Do you know anything about ”White Rus”? Who travels there? Almost no one. And that’s a pity, but I’m sure it will change soon.
Some will ask perplexed – “Why are you going there?”, others went and they really liked it. Then there are those who will become dead serious but also dead curious about the topic.
If you speak to the locals, they will ask you why you have decided to come to their country. They aren’t shocked by your presence, just curious about what pushes someone to pay a visit. They will pay attention to the list of compliments you give to their capital, but they will end up thinking: “Ok, I see why you like Minsk, but would you ever want to live here?”
Minsk is a pristine town of 2 million folks. Some speak English. It has quite a selection of imposing buildings and statues, plenty of parks, fast food chains, fancy restaurants and hipster cafes. It’s one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest town I have ever laid my eyes upon. It’s also very safe and easy to navigate. You can walk everywhere or if you prefer take an Uber. It’s much more modern then you’d think, but it also has a very distinct soviet imprint.
Belarus has a tumultuous history, an interesting present day economy, a resourceful president, alas since 1994, and very well-mannered and humble citizens. It’s also the size of Belgium, Switzerland and Netherlands put together. It was destroyed during WWII and lost a third of its population. It gained its independency in 1991. However, this is not a free country. As Wikipedia outlined, it’s ruled unfairly, there’s no free press and death penalty is still legal. I am assuming the citizens would like to see Belarus part of the EU someday, or at least have the right to freer circulation. I will never know because no one is comfortable to talk about politics. What I do know is that people are educated, friendly, they travel as much as they can and they are quite curious about different cultures. I met teachers, writers, software developers, handymen, salesmen and students, and they all shared the traits above.
A few more interesting facts about Belarus:
- Children here want to either become astronauts or programmers
- It’s called “The lungs of Europe” because of its extensive forests
- It has 300+ potato based dishes
- Cafes are allowed to serve croissants that are 2 days old; I asked after I broke my gums with one
- It has extremely low unemployment rate – 1%
- It’s not cheap
- It has one of the largest national libraries in the world
- It may have the largest amount of buried treasures in Europe
- The airport automatic distributors sell contact lenses and caviar
- Lee Harvey Oswald’s story and apartment location are part of the free walking tour
By the end of this read, you must all be pleased with knowing more things about Belarus, but I bet there’s one more thing that you really need to know. Are the girls as beautiful as everyone says? I invite you to take a stroll to the World War 2 Museum in Minsk, instead, and find out what an important role women played in the war and how brave and resourceful they were.
Yes, the girls are very pretty if that will help with raising your interest in Eastern European history and culture! 😉