A trip to Minsk to 34MediaDay appeared to be quite enlightening for me. Even though I am a frequent traveler and try not to let the stereotype squeeze into my mind, there was something to discover for me. And something to apologize for.
The first discovery was the smashing of the stereotype about a boring grey city where nothing really happens. To my big surprise, the building from the Stalinist period form a real logical ensemble in the city center. After WWII Minsk had to be built from zero and the core idea of the city plan was to built a perfect Soviet city.
That utopic idea and its reflection in the architecture are thoroughly elaborated by the writer Artur Klinau in his guidebook “Minsk: The Sun City of Dreams”. UNESCO was very close to include the city center into its heritage list, but one new concrete-and-plastic building has destroyed the whole picture. So the sun city is there as it is, and Klinau is organizing amazing tours through it, rain or sun.
What else you should know about Minsk… I love the gentrification of industrial parts: they are rapidly turning into creative spaces.The walls in different city parts are covered with murals, and it’s quite witty that a big part of it is painted by Brazilian street artists in the framework of the festival Vulica Brasil. Cafes and bars are as hipster as they can be. I caught myself on the thought that in Tbilisi and got used to a mishmash in the menus, but here everything is structured: you drink cocktails in one bar, go for a wine to the other, etc.
And the habits of Belarussians are totally different from those we used to imagine in the Georgian tourism board. We were thinking to catch them with old friendships and soulful authenticity, but they rather need clean streets and good service. Logical, because if you live so close to Europe and spend a lot of time there, you get used to the quality, for sure.
And the last and most common thing for me is tips of places to eat and drink:
- Pancakes paradise Depo
- Fast food joint Lauka
- Drinks and live music in Bar Huligan
- Delicious international food in ENZO
- Wine bar Svobody, 4
- Book shop and wine bar Kniharnya Logvinau
- Cool cocktails Banki Butylki
- Stylish beer bar Chapski
- Amazing cocktails and cool atmosphere in El Pushka
And again: I am super grateful to people who were showing me around and took care of me. I hope you will find Minsk as cool as I did and will have a great time there!