Explore the real Minsk, not just tourist traps. Bella and Wayne's continuing love story is a little bit of fiction with real-life travel tips. Enjoy!
“Pribet! Ya hachu koffee pajaluista.” Bella looks over at her husband. Wayne turns the page of the Russian phrasebook, mouths something, and then closes his eyes. “Pribet! Ya hachu blini pajaluista.” He looks again at the book and turns to Bella. “Not bad, eh Comrade?”
Bella smiles and closes her eyes again. “очень хорошо, Радость Моя.” Wayne frowns, puts the book on the nightstand, and turns off the light. “You’re such a showoff Bella.” Bella giggles, and the two fall asleep.
“Sleep well?” Francine and Marv are already filling up with blini and fruit when Wayne and Bella join them. A pretty waitress appears with a pot of coffee. “Good morning. Here is some coffee.” Wayne frowns. “Oh, I wanted to order it. I was up late practicing.” Bella places sour cream on a blini, pops it into her mouth, and smiles. “Go ahead. You can order me a tea.” Wayne beams and opens the guidebook. “Pribet. Chai pajaluista.” The waitress smiles, restraining a giggle, and nods. “Of course.”
“You just ordered a toasted shoe.” Bella winks at Marv and Francine who burst out laughing. “What?!” Wayne’s eyes widen as he looks back at the book. Bella places her hand on his, “Darling, I’m kidding. You’re just pronouncing some words wrong. ‘Please’ is pronounced ‘pajahlsta.’ And it’s ‘privjet.’ It only looks like ‘pribet’ in the guidebook.”
“I thought you were an English major.” Wayne frowns some more and spears a blini with his fork.
“Bella’s a woman of mystery, Wayne. If that is her real name.” Marv laughs. Bella winks, reaches over, and pours Wayne a coffee. “I love that you’re trying.”
“Your hotel room on the seventeenth floor of the Hotel Belarus has a spectacular view of the park and central Minsk. The Hilton is visible across the lake, but your budget didn’t extend to the price of a suite there. The Hotel Belarus was THE place to stay until ten years ago when Minsk started booming with dotcom dollars. You can get an American breakfast at the Hilton, but the Hotel Belarus serves a more traditional Belarussian fare.” Hotel Belarus
Bella and Francine walk briskly ahead as Wayne and Marv bring up the rear. “It was a great idea to come here, Wayne. No tour guides, no buses, and the train ride was great. Reminded me of when we rode those sleeper cars as kids.” Wayne nods and smiles. “Right? And those border guards in mini-skirts and boots were not hard on the eyes.” The two men laugh and continue to follow their wives through the park from the hotel to downtown.
“Come on you two slowpokes! We want to shop before lunch.” Bella looks back and chuckles. “I bet they’re talking about the Belarussian border guards.” Francine laughs. “Oh, you can be sure of that. For my money though I preferred those hunky Polish border guards. The blonde one with the machine gun?” Bella and Francine both giggle and let out a pleasurable sigh. “Oh, to be twenty again, Francine.” “Bella, I’d settle for forty!” The two women laugh, as the four exit the park and continue through Old Town, towards Independence Avenue.
“Hey, a Mcdonald's!” Wayne points as they reach the main intersection of Independence Ave and Lenin Street. “You need to watch your cholesterol. Look, GUM is right on the corner.” “A man needs meat, Bella.” Wayne looks longingly at the Big Mac picture on the poster. “Oh, like we never eat meat?” Bella laughs. “You can grill when we get back home.”
“Where’s this TSUM?” Marv turns, looking about. Bella points along the street in the direction of the large Victory monument in the distance. “That way. Not far.” Wayne laughs. “Easy for you to say, Marv and I will have to carry everything you buy.” Marv laughs. “Don’t moan. I want to buy linen and postcards. So weak you aren’t, Darling.” Wayne nods. “Marv and I want to buy vodka.” Bella rolls her eyes, “Pashli! Then, let’s go!”
“The traditional stores in Minsk cannot be beaten for price and unique items you won’t find anywhere else. The GUM (main universal store) an older general department store built in the classic style located on the main Independence Avenue nearer the train station. TSUM (central universal store) is a newer department store just a few miles away from downtown past Victory Square.” Belarus.by
“Why are the signs here in two different types of Russian?” Wayne and Marv are looking uncomprehendingly at the Metro map. “One is Russian, the other is Belarussian.” Bella returns to the group with four purple plastic tokens. “Like in Canada, where signs are in English and French. Here. We’ll need these.” Bella gives everyone a token.
Marv looks at his token and pockets it. “No jumping the turnstiles?” He laughs and pokes Wayne in the ribs. “Like I need to bail you out of a Gulag in the end?” Francine scowls at him. “You’re sticking with me, Buster.”
Bella and Wayne laugh. “This has been a fun day out. I sort of miss sneaking away from the tour guides though.”
“Well, why don’t the four of us take a boat trip together? I’ve always wanted to go to Austria.” A sudden wind and a garbled announcement herald the arrival of the blue train as it comes into the station. “Next stop, the roof restaurant of the Doubletree Hilton?” Wayne smiles. I need a ribeye.” Everyone laughs, and piles onto the train.
“From the Independence Avenue Metro stop Jakuba Kolasa near TSUM to the main train station is only four stops. You can walk back to the Hotel Belarus through the city, via McDonald's, in about 60 minutes if you are not carrying a lot of heavy things. The Minsk metro opened in 1984 and features many charming stations, as well as purple plastic tokens.” Minsk Metro
“The Ember VII Heaven on the 7th floor of DoubleTree by Hilton Minsk provides guests with a dining experience that captures the breathtaking views of the historic Minsk City Centre and the park.” Hilton.com
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