and small: 10% of the country is water!
Most of the lakes are situated in the north and north-west. It is here that all lovers of outdoor recreation should head.
To look at the lakes is a good incentive to visit different regions of Belarus, not only Minsk.
Well, practically near each lake are those resorts, where nature itself treats, as they say in such cases.
Let me list the largest and most famous lakes in Belarus and where they are located:
- The largest natural body of water in Belarus is Lake Naroch (about 70 square kilometers). Lake Naroch is located in the Minsk region, Myadel district. It is also the most famous lake in Belarus and on its shores there are many sanatoriums, tourist centers and even the famous children’s recreation center “Zubrenok”.
- There are 50 lakes in the Braslav district of Vitebsk region. The most popular lake in Belarus among vacationers is the lake Drivyaty which combines the waters of almost all the lakes of the Braslav group.
- The Pearl necklace, which stretches for 18 km around Ostrovetchina, is 14 Sarochanskie lakes.
- Lake Osveiskoe in the Verhnedvinsk district of the Vitebsk region.
- Lake Obsterno in the Miorsky district of the Vitebsk region.
- Lake Selyava in the Krupsky district of the Minsk region.
- The lake Myadel in Myadel district, Minsk region is famous for its unusually clear water.
Storks in Belarus
Perhaps, for residents of the south and central Russia, storks are not so exotic. But for me it is almost like a safari in Africa, and this May these amazing big birds were a real discovery for me here in Belarus, where this bird is one of the recognizable national symbols and is present in souvenirs for tourists – from fridge magnets to soft toys.
You can meet storks in Belarus in the rural part of the country. And a trip to the lakes can facilitate such meeting.
For some reason, birds, despite the fact that they are quite shy and do not depend on humans for food, like to settle next to people, choosing old stove-pipes or generally some high incomprehensible pins which somehow hold quite large nests.
To see the old Belarusian peasant life you can take a excursion to Dudutki.
Since my childhood, the song of the Pesnyar band about Belovezhskaya Pushcha has been my main association with Belorussia. A little later, from my history books, I remembered Belovezhskaya Pushcha as the place where an important event in the history of the USSR – signing of a document on the division of the country – took place.
But the main reason why I went here myself and why I advise it is that Belovezhskaya Pushcha is one of the oldest relict forests in Europe, the earliest references to which can be found dating back to the 10th or 11th century.
Vladimir Monomakh came to Belovezhskaya Pushcha to hunt. In general, Belovezhskaya Pushcha was a favorite place to come and hunt for various nobles at all times. I do not remember who exactly wrote, but I was deeply impressed by the information that for the amusement of the nobility, one of these organized hunts in the 19th century made Belovezhskaya Pushcha a real bloody mess of killed animals…
The place is certainly not comparable with our Siberian taiga in its wildness because Belovezhskaya Pushcha in its present format is just some big badly maintained park with asphalted paths, animals in cages and attractions for tourists, but it has its own aesthetics. You just have to find it.
A real oak grows in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha and it is more than 600 years old, its height is 300 meters and its girth is 200 meters!
It goes without saying that the bison live here! Giant bulls with fierce temper and shaggy skin are the main symbol of Belovezhskaya Pushcha as well as of Belarus. About bison magnets, I think, it’s not necessary to say?
It’s scary to imagine, but “thanks to” man the bison could disappear as a species at all. Already in 1919 the last free-living female bison was killed. By 1926 all the bison on the planet remained only in some zoos – in Sweden, Poland, Germany, and Great Britain. After the war, they started to restore the population of bison in Byelorussia from the five specimens bought in the zoos. The work was not in vain: today about 500 bison live in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
By the way, all the bears were exterminated long ago too, although they used to live in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Now there are only two of them, and they are in cages. It is sad…
Memories of the Great Patriotic War
The Great Patriotic War caused much damage to Belarus, where almost every family has its bitter memories of this tragedy. Unfortunately, there are very many places where the war left its terrible mark.
In memory of this terrible tragedy in Belarus were created memorial complexes, affecting by their scale and concentration of the pain and suffering that the inhabitants of our then common country – the USSR – experienced during the war.
Khatyn, Trostenets, the Barrow of Glory, the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Minsk and here – the Brest Fortress, the largest and most famous monuments to these terrible events in Belarus.
The legendary Brest Fortress is the place where the Great Patriotic War officially began. My opinion about this place after the trip was contradictory. Perhaps, I will write a separate post about it someday.
On the one hand, with your head you understand WHAT it was (the movie with the same title can refresh your memory), but on the other hand, when you see what an eclectic tourist attraction it has become now – with a freshly-restored church (which, for the sake of historical justice, during the war was actually a cinema), carefully repaired holes in the walls of the fortress, with children merrily crawling around battle tanks with wooden assault rifles, and a cafe located right in the bunker where, according to the plaque, dozens of people were killed… Somehow, all of this does not fit in my head. Maybe I’m that impressionable?
But in any case, I think that for those who don’t see the difference between a soccer match and the war, such places, soaked in war grief, are simply must-sees, so that they finally realize that this shouldn’t be repeated, even in jest…
Castles and Palaces of Belarus
The war in Belarus has affected not only people, but also cities.
The first mention of Minsk dates back to 1067, but now this city does not look its age at all, because after the Great Patriotic War Minsk was practically wiped off the face of the earth.
The city was built anew, and only a small “patch” in the center, the so-called “Upper Town”, can tell at least a little bit about the real old Minsk of the pre-Soviet period.
But even here you can count the old buildings on the fingers. The Minsk city hall was destroyed back in 1857 by order of Nicholas I, and in 2003 it was rebuilt on its original site.
But for a sense of history it is worthwhile to walk around the Upper Town and pay a visit to the Trinity Suburb, as it best represents the historical buildings of Minsk.
You can make an impression of pre-Soviet Belorussia, even more so, of medieval Belorussia, by only some small but very remarkable places! Of course, I’m talking about Belarusian castles, where every tourist should visit.
The most famous and beautiful castles of Belarus:
- Lidsky Castle or Gedimin Castle – the oldest castle in Belarus, which is more than 7 centuries old, is also notable because, unlike other castles, it is the best preserved after the war. Nowadays even knightly tournaments are held here for tourists to create the atmosphere.
- Kossowski Castle – 19th century, located in the small town of Kossovo. The castle had 130 rooms, each of which had its own name and purpose. In the White room balls were held, in the Black room cards were played and in the Pink room musical evenings were held.
- The Nesvizhsky castle was a residence of the Radziwill family of the 16th century with 365 rooms according to the number of days in the year.
- Mir Castle – a castle from 1620, had several different owners including the Radziwills, the main pride of the castle, where there was a large-scale reconstruction, as it was severely damaged during the war, is the wall of the 16th century with animal footprints and traces of branches.
Mir and Nesvizh castles are listed by UNESCO and are very popular with tourists, usually combined in excursions in one trip.
Belarusian cuisine and souvenirs
So? Who here likes to eat and is not on a diet? Hurry up to Belarus! For dranniki, zeppelins, machanka, and babka. This is the name of the main dishes of the Belarusian cuisine.
Judging by the various reviews on the Internet and on Foursquare, “Vasilki” is the most popular Belarusian restaurant in Minsk. Judging by the queues in the restaurants of this network, many people like it here.
But in my personal opinion, in the restaurant Draniki everything is much tastier and there are less people, although the restaurant is located right next to City Hall.
I especially liked the salmon dranniki with sour cream.
The zeppelins turned out to be a dish reminiscent of Buryat posies. Of course, posies are better – there is more meat in them and the dough is thinner.
Well, since we started talking about personal human interests, I will say a little about the Belarusian souvenirs.
You should definitely go to Belarus to buy wonderful linen products – starting from napkins for 3 rubles and ending with ethnic costumes and dresses for hundreds of Belarusian rubles.
And of course Belarusian sweets and chocolates. Although “Kommunarka” is now sold even in our Siberia.
I would like to finish my post with a short video, which lists 12 more reasons to visit Belarus.