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Holidays in Belarus

Understanding Belarus

Originally part of Kievan Rus, Belarus was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until the Polish Partitions in the 18th century After over a hundred years of Russian rule followed by seven decades as a constituent republic of the USSR, Belarus attained its independence in 1991 However under authoritarian rule it has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than any of the other former Soviet republics Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union on 8 December 1999 envisioning greater political and economic integration Although Belarus agreed to a framework to carry out the accord, serious steps towards implementation have never been undertaken Belarus has the "honor" of being one of the last authoritarian states left in Europe

Talking in Belarus

Belarusian and Russian are the two official languages, but Russian is more widely spoken It will be difficult to get by without some Russian The two languages are closely related, together with Ukrainian, so even the Belarusian monolinguals understand some Russian and Ukrainian Polish is spoken in the western parts, especially around Grodno

Buying stuff in Belarus

The local currency is the Bajan dollar, but US dollars are accepted just about everywhere in shops and restaurants The exchange rate is fixed at 198 Bajan dollars to the US Dollar but almost everyone uses US$1 = BD$2 Keep in mind that exchangers in hotels may insist on taking an additional percentage of the exchange typically 5%

Many "duty free" shops cater to visitors, eg, from cruise ships Bridgetown's main street hosts numerous jewelers, most frequently Colombian Emeralds and Diamonds International Cave Shepherd department store offers a wide range of mercantile, while Harrison's offers premium gifts, leathers and cosmetics Other smaller stores offer virtually everything a visitor or resident might need A small mall at the harbor also offers decent prices and selection eg, for rum and UK liquors, though goods produced in Barbados may be slightly more expensive there than elsewhere on the island

Barbados has a well-deserved reputation for producing excellent rum, eg, Mount Gay Rum distilleries are usually open for tours, and typically offer samples and product for sale at prices often equal to the best found anywhere else See also "Drink" below

Barbados has a great variety of street vendors Haggle aggressively Don't stop until you're at about a third of the original price

The fine Arts flourish in Barbados and many galleries and studios have shows on all year round which change every few weeks Details of monthly arts happenings may be viewed on 2, which creates a page showing events, workshops and opening receptions

See also the note about "Weekend Shut Down" at the end of the "Eat" section below

Duty Free: Stores selling to visitors can honestly claim they offer duty free pricing They do in-fact pay duty on imported goods before offering them them for sale But as they sell anything to you as a visitor, they will ask you to sign a form that allows them to get a refund of the duty paid The government is reportedly advancing toward allowing vendors to simply obtain goods intended for visitors without paying duty

Food and eating in Belarus

Potatoes, pork, beef, bread - in a nutshell

If you are looking for a national gourmet meal - you are in the right place Most of the products and ingredients are organic, and radiation levels are constantly checked in the food to avoid contamination

"Take fresh aurochs, and if you do not have any, you can use the elk instead" From 18th century Belarusian cookbook

Modern Belarusian cookery is based on old national traditions which have undergone a long historical evolution But the main methods of traditional Belarusian cuisine are carefully kept by the people Common in Belarusian cuisine were dishes from potato which is called among people "the second bread" The Belarusians bring fame to their beloved potato in their verses, songs, dances There are special potato cafes in the country where you can try various potato dishes Potato is included into many salads, it is served together with mushrooms, meat; different pirazhki patties and baked puddings are made from it The most popular among the Belarusians are traditional draniki known as "latkes" to North Americans, but eaten with sour cream, not apple sauce, thick pancakes prepared from shredded potatoes A wide spread of potato dishes in Belarusian cuisine can be explained by natural climatic conditions of Belarus which are propitious for growing highly starched and tasty sorts of potatoes A lot of place in the diet of the Belarusians belongs to meat and meat products, especially to the pork and salted pork fat One of the people's proverbs says: "There is no fish more tasty than tench, as well as there is no meat better than pork" The salted pork fat is used slightly smoked and seasoned with onions and garlic Pyachysta is one of the traditional holiday dishes This is boiled, stewed or roasted sucking pig, fowl or large chunks of pork or beef Dishes prepared from meat are usually served together with potatoes or vegetables such as carrot, cabbage, black radish, peas, etc It is characteristic that many vegetable and meat dishes are prepared in special stoneware pots Among dishes from fish the Belarusians prefer yushka, galki and also baked or boiled river-fish without special seasonings In general, what concerns the most common seasonings such as onions, garlic, parsley, dill, caraway seeds, pepper, they are used very moderately in Belarusian cookery The national dishes are hearty and tasty nonetheless The choice Belarusian food are fresh, dried, salted and pickled mushrooms, and also berries such as bilberry, wild strawberries, red whortlberry, raspberries, cranberry and some others Of flour dishes the most popular is zacirka Pieces of specially prepared dough are boiled in water and then poured over with milk or garnished with salted pork fat The Belarusians prefer to use whole milk which affected some methods of making yoghurt and the so called klinkovy cottage cheese In Belarusian cuisine the milk is widely used for mixing in vegetable and flour dishes Myadukha, berezavik, kvas, beer are traditional Belarusian drinks

Drinking in Belarus

You can get soft drinks and beers everywhere in Belarus Vodka and bundy rum is the most common alcoholic drink

Accommodation in Belarus

"Legal theft" Most hotels in Minsk are safe However, be aware of the Belarusian trick Since Belarusians are very afraid of the authorities and thus of committing a crime, some corrupt hotels may practice a very annoying way of stealing, so called "legal theft" involving maids often in conspiracy with the reception personnel While cleaning your room in your absence they may hide your personal belongings in the most outrageous parts of your room, combining bizarre sets of items, such as a cellular phone with a piece of bread, a wallet with a cheap magazine or a pair of glasses ! The trick is: if you miss them, the maid will come and collect them later, if you report the items missing or find them by yourself you won't be able to do a thing since the items never left the room, it is not considered a theft The personnel may also ridicule your allegation by pointing out why on earth they would want to hide some bread or a hotel magazine - they just accidentally tucked the items away while cleaning Avoid such unpleasant situations by always locking your valuables in the hotel safe or at least taking them with you Before checking out, always search the room thoroughly wardrobes, cabinets, deep shelves, behind sofas and radiators

Cities in Belarus

braslav  brest  disna  dzerzhinsk  gomel  haradok  horki  hrodna  ivanava  kleck  kobryn  lida  lyuban  malaryta  masty  mazyr  minsk  navahrudak  orsha  pastavy  pinsk  salihorsk  senno  slonim  stolin  vawkavysk  zabinka  zlobin  

What do you think about Belarus?

How expensive is Belarus?
Meal in inexpensive restaurant10 USD
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)37.2 USD
McDonalds meal6.64 USD
Local beer (0.5 draft)1.46 USD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 2.79 USD
Cappuccino2.16 USD
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)1.22 USD
Water (0.33 bottle)0.83 USD
Milk (1l)1.05 USD
Fresh bread (500g)0.7 USD
White Rice (1kg)1.34 USD
Eggs (12) 1.44 USD
Local Cheese (1kg) 8.86 USD
Chicken Breast (1kg) 5.8 USD
Apples (1kg) 1.3 USD
Oranges (1kg) 2.08 USD
Tomato (1kg) 2.83 USD
Potato (1kg) 0.83 USD
Lettuce (1 head) 1.16 USD
Water (1.5l)0.89 USD
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 7 USD
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)1.06 USD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 2.19 USD
Cigarettes1.75 USD
One way local bus ticket0.41 USD
Monthly pass for bus16.55 USD
Taxi start3.32 USD
Taxi 1km0.55 USD
Taxi 1hour waiting5.21 USD
Gasoline (1 liter) 0.95 USD
Utilities for a "normal" apartment58.58 USD
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 18.85 USD
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 438.3 USD
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 321.33 USD
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 737.27 USD
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 601.56 USD, your travel companion

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