Minsk, Belarus and our journey Minsk Travel,June 22nd, 2009
Yesterday tour manager Pete highly recommended not taking showers here because of cleanliness concerns. The night before while brushing my teeth with tap water (also not suggested, but I did it anyway) about 90% of the time the water looked pure. However that other 10% released some of the brownest water imaginable. This morning I decided to take my chances and shower.
I woke up an hour earlier than everyone else, only to find both the water and electricity out of commission. Luckily it was light enough outside to gather my things.
On the path to Minsk, we had a quick bus tour of Smolensk. Smolensk is walled city destroyed several times throughout its long history and were invasion routes for both Napoleon and Hitler. We made another short stop at Khatyn Forest, a war memorial dedicated to slaughtered Polish intellectuals questioning Stalin’s political agenda.
Crossing the Belarus border was a pain. We had to sit in the hot non-running bus for what seemed like an eternity. For the next 1 ¼ hour, we were all miserable, and sweating profusely. Following the border crossing we set forth on a nearly four hour bus ride that left me agonizing to use a bathroom. Our final stop before reaching Minsk was the Khatyn Village, home to a horrific massacre of Polish citizens. It was very moving to see these war memorials, but I question why Contiki takes us to these locations when we only have a couple of hours to see the capital of Belarus. I’d rather spend half a day in Minsk walking around the streets, than a couple hours visiting a few out of the way war memorials that I’m more than likely not going remember anyway.
Arriving at the hotel around 6:00, we immediately checked into our rooms, exchanged some Belarusian Rubles, and went back down to the bus for our evening tour of Minsk. We drove around the city, checking out the one or two sights Minsk actually has. Although the boring looking architecture and unattractive streets put a small damper on my outlook of the city, I still wished I had some solid leisure time to roam.
Mainly because the sheer number of outspoken locals flooding the streets gave the city an exciting vibe I wished I had more time to investigate.
After the, to be quite honest, very boring bus tour of central Minsk, we got back to the hotel for our included dinner. We hadn’t eaten much the entire day, We go for our Contiki meals and dinner is Chicken kiev which is totally red and undercooked, really gross. We sat around observing locals interacting while enjoying the perfectly breezy weather on this humid summer night. . I would then proceed to the supermarket to buy lunches for tomorrow’s journey. Also to waste the remaining Belarusian Rubles we had leftover.
I go back to the hotel and rejoin a few guys from the group for some drinking. After many drinks, we decide its time to go out on the town. We leave the hotel, about 5 of us, The Colonel, and the 4 New Zealand Guys and jump into a taxi and just go to some nightlife area, not know we are going.
We find this really neat looking night club and go in. The Colonel decides to be a nice guy and hands over his credit card to the casher and says tonight is on him, cover charge and drinks. To each his own, I wonder if this guy realizes he might be paying for the entire bar. Without hesitation we go in and let him pay. The night involves lots of many great drinks and beer and there was this group of professional dancers who did a performance. It was totally amazing.
We stay till about closing around 4am, then taxi back to hotel. In order to relieve drinking we walk to the nearby Macdonalds drive thru and have a few cheese burgers at 5am. WE walking around in middle of road like a bunch of drunked idiots. Its not 530am and I realized I have to be on Contiki bus for 7am! So back to hotel room and go to bed for about an hour!!
To let you all know, I made it to the bus, I get up an hour later and shower and make it to bus at last minute and stay up all day enroute to Poland.
Stay tuned for Poland everyone!