In Your Pocket - Minsk
Miscellaneous: I must admit that I am a huge fan of the "In Your Pocket" guides. They are usually an excellent resource for information about travels to Eastern and Central European cities.
So I was more than happy to download the Minsk guide from the In Your Pocket website, especially as it was a bit difficult to find good travel guides about Belarus.
In Minsk we found the printed version for sale in the "House of Books" (Dom Knigi), which can be found at the Pobediteley Avenue 11. The price was 15600 BYR (about 2 Euro).
The guide not only provides helpful basics about transport, accommodation and restaurants, but also many off the beaten path tips and background information.
- Budget Travel
Travel guide books - Belarus
Miscellaneous: Belarus is still a very undiscovered country, therefore an up to date guide book is highly recommended for individual travels.
Unfortunately, the only guide book in English seems to be the Bradt travel guide - Belarus. In the past I was usually quite happy with Bradt guides for other countries, but I must admit that the Belarus guide couldn't keep up with the high expectations.
It doesn't list much helpful info regarding public transportation, but instead recommends tours with official tour operators. Also the descriptions of smaller cities is very limited. However, it is better to pack the Bradt guide than no guide book.
For German speaking travellers the Trescher - Weißrussland might be a good option. Also this guide doesn't list much practical info regarding transport, but at least the description of the sights are much more detailed and comprehensive.
Bradt Travel Guides: http://www.bradt-travelguides.com/
Trescher Verlag: http://www.trescherverlag.de/
- Budget Travel
Visa to Belarus
Miscellaneous: Lithuania has border with two non - European Union countries - Russia and Belarus. I needed to get visa to Belarus for two days. The things I needed to make before getting to Belarus territory:
1) fill in form with questionnaires about me, my work, purposes of going to Belarus, the place, where I am going and the route inside Belarus, so on.
2) needed to pay ~10 euros both for visa and insurance.
3) wait for visa about 4 days.
4) after getting visa and arriving to the border of Belarus, to fill in immigration paper with quite similar questions as for getting visa, but much less.
It is worth telling, that people from other countries pay much more for visa - around 60 euros.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: if you go in winter invest in a good coat and gloves and scarve and boots first time i went in winter i got the shock of my life you,ve been warned
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: don,t really need anything you can get anything here. you
Photo Equipment: you can get any film here no problem
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: if you go in summer and go to any darcha don,t forget insect repellent
Miscellaneous: if your a fussy eater bring a few nibblers but if you not you,ll love the food here
Luggage and bags: Take a case but check its wheels are in order - the roads are not even close to what you might call smooth.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Anything you wish, but remember it may be quite hot in summer.
Photo Equipment: You will be able to buy basic film cheaper than in Europe, but everything else you think you might need you should take with you.
Miscellaneous: You may have trouble with ATMs and traveller's cheques. Take cash, preferably US Dollars in small notes.
Miscellaneous: I have put this on some of my other pages where it seemed particularly appropriate. Minsk and Belarus in general also deserve this reminder.
I am sure that few VT members need these packing reminders. But for those non-VT members who happen to be browsing these pages (and for those of us, myself included, who may need occasional reminders), I offer the following:
Bring some patience. Things don't work here like they do at home--wherever home may be. If you're from the U.S. (in particular), the whole notion of service, for example, is often quite different and not what you may be used to. Remember, the market economy is a brand-new concept here. Service, in that sense, is new and unfamiliar. Getting impatient and angry is not only counter-productive--it's pointless.
Bring an open-minded palate. Food tastes a bit different here. I happen to think it's wonderful. But, depending upon the kind of trip you plan, you may welll spend a lot of time discovering things, some excellent and some that you wish you hadn't. If you get too serious about it, you won't enjoy the trip.
Bring some generosity of spirit. To Belarussians, if you come from almost anywhere very far away, you come from a rich country. A little reading on your part before you come is highly recommended: the culture is fascinating. Belarus used to be a part of the USSR. It's isn't any more--although it is part of the Commonwealth of Independent States along with Russia and Ukraine. That means, among other things, no midnight customs stops along the border! It also means that history is viewed very differently. And a different viewpoint (neither 'right' nor 'wrong') can be quite enlightening.
The world looks very different from Belarus and is markedly different from what many of us in the West are familiar with (or even know much about). People on VT know enough not to judge, but to enjoy.
Finally, don't forget those two most important items: an open mind and an open heart. If you bring these, you cannot help but have a wonderful time.