Local currency: Belarusian Ruble
Belarus is a country of cash, so credit cards are not as widely accepted as in Western Europe. The local currency of Belarus is the Belarusian Ruble, which exists since about 1992. Due to massive inflation the Belarusian Ruble has been redenominated with 3 zeros chopped off in 2000.
The current Belarusian Ruble is abbreviated BYR. The subunits are kopeykas, but actually don't really exist. 11 different Banknotes of amounts between 10 and 100.000 Belarusian Rubles are in circulation.
We got our Belarussian Rubles from cash points (ATM), which are widely available in bigger cities. Exchange Offices can be found at major airports, train stations and hotels.
I found it quite interesting to see that petrol stations display the prices alternating in Belarusian Rubles, Russian Rubles, Euro and US Dollars.
- Budget Travel
See the National Art Museum
Not precisely a cultural 'tip' but I would strongly urge you to find a morning or afternoon to visit the National Art Museum. Although it is located on a grubby side street and seems to have been bypassed when money was handed out for landscaping, the museum is nevertheless a small gem. The collection includes wonderful works by some of the best artists Russia (and Belarus) have ever produced, including Repin, Serov, Chagall, and Malevich. You'll find more than paintings here: among the things on display are ancient wooden sculpture, church utensils, graphics, decorative and folk crafts, and even Central Asian bronzes. There is, perhaps understandably, not a lot in the way of 'Western' art, but the Russian collections are well worth the visit.
Location: vulitsa Lenina 20. Open every day except Tuesday from 11 am until 7 pm. I don't recall the entrance fee but it was something truly minimal. They also have a useful and informative English language website (listed below)(from which I 'borrowed' this picture).
NO COINS - ANYWHERE !
Money in Belarus can be confusing and difficult to deal with. The most striking thing is that they have NO Coins. You need a good-sized wallet if you are travelling here. Credit cards are not widely accepted, so it's loads of paper to deal with. There are 2 other issues to deal with. All currency was revalued in 2000 and the date is on all notes (please see the pictures). Also the currency is not convertible. You can get a small amount of money changed at the airport and then withdrawal money in major cities from ATM's. Outside of large cities, it is cash only! You cannot change the money once you leave, so don't change that much!
Also be careful with the exchange rate. Belarussians, outside of taxi drivers, are honest, but you want to know what you are spending.
1 United States Dollars = 2,145.91 Belarus Rubles (BYR) - SUBJECT TO CHANGE!
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
- Study Abroad
One day our president decided to build another national library... He wanted to make it big and pompous, hoping for it to become a symbol of Belarus, a memorial of Belarussian architecture.
The money for the library were taken from all Belarussian citizens in a form of 'subbotnik' (that is how voluntary unpaid work on Saturdays is called). The word 'voluntary' should not be used really - there is nothing voluntary about people being told to go and work on a weekend.
Construction works began in 2002, the library was opened 4 years later, on June, 16.
End result: the library is 74 meters high and its 19 reading rooms can fit up to 2000 people.
To get there: 'Vostok' underground station.
- Arts and Culture
Minsk Internet cafes
Since Minsk doesn`t have a lot of these places, I figured I better write it down.
How it works: you give a deposit at the counter, then you are given a number of a computer you should go to. After you are done, you go back to the counter, say your computer`s number and the rest of your money will be given back to you.
1) The biggest Internet center when you can check your mail, burn CDs and DVDs, print some stuff, have something to eat (advert says they brew the best coffee in Minsk here) is in the Officers`Central House [Tsentralnij Dom Ofitserov].
Address: Krasnoarmejskaya Str., 3. Next to ''Oktyabr`skaya'' Metro station, on the opposite side from the Palace of Republic.
Phone: +375-17-226 02 79.
Hours: Works every day, day-and-night with 1 break from 7am till 8am.
2) Minsk Postal Office Internet cafe.
This place has something like 20 computers and can be pretty crowded.
Independence Ave., 10. In front of the hotel 'Minsk'.
3) Computer Club 'Level'.
Address: Partizanskij Avenue, 14. Next to the University, in the Ministry of Statisitcs building.
Phone: +375-17-296 26 78.
4) Internet Club 'M@xi' has 45 computers at your disposal.
Address: Gaya, Str., 4/1. 15 minutes walk from 'Yakuba Kolasa' Metro Station.
Phone: +375-17-268 69 65.
5) Oldest in town (opened in 1998) Internet cafe 'NSYS' offers 15 computers.
Address: Pervomajskaya Str., 20., korpus #2.
Hours: from 10am till 10pm every day.
6) Internet center "Hewlett-Packard".
Address: Nemiga Str., 8.
Phone: +375-17- 226-42-43.
Hours: 9am - 11pm, every day.
There are more of them, of course. I`m too lazy to write them down though. :-)
- Budget Travel
While in Minsk, if you need to translate a Russian document into English, here is a certified translator I used on more than one occasion: the head of 'Professional Translators Guild' - Vladimir Domorad.
Address: Gikalo Str., 3. 4th floor.
It was affordable (payed ~$4 for the translation of my birth certificate`s copy), fast (came to pick up the document an hour later) and professional.
If you need notary services as well, the Notary Office #1 can provide it.
Address: Krasnya Str., 5.
Hours: M, T, W (8.15am - 5.30pm), Th (8.15am - 1pm), F (8.15am - 4.15pm).
Lunch break: 1pm-2pm.
NOTE: A public notary here does a different job than in US: he/she notarizes the content of a document, not a signature on it.
To get an Apostille, you can go to the Ministry of Justice (also to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
Address: Kollektornaya Str., 10, office #106 (first floor).
The procedure: 1) Notarize the copy of your document first; 2) Then it must be brought to the ministry from 9am till 12.30pm; 3) Then make a trip to the nearest bank located on Korolya Str., 19 to pay for the service; 4) Finally pick-up your apostilled document from 4pm till 5.50pm.
Komarovskij market (indoor and outdoor)
Could be an interesting place to visit.
I personally love pancakes which are sold there from the stalls (at the main outdoor entrance).
It`s a nice opportunity to see where local Belarussians go to buy groceries (mostly veggies and meat).
The choice is huge, the food is great, the place is big and noisy like an antfarm. :-)
Address: V. Horuzej Str.
Hugry for some pancakes [ blin`i ]
You can buy pancakes on the streets from vendors. They are not expensive and taste really good. The filling can vary from jam, cheese, meet and mashrooms to caviar.
The one on the picture was taken at the Park next to the Observation Wheel 3 years ago. Mmm..., that pancake with red caviar sure was something..
There is a big choice of them in Komarovskij Market. Right next to the entrance - you`ll see carts all over the place.
- Food and Dining
try and learn a little bit of the language
be polite to everybody when your by your self try not to speak english and ignore the alcoholics don,t take any pounds or dollars with any writing on no bank will touch them if you do take any your best bet is to find a women next to any money kiosk they,ll change them. when your getting money from the cash machine don,t be surprised if all the que are looking at your screen it happend to me every time.don,t expect microwave food and stuff like that if you go in winter get ready for a shock its bloody cold !.make sure you have some dollars with you when you get to the airport for your insurance
Dudutki - the museum of ancient craft and architec
If you really want to know more about the historical past of my country you shoult visit the place of Dudutki - the museum of ancient craft and architecture. You will discover new unknown and even unique things, and even take part in making plates or spoons of wood or in creating pots. Also there are a hotel, restaurant and the place we call banya (some kind of sauna).
The museum is situated in Minsk distrikt, village Ptich.
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
- Horse Riding
Belarustourservice were of great help to me when it came to arranging my visa and sorting out Hotel accommodation in Minsk. I really can't speak highly enough of them.
89-8 R. Luxemburg St
Hold US dollar, spend BYR
Because of high inflation in Belarus, the exchange rate between Belarus rubbles to world hard currencies changes too frequently that the local people tend to hold dollars or other hard currencies instead of country money. It is possible to pay in dollars in the market, but in stores only belarus roblles are the offical currency. So, there are change stands in almost every big stores and a lot on the streets. The manner local people do shopping is like this: Get into the store and find out what to buy; calcuate the total amount of shopping and find the nearest change window to change the exact amount of belarus rubbles; back to the store and pay for the goods.
However, since we are foreigners, some slaesclerk can be so kind that they do accept dollars as far as the amount is right.
Drink, my friend, drink!
If you're from the west, and particularely if you're on a business trip or if you plan to make friends with locals in Minsk - start drinking training at home already, you'll need it. Drinking is an integral part of a meeting, of a pleasurable evening, of negotiations, of celebrating. And "drinking" here means heavy drinking. Mainly vodka of course. Don't be unpolite: Join in, shot by shot, along with your friends (who, by the way, after a shared vodka evening will be more friends than before). Just try to eat as much as you can and drink much water besides vodka - it helps staying clear.
And especially if you're with business partners, talking crap when you're totally drunk could seriously damage the trust your partners have in you.
- Business Travel
The building of National Opera...
The building of National Opera and Ballet Theater
In fact, it is the most popular place between foreign visitors of Minsk. The tickets are very cheap comparing to other countries and performances (in best Russian Ballet traditions) are really impressing. Ballet is possible to watch on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Tuesdays, Thurdays and Saturdays are for opera.
One of the music halls.As far as i remember it called National Phylarmony.U can listen here different types of classical music.
- Theater Travel
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