I’ve visited Belarus previously. I was there in 2015 as part of my European Capital City Guinness Challenge. I’ve just re-read my notes from that trip.  It was a great adventure and I enjoyed it. A country rarely visited by tourists.  It was good to go back ‘virtually’ and cover some aspects I’d missed on my 2015 trip.

Food and Drink

We looked up what they eat in Belarus and had a go ourselves.  Here’s our attempt at a traditional Belarusian dish – draniki (potato pancakes) with a pork stew washed down with a bit of vodka.


I’ve been listening to jazz trumpeter Eddie Rosner. His story is told in a documentary Jazzman from the Gulag.  I eventually found it as part of a Zoom call on YouTube. He escaped occupied Warsaw and settled in Białystok, which was then part of Belorussia. Rosner was already well known, and he formed a Big Band, which soon became the State Jazz Orchestra of the Belorussian Republic of the USSR, and which toured the Soviet Union. Rosner was promoted to running the Soviet State Jazz Orchestra, before falling into disfavour in the 1940s, and spending eight years in a Gulag.


I read  Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015. I think that’s the most depressing and gruelling book I’ve ever read. It is a series of monologues derived from interviews with Chernobyl survivors. The story is very similar to that dramatised in the TV series Chernobyl but has a very different impact on the reader/viewer. In the drama you get lost in the cinematography, the science, the characters. In the book it is straightforward grim – the illness, sickness, poverty and political regime. It also left me both thinking and confused. The scientific academic viewpoint seems mainly to be that deaths and illness (acute and chronic) were relatively few, in strange agreement with the Eastern Belarusian/Russian/Ukrainian ‘official’ view and in contrast to the picture painted in documentaries and literature.

I also read The Ticket Collector from Belarus by Mike Anderson and Neil Hanson and tells the story of Britain’s Only War Crimes Trial. This was a very readable book and evoked different emotions such as ‘Why am I enjoying reading this book when it is about a truly abominable event – the Holocaust’?


I watched In The Fog, a Belarusian film about events in German-occupied Belarus in WWII. A good film and not what I was expecting at all.  I agree with a reviewer who described it as a melancholic masterpiece. 



I managed to rediscover my clock-making mojo which had been missing for quite a few months and shape a clock in the shape of Belarus.  This was helped by the local timber merchants who went to the trouble of finding me a nice 2m bit of timber when I explained I wanted it for craft purposes.

Then came even more of a pleasant surprise. Via a friend, the clock managed to get to Belarusian Dzmitry who lives in Wales. 


No need for me to imagine a journey on a Belarusian railway as I’ve previously visited the country and enjoyed a bit of train travel.  I travelled from Minsk to Brest by train and met some lovely Belarusian people on the train.  In Brest I went to a railway museum.  A few days later I travelled from Brest into Poland on the Moscow to Nice train. Not many pictures of trains though as taking pictures isn’t exactly encouraged in Belarusian stations.  I did get some of the sleeper train after I disembarked in Poland.

Highest Point

Belarus is a pretty flat country  and must have one of the lowest high points for a country of its size anywhere in the world.  The high point is Dzershinsk, west of Minsk and is 345m high. It’s apparently named after the founder of the KGB. The challenge is more getting there than climbing it. On the Peakbagger website someone has jokingly posted a picture of someone summiting using an ice axe.  I enjoyed reading the account of Denise and Richard McLellan from 2019. They made it a bit more of a challenge and managed to get a 9 hour day, 16 mile walk, 2 bus trips and metro ride out of this very straight forward summit- all for less than £2. They reported that Minsk is highly recommended.


I purchased a set of five stamps depicting paintings by Belarusian artists.


I went back in time and recalled Belarusian gymnast Olga Korbut who became the star of the 1972 Munich Games. She was the first gymnast to perform a back flip on the uneven bars which became known as the Korbut Flip. Wikipedia says she now lives in Arizona and works with private gymnastics pupils and does motivational speaking. She sold her medals and in 1999 and has spoken out about alleged sexual assault and rape she suffered at the hands of her coach.


When I visited Belarus back in 2015 I was lucky enough to find eight geocaches including Sidetracked – Minsk.  I like to try and solve a Mystery cache as part of my Armchair Travel Challenge. Most Mystery caches in Belarus are understandably in the Cyrillic alphabet but I did find Send More Money GC6MQ50 and managed to solve it. 


I looked at Belarusian-born Zhores Alferov who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2000 for the development of the semiconductor heterojunction for optoelectronics. The development of semiconductor heterojunctions revolutionized semiconductor design, and had a range of immediate commercial applications including LEDs, lasers, barcode readers and CDs. Alferov moved to Russia and became involved in politics serving in the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, as a member of the Communist Party from 1995.

Current Affairs

Lots in the news about the war in Ukraine but my eye was caught by news of another Belarusian Nobel Prize winner, Ales Bialiatski who won the Peace Prize in 2022. This month the  pro-democracy activist  was sentenced in Minsk to ten years in prison.

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