Difference between revisions of "Belarus"
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Revision as of 03:03, 22 January 2012
|Currency:||Belorussian Ruble (BRB)|
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|Meet fellow hitchhikers on Trustroots or BeWelcome|
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72% of the population live in towns and cities, and virtually all the population speaks Russian as their first language. In rural areas a mix of Russian and Belarusian may be spoken, but it is not a good idea to try to speak Belarusian (in the capital of the country you will especially be frowned upon by the police, as Belarusian is the language of governmental opposition). It is therefore better to make destination signs in Russian when hitchhiking.
Also, there are two versions of the Belarusian flag – the official one is the red-green flag (also jokingly known as “dusk over a swamp”), whereas the one used by the opposition is a three-striped white-red-white flag. For your own safety, it is not advised to demonstrate the latter one in public.
In big cities, especially Minsk, you can expect young people to speak at least a basic level of English. If you are hitch-hiking to Russia along E30/M1, expect some truck drivers to speak Polish as well as Russian.
Language barrier can cause some troubles since many drivers speak almost exclusively only Russian or Trasianke, the mishmash of Belarusian and Russian, therefore please learn some basic phrases in Russian before you go there. If you do understand some Russian but you are not familiar with Belorussian culture don't get scared or disappointed hearing many swearing words when drivers talk to you – these words aren't directed to you but are rather a simple hearty expression that is very normal for everyone there.
Hitchhiking in Belarus usually is very good and can be quite enjoyable, even though a small number of older drivers might ask for some money when giving you a ride – to avoid that, tell the driver about your intention to travel for free before you sit into the car ("Ja puteshestvuju avtostopom, bez deneg" ["u" is pronounced as "oo" in English] – "I travel by hitch-hiking, not paying any money"). It might be more difficult if you are more than 2 persons travelling together – in such case it would be smart to split up for some time.
Russian and Baltic truck drivers are reluctant to stop for hitchhikers in Belarus while Belorussian and Polish trucks are happy to have a company of some traveller(s). Hitchhiking at night is difficult but if you make yourself very visible you can get a ride even at two o'clock in the night (some cars might stop just because the driver thinks you are a police – light reflectors might give such an impression).
The average waiting time is about 20 minutes. It’s better to travel using main roads as road traffic on local roads is pretty poor. In Belarus there are no roads with limitations for hitchhikers, you can start stopping a car wherever you like, the only exception is bridges. Roadsides are usually big enough to stop even a truck. Main roads are of a very good condition while roads in rural areas might unpleasantly surprise you.
Note: In Belarus you must obligatory wear a flicker (light-returning element) when you are on the road after sunset. The police have a plan to get some amount of violators each month, so the possibility of penalty (about EUR 10) is quite high. It's better to buy a flicker (it costs from EUR 1), and it's not a problem – now they are sold in any shop in Belarus. And it's a good idea to use them anyway when hitchhiking at night.
There are only about fifteen main roads in Belarus, so if you are not staying in Belarus for long you can hitch through having just a print from any Internet source (for example, this ). More detailed maps can be bought in any kiosk of "Belsouzdruk", where newspapers are sold.
In Belarus the road service is very poor, and restaurants in normal amount (for every 30-40 km) exists only on main roads, like E30/M1. But on the way there are usually a lot of small towns and villages, where in the shops you can find anything what you need (and 2-3 times cheaper than in a cafe). And of course, if you want to find some ready dishes, you can go to a students canteen or something like that.
Belarusian number plates end with a number of the department the car is registered in. For example, cars from Minsk end with number 7. See Wikipedia articles on Belarussian vehicle registration plates.
Customs and Borders
Belarus is neither in the European Union nor in the Schengen Common Travel Area, and most non-CIS nationals would require a visa to enter the country. Please note that while there is no border control between Belarus and Russia Belarusian transit visa is still required for foreigners when transiting through the country from Russia to Poland, or vice versa. You can't get a visa at the border.
Customs Locations (Entry Points)
- "Warsaw Bridge" (Варшавский мост) – the biggest crossing point located on E30 near Brest. Crossing is possible only in a vehicle.
- "Kozlovichi" (Козловичи) – for trucks only. Located at the north-western edge of Brest.
- "Domachevo" (Домачево) – vehicular crossing located some 40 kilometres south of Brest.
- Brest (rus: Брест, bel: Брэст, pol: Brześć)
- Gomel (rus, bel: Гомель)
- Grodno (rus: Гродно, bel: Гродна)
- Minsk (rus: Минск, bel: Мiнск)
- Mogilev (rus: Могилёв, bel: Магiлёў)
- Vitebsk (rus: Витебск, bel: Вiцебск)
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