Short Stay in Former Soviet State.

Trip Start Aug 18, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
IBB Hotel Minsk
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Belarus  ,
Friday, June 8, 2012

So, today is the first part of the soccer (football) extravaganza. I will be traveling with Victor, his brother Eric and his dad to Ukraine to cheer on Sweden in their first match of the Euro Championship 2012. This tournament is what helps Europeans not go crazy from soccer cabin fever while they wait for the world cup every four years.

 We would be spending the time in Ukraine, but before we arrived there we would be spending a night in Belarus, which is the last dictatorship in Europe. It used to be part of the Soviet Union, and has now had the same president since 1994. The country is on the baby steps track to democracy. They have little unemployment and a very clean capital, keep them happy, and keep them home.

 We were flying into Minsk, to spend the night and then taking an early flight out in the wee hours of the morning. Simple, you would think, but this required a transit visa and health insurance. We flew on Belavia air, the flag carrier of the country, which I have to say was a very nice airlines, nice flight attendant who served food and drinks without charging you for them, what a novel idea, maybe the United States flag carrier could learn from them.

 In Minsk we were met by the military uniformed visa control. This is where we found out that we needed health state insurance, which only cost two Euros and we found out later did not apply to transit visa’s, however we would not be allowed through without the useless piece of blue paper. Always fun to be turned away at border control. So after we got that taken care of we went through.

 Victor’s father had been unable to get Belarusian money in Sweden, so he had to go to the money here, however, the ATM rejected his card. Then of course the money exchange was conveniently closed for an hour just as we arrived, so…..we wait!

 An hour later, with a stack of large denomination bills in hand (the money is pretty inflated,) we went looking for the bus. Bus was not found, but some very persistent cab drivers talked Victor’s dad into getting a taxi ride to the hotel.

 It was a long cab ride from the airport, but we made it. The scenery of Belarus was very pretty. 

Arriving at the hotel we came across what looked like a prom/ graduation. The kids were all dressed up, but the room was full of parents and the theme of Star Wars was playing, so it was anyone’s guess what was going on. The event distracted the hotel staff, so when beer and food were sought, it was hard to get them. We were put off in a small conference room that had rebelled against color and was sort of like a depressing hospital waiting room. Only Victor’s dad had food, but we all enjoyed a big cold beer. We discussed what we would do later in Ukraine and what time we had to get up in the morning, (early.) Then it was time to head upstairs to our rooms that reminded me of retro hostel rooms. I stole all of the free soap from the bathroom, then curled up and went to sleep. I had to be ready to begin the soccer mania!
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