Very few cities has got my interest as Minsk in Belarus. Their history is really interesting since the city has been destroyed a couple of times, last time during second world war to be rebuilt completely by the ideas of Stalin how a modern city should be. The soviet collapsed though and the eastern block of Europe started to be more and more like the rest of western world but not in Belarus. In Belarus Alexander Lukasjenko ruled the country (and still do) with an iron fist which makes Belarus a special place in Europe. Its our last dictatorship and even a communistic one which makes it as close to Soviet as you possible can come, even KGB does still exist here and keep their eyes on everything.
Many people warned me that there is absolutely nothing to do in Minsk, its gray, its boring, its concrete everywhere so with that in my mind I packed my backpack and took off for a weekend trip. The passport control went like a charm since they just started with 5 days without visa for many countries. During the airport shuttle huge fields passed by the window and one or two memorials. Huge statues and obelisks passed by together with some tanks and around every single on it was filled with flower garlands. Im not sure though if its always like this or if its just because 9 of may is coming up.
The city Minsk surprised me a lot once we got into the city. It may be gray but not boring and the houses has a very special architecture. It looks like Stalin took the best pieces of all different kind of styles and made it his own. Huge boulevards is mixed with even bigger parks with real forest inside and everything is very calculated and symmetric. If you see a house with a tower you can bet that it will be matched with another house with an tower. You can really tell by the city that this was built to impress, probably because this is the first real city you reach if you coming from west. However you can also tell that you are outside of the ordinary tourist zone. Everybody thought I was Russian/Belorussian and tried to talk Russian with me, English works better than expected but it doesn’t work good and I assume that if you leave the big city you must know Russian.
One morning in our quest for a good breakfast we met Nikita, he was one who actually spoke English and once he heard that we were from Sweden he opened up a bottle of vodka and cheered with us. Not really the breakfast I was looking for but yea, when in Rome, do like the romans…
But what about the KGB? Yea we met them too. During 1 of may (National workers day) we opted for the march which was not approved by the government, This one was about free speech, human rights and I estimate that there was as many police officers as protesters. I played stupid and decided to ask one of the gentlemen who stood a bit away, with an earphone what the protest was about but all I got was; “This is nonsense, nothing to care about”