Places Not To Visit… Take One

Perhaps it was the grey, depressing weather. Perhaps it was the joyless Stalinist architecture. Whatever the reason, I did not have a good time in Minsk, Belarus. I’m sure it’s partially my fault. Winter probably isn’t the best time to visit. sm_travel-blogger-Minsk3 My hotel was supposed to be one of the nicer ones in the city, but in reality it was a number of smaller buildings slapped together. As I took an elevator to get to another elevator that finally delivered me to my room, I thought I might need a sherpa to find my way back to the front desk in the morning. The hotel was also attached to a seedy little casino filled with seedy looking guys with closely shaven heads. They all looked like they’ve just been in a fight, or were looking to start one soon. For a few minutes I thought I was over-reacting, and I was just off my game from jet-lag and cultural differences. But then I found the set of two condoms still in their wrapper, sitting on top of my towels in the bathroom. Yes, that’s two unused condoms… from a pack of three. I felt like I needed a shower after my shower. sm_travel-blogger-Minsk2 I could go on and on (the artwork on the hotel walls could be a whole separate blog.) But the other memorable thing that happened to me in Minsk is that I ate the worst meal I’ve had on all my travels… and that includes some things I that I’m still not sure what they were. At a little restaurant that we were told had “the best borscht in Minsk”, I ordered a nice piece of fried fish. The waitress left, came back, and told me that they were out of the fried fish, but that she’d bring some some other fish that I would really like.

What later arrived at the table was a strange gelatinous tube of what looked to be finely chopped fish bits and other colorful flecks. I had to grab the menu to see what the hell had just been dropped in front of me. Right there on the menu (in English, for the occasional borscht-loving foreign businessperson) it said “Cold Carp Loaf”. Yes, someone had dropped a carp in a blender, jellified it, and then smooshed it into a delightfully unappetizing sliceable brick of wiggling goo. And don’t forget- served cold… just because.

With our Belarusian guide and host watching, I was hoping that my later description was going to be “flavorless!” Alas, it had a flavor… and it was not a good one. It tasted like it looked. And no, I didn’t take a picture of it. It will just have to live on in my thoughts of “places I never need to visit again.” sm_travel-blogger-Minsk1