I'm sorry for just disappearing like that; I was on that trip to Belarus that I mentioned a while ago. I intended to do a post before I left to say I'd be gone, but between going to Illinois to spend the long Easter weekend with family and getting ready to fly overseas, I just ran out of time. Ah well, I am back now.
I spent most of my time in Minsk either in the offices of the company I'd gone there to work with or sleeping in the hotel, but I did get the opportunity to explore the city and surroundings both on my own and guided by some of the folks I was working with. I found it all very interesting, if rather challenging at times since I don't read or speak Russian.
Here's the National Library; there's an observation deck on top of that jewel-shaped section, and at night, it turns into a sort of jumbotron, with ads and desgins scrolling and shifting across the surface of the jewel.
At night, many of the buildings are lit up, making for very attractive street scenes like this one, looking toward the main train station.
I've never visited any Soviet or former Soviet country before, so the hammer and sickle motifs especially caught my eyes. This one is on the monument that tops the Hill of Glory outside the city.
Minsk is not all buildings and monuments, of course. There are many parks and green spaces, too. Here I am in Victory Park on my last evening in the city.
No trip would be complete without looking for nail polish, and I did indeed find some. Unfortunately, most of it was locked up behind glass, so I couldn't pick up all the colors one by one to ponder them the way I tend to do here in the US. Even if I spoke Russian, I don't think I would feel comfortable asking to have every color pulled out for me. I certainly didn't feel comfortable asking the work colleagues I'd just met to ask that for me. Pity, because a lot of it looked really interesting, from brands I'd not seen before or had only seen online or via swapping: Sahara, Hi-Tech, Golden Rose, Dance Legend, Kiki, and Belor Design, among others. I also did see a handful of brands that are readily available here, including Chanel, Dior, Jordana, Orly, and Sally Hansen. There was surprisingly a lot of Sally Hansen, actually; I saw Complete Salon Manicure, Xtreme Wear, Crackle, Magnetic, Gem Crush, and Diamond Strength, along with a lot of different treatments.
Fortunately, I found a couple shops where they had polish in open displays, including one store that had several large metal bowls on stands that I could just paw through. These places got most of my nail polish budget for the trip, though I did impose on one of my newly met work colleagues to get a couple of pretties liberated from behind a counter for me to buy as well.
I don't know if I'll ever go back to Belarus; I'm not sure work will require it, and going as a tourist is harder than many other places (for US citizens, anyway) due to the visa requirements. I hope I can return, and if I do, I will try very hard to learn the Russian words needed to at least make a good attempt at communicating which nail polishes I'd like to buy from the glass walled fortresses.