A stopover from Russia to Poland
Today is Tuesday, 2 September and we say farewell to MOSKBA or Moscow and travelled the 700+ km to Minsk. Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet and it takes a little getting used to. Signs on the highways show Russian and a Latin version of names. So, STOP is written as CTON and RESTAURANT is written as PECTOPAH.
Minsk is located on the southeastern slope of the Minsk Hills, a region of rolling hills running from the southwest (upper reaches of the river Nioman) to the northeast – that is, to Lukomskaye Lake in northwestern Belarus. The average altitude above sea level is 220 metres. The physical geography of Minsk was shaped over the two most recent ice ages. The Svislach River, which flows across the city from the northwest to the southeast, is in the urstromtal, an ancient river valley formed by water flowing from melting ice sheets at the end of the last Ice Age. There are six smaller rivers within the city limits, all part of the Black Sea basin.
Minsk is in the area of mixed forests typical of most of Belarus. Pinewood and mixed forests border the edge of the city, especially in the north and east. Some of the forests were preserved as parks (for instance, the Chelyuskinites Park) as the city grew.
The city was initially built on the hills, which allowed for defensive fortifications, and the western parts of the city are the most hilly.
This morning we left early as we had a long day of travel and didn't cross the border from Russia to the Republic of Belarus until about 2.30pm (actually 3.30pm as we had to put our watches back an hour).
We drove past the region of Borodino, site of Napoleon's great defeat, and stopped for lunch near Smolensk.
Later, we crossed the border into Belarus and continued to Minsk. Belarus is still a communist country with approximately 5 000 state farms. Agriculture is very important to their economy. Here are a few views along the way.
This is a state owned farm.
We had a short stop in the afternoon. the pictures below show some items for sale at the shop. 12 000 Belarussian Rubles equal one Euro.
The picture below shows a TV in the shop. I suspect it wasn't a recent model.
Along the way we saw a Memorial to WW2 (also known as the Great Patriotic War). This memorial was created by each citizen offering a handful of dirt to create the mound on which the memorial was built. Belarus was a nation of 8 million people in the WW2 that lost 2 million people.
At around 5.30pm we entered Minsk and were immediately surprised by the clean and green city that had a vibrancy and was clearly undergoing major construction. nearly all of Minsk was destroyed during the WW2.
We soon reached Victory Square and then crossed the Vistula River.
The Vistula River
The People's Congress venue for exhibitions.
A newly rebuilt Town Hall. This was destroyed during the WW2 so has been rebuilt to look as the original building.
Our hotel was built in what was the Jewish Ghetto prior to WW2. This monument was erected to represent the Jewish people on the march to their death.
The above photos show the Memorial to WW2.
Near our hotel there is the park and museum complex to remember Victory in WW2.
Tomorrow, we traverse the huge plains of Belarus and stop for lunch at Brest on the Polish frontier. Afterwards, we cross the River Vistula and arrive later in Warsaw,