BELARUS

Minsk

We took an old, Soviet-looking train from Riga station to Minsk, with a two-berth compartment to ourselves. It was a twelve-hour journey so we slept on the train.

It’s an amazing place to see some of the soviet architecture, many of the fantastic buildings and the picturesque parks. We spend three days there and felt we were able to do everything we wanted.

We stayed at the East Time Hotel in the suburbs. There was a bus stop just in front of it, with buses to go to many touristic places and to the underground station. The roads were enormously wide, with underpasses everywhere. They reminded me of Brazil.

First day. We saw the gates to the city, two tall Soviet-era matching buildings with towers opposite the main station. We then walked down the main street, stopping at the red brick church called the Church of Saints Simon and Helena.

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Past the square and the circus building.

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We also saw the war memorial in Gorky park. This was a nice park with a permanent fairground along the side of the river. Mark eventually managed to convince me than that the Ferris wheel wouldn’t be too boring, and I ate some popcorn and Mark had a twirly potato snack on a stick afterwards.

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We then examined the war memorial more closely, you had to cross the road to it via the metro station, which reminded us of the Arc de Triumph in Paris.

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We then walked past the building where Lee Harvey Oswald used to live, mistaking it for the Opera house, before reaching the real thing. Wow! was my reaction as the place was beautiful. A cream, coloured curved building set in front of a giant dynamic fountain. We saw some performers in costume taking a cigarette break, and some German Ice Hockey fans.

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Next we wandered down to a historical area with traditional houses and visited a cute, little chapel on the Island of Tears, in memory of those who died in the wars.

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The next day we went to the octagonal, jewel-like building of the National Library. Very unique. There we went to the roof top viewing area where we met some very friendly people. We went for a tea with them before riding Segways together.National Library and Segway Ride

On our final day we went to see an Ice Hockey world cup match at the Soviet-looking Chizhovka Arena. We loved it, and saw Canada win 5-1 against Italy. When gathering information on how to get tourist visas, we found out that buying the ticket for the game would allow us to get the visa for free. The ticket worked as a visa, which cost us just £10 each.

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Our four day, three night trip to Minsk cost 6,268,000 Belarussian Rubles for two people excluding flights. (Prices accurate as at May 2014).

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Travel, history, tourism and entertainment.

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