So after my second attempt to cross over from Poland to Belarus and my first night sleeper in a Russian train I reached Minsk, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Belarus. I was definitely very impressed by the city and do recommend a visit. Subscribe: Click on Newsletter (here) and enter your email address.
How did I get here?
Part I: Initially I planned to travel from Krakow to Warsaw by Blabla Car (a car sharing app) however since the journey was 5 hours I thought it might be good to have WIFI on the way. So I took the Flixbus, but I didn’t have WIFI 😳 because it was operated by another company. At least having reached there got to enjoy some beer with Piotr.
Part II: Warsaw to Minsk … (not quite) with a night sleeper train (I booked on Russian Rail). I boarded the train and was super surprised of how modern and clean it was, got to know Valentina and John in my cabin and headed towards Terespol, Poland border and customs. After an hour we were headed towards Brest, Belarus where border and customs was done again. My passport and transit visa was checked however was then denied entry and was escorted back by two soldiers; more details on my story, entry and exit requirements click Belarus and Travel to Russia. I then had to return to Terespol, Poland.
Part III: Finding a place in Terepol at Midnight. Complete darkness, no one around to ask, I was then walking down the road and fortunately after 4 km I found a place to stay (that was open) at the Hotel Pod Debami. The next day I was reviewing what the best options were to travel and decided then to head back to the train station. Had some really good pasta as well at the Papas Pizza in Terespol.
Part IV: Reached the train station; trying to ask the lady at the counter for an reimbursement – of course she could only speak polish – I called my friend Dominika, no reimbursement possible and she helped me book the ticket at least from Terespol to Brest, Belarus. I then booked the Brest to Minsk ticket on the Russian Rail App. Got in to the Brest immigration (thinking I will be denied entry again), the officer was looking at me really critically and was walking in and out twice, suddenly surrounded by 4 others and kindly enough this young lady spoke to me in English and said everything is fine 🙂 – filled out the immigration card and i’m in.
Part V: Boarded an older sleeper train (I thought I was going to board the same one as the previous day), a very rude hostess, a mean looking Russian guy in my cabin and shortly after departed, put the bed sheets on, closed my eyes and the next thing was the arrival in Minsk. Arrived there and I was first shocked by the ‘coldness’ and bitterness of the people – no one smiling, laughing nor talking – okay it was 6am but still. Took the metro and got to my Couchsurfing Host.
+ adventurous trip
+ Recommended to go by train as you will experience a change of the trains wheels while being on it (example video here) – the European train tracks are different compared to the Russian tracks and the train wheels will be adjusted from 1 520 mm 1 435 mm.
– shit happens, but most of all I missed the train change
Some History: In 1871, a railway link between Moscow and Warsaw ran via Minsk, and in 1873, a new railway from Romny in Ukraine to the Baltic Sea port of Libava (Liepāja) was also constructed.
You will notice very busy streets, people storming through the subway stations and very young crowds in this city (I could feel the 2 Million population here). Also the Stalinist architecture; massive buildings, wide roads and squares, broad avenues.
+ impressive architecture and a good mix to the ‘modern world’
– there aren’t many English speakers (even the young). I survived with hands and feet 🙂
I did everything on foot – it was beautiful weather (walked 21,62 km this day). If you don’t then there is a subway which is a good alternative as well and fairly easy to use as it’s a big X.
The independence avenue with adjacent streets is the biggest in the world and the most entire complex of buildings in the Stalinist Empire style (15 km)
Where is this place?
What did I do here?
Streets filled with hardly and tourists, it was actually quite interesting as I was mostly alone at the sights. Walking around a lot seeing impressive buildings, having a drink with Danil and simply enjoying the sun!
a. Walk down the road Vulica Zybickaja; there are many bars, cafes and restaurants – try the cherry bar and their hot/cold drink
b. National Muesum: you have an oberservation deck
c. Walk down the Vulica Karla Marksa road
d. Stroll through the Caliskincau Park and enjoy the peacefulness
This might also be a helpful Minsk City Guide
Where did I stay?
I enjoyed another couch surf in the Northeastern part of the city.
+ Very close to the National Museum and a nice walk down the Independence Avenue
Recommend you to do a couchsurf one day if you haven’t yet done one.