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planquadrat
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Discussion Starter #61
Fantastic photos! Just came back from Minsk myself, stopped by for a day driving back from Vilnius :)
If you even come by Belarus again I recommend checking out Vitebsk as well.
Thanks!
I've heard about Vitebsk. We even considered going there for a day. But at the end we had to set priorities right and it appeared that time was a constraint. It's never a problem to get to Belarus for me though. Only if the stupid visa regime was abolished sooner rather than later.
 

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planquadrat
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Discussion Starter #62
Continued.

An older residential district to the Northwest from the downtown. You could see that buildings are old (perhaps from 70's or early 80's) but everything's kept in good order


An abandoned GAZ-24 Volga car which was a Soviet 'executive car'. One thing I noticed in Minsk was abandoned cars. I saw quite a few of those and wondered why authorities don't bother removing them.


If you were born in the USSR no later than mid 80's then you'll know what this is all about :)
For those who might not know, this is a cistern that is selling Kvass. It was extremely popular back in the USSR days and has remained one of the iconic household attributes of the era: a yellow cistern (of that particular shape and size) selling Kvass on any random location in any city or town. Why was it so popular? Because you couldn't just buy kvass in a shop. It wasn't available most of the time. Which is why people would queue from early morning in some instances to get some of the delicious drink. And in the Soviet Union this used to be a delicacy drink even if not as exclusive and good as Coca Cola or Pepsi (those were almost impossible to get).

These days there is no rationale to sell kvass from yellow cisterns like this one (to be honest it didn't even taste that good... perhaps because it was running out when we bought it) but my guess is that this is happening only to satisfy the nostalgia of the older generation who remember USSR days as their best years. Today you can still buy kvass in Belarus and other former USSR/Soviet Bloc countries but you would do that in a supermarket. Or if you want some really good kvass then most restaurants would have it on the menu too. Brewed locally and much better that it ever was in those yellow cisterns.

To me this is an attribute which is a perfect reminder of how poor and hopeless the Soviet system was
 

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planquadrat
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Discussion Starter #63
A whole new residential district U/C


There were a few 22+ storey apartment towers U/C in the vicinity so we tried our luck and entered one of them. Inside the elevator. The hand-written notes actually are adverts for services such as rubbish disposal, transportation of items and other services that might be relevant to those who are moving into their new homes


And here is the view from one of the top floors of a residential tower (Miastrauskaja Street)


 

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planquadrat
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Discussion Starter #68
Here is the remainder of the photos from Minsk

Minsk Arena




As can be seen in photos that part of Minsk is under heavy development: new apartments, shopping centers and other commercial properties are being built all over the place
 

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planquadrat
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Discussion Starter #69
Back on the street. A new ~25 storey apartment tower which seems to have been completed very recently


A note informing residents and builders that rubbish duct is not working. The literal translation: 'Dear residents, builders! Do not throw rubbish into the rubbish duct. The rubbish duct IS NOT WORKING! WHAT'S THERE NOT TO UNDERSTAND?" LOL :D


More residential towers
 

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planquadrat
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Discussion Starter #71
Minsk Passazhirsky Railway Station, the main railway station in Minsk and Belarus



Belarusian Railway PESA diesel train before departure to Vilnius. Passenger transit on Minsk-Vilnius route was improved considerably over the past few years. Travel times were cut from around 4 to 2.5 hours, new trains and more frequent services introduced. Over the next couple of years the route will be fully electrified which means EMU trains will serve the route cutting travel time to 2 hours. The only annoying obstacle which remains in place is visa regime between Lithuania and Belarus which, hopefully, will be abolished in the near future so improving conditions for tourism


There were actually two trains coupled. Demand for travel between Minsk and Vilnius seems pretty high


Inside the train


On the way back to Vilnius. Passing a loco-hauled train Minsk-Moscow


This is it. The 4 days in Minsk went quick and everything was perfectly smooth. I love when things go as planned during trips and this was precisely the case in all respects. Thanks and see you again in Minsk some day. :cheers:
 

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planquadrat
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Discussion Starter #78
were you the only tourist around from what you could see? or were there others?

How did you communicate with people since I heard that English is almost unknown there?
There certainly didn't seem many (if any at all) tourists from EU, US or elsewhere in the west. I saw a few Chinese tourists and perhaps a few Russian tourists (although it's hard to identify them because I could hardly make a distinction from local people). In either case there didn't seem many tourists even though Minsk is overall a tourist-friendly city.


Did you feel unsafe anywhere in the city?
No. In fact safety was one of the main advantages of the city. Or at least so was the feeling.
 

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I also visited Minsk, or Belarus as a whole because of a student exchange programm organized by my school. Before the trip I thought (like many uninformed Germans) that Belarus is a very poor country which doesn't have many spectacular things to offer, this way of thinking was encauraged by my teacher who told me some facts, like that the avaraqe annual income in Belarus is 2000 euro. But when I came to Belarus I realized that the image I had of the country and the reality are extremly different. The people there are so nice, friendly and open to others (I felt home there 2 days after we arrived), the commiblocks appear ugly from the outside but the flats in there are easiely as beautiful as the flats here in germany and the cities are good looking as well and for all they make a high quality of life possible, with parks infront of every commiblock and many public places and attractions. At least Molodetschno was like that, the city we stayed for 2 weeks.
We just were in Minsk for two days but I really loved this city, mainly for the same reasons I loved Molodetschno. Minsk is for me the perfect example that retort cities are working and can be beautiful. I would recommand everyone to visit it :)
Btw. two wirded things I experienced in Belarus:
1. In another citiy, I forgot the name, we visited a zoo, and for the surprise of us and the teachers there weren't any animals in this zoo :D
2. There are no mountains in Belarus, so they raised an arround 100m tall mountain somewhere in the middle of nowhere and put a skilift on it. Somehow this looked funny.
PS. For the safety discussion: The first one and a half weeks I also felt safe in Belarus, but on the third last day we (I, my classmates and our exchange students) were relaxing in a park in the evening when suddenly some Nazi's pressed us and wanted to beat us, our luck was that they found out that we were germans and after that they left us in silence (whyever there are Nazi's in Belarus, I mean 3/4 of belarussian population was killed in the second world war?!). After that we were still going outside but with a queasy feeling.....
PSS. Forgot to say that these pictures are awesome :)
 

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planquadrat
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Discussion Starter #80
^^
Thanks. I guess my experience somewhat resembles your own. I couldn't say I was very poorly informed of how things were in Belarus but everything turned out better than I expected in almost every step from environment and maintenance of streets to people and service at restaurants.

Your experience with 'nazis' is a little odd although I suppose it's not an impossibility.

To tell the truth I also had a somewhat funny 'incident' at one nightclub/bar when we were hanging out with friends. Some girl sat down near me (clearly quite intoxicated and not really attractive) and probably having realized that I was not local started asking me where I was coming from, what I was doing there, how I liked it etc. Once I mentioned that I was from Lithuania all of a sudden she 'switched' into an offensive and somewhat aggressive mode and started questioning me what I was thinking about situation in Ukraine, Russia, kept telling me that despite the fact that poeple in Belarus don't earn much money they can still live well and be happy. Which would be fine with me... only that I had never asked or mentioned anything along those lines in any way whatsoever. Which left me feeling a little strange. I have never experienced anything like that anywhere else. :)

Of course I cannot attribute such behavior to most people in Belarus but I think it is not impossible that there are some social issues and possibly complexes below the surface in the Belarusian society. Not that it makes it any worse. It's a great country with nice people.
 
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