Despite visa-free entry in place since February, Western tourists are still a rare sight in Minsk. Hence, impressions of those who come remain very valuable to others.
Alexander van Terheyden, a traveler from the UK, applied for the longest Belarusian visa he could get and spent almost one month exploring Belarus and its capital.
BelarusFeed has watched an hour-and-a-half long vlog the Englishman documented in Minsk to select the most curious observations he made.
1. Strikingly different architecture…
Alexander keeps noticing how he likes the city’s architecture during the whole video.
He says it is “strikingly different from what you see in the West” and “seriously impressive”.
The traveler notices that there are few Catholic churches in Minsk and that he “appreciates the difference” of the Belarusian capital from typical European cities.
2. … and Soviet fingerprints everywhere
Another interesting remark is that some places in the city remind of “1984” and Soviet spirit is felt very strongly.
Still, the Englishman does not object to it.
“Lenin’s monuments are OK. It is important to remember the history and not destroy everything you disagree with,” he said while observing the statue at Niezaliežnasci square.
3. Minsk is charming at night
Even if you prefer sleeping at night (which is generally good) spare a few hours to take a slow walk around the centre after the sun’s down and illumination’s on.
“Minsk is beautiful at night!” the British traveler stated and recommended seeing it with your own eyes.
4. It reminds Singapore in terms of safety
While we, as locals, would say that Singapore comparison is a bit of an overstatement, we would not disagree with Alexander completely.
Travelers typically notice there’s much police in the streets of Minsk.
It is for them to judge, but one thing is true: you can walk outside even when it is rather late without any fear.
Unless you are in Shabany district, though.
5. Nightclubs are not great musically
Alexander liked rock bars in Minsk, but wasn’t so enthusiastic about night clubs.
“Night clubs in Minsk are not great musically,” he stated.
However, “people are very nice so it makes any night out”, the traveler adds, and one can see that he is being frank judging by the many episodes from night clubs in the video.
Plus, clubs are 90% women!
6. There is a permanent circus
This is even cute how impressed the Englishman was to see a permanent circus in Minsk.
He described the building as grand and said there are no circuses like this in Western Europe.
By the way, if you decide to visit a performance in Minsk circus, make sure you buy the tickets well in advance. It is almost as popular the the Opera and Ballet theatre!
7. WWII museum might move you to tears
Alex did not miss a chance to visit the WWII museum.
After a tour that lasted several hours (an organized excursion would take even longer), the traveler said the exposition gives a perspective on how the things are and teaches that Belarus actually lost millions of people not just because of the Holocaust.
The guy found the museum to be very emotional and rated it with 5 stars.
P.s. If you are interested in that period of history, consider visiting the National Arts Museum as well. Alexander found some “great WWII art” there, too.
8. There are no Brits but there are many Chinese tourists
“I never met a Brit in 28 days in Belarus. Which is cool!” the traveler remarks.
Meanwhile, the UK guest saw many Chinese tourists in Minsk.
And many military personnel (Alexander was visiting in May, a month of the Victory Day), whom he kept admiring for their tall hats!
9. The National Library is like a villain secret base
Alexander explored one of the most famous building of Minsk very thoroughly: he went inside to see the reading halls and rose up to the observation desk.
“23 floors up – that’s where the top villain drinks his champagne”, the traveler joked.
The part with the visit to the library in the beginning of the video is actually one of the most fun episodes of the vlog, which we strongly recommend!
10. Belarusians are awesome and like karaoke
The opinion of the UK guy about the locals is conclusive: people in Belarus are “super awesome” and kind.
“I never met a hostile Belarusian,” Alexander said.
Mind that his visit was not devoid of bureaucratic hardship. For example, he had to register several times as he moved from one accomodation to the other.
The traveler was also fined $150 for the missed registration deadline.
Another interesting thing Alexander noticed is that karaoke is very popular in Belarus.
“Locals take it seriously,” he concluded after his Belarusian friends took him to a karaoke club.
So, should you risk repeating the UK’s guest experience (at least for a short visit) or not? Alex said a definite ‘yes’.
“If it’s a country or city you’ve never considered, you should question that,” he said in the end.
“Lots of parks, big open spaces, impressive buildings and huge thumbs up for the people!”
So hurry up, while Belarus is STILL the least visited country by tourists in Europe.