‘I Expected Lovely Women And More Police’. 5 Travelers About Why Come To Belarus And What To Expect

Five months into visa-free travel, over 20,000 tourists have used the option. If you’re still wondering about why come to Belarus and what to expect, check out the experience of others – to finally say “Yes” to this adventure!

BelarusFeed and MeetnGreetMe travel service has asked five foreigners to share their stories.

Glen Gregory, an American entrepreneur and sportsman living in Poland

Why did you decide to come to Belarus? Why Belarus?

Belarus started offering a 5-day visa, and I decided to take advantage.  I came with my friend Dan, we both are American living in Poland.

As I have lived in Poland for 22 years, and have visited nearly all European countries, it seemed silly not to visit my neighbor.

What stereotypes about Belarus did you have before you arrived?

I expected a grayer place, like I remember Poland in my early days here.  I expected people to be more closed and also to have problems communicating because of low level of English.

I expected women to be lovely, homelessness and alcohol on some level, and more police. And lastly, I expected bad service.

Which expectations transpired as true? What was completely different?

Most of them were off. I found people very open and friendly, even when we could not communicate very well.

The city was clean and there were not many homeless, and I was very surprised that even in bars people didn’t seem to drink themselves drunk.

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The level of English was low, but we did meet people that spoke well and/or put forth a noble effort to speak and help.

Not sure if we are treated like everyone else, or if foreigners are still a novelty, but I was impressed by the service with a smile 🙂

Amro Salim, businessman from Oman

Amro Salim arrived in Minsk as a member of the official business delegation from Oman in search for business opportunities and potential partners.

What were your expectations about Belarus?

All I knew about Belarus was that the capital is Minsk, and that it was a former USSR country.

I always thought it will be very similar to Russia in many ways. But I didn’t know anything else.

What impressed you then?

The people are amazing, and definitely more kind and open than Russians.

Minsk is nice and if you know the right places to visit, you could have a lot of fun.

The best memory I have is meeting some very nice people. The National library was very impressive and walking around Minsk was fun.

Sonia Keil Johnson, psychologist and English language teacher from South Africa

Sonia Keil Johnson was invited to be an honourable speaker at the 1st educational conference in Minsk.

What were your expectations about Belarus?

As we all have expectations and are sometimes disappointed, I flew to Belarus with new eyes to embrace the experience. I did not know anything about Belarus, which is sad, as I had lived in Russia.

I had no real expectations as I was coming with a purpose. But I have to add that I fell in love with the experience.

What did you take from your travel experience to Belarus?

My time was short there, but every minute was used to its fullest giving me a taste to want to know more about the country and its people.

First of all, the welcoming, care and consideration from local people. In breaks we could explore city’s architecture, taste traditional food and drinks.

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I really liked the guides enthusiastically bursting with knowledge and pride of their heritage.

I am left with many thoughts, impressions, which make me want to return, but what stands out so passionately is the new friends I made.

Sam and Alex, a couple from the UK

Why did you decide to come to Belarus?

Sam: We wanted to see our friends who live here and at the same time see Minsk. The new visa regulations made it much easier.

Alex: For me it was the second time. I went to my friends’ wedding in Minsk during the 2014 Ice Hockey World Cup. It was much more international then, with all the fans from Canada, Latvia, Russia etc.

I thought it would be a lot quieter, with not much going on.

What were your expectations about Belarus?

Sam: At the time when we booked this trip I had London in mind, the city where we both live: a giant-sized amusement park, with all its thrilling tours in the old vaults, adrenaline-filled high-speed river cruises and busy tube stations.

What I discovered when I arrived in Minsk was nothing like that: it was much more! It was like a delicious slice of Brownie cake topped with caramel and nuts… but tastier!

Were you right?

Both: It feels a bit empty compared to London. We are a lot more crowded together.

One thing that we immediately noticed and admired is how much fun is to be a child living in Minsk. There are so many activities for kids to choose from and when walking around the park behind the circus we felt as if everything was designed around the children and for their amusement.

We went to the circus ourselves one morning and found it like nothing we were expecting. We are used to very small shows in tents while this one was in a magnificent round theater with a live orchestra and really high-level acrobats.

We were pleased to see that lots of youngsters around the city hearing us speaking English friendly approached us for a chat and expressed interest in the UK life and music scene.

See also: “Some Things Are Ruled Better Than In EU” Long-Time BelarusFeed Readers Explain Their Interest In Belarus

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