Author(s): Nigel Roberts
With one foot still in its Soviet past, Belarus might not be the most obvious choice for travellers, but its isolation is at the heart of its appeal. Those who venture here will find a history rich in heroism and tragedy, set amid a landscape of primeval birch forests, snow-edged lakes and cornflower fields, replete with golden-orbed Russian Orthodox churches and villages where age-old traditions still hold sway. While it's easy for visitors to feel as though they've slipped into another time and dimension, they'll encounter singular hospitality and a genuine welcome. Nigel Roberts' Belarus, the only standalone guide in English to the country, combines detailed background information with expert practical advice for those seeking to take the road less travelled.
Nigel Roberts is a lawyer by profession, but he has now turned his back on the law to concentrate on a writing career as well as the work of the charity he co-founded 12 years ago, the object of which is to promote sustainable development projects with rural communities blighted by the Chernobyl catastrophe in a rural district in the south-east of Belarus. He has travelled extensively throughout the country and is a Russian speaker. He knows the district of Vetka particularly well and is always welcomed into the heart of the community by the same local family as if he were a son of the soil. He has written on Belarus for the magazines Abroad (based in Dublin) and hidden europe (based in Berlin). He also contributed a bus route to Bradt's recently published Bus Pass Britain Rides Again.
Introduction viii PART ONE GENERAL INFORMATION 1 Chapter 1 Background Information 3 Geography 3, Climate 4, Natural history and conservation 4, History 7, Government, politics and administration 18, Economy 25, People 28, Language 30, Religion 32, Education 35, Culture 36 Chapter 2 Practical Information 43 When to visit 43, Highlights 45, Suggested itineraries 46, Tour operators and tourist information 47, Red tape 50, Embassies 55, Getting there and away 56, Health 66, Safety 70, Women travellers 73, Travellers with disabilities 74, Ethnic minority travellers 75, Gay and lesbian travellers 75, Travelling with kids 75, What to take 76, Electricity 79, Money 79, Budgeting 80, Getting around 81, Accommodation 88, Eating and drinking 92, Public holidays 96, Shopping 96, Arts and entertainment 97, Photography 98, Media and communications 99, Business 102, Buying property 104, Cultural etiquette 104, Travelling positively 105 PART TWO THE GUIDE 113 Chapter 3 Minsk City and Oblast 115 Geography and climate 117, History 117, Highlights 122, Getting there and away 123, Getting around 124, Tourist information 124, Where to stay 126, Where to eat and drink 135, Entertainment and nightlife 144, Shopping 146, Other practicalities 147, What to see and do 150, Outside Minsk 167 Chapter 4 Brest City and Oblast 183 History 185, Getting there and away 188, Getting around 189, Tourist information 189, Where to stay 192, Where to eat and drink 193, Entertainment and nightlife 194, Shopping 195, Other practicalities 195, What to see and do 195, Outside Brest 202 Chapter 5 Grodno City and Oblast 209 History 211, Getting there and away 213, Getting around 213, Tourist information 214, Where to stay 214, Where to eat and drink 216, Entertainment and nightlife 218, Shopping 218, Other practicalities 218, What to see and do 219, Outside Grodno 224 Chapter 6 Vitebsk City and Oblast 227 History 229, Getting there and away 232, Getting around 232, Tourist information 233, Where to stay 233, Where to eat and drink 235, Entertainment and nightlife 236, Shopping 236, Other practicalities 236, What to see and do 236, Outside Vitebsk 243 Chapter 7 Mogilev City and Oblast 255 History 256, Getting there and away 258, Getting around 258, Tourist information 259, Where to stay 260, Where to eat and drink 261, Shopping 262, Other practicalities 262, What to see and do 263, Outside Mogilev 266 Chapter 8 Gomel City and Oblast 267 History 270, Getting there and away 274, Getting around 275, Tourist information 276, Where to stay 276, Where to eat and drink 278, Entertainment and nightlife 280, Shopping 280, Other practicalities 280, What to see and do 280, Outside Gomel 285 Appendix 1 Language 290 Appendix 2 Further Information 295 Index 299 Index of advertisers 302