As you might know Hockey World Championships took place in Belarus in May 2014 and it was a great opportunity to visit this country without a visa (that normally is difficult to get). All you had to do was to have a ticket for the hockey match – the cheapest one was 10$.
I just couldn’t miss such a chance and so together with some friends we spent few days in Belarus. Our first stop was Grodno and we couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the country that is so close yet so far away.
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First impressions of Grodno, Belarus
Grodno, Belarus is located very close from the Polish border and it certainly had the charming vibe that can be found in the Eastern part of my country too. It also reminded me a lot of Vilnius which shouldn’t be so surprising considering both cities are only 170kms apart.
Grodno was also a part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and up until now is an important center of the Polish community in Belarus (when I was there I randomly visited two beautiful churches at the time where the mass in Polish language took place). The city is one of the oldest in Belarus, dating back to the year 1128.
What to see in Grodno
I spent there couple of hours and it was just enough to see most important monuments – from beautiful small Orthodox churches to the statue of Lenin standing proudly on one of the main squares, from the breathtaking baroque Catholic (Polish) churches to the tank guarding the main road, with its canon pointed in the direction of Poland, from old castle to the restored synagogue.
While all of these interesting places can be found on the right bank of the Neman the other side of the river felt like a completely different world. Old fashioned colorful wooden houses with wooden fences, neatly organized garden patches and kids playing on the sandy roads somehow reminded me of my childhood time and made me enjoy Grodno even more.
Grodno – getaway to Belarus
Grodno made a very good impression on me, as the first encounter with Belarus. I’m well aware this might have been only the facade because of the championships and a big number of foreign visitors. But to me the city looked extremely pleasant and super clean. It felt like a lively city, with lots of people were spending time outside, wandering the cobbled streets in the center or grabbing a beer (a really good one!) in the restaurant.
Everyone was super nice and friendly, trying to interact with us and helping us to deal with the overwhelming Belorussian money (100.000 rubles = 10$). That was the afternoon.
In the evening however, when it was getting dark around 10 p.m., it felt like an abandoned city. There was almost no one on the streets, most of the windows in the blocks we were passing were dark, the light on the streets didn’t turn on until it was very dark. It was slightly uncomfortable but at the same time I felt very safe there.
Grodno was a really great place and I’d love to return there, just to see the big if the life without the big sports event is any different there…Below you can see couple of pictures of very pleasant Grodno, Belarus.
Would you like to visit Grodno, Belarus? What comes to your mind when you think of this country?
If you think of visiting Belarus or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:
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