This was the answer I got when I mentioned to my family that I would like to take them for a little trip to Belarus.
A few weeks later after some research and a bit of paperwork, past the green uniformed officers with very official looking faces and using some serious magnifying glass to inspect our passports at the Minsk airport and hour later of a trip in a massive blacked out limo we felt like a presidential delegation arriving to our five star hotel next to the parliament.
Luckily we did not need a guide how to survive in Belarusian prison but came close when walking out of the hotel and immediately forgetting to use the crossing (traffic violation in Belarus) and bumping into another uniformed officer.
We kept our head down and found a rescue in the nearest restaurant. By chance it was the top restaurant in Minsk serving caviar and champagne to some very pretty Belarusian girls accompanied by slightly older gentlemen with Rolexes on their wrists. 🙂
We have spent next three days walking the massive boulevards of Minsk, trying out some amazing local food (try dumplings, potato pancakes and some local fruit tea or beer) and experiencing friendliness of the local people. Foreigners in Belarus are a bit of an unusual sight.
We found Minsk extremely safe and that was probably partly because there was a bodyguard on 24/7 duty next door to us (I am still intrigued who our neighbour in the hotel room next door was) and because there were another 20 men in black suits with little microphones and wires behind their ears running around the lobby. We also managed to get the parents sat on a comfy sofa nearby just minutes before the TV crew came and started filming whilst they had an argument about something of a little importance when being on a camera for the evening news report.
Minsk does did not disappoint. We got our James Bond moment, had an amazing time, visiting some lovely museums, checking out some great places to eat and chatting to very friendly locals.
Now being back in the U.K., the only thing left from Minsk is a stamp in my passport and some great memories.
Local food: Old town by the town hall
Fast food: the famous KFC with the soviet mural next door to the main shopping mall
French food: Cafe de Paris
Quality restaurants and breakfast places are scattered around the British embassy.
Cafe: Grand Cafe
Hotel: Hotel President
Museum: Museum of WW2 (closed on Mondays)