Being in Lithuania and heading to Russia, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit the country of Belarus. I flew into Minsk, where the airport is a 45 minute drive from the huge metropolis of the capital city. After going through customs, where a huge sign informed me that I was entering “The Territory of Checkpoint!” I found the driver I had reserved. Since there is no train or mass transportation at the airport, pre-arrangements had to be made. My driver was excited to have me with him and he recommended a detour to show me some of the impressive military displays as we drove along the expansive highways.
Entering Minsk was awe inspiring due to the enormity of everything. The massive Stalin-inspired buildings were truly impressive as were the wide avenues and sleek structural designs. After arriving at my hotel I decided to go for a trek; but first I would need some Belarusian Rubles (BYY). The BYY is a closed currency meaning you must wait until you enter the country before you can “buy” some. Before heading out for my trek, I decided to exchange $20 USD for some BYY. For my $20, I was given a stack of 384,200 BYY.
I walked along Nezavisimosti Avenue to Independence Square and saw the monuments honoring Kireva and Karla Marx. I witnessed the overbearing Stalinist buildings and walked the bridge over the Svoslach River to the tiny old town dubbed “Trinity Suburb” and toward the twin towers built in the classic Soviet style and once the gate to the city. I made a new friend, Liubov, a native of Minsk, who graciously showed me all around the city and even took me into the lovely countryside to visit the amazing blue waters of the Zaslawskaye Reservoir at the Robinson Country Club and Resort. It was a truly beautiful and grand experience.
If you are ever in the neighborhood, please visit awesome Minsk!