It has been almost 5 months since we moved together to Spain.
It’s not that we didn’t like it there, on the contrary. We loved our slow lives, the warm climate, the sea and the comfort of falling asleep in our own bed every night. The time had come to hit the road again and look for new adventures. We wanted to visit Andorra and couldn’t wait to be back in Poland to meet the newborn baby girl of Marta’s sister- little Zosia. Afterward, we were going to undertake a round trip through entire Belarus. Thus we quit our jobs, said goodbye to our neighbors and packed our bags.
As always we were hitchhiking, which is, for some mysterious reason, freaking hard in Spain.
We walked (or waited) for many hours trying to catch rides. And yet, despite all the inconveniences we felt exhilarated and happy not knowing where we would spend the night. We camped in the countryside and enjoyed the warm summer evenings outdoors.
Four days after leaving home we finally reached Andorra. Tired and soaking wet after heavy rainfall but in a surprisingly good mood we entered the apartment of our Couchsurfing host- Manuel. Thanks to him we could spend the next day climbing Via Ferrata and admiring the breathtaking mountains of Andorra. It was a truly extraordinary experience.
After leaving this little state we light speed traveled through France.
Only after two days, we were in Germany drinking coffee with Ben’s parents in their garden.
Craving for some action after only a few days we hitched to Zurich where we got crazy with more than 1 million people on the Street Parade. But it wasn’t the end!
Right after reaching Poland a few days later, we attended another party
– a real Polish wedding which lasted two days and caused loads of hangovers. It also kept Ben very impressed with the variety and amount of food served. But there was no time to waste. We picked up our visas in Warsaw and set off towards East, to Belarus.
We have been looking forward to our visit to Belarus for quite some time. We were both pretty excited to get to know people, culture and history of a country we knew almost nothing about.
Unfortunately, our journey started with a rather unpleasant experience. After crossing the border we had 5 working days to register our visas. Since we arrived on a Wednesday we were sure that the following Tuesday would be the last day to register at the immigration office in Minsk. Thus we took our time to see Brest, Cherni and Baranovici. Our friend, Anton, agreed to help us to register our visas on Monday (a million thanks for that!). However, it turned out that the immigration office is closed on Mondays.
So, long story short: The office is open every day but Sunday and Monday. Though Monday still officially remains a working day. So the conclusion was simple: For them, we were one day late and for us, that was totally ridiculous! We tried everything: asking, shouting, smiling and threatening (we even called our embassies!). There was no way for us to avoid Belarusian justice. After a day-long battle, we eventually had to pay a fine.
Apart from that experience we had exclusively great moments and met only lovely people who made us feel at home from the first second. Each day we were eating the most delicious Belarussian dishes. We are pretty sure that we have tasted all kinds of Draniki (a national dish-sort of a potato pancake). We were even taught how to prepare them!
Belarus doesn’t have breathtaking mountains, beautiful beaches or cities with extraordinary architecture. The country is flat as a flounder, covered with forests and fields. Minsk though has its charm, especially the old town is worth seeing. But it still remains an example of a post-soviet city with massive, grey buildings and wide streets. What we truly loved about this country is its countryside. Lovely little houses painted with every color you can imagine. Great is also the huge stoves inside to cook and keep the interiors warm. We loved the gardens with the craziest decorations and ornaments. Here everyone could admire plastic palms right next to apple trees. We observed animals running around the yards and people chatting on benches in front of their houses. We enjoyed warm teas in the evening and self-made cakes for breakfast. Falling asleep on a feather-stuffed pillow seemed like a first-class luxury after a whole day on the road.
What makes Belarus a genuinely unique country is without any doubt its people. They are unconditionally helpful, cheerful and welcoming as well as easy going and talkative. Every person we had a chance to meet taught us something new. We had a lot of interesting discussions and great laughs together. People we had just met immediately made us feel at ease. We are grateful for every day we have spent together.
After more than 3 weeks of hitchhiking around the Republic of Belarus, we left reluctantly. We want to dedicate this post to all the people we have met in this beautiful country for opening up to us.
Thank you so much for all the help, the enormous hospitality and wonderful moments we have spent together.