THE BUDA & SOVIET SERIES PT2
MINSK, BELARUS – WARSAW, POLAND
Well the journey from Budapest wasn’t too bad considering what I have put myself through over the weekend.
MINSK HAS COME A LONG WAY SINCE THE SOVIET ERA
The rest of the group however have 2 flights and a 3-hour layover to get through, and by the time hey get home I will have hopefully arrived, enjoyed a city stroll, ate some potato pancakes and well into my first proper sleep in a week.
WHERE IS BELARUS?
Minsk & Warsaw
Minsk has had a hard time of it of late after being almost turned to dust in World War 2 and was rebuilt during the infamous soviet era. I expected a 3rd world country with big concrete buildings and wide avenues, common around this part of eastern Europe. However, I was surprised when I noticed how much the local architecture has remained intact as well as the introduction of modern architecture too.
From talking to locals and a few other travellers staying in the hostel (Trinity Riverside), the city has changed considerable over the past year. Belarus has only recently changed its visa policy and if you live in the EU there’s a solid chance you will be able to get one on arrival.
Minsk & Warsaw
Although, because they have only recently introduced this, they have set out several conditions so it is easier to manage. Obviously, you must have a valid passport of the country which is within the agreement, you must fly in and out of Minsk and you must not stay any longer than 5 days.
I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful the city was and you could see the country was developing a lot. Spending a little money to help attract the tourists which have been missing for so long, new modern high-rise office blocks, beautiful open landscaped areas and modern shopping centres. It will however take a long time to catch up on the rest of Eastern Europe which has been doing it for decades and always a safer option for backpackers. Then again, Belarus will always offer something different.
The people I found to be very friendly which surprised me as Eastern Europe can be very hit or miss, the food delicious and the cost of living very cheap. If they do the right thing and stick to offering a unique experience then I can really see Belarus becoming part of the interrailing trail within Europe.
Now there aren’t a huge list of activities and things to do how they are working on it. For now their strength is wartime history and architecture and there are plenty of museums to check out
A short trip between Belarus and Russia, for visa reasons I had to fly to Russia from outside of Belarus, so took the opportunity to visit Poland, 1 of the few remaining countries I haven’t visited in Europe.
Warsaw wouldn’t have been my number1 choice in Poland but I already had a trip to Krakow planned for next February so I had to resist.
OKI DOKI HOSTEL
After checking into Oki Doki Hostel, I headed to the streets. With it being the capital I certainly expected many modern high rises which there were but I was surprised by the lack of hustle and bustle around the town, that was until I reached the old town and found every tourist in Europe.
There wasn’t much to do here but 1 thing that did get my attention was the Warsaw uprising museum which got me out of bed early on the Tuesday. I wasn’t entirely happy to find out the only day it closed was in fact the Tuesday and because my flight was at 2pm I had to make other plans.
Like most Europe cities, Warsaw has an old town, albeit small but it was very unique. Unfortunately, other than a few parks and the Jewish museum, Warsaw doesn’t offer the same draw as Krakow. Any city in Europe would do well to compete with Auschwitz.
- PEOPLE – 9/10
- BACKPACKING – 6.5/10
- SAFETY – 8/10
- WEATHER – 7/10
- THINGS TO DO – 7/10
- FOOD – 7/10
- VALUE – 8/10
Two cities that are generally off the tourist map which made it interesting however I was disappointed not to get to visit the main attraction in Warsaw.
Off to St Petersburg for some vodka and the Red Arrow train. Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
- Have you been to Belarus or Warsaw, what did you think?
- What did you do there, can you recommend anything?
Let me know in the comments below . . .