Strolling through Minsk

Now this isn’t the first time I have been to an ex-Soviet place, but it’s the first time I’ve blogged about somewhere that is still as Soviet influenced. So it is interesting for me to wonder.
People here don’t seem to rush or dawdle, I’m usually walking much faster or slower. I wonder if I’ll be considered strange.

It’s so interesting to walk through these post-Stalin era tower blocks. In fact these ones look quite new don’t they?

I’m trying to find my way into the heart of the neighborhood but strangely quite a few places labelled as paths have been closed off with metal fences. In the residential areas you definitely get watched, but it doesn’t feel malicious, I suppose it’s like a neighborhood watch thing.

I found something strange as I made it to a path through the park, but the man in camouflage appears to have been feeding pigeons living in this bizarre structure. To me it looked like something else.

Now I’m walking along the road towards more panel buildings. I can’t believe this city only has 2 million inhabitants. Look at all the high-rises on the map. They seem to have about 20 floors each and there’s got to be a minimum of four apartments per floor (and that’s if they are all huge).

I was walking to a statue marked as Lenin on my map. Turns out it’s at a school in the playground and there are four children out there this morning raking leaves and tidying the place up. There are an unbelievable number of four-storey buildings and there is a wide tree-lined avenue and green space separating them and it seems fairly pleasant. There’s no art or graffiti and very little colour.

In this neighborhood I have come across a large square surrounded by powerful Soviet battle memorials including a T-34 tank on a plinth. I find it surprising just how much pure Soviet imagery is here, in a country that declared independence in 1991.

I’ve been here in this district wandering around for about an hour and I’ve got one last intended stop before I get back on the metro. Another Lenin statue, this one being cleaned by some young military boys.

It was worth the excursion out here to see a different side of Minsk, the one that the vast majority of citizens live in.

At Uschod Metro station I got off to visit the observation deck of the Belarus National Library. The deck, cafe and gallery are open 1200-2300.

I paid the 3.5 BLN price to go to the observation deck, which had a great view of a different area of Minsk to the downtown view. I had coffee and a light lunch of Draniki at the Gray Cafe in the 22nd floor and then I jumped back onto the metro to (hopefully) grab some bubble tea from the other place on the map that says they sell bubble tea…

Success! It was so cheap and so refreshing that I ended up having two to compensate myself for missing out the other day.

Then I decided to stroll the 3.5 kilometres back to my hostel in time to collect my bags and head to the railway station for my hire car. I got to walk down one of the huge Stalin boulevards and past the National Technical University which went on for ages. I can’t wait for this next road trip!

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