Sponsor Message:
Aviation Trip Reports Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
The White Country And Airline: TBS-MSQ-KBP  
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 8884 times:

Introduction

So I had gotten myself to Tbilisi, Georgia (see the story here: The Finn Went To Georgia: HEL-TLL-TBS (by FlyingFinn76 Aug 25 2012 in Trip Reports) ). Obviously I needed a way out - not that I’d particularly like to leave this country, but I have commitments and I’m not sure how the job market in Georgia is these days.

When searching for flights there were some interesting ones, some boring ones and some weird ones. And one of the weird ones caught my attention - Belavia, the flag carrier of Belarus, the closed European dictatorship that keeps longing for the grandiose days of the Soviet Union and not quite wants to wake up and smell the glasnost was offering some decently priced one way fares ex-TBS. Now flying with Belavia would be great not only for logging a new airline, but also the fact that it would make for a convenient excuse for getting a transit visa to Belarus for a visit to Minsk. Belarus visas aren’t exactly the easiest things to acquire, so the transit option seemed to be the best one.

The destinations that caught my attention were my final destination of HEL, the easily accessible ARN and finally KBP in Ukraine. In the end I bought flights to Kyiv, as it had me with the longest layover, good for visiting the city. Also Kyiv offered the possibility for another interesting aviationwise experience, more about that on the next part. Cost for TBS-MSQ-KBP was 149 EUR in total.



Initially I was planning on getting the visa on arrival. For those countries that have a Belarus consulate or embassy this costs double the normal fee, but as Finland doesn’t have one it wouldn’t be a problem... Except for the fact that between booking and my trip they actually opened an embassy in Helsinki! So I still had to drag my arse to the embassy a couple of times to drop off my passport and fetch it with the visa, but that was quite okay really. A surprisingly easy process and cost only 20 EUR, quite civilized.

Thursday 19.7.2012

As usual with these westbound flights from TBS the departure is at the wee hours of the morning. Getting to the airport seemed to be a bit of a problem as the bus service stops running at night and even though they have a train connection (with a fancy new train station at the airport which looks so cool) the trains are very infrequent and would get me there more than six hours before my flight, no thanks! Well, my new Georgian friend again came to my rescue, and he insisted that he drives me to the airport. Originally he wanted to leave at 2AM for a 4AM flight but I said I’d rather be there around midnight and catch a some zzz. He thought I was nuts but honored my request and met me around eleven at an outdoor bar near my “hotel” at the edge of the old town.

A quick drive to the airport with a stop to take in the panorama of the millions of lights of the Tbilisi valley all lit up - gorgeous view but couldn’t get any halfway decent photos of it, sorry!

At the airport we finally bid goodbye to each other, I cannot thank George enough for the amazing kindness and hospitality but he just shrugs it off.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_1.jpg

I enter the terminal, take in the quite modern surroundings (it is a new terminal) and then head to the loo to change out of my shorts as the weather forecast for Minsk promised temperatures some 15-20 degrees lower than in Georgia.

Yes, it is around midnight and the place is just starting to get busy:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_2.jpg

FIDS - yeah, keep rubbing that Batumi flight in, will ya:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_3.jpg

Or maybe you prefer Georgian instead:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_4.jpg

I love you too:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_5.jpg

The name of this airline always gives me a chuckle, in the extremely unlikely situation that I’d ever find myself finding them I most certainly wouldn’t dare to use the toilets:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_6.jpg

The security staff driving around with a Segway:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_8.jpg

Friday 20.7.2012

When the day turns into the next one I realize I didn’t drink any of Georgia’s gorgeous wines (some people claim wine was actually invented around here) so I have to fix that at the bar - Saperavi, yes please (and a big boo to the Finnish Alko who used to sell a perfectly fine brand of Saperavi but no longer do so, I most certainly hope this is not due to pleasing the Big Bear!):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_7.jpg

After the wine I still have almost two hours before the check in is scheduled to open so I decide to catch some shuteye. Downstairs is a madhouse with tons of people, but upstairs in front of the passport controls is nice and quiet. I find a suitable corner and drift off...

…only to be woken by a security official some one and half hours later. He asks for my passport and after checking it tells me that upstairs is “no waiting area, go downstairs!”. Fine, the check in is about to open anyway so thanks for the wake up, mate!

Some fifteen minutes later the desks are indeed opened:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_9.jpg

There’s a huge scrum in front of them but no clear queues. Well, being the opportunist I am I manage to be one of the first ones to be checked in. The conversation goes like this:

- “Do you have a visa?”
- “Yes, I have a transit visa for Belarus.”
- “Visa for Ukraine?”
- “I don’t need a visa for Ukraine.”
- “Okay.”

The girl makes a cursory glance through my passport and tags my roller to KBP (now I just have to trust the MSQ airport baggage handlers!). My request for a window seat in the last row confuses her a bit - “First row?” - “No, last row, please”. Well, I end up in the penultimate row but fine with me. Finally she hands me my two boarding passes, wishing me a nice flight.

Upstairs through the immigration where the girl basically asks the very same visa questions as the check in agent (do they have a script?). Satisfied by my answers she stamps me out of the country and I enter the airside area.

This place reminds me a bit of Atatürk airport, well it was built and operated by the same company so hardly a surprise! Just like IST the security here is at the gates too, which is always annoying.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_10.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_11.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_12.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_13.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_14.jpg

No MickeyDee here:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_15.jpg

I spend the last of my Lari on a beer at the Efes Beer Port (price about three times as much as the going rate in the city) and try unsuccessfully to get the free wifi to work.

Eventually I head to the gate where the security checkpoint is empty and the whole process quite smooth. Outside the plane has already arrived, the expected 737-500 model:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_16.jpg

I find a power socket to charge up my mobile and sit down on the carpeting (shudder), trying to resist dozing off (not yet, onboard please!).

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_17.jpg

Hmm, what’s this:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_18.jpg

The gate area starts filling up, it soon becomes apparent it will be a well loaded flight. I’m most definitely the only non-Belarussian and non-Georgian passenger on this flight. There’s a large group of Georgian teenage boys, some sort of football team wearing their team jumpers and generally being a pain in the arse as only teenage boys can!

After a while two of the Belavia FAs emerge through the security check point carrying duty free bags seemingly full of something - always funny when you see that happening  . After they’ve disappeared into the jetway the boarding is called barely five minutes later, around three thirty in the morning.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_19.jpg

TBS - MSQ
B21736
B737-500 EW-294PA
Seat 22F
04.04 - 06.02

A business friendly welcome from the middle aged female purser in Russian/Belarussian (can’t really tell the difference), but she does reply “Hello, welcome.” in English after I use this language.

Yep, Belavia it is:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_21.jpg

The seats, old fashioned thick cloth seats - notice the seemingly horrible legroom:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_20.jpg

And not only seemingly, the legroom is quite frankly horrible:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_22.jpg

Unfortunately I’m surrounded by the noisy football kids, actually one of them is sitting on my seat so I have to kick him out. It turns out that he has the seat next to me, bugger. These kids seem to be very excited to be going abroad and some of them on the last row (which only has the DEF section BTW, there’s a galley on the other side - never seen this on a 737 before!) are trying very hard to impress the cute young FA with their Russian. The poor girl is blushing at the attention.

One of the lads actually spots me watching them and asks me “Is that your seat?”. I’m tempted to say that no, it’s not my seat, I just bloody enjoy the heavy stench of teenager testosterone in the air and chose to sit there but decide to hold my temper and just confirm that yes, it indeed is my seat.

They could put a PTV here to broadcast some Lukashenka propaganda:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_23.jpg

The flight appears to be completely full at least in economy. I think there were two or three rows in front of the curtain, no idea of the load there.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_24.jpg

Eventually the purser announces the flight time as 2h50mins (no word from the cockpit at all on this flight) and we push back six minutes early.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_25.jpg

The old, Soviet-style terminal lit up very nicely:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_26.jpg

Take off is from 31R a few minutes later.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_27.jpg

Right after take off I finally fall asleep, despite the noisy teenagers (noise canceling headsets help a lot here) and the crap legroom.

Maybe an hour later I wake up to the service cart reaching my row. Outside the new day is dawning:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_28.jpg

The cute young FA hands me this mystery bag:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_29.jpg

Inside there’s a sandwich (I think it was chicken):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_30.jpg

A small chocolate bar and a wetwipe:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_31.jpg

I ask for some water, eat the sandwich (surprisingly good) and the chocolate (excellent), down the water and crash again.

Sometime later I wake up and notice that there’s a beautiful dawn view of the Sea of Azov outside:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_32.jpg

After snapping a few photos I drift off again - this is all the sleep I’m going to get this night so I most certainly need to maximize it!

The next time I come to my senses the crew is just preparing the cabin for landing. Indeed we are already quite low over the Belarussian landscape:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_33.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_34.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_35.jpg

Landing is on runway 31 after around 2h55mins of flight time.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_36.jpg

Aeroflotski heading to SVO - notice the IL-76s on the background - there’s a lot of old Soviet hardware around here:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_37.jpg

Docking to a jetway next to a larger -300 model:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_38.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_39.jpg

At this point I start wondering just what have I signed up for, after all you hear all kinds of things about Belarus...

National Minsk Airport (yes, that is its official name), take 1

I’m in no hurry to leave the plane, after all it is just past six in the morning so I am one of the last ones to walk down the aisle (hmmm) and up the jetway. Now one of the official scams they run in Belarus is that everyone visiting the country needs a medical insurance policy. Okay, that is not really a scam as I find it a sound policy even though it is against your freedom of choice. But what is a scam is that they only accept policies from certain Belarus companies with a few exceptions (most of these being Russian insurance companies). So before immigration there’s a hall with booths for two companies selling insurance.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_40.jpg

I found some contradicting information, some sources claimed that when entering Belarus with a transit visa (like me) you don’t really need the insurance. Some other sources claimed that it is always mandatory for foreigners. So I decide to play it safe and join the queue for one of the booths which takes a long time.

My bird is parked outside.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_41.jpg

Eventually it is my turn, the woman very effectively prepares the paperwork and after ponying up 2 EUR (very reasonable actually for a single day policy, euro coins accepted just fine) I head downstairs to the immigration hall.

For some reason they never handed out the immigration card onboard (or maybe I slept through it) so I fill one in - the questions in this one actually make sense and are presented in impeccable English, unlike the Ukrainian card... After filling the card in I head for the immigration booth where a youngish woman checks my paperwork and stamps me into the country, just like that! Wow, this was actually far easier than entering the US for example.

I ask somebody in the luggage hall whether I am supposed to pick up and recheck my baggage but the guy assures me that my bag will be going straight to Kyiv, thanks, this is all I wanted to hear!

And then I walk through the customs (disinterested staff couldn’t care less) and properly enter the country. Inside the arrivals hall I take a deep breath - wow, did I just enter the most secretive and closed of the European countries just like that? Yes I did!

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_42.jpg

Next task is to get some cash - there’s a tiny exchange booth right there so after queuing up I hand in the 80 USD I had left from my US trip a month before and receive a ridiculously thick wad of Belarusian Rubles:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_43.jpg

1 EUR is around 10K Ruble so I’m almost a millionaire! Thanks to inflation that’s been running amok and a struggling economy there’s a constant shortage of cash here - in many places when you paid with large notes the reaction was a lot of eyes being rolled, heads being shaken and theatrical gestures. Oh and they also had some 200 and 500 Ruble notes, or 2 and 5 eurocents respectively - very useful!

Before heading to the city I decide that some breakfast is on order - two levels up on the departure level there’s a rather nice looking restaurant which looks just like a restaurant in Leningrad around 1975:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_47.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_44.jpg

Well, you didn’t have Fanta in Leningrad back then and even Pepsi only appeared in the 80s, I give you that:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_46.jpg

Airport branded sugar, never seen this anywhere else:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_45.jpg

After getting some food and more importantly some caffeine into my system I head out to look for the airport bus which some guides claim is well hidden but the bus stop was very easy to find, actually you can see the bus right in this photo:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Minsk_48.jpg

MSQ is in the middle of nowhere, over 40 kilometers from the city, but the bus ride costs a very reasonable 1.20 EUR. Sticking to my track record with buses I of course fall asleep somewhere in the middle of the brand new but mostly empty motorways. Eventually I wake up just in time for getting off at the first metro stop, I really want to ride the metro the rest of the way.

Minsk

Here are some pictures from Minsk. I was a little wary of using the camera, after all this is an authoritarian dictatorship with a secret police that is well known for arresting people with phoney charges and keeping a tight grip on its own citizens.

But in general Minsk was a really, really weird place. It had the old Soviet feel everywhere, looked like St. Petersburg or Moscow before they started the reckless building spree that is still going on there. There was notably less traffic and cars on the streets than in many other ex-Soviet places (a sign of the poverty of the average citizen I assume), although there were quite a few high class western bling bling models around, but not to the same extent as in Kyiv for example.

Everything was impeccably clean, there were *a lot* of cleaners around and I’m pretty sure that littering is a punishable offence so people don’t do it. And of course there were quite a few police/militia/security folks around - some statistics put Minsk as the safest city in Europe due to the number of policemen per capita!

This is the suburb where I switched the airport bus to the metro:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_1.jpg
In the centre:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_2.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_3.jpg

English, ooh:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_4.jpg

Out of the MEB3 only Etihad flies to MSQ:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_5.jpg

The Svislach river:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_6.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_7.jpg

The usual communist monuments galore:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_8.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_9.jpg

I know some a.netters would love this bar:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_10.jpg

One of the main streets - appropriately named Lenin Street:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_12.jpg

No, this is not a church - it is the town hall:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_11.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_13.jpg

Well this one is actually a church - you can easily see the Lithuanian baroque architectural influences:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_14.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_15.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_16.jpg

Hotel D’Europe - the best and most expensive hotel in town:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_17.jpg

Belarus is indeed is an odd mix of totalitarianism and pseudo market economy - I was quite surprised to see TGIF in town:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_18.jpg

Also McDonald’s was there and insanely popular - long queues. I just had to go there in order to be able to say that I’ve done it:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_19.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_20.jpg

This is the main street - in Moscow this would be clogged with cars:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_21.jpg

The people need fun and games too:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_22.jpg

Oh please:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_23.jpg

Fun and Games part 2, this is actually a circus - many ex-Soviet places have these fixed circuses as opposed to the big top tent kind of things we westerners associate with the word. I once visited the one in Riga, that certainly was an interesting experience:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_24.jpg

The Svislach again:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_25.jpg

Does this mean the same thing as in Holland:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_26.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_28.jpg

The obligatory imposing tank shot - a T-34 standing in front of some governmental building:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_29.jpg

Another government office - had to be discreet with this photo as there were a lot of guards on patrol on the streets around it:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_30.jpg

This building apparently is the headquarters of the Belarusian KGB (they never bothered changing the name like they did in Russia proper). It is located right on the main boulevard, in the middle of the shopping area:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_31.jpg

Some tea:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_32.jpg

...and absolutely delicious pancakes on a cafe just opposite the KGB building.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_33.jpg

I noticed a very interesting thing in that cafe. My camera was on the table and I was sitting in a covered patio -type of place which extends halfway across the sidewalk, so people walking past were just half a meter from me. The camera was well visible to the people walking past. Every single person (and I really mean everyone!) who did so noticed my camera and immediately made a sly, quick look at my face and then sort of hung their heads a bit and hurried away! It really makes you think... I think these people are well accustomed to the constant fear or being photographed and observed and then... well, it usually doesn’t come with a happy end, I’m sure. Really odd.

Since the metro costs a whopping 15 eurocents a pop (the standard Soviet system of prepaid tokens bought from a kiosk) I went for a joyride. They apparently have some really fancy and beautifully decorated stations there, but unfortunately they had big signs banning photography, a lot of police around and even some surveillance cameras at the stations so I only took a few pictures and decided to abort that mission.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_34.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_35.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_38.jpg

Well, obviously I had to sample some local brews too:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_36.jpg

To my surprise I found a sushi chain (Planet Sushi, apparently quite popular in Russia) which offered some other Asian (or more like “BelAsian”) versions of Asian dishes. The prices were about the double of the normal food prices (which means they were less than half of western prices) and the menu and the girls even had some basic English:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_37.jpg

Yeah, speaking of English - don’t go here unless you can at least read the cyrillic alphabet. Nobody, and I mean nobody outside the airport really speaks English. The young people at McDonald’s and the sushi place knew pidgin English which made things a little bit easier (and after all “Cappuccino” is the same in any language...). Knowing some phrases and key words in Russian makes a helluva difference.

Eventually it was time to head back to the airport. The airport buses leave from the “Moskovskaya” bus station. I had no idea how to get there, but there was a metro station with the same name which seemed to indicate that this would be a good bet. So I ride the metro there, get off and notice a sign saying “Moskovskaya Avtobusvokzal 500m” so looks like I hit paydirt!

While walking there I spot the “Death Star” or the very curiously shaped Belarus National Library, one of the symbols of “modern” Minsk:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_39.jpg

The bus station is straight out of 1950’s Soviet Russia:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_40.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_41.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_42.jpg

Unfortunately I had to go and use the toilets there - not for the faint of heart, let me tell you that! I manage to buy my ticket from the cashiers and even find the right bus.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_43.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_44.jpg

Speeding through the vast Minsk suburbs:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_45.jpg

And then the deserted motorways:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/Minsk_46.jpg

Somewhere along the way I drift off into the land of the dreams...

National Minsk Airport, take 2

So I got back into the airport with some time to spare. There’s a wifi network but you need to buy an access card from the shop. This is dirt cheap though (40 eurocents for two hours) - but the lady writes down your passport details when you buy one, hmm...

So I sit down in the bar, use the wifi and buy a (dirt cheap, see this is a trend in Belarus - Jonas would love it here) beer:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_1.jpg

Eventually I head off to find my gate.

35 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 1, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 8944 times:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_2.jpg

Oh, this is it:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_3.jpg

Hmm:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_4.jpg

The departure process can be summarized as “interesting”. First you queue here to a door that opens randomly to let a couple of people through. Inside a woman in uniform (mmmm) takes a look at your passport. Then you pass through a metal detector, with Xray for your luggage. Doesn’t seem too tight, no need to take belts, watches etc. off and the machine hardly beeps. Next come the check in desks - I ask the lady there whether I could have a window seat instead of the aisle one I was assigned back in TBS. She gladly complies with this, but unfortunately it is a seat on row 12, almost next to the CRJ hairdryers. Then you walk forward to immigration (shouldn’t that be “emigration” actually?) where your passport is again stamped. Then around the corner to... ANOTHER SECURITY CHECK! Yes, this one seems to be the real deal, with laptops, belts etc. off and much stricter than the one before, wonder what that was about...

After that I emerge inside the gate area which is packed. Packed with people, packed with duty free stores and packed with more people.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_6.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_8.jpg

Interestingly if you wander a bit away from the scrum you find large empty areas - this airport is really weird:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_9.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_10.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_13.jpg

FIDS:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_14.jpg

Well, I still have quite a few Rubles with me (since everything was so dirt cheap here I really couldn’t spend them all) I go on a bit of a shopping spree with some nice quality and very decently priced local linen, some local vodka (got two bottles - one was excellent, the other tasted like Jet Fuel A-1!) and more of those delicious choccies they handed out on the flight.

Dual toilets:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_7.jpg

EW-294PA which brought me here standing on the apron:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_5.jpg

This is the only CRJ standing on the apron so I guess it’ll be doing the honors of shuttling me down to Ukraine:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_11.jpg

Notice the number of IL-76s:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_12.jpg

After this I still have quite a stash of the money so I head to the bar in an effort to drink them. Well, there’s a loooong queue, quite a few Ukrainians (my fellow passengers I guess) are downing vodka like it is going out of fashion and the bartender isn’t the fastest guy on the block. So in the end I have time just to get a bottle of water and one shot of vodka which hardly makes a dent in my Ruble stash so eventually I end up bringing a wad of cash home as a souvenir.

Boarding is of course with a bus. The bus windows are a bit tinted so these photos look a bit weird:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_15.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_16.jpg

Can’t catch the CRJ registration here, oh well, have to do it in Kyiv I guess.

MSQ - KBP
B2845
CRJ-200 EW-100PJ
Seat 12A
17.37 - 18.27

Two cute young FAs on this CRJ - well labor is still cheap here so they can afford it! Actually they had four FAs on the 735 this morning. I get the bunch of Ukrainians who were holding up the bartender on my row. The one next to me tries some basic conversation with me which is quite complicated as he speaks about five words of English, and me twenty words of Russian. Well the guy has such a strong stench of vodka that I just hope he’d keep his mouth closed... After hearing that I’m from Finland his friend on the other side of the aisle pulls out a full one liter bottle of Finlandia vodka from his duty free to show it to me, so I give him the thumbs up sign. Well, at the end of this 45 minute flight that bottle was empty...

Legroom is better than on the 737:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_17.jpg

Quite standard CRJ cabin and seats:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_18.jpg

I get a bit of an uneasy feeling after I smell something burning, but nobody else seems to even notice it. Oh well, maybe it is just the captain’s cigarette.

Belavia fuel for Belavia planes:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_19.jpg

The safety card:



Oh, also Belavia is joining the “no glasses” madness:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_28.jpg

No announcement about the flight time - and as on the previous flight nothing from the cockpit at all. Departure is seven minutes late, for no apparent reason.

Belarus state planes:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_20.jpg

Some Tu-154s:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_21.jpg

The captain seems to be in a hurry as we speed it down the taxiway, make a steep turn for runway 31 and immediately hit the engines to full throttle. The take off that follows can only be described as “rocketlike”.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_22.jpg

My seatmate keeps sending some SMSes during the taxi, but right as we enter the runway he nods off and starts snoring loudly, spewing toxic alcohol fumes around.

Almost immediately after getting airborne we make a sharp turn towards the right to point the nose south towards Kyiv. The pilot must be an ex Soviet Air Force one judging from his frisk maneuvers:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_23.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_24.jpg

And then we disappear into the clouds:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_25.jpg

That’s a nice winglet:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_26.jpg

I doze off for a while too (well you can hardly blame me, can ya?) coming back to my senses after the drinks cart is nearing my row. Taking a look outside I see we are already flying over the wide parts of the Dnieper river just north of Kyiv which means we should be landing in ten minutes or so:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_29.jpg

My seatmate wakes up for the service too. Juices, tea and coffee are offered - we both opt for pineapple juice. My seatmate adds a (un)healthy dose of Finlandia, also offering me some but I decline:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_30.jpg

Right after this the seat belt ding is heard so the FAs hurry to collect the trash and prepare the cabin for landing.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_31.jpg

Town of Boryspil (after which the airport is named) in the distance:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_32.jpg

Landing is on 18L, flight time around 45 minutes.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_33.jpg

While taxiing to our apron parking position there are some interesting planes to see:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_34.jpg

Air Onix, a new startup carrier offering flights to SIP from both KBP and IEV:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_35.jpg

Man this livery is so cool:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_36.jpg

Stopping next to a LOT footballjet:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_37.jpg

While waiting to get off the plane I take a closer look at the seats - appears to be bubblegum:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_38.jpg

Notice the worn carpeting:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_39.jpg

Bye:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_40.jpg

From the bus I see that I flew with EW-100PJ, a CRJ-200LR model which has been with Belavia since 2007 and previously with Air Littoral, Eurowings, Avionca Canada (who the heck are they?) and even Mesa.

Kyiv

I was a bit surprised that they didn’t hand out Ukrainian immigration cards in the plane. Inside the immigration hall they have them, but as everybody just makes a beeline to the counters I decide to follow suit. To my surprise this is enough, after a few cursory questions the young but not very friendly guy stamps me into Ukraine. Wow, they seem to have streamlined this process a lot, the last time I was in the country three years ago it was far more complicated...

Next stop is to get my luggage, to my relief my roller shows up just fine, albeit missing one frequent flyer baggage tag, maybe the Minsk baggage handlers are big fans of KLM. My Eurobonus one is still intact, though.
http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_41.jpg

In the arrivals hall I exchange some Hrivna before heading outside to search for the SkyBus.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_42.jpg

Transport between Kyiv city and Boryspil airport used to be a bit complicated as the options were basically either a taxi (with the usual taxi artists - no taxi in Ukraine has a meter and 99% of the drivers only speak Ukrainian/Russian so there are plenty of opportunities for ripping tourists off) or a public bus which was dog slow, packed with people and the signs for the bus stop were non existent plus it was located at an odd location away from the terminals - all in the name of protecting the taxi mafia I’m sure.

Luckily they have now introduced something they call the “SkyBus” which is a shuttle service between the Kyiv main station and the airport only stopping once en route, at a metro station. They even had a nice website where you supposedly are able to buy your ticket online but it never worked for me. So I fight through the usual throng of guys offering taxis at “special prices”, locate the stop and then the fun begins.

There are about two million people there so the first bus that comes gets totally full and I don’t make it. Well, some people who cut the line do make it, but well, if it’s really that important for you then by all means go. I can wait. After all these buses are supposed to run every 20 minutes.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_43.jpg

Except that they don’t. Sure enough, in 20 minutes another one shows up and even discharges its passengers nearby. But then it just drives past our queue (which keeps growing and growing) and heads off somewhere. This happens a few times, until 50 minutes after the first bus one actually stops and opens its doors, allowing me to board it.

Oh well, at least the fare at around 2.50 EUR is cheap as chips.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_44.jpg

Kyiv traffic being what it is even on a Friday night the ride takes almost an hour - we make it into Kyiv in 20 minutes but the rest is spend traversing the clogged streets towards the station. Finally we pull off in front of the new “Pivdenny” station which is on the other side of the tracks from the Central station:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_45.jpg

From there it is a 20 minute walk (uphill, pooh!) to my hotel, the Ibis. Boy am I glad that I decided to spend a little more money and booked the Ibis instead of some obscure el cheapo local hotel - after all it’s around 36 hours since I left the last hotel room in Tbilisi!

This is a new hotel so the standard Ibis room is in impeccable condition:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_46.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_47.jpg

And yes, they do have air conditioning!

I really want to collapse into the bed but still need some food so after refreshing a bit I head out to find a take away place. That proves impossible (well the next morning I realized there were plenty of kebab joints just 200 meters further than I ventured...), but at least I find a supermarket to stock up on drinks.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_48.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_49.jpg

So I head back to the hotel and pick up a room service pasta dish from the restaurant, eat that in my room and collapse into a long, deep and very refreshing sleep for over 10 hours.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Minsk_07_2012/To_Kyiv_50.jpg

Conclusions

Well, Belavia actually managed to exceed my expectations. I was expecting an awful experience, but the flights were better than that. Still strictly in the mediocre category with a bad legroom on the 737. Some annoying fellow passengers, but that isn’t exactly Belavia’s fault of course. The service, especially on the TBS flight was far more generous than I was expecting, especially considering it is a flight in the middle of the night. I don’t think I will be flying them ever again, but that is not really their fault as such.

And then Belarus and Minsk. What a refreshingly weird city it was. Very nice to visit for eight hours or so, but no, I wouldn’t really want to spend a longer time there. Things outside the Minsk centre looked quite depressing (the airport bus stopped at some really grim looking villages with crumbling concrete blocks and people, including 80 year old babushkas sitting outside drinking beer from 2 liter bottles) and of course this being a dictatorship you never know what is actually going on behind the scenes. So I’m glad I’ve ticked it off and been there, but nope, I don’t think I’ll be returning anytime soon.

Happy contrails!


User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Reply 2, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 8774 times:

Hi P

What an insight - thanks for this one. I was really looking forward to reading about Belavia and Minsk. I dont think I've seen any reports from Belavia before.

By co-incidence, I happened to spot and take a pic of a Belavia 735 in MAN last weekend. I had no idea they flew there - unless it was a seasonal flight.

From your pics, Minsk did look... different. As for procedures at Minsk airport....weird!

Shame that you had a group of rowdy travellers on the flight to Minsk - my worst nightmare, especially at that time of the day - what a shocking departure time! As you say, good thing for noise cancelling headphones.

Looking forward to the next instalment.

Cheers Palmjet



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlinesultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1772 posts, RR: 30
Reply 3, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 8709 times:

Hello Petteri,

Wow, what a nice and interesting read and certainly something different. Belavia and the visited airports are quite rare here on the board so the review is very warm welcomed. It seems like you had some doubts as well about this whole operation but as proven many times already: The Finn takes it all  

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Belarus visas aren’t exactly the easiest things to acquire

Why is that?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
At the airport we finally bid goodbye to each other, I cannot thank George enough for the amazing kindness and hospitality but he just shrugs it off.

It looks like he was a real sincere guy and prove that stereotypes are not always true.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Or maybe you prefer Georgian instead

That is totally unreadable to me   

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The name of this airline always gives me a chuckle

Isn't it owned by that guy Scatman John?

I'm the scatman

Ski bi di bi di do bap do
Do bam do

Bada bwi ba ba bada bo
Baba ba da bo
Bwi ba ba ba do


Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
- “Do you have a visa?”
- “Yes, I have a transit visa for Belarus.”
- “Visa for Ukraine?”
- “I don’t need a visa for Ukraine.”
- “Okay.”

It makes you wonder if she actually is aware of the rules and regulations.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
And not only seemingly, the legroom is quite frankly horrible:

At first I thought that is a Vueling heritage but they only have A320's  

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Take off is from 31R a few minutes later.

You seemingly overflew a graveyard 

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Docking to a jetway next to a larger -300 model

Belavia has quite a classic livery there, it reminds me a bit of the old Sabena one.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Now one of the official scams they run in Belarus is that everyone visiting the country needs a medical insurance policy.

 Wow! I've never heard about this one. Did you know this in advance? € 2 a day is not bad but still, a scam it is.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Everything was impeccably clean, there were *a lot* of cleaners around and I’m pretty sure that littering is a punishable offence so people don’t do it.

It's always nice to roam around in a clean city.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Knowing some phrases and key words in Russian makes a helluva difference.

Da.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Interestingly if you wander a bit away from the scrum you find large empty areas - this airport is really weird:

Look at those radiators, that's really old fashioned while the airport itself seems quite modern.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Oh well, maybe it is just the captain’s cigarette.

Ha, did you actuallu see him lighting a ciggy?

Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2463 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 8708 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
When searching for flights there were some interesting ones, some boring ones and some weird ones. And one of the weird ones caught my attention - Belavia, the flag carrier of Belarus

What a detour for flying B2... Back in the good old times BELAVIA did sight seeing flights over Berlin with their AN24, inclusive go-arounds at Berlin-Tempelhof. Man, that was fun!!!   

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Also Kyiv offered the possibility for another interesting aviationwise experience, more about that on the next part.

Will we see the AN148 Kharkov (HRK)?


User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1380 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 8657 times:

Wow, what a trek and so nice to read something about Belavia, and as I have been in Minsk too last year (in the winter at -20 degrees) in order to watch a away soccer games from my favorite team Paris St Germain with a couple of friends it was quite bringing back memories.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Belarus visas aren’t exactly the easiest things to acquire, so the transit option seemed to be the best one.

In the past I remember even for transit guests connecting right away on a plane on one ticket it was mandatory to have a visa, which often led to denied boardings. Maybe they changed this rule? Because then you could have remained airside without visa. That said, I completely understand the reason for the transit visa.

You know, when I saw the rules for getting visas I really was expecting problems and a lot of bureaucracy. But this is on the paper. I really had the impression that at the embassies - as long as you pay your 50 EUR - they will issue them without even asking. I was traveling shortly before OSCE observants were thrown out of the country and expecting an even more serious visa policy. I booked a "hostel", which was basically a room in the appartment of a guy, and he just told me "tell them you want a privat visa and give them my number". Which I did. I didn't even visited the embassy personally. Just send the application, passport, money, and a week later had my private visit visa! And my other french friends which were applying in France just booked a hotel, send the hotel confirmation with it, and got a tourist visa. Really, there is no need of all this crap they tell you about sponsors, official invitation letters issued by ministries and all that... Actually getting my Belarus Visa was easier than getting a chinese one.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Yes, it is around midnight and the place is just starting to get busy:

Yes, I guess that is an airport with a lot of nighttime/early monrning departures.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The seats, old fashioned thick cloth seats - notice the seemingly horrible legroom:

However the seats look quite comfy.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Now one of the official scams they run in Belarus is that everyone visiting the country needs a medical insurance policy. Okay, that is not really a scam as I find it a sound policy even though it is against your freedom of choice. But what is a scam is that they only accept policies from certain Belarus companies with a few exceptions (most of these being Russian insurance companies). So before immigration there’s a hall with booths for two companies selling insurance.

Yes, that is indeed quite funny. I was entering the country by train on the Vilinus-Minsk train, and at the border they were not selling insurances. I had a german one, which was officially on the list of approved insurances, but they didn't even cared. They told me that as soon as I arrive in Minsk I need to go to the insurance office and buy one, as they will check when I leave the country again (which of course they didn't did). That office was a joke. You enter that building and a room with two cheap dark wooden benches, with old huge Computer monitors on each of one in the corner. Don't laugh: Just the monitors, no computers   Behind each desk in this little room are old bielarussian ladies, then they don'T speak a word of english but I managed to get the insurance for a few euros (great insurance, which covers costs to bring your dead body out of Belarus to the nearest border (which would be Lithuania) haha... And then the insurance confirmation is handwritten and all that. But it is a nice souvenir  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
For some reason they never handed out the immigration card onboard (or maybe I slept through it) so I fill one in - the questions in this one actually make sense and are presented in impeccable English, unlike the Ukrainian card... After filling the card in I head for the immigration booth where a youngish woman checks my paperwork and stamps me into the country, just like that! Wow, this was actually far easier than entering the US for example.

Actually Russia and Belarus have some kind of "customs cooperation". There are no customs check between Belarus and Moscow, so the immigration card is the same for both countries. That said, while you can technically get from Minsk to Moscow without border check, you are not allowed if you don't hold a visa for both countries. If for whatever reason a police guy in moscow checks your passport and sees you're missing a visa you're in big troubles.
However I have to agree entering Belarus is a straight forward affair. I had this really weird routing coming in by rail from Lithuania and the customs people were well dresses, polite, extremely well equiped (protable computers and all that, I tihink that's because as said higher they#re securing Russias borders too) and spoke English and one even spoke German. My french friends entered on a group visa the next day using the same train, and even with a group visa they had no issues.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
1 EUR is around 10K Ruble so I’m almost a millionaire! Thanks to inflation that’s been running amok and a struggling economy there’s a constant shortage of cash here - in many places when you paid with large notes the reaction was a lot of eyes being rolled, heads being shaken and theatrical gestures. Oh and they also had some 200 and 500 Ruble notes, or 2 and 5 eurocents respectively - very useful!

Haha, yes I had no clue what to do with all that money. Paying an average meal at a restaurant is paying with a couple of dozens of bills  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):

Here are some pictures from Minsk. I was a little wary of using the camera, after all this is an authoritarian dictatorship with a secret police that is well known for arresting people with phoney charges and keeping a tight grip on its own citizens.

I must say I had no problem at all. I could photograph government buildings, posing in front of lenin statues in front of the government bulding etc...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Everything was impeccably clean, there were *a lot* of cleaners around and I’m pretty sure that littering is a punishable offence so people don’t do it. And of course there were quite a few police/militia/security folks around - some statistics put Minsk as the safest city in Europe due to the number of policemen per capita!

Absolutely. It's spotless. But you realize people behave. No one is running (not even at the train station i.e.), no one is crossing roads where it#s not allowed, no pedestrian crosses on red. nothing. you stick to the rules.

Other than that I found Minsk actually quite a pleasant cities. Nice buildings, parks, clean, a lot of restaurants and bars and generally friendly people (when they speak with you). I would actually even recommend it!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Also McDonald’s was there and insanely popular - long queues. I just had to go there in order to be able to say that I’ve done it:

Yes, I believe it's the place to be in Minsk. Even in Paris in high tourist season on the Champs Elysees there are less people.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The departure process can be summarized as “interesting”. First you queue here to a door that opens randomly to let a couple of people through. Inside a woman in uniform (mmmm) takes a look at your passport. Then you pass through a metal detector, with Xray for your luggage. Doesn’t seem too tight, no need to take belts, watches etc. off and the machine hardly beeps. Next come the check in desks - I ask the lady there whether I could have a window seat instead of the aisle one I was assigned back in TBS. She gladly complies with this, but unfortunately it is a seat on row 12, almost next to the CRJ hairdryers. Then you walk forward to immigration (shouldn’t that be “emigration” actually?) where your passport is again stamped. Then around the corner to... ANOTHER SECURITY CHECK! Yes, this one seems to be the real deal, with laptops, belts etc. off and much stricter than the one before, wonder what that was about...

But isn't that quite the normal procedure in a lot of countries, i.e. Turkey, Indonesia etc?
I took a domestic flight from Minsk 1 (the city airport, the "old" one) to Gomel and this was interesting, since all passengers passport were checked by some milice guys although this being a domestic flight. It was like in China were they do this on domestic flights too IIRC.


Again, thanks a lot for sharing, this is really a special trip to make. And Kiev is great, too, although it's becoming somehow a "mainstream" destinations these days  


User currently offlinedeltamartin From Sweden, joined Dec 2010, 1061 posts, RR: 7
Reply 6, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 8652 times:

Hey P!

Nice continuation report, very interesting read for sure.
Belavia seemed okay, the service on the TBS-MSQ leg was better than I would have expected too.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Now flying with Belavia would be great not only for logging a new airline, but also the fact that it would make for a convenient excuse for getting a transit visa to Belarus for a visit to Minsk. Belarus visas aren’t exactly the easiest things to acquire, so the transit option seemed to be the best one.

Exotic place to visit for being so close. I have no intention of going there anytime soon though, especially with the current diplomatic crisis between Sweden and Belarus.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Cost for TBS-MSQ-KBP was 149 EUR in total.

Not too bad, considering that you got a stopover and all.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
This place reminds me a bit of Atatürk airport, well it was built and operated by the same company so hardly a surprise! Just like IST the security here is at the gates too, which is always annoying.

Looks very nice. Shame about the gate-security though. I seem to recall reading that they changed it somehow at IST though? I guess I'll find out this winter when I'll be passing through for the first time.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Outside the plane has already arrived, the expected 737-500 model:

One of the 737 models I haven't logged. Maybe I should try to get on an SAS example before they leave the fleet.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Sometime later I wake up and notice that there’s a beautiful dawn view of the Sea of Azov outside:

I think it might be a wing!  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Out of the MEB3 only Etihad flies to MSQ:

Interesting, I didn't know that.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Man this livery is so cool:

Cool indeed, but pretty it is not!  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Finally we pull off in front of the new “Pivdenny” station which is on the other side of the tracks from the Central station:

Grand and cool building.

Martin


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3342 posts, RR: 12
Reply 7, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 8592 times:

Nice continuation report Mr Finn. Where to from KBP???

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Cost for TBS-MSQ-KBP was 149 EUR in total.

Not bad. I was suprised by the number of TBS-MSQ flights when I was in Tblisi

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
FIDS - yeah, keep rubbing that Batumi flight in, will ya:

So good they had it up there twice!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
And not only seemingly, the legroom is quite frankly horrible:

Ouch

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The cute young FA hands me this mystery bag:

Looks quite nice

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Indeed we are already quite low over the Belarussian landscape:

Looks nice nad rural. Great photos from Minsk, would love to go sometime (when the visas are a little less awkward)

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
They apparently have some really fancy and beautifully decorated stations there, but unfortunately they had big signs banning photography, a lot of police around and even some surveillance cameras at the stations so I only took a few pictures and decided to abort that mission.

Seems strange that they'd be so paranoid about you taking photos about something they should be so proud to have? Crazy Belarussians!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
While walking there I spot the “Death Star” or the very curiously shaped Belarus National Library, one of the symbols of “modern” Minsk:

Ha, love that building!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 8, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 8322 times:

Hey Petteri,

A very enjoyable read just like the previous one in these series. It's always fun to read about Belarus (and Belavia for that matter). Even though I have no plans to visit the country I feel like I would enjoy a visit there, simply because of how much it would remind me of the "old" Bulgaria. The clean sidewalks, the empty highways, the quiet city squares. Not that I particularly miss those old times but it would make for a nice "blast from the past" experience.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The name of this airline always gives me a chuckle, in the extremely unlikely situation that I’d ever find myself finding them I most certainly wouldn’t dare to use the toilets:

Haha, I keep wondering who on earth came up with this name. This and Donbass Aero have to be the funniest European airline names. By the way in Bulgaria there used to be (maybe it still exists) a TV station called Scat TV.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Georgia’s gorgeous wines (some people claim wine was actually invented around here)

One thing that Caucasians, Balkans (including Greeks and Turks) and Chinese have in common is that they love to claim that everything was invented/discovered/inspired/first-made/dreamt-off, etc, there. Did you know that the first computer was invented by a Bulgarian? That chess was first thought of in Bulgaria? That we perfected yogurt? That we are the geographical center of the world (not to mention the Universe?). Now you know.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Unfortunately I’m surrounded by the noisy football kids, actually one of them is sitting on my seat so I have to kick him out. It turns out that he has the seat next to me, bugger. These kids seem to be very excited to be going abroad and some of them on the last row (which only has the DEF section BTW, there’s a galley on the other side - never seen this on a 737 before!) are trying very hard to impress the cute young FA with their Russian. The poor girl is blushing at the attention.

One of the lads actually spots me watching them and asks me “Is that your seat?”. I’m tempted to say that no, it’s not my seat, I just bloody enjoy the heavy stench of teenager testosterone in the air and chose to sit there but decide to hold my temper and just confirm that yes, it indeed is my seat.

That's quite a nightmare. I haven't decided what's worse: To be sitting next to an infant/child or a teenager. Both scenarios sound equally punishing. Good thing that you could sleep for (at least) part of the flight.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Man this livery is so cool:

Petteri, I thought you had a fairly decent taste. This livery, albeit brightly colored (which is appreciated) is downright horrendous. Just like the orange-black livery of Donbassaero that shares the same overall design as the one of Aerosvit here. Post-soviet aesthetic confusion syndrome is what I call it.

Thanks for sharing this with us Petteri. It made for a great read with my post-dinner beer.

WideBodyroga



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5127 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 8215 times:

Fantastic report. I recently went to Azerbaijan and had a very similar experience. Thanks a lot for writing this. I am seeing a lot of cheap fares on Belavia to go to Iran from Europe and may actually hop on it after this report.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Or maybe you prefer Georgian instead:

= Wow. I thought it was like Cambodian or Tamil.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
- “Do you have a visa?”
- “Yes, I have a transit visa for Belarus.”
- “Visa for Ukraine?”
- “I don’t need a visa for Ukraine.”
- “Okay.”

= Lol. I could write a book on this  .

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6903 posts, RR: 77
Reply 10, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 8132 times:

Hi P.,

excellent review, one of the best reports you have posted. Great to get an impression of Belavia and Minsk.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Cost for TBS-MSQ-KBP was 149 EUR in total.

Sounds very good.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
So I still had to drag my arse to the embassy a couple of times to drop off my passport and fetch it with the visa, but that was quite okay really.

Several times?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
They could put a PTV here to broadcast some Lukashenka propaganda:

Don't give them ideas!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The seats, old fashioned thick cloth seats - notice the seemingly horrible legroom:

The Xiamen Airlines configuration has probably not been changed.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Inside there’s a sandwich (I think it was chicken):

You think?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Docking to a jetway next to a larger -300 model:

I like that retro style livery.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I found some contradicting information, some sources claimed that when entering Belarus with a transit visa (like me) you don’t really need the insurance. Some other sources claimed that it is always mandatory for foreigners. So I decide to play it safe and join the queue for one of the booths which takes a long time.

What exactly does it cover?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Out of the MEB3 only Etihad flies to MSQ:

What does that stand for?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Also McDonald’s was there and insanely popular - long queues.

Where's McD not popular?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Departure is seven minutes late, for no apparent reason.

Seven minutes? That's nothing.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
That’s a nice winglet:

  

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):

From the bus I see that I flew with EW-100PJ, a CRJ-200LR model which has been with Belavia since 2007 and previously with Air Littoral, Eurowings, Avionca Canada (who the heck are they?) and even Mesa.

Avionco Canada provides various services including consulting, crew training, technical support.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Boy am I glad that I decided to spend a little more money and booked the Ibis instead of some obscure el cheapo local hotel

I guess this wasn't pricey either.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1843 posts, RR: 20
Reply 11, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 8043 times:

Hi FlyingFinn

I'm really enjoying this odyssey of yours through the backwaters of the former Soviet Union. Minsk City looks rather nice and old fashioned, kind of like a relic from 'the good old days'. Although I must say I don't much fancy being treated and and regarded as a donkey that shits gold. Seriously, is there anything you don't need to pay for to be able to enter or leave the country?

Anyway, looking forward to the next installment.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlinedc9northwest From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 2299 posts, RR: 7
Reply 12, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 7658 times:

Hi P.,

It's your Belarus report, eh? You don't like Russia, so you go to White Russia. Good deal. I enjoyed it and am also looking forward for the next part, I bet that's gonna be fun.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Now flying with Belavia would be great not only for logging a new airline, but also the fact that it would make for a convenient excuse for getting a transit visa to Belarus for a visit to Minsk. Belarus visas aren’t exactly the easiest things to acquire, so the transit option seemed to be the best one

Yes--this is what I gather from the internet, not sure how true it is. After all, the internet told me to not take pictures in Chisinau--and there was never a problem!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
In the end I bought flights to Kyiv, as it had me with the longest layover, good for visiting the city. Also Kyiv offered the possibility for another interesting aviationwise experience, more about that on the next part. Cost for TBS-MSQ-KBP was 149 EUR in total.

Good idea. For this, and for what's next. Not a bad price, either!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Except for the fact that between booking and my trip they actually opened an embassy in Helsinki! So I still had to drag my arse to the embassy a couple of times to drop off my passport and fetch it with the visa, but that was quite okay really. A surprisingly easy process and cost only 20 EUR, quite civilized.

That's a shame. Couldn't they have delayed the opening of their new embassy a little bit? Haha. Well, how are diplomatic relations between Finland and Belarus anyway? Considering Russia's your enemy and Belarus' "bestest buddy"?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Originally he wanted to leave at 2AM for a 4AM flight but I said I’d rather be there around midnight and catch a some zzz.

Well, I wouldn't have wanted to bother him at 2 a.m. 23:00 is a more reasonable hour anyway...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
…only to be woken by a security official some one and half hours later. He asks for my passport and after checking it tells me that upstairs is “no waiting area, go downstairs!”. Fine, the check in is about to open anyway so thanks for the wake up, mate!

Hah. Yes, security guards tend to have that sense of authority in certain places. Enforcing rules that may or may not be actual rules just to feel important. I got into an argument with a rent-a-cop that parked on a pedestrian crossing at my university once (I had observed this for a few days at least)... Never saw her there again, even if she mouthed off that "oh, pedestrians can go around", implying she's more important than everyone else. In Romania, everyone parks on pedestrian crossings. In the US, only the police and security guards.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Upstairs through the immigration where the girl basically asks the very same visa questions as the check in agent (do they have a script?). Satisfied by my answers she stamps me out of the country and I enter the airside area.

They probably do have a script. Georgia was part of the USSR at one point--even though it might not seem that way anymore due to their huge progress lately.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Eventually I head to the gate where the security checkpoint is empty and the whole process quite smooth. Outside the plane has already arrived, the expected 737-500 model:

No surprises--well, better than a CRJ, that's for sure!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
And not only seemingly, the legroom is quite frankly horrible:

That's too bad. Maybe not that much better than a CRJ, then.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Inside there’s a sandwich (I think it was chicken):

Doesn't look too bad... I prefer Air Moldova's though!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I’m in no hurry to leave the plane, after all it is just past six in the morning so I am one of the last ones to walk down the aisle (hmmm) and up the jetway. Now one of the official scams they run in Belarus is that everyone visiting the country needs a medical insurance policy. Okay, that is not really a scam as I find it a sound policy even though it is against your freedom of choice. But what is a scam is that they only accept policies from certain Belarus companies with a few exceptions (most of these being Russian insurance companies). So before immigration there’s a hall with booths for two companies selling insurance.

Yes, I hear about a lot of scams out of Belarus. Like hiding your mobile phone in a piece of bread. Sounds like something Kafka would write if he was alive today... If the bread would become sentient and ate the phone. Sorry, I digress. Anyway--not a big fan of obligatory anything. That includes insurance.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
After filling the card in I head for the immigration booth where a youngish woman checks my paperwork and stamps me into the country, just like that! Wow, this was actually far easier than entering the US for example.

Yeah, don't remind me--can be pretty bad to enter the USA. Not really for citizens, but visitors--can be a loooong wait and intense questioning. Shouldn't be too bad for Finns, though.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I hand in the 80 USD I had left from my US trip a month before and receive a ridiculously thick wad of Belarusian Rubles:

80 USD? Did you want to buy the whole country?   I had changed 25 EUR in Moldova and still have half the Moldovan lei left... And I stayed more than you in Belarus.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Here are some pictures from Minsk. I was a little wary of using the camera, after all this is an authoritarian dictatorship with a secret police that is well known for arresting people with phoney charges and keeping a tight grip on its own citizens.

Yeah, yeah. I think this advice is overrated, though it pays to be safe... Except when it doesn't and you're stuck with a visit to an interesting society with no pictures to show for it.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I noticed a very interesting thing in that cafe. My camera was on the table and I was sitting in a covered patio -type of place which extends halfway across the sidewalk, so people walking past were just half a meter from me. The camera was well visible to the people walking past. Every single person (and I really mean everyone!) who did so noticed my camera and immediately made a sly, quick look at my face and then sort of hung their heads a bit and hurried away! It really makes you think... I think these people are well accustomed to the constant fear or being photographed and observed and then... well, it usually doesn’t come with a happy end, I’m sure. Really odd.

Sounds like Romania in the 1980s, except there were no such cameras for regular folk, just Securitate informants. It must really suck to live in such a society...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Yeah, speaking of English - don’t go here unless you can at least read the cyrillic alphabet. Nobody, and I mean nobody outside the airport really speaks English. The young people at McDonald’s and the sushi place knew pidgin English which made things a little bit easier (and after all “Cappuccino” is the same in any language...). Knowing some phrases and key words in Russian makes a helluva difference.

So, I can go there? I speak 10 words of Russian but I can read Cyrillic. I assume you can read Cyrillic, then? Considering the comment for the avtobusvokzal sign?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 1):
and much stricter than the one before, wonder what that was about...

1st one to search for real bombs, 2nd one to pass international regulations?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Almost immediately after getting airborne we make a sharp turn towards the right to point the nose south towards Kyiv. The pilot must be an ex Soviet Air Force one judging from his frisk maneuvers:

Hah, that's how I felt about my Air Moldova pilots!

Thanks for sharing. Minsk looks... not lived in, almost. Must have been really odd indeed!


User currently onlineroberts87 From Netherlands, joined Dec 2011, 1014 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 7651 times:

Nice report as usual! The photos from Minsk are beautiful, like stepping back in time!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
And one of the weird ones caught my attention - Belavia

Yes, they do pop up every now and then for some interesting connections to Eastern Europe or the CIS.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
When the day turns into the next one I realize I didn’t drink any of Georgia’s gorgeous wine

Georgia has wine?!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
This place reminds me a bit of Atatürk airport, well it was built and operated by the same company so hardly a surprise! Just like IST the security here is at the gates too, which is always annoying.

Great modern looking terminal!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Inside there’s a sandwich (I think it was chicken):

You think it was chicken? As in you can't remember, or it was barely eadible and it resembled some like chicken?  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
No, this is not a church - it is the town hall:

I was a bit distracted on the second picture, so didn't see much of the town hall. And no, I wasn't distracted by the statue...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Well, at the end of this 45 minute flight that bottle was empty...

Yikes! So definately no "drinking your own alchol is prohibited" as on most European carriers.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
This is the only CRJ standing on the apron so I guess it’ll be doing the honors of shuttling me down to Ukraine:

Ah, the Belavia CRJ's. I remember seeing them at AMS quite often. I they now cancelled that route.


User currently offlineLH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1714 posts, RR: 18
Reply 14, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 7610 times:

Hey Petteri Jesus 76, nice report!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
but I have commitments and I’m not sure how the job market in Georgia is these days.

Why Georgia, why? (like that John Mayer song, remember?) I thought you had it all planned, if you ever chose to leave cold depressing Finland. To find an overpaid Silicon Valley job, a nice house in some charming californian suburb, and an AAdvantage Executive Platinum card?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Now flying with Belavia would be great not only for logging a new airline,

Hmm didn't you fly them already... Oh wait, that was Armavia 
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
A surprisingly easy process and cost only 20 EUR, quite civilized.

If only chinese visas were that cheap, and easy to get...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I cannot thank George enough

Hah, what a suitable name for his nationality   Did you offer him an invitation to Helsinki?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The security staff driving around with a Segway:

Just like Schipol. However at AMS they would've probably confiscated your camera, and shot you with their taser gun if they ever saw you "making" pictures.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
some statistics put Minsk as the safest city in Europe due to the number of policemen per capita!

So in other words it's guaranteed to be crook free?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Does this mean the same thing as in Holland:

What the hell does it mean in the first place?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
(shouldn’t that be “emigration” actually?)

It's a question I've asked myself many many times.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
albeit missing one frequent flyer baggage tag, maybe the Minsk baggage handlers are big fans of KLM. My Eurobonus one is still intact, though.

So how come you don't order a new one? On the other hand, what's the point with having DYKWIA tags on your checked luggage.

"Wheels Up!"
//Jonas



SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1240 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 7567 times:

I think that the Belarus countryside though is very pretty.

User currently onlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6648 posts, RR: 55
Reply 16, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 7548 times:

Hi FlyingFinn!

Thanks for an amazing report with amazing pictures !

Very good to see you try another rare airline and rarely visited country! Minsk looks very much like the old Soviet Union from what it looked like in pictures.

It seems like it's really worth at least a short visit to have had that experience.

Flights seem pretty good except for the very bad legroom on the flight from TBS.

Looking forward to your next report!

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 17, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 7504 times:

Hi guys, thanks for the many comments! Very much appreciated!

Quoting palmjet (Reply 2):
What an insight - thanks for this one. I was really looking forward to reading about Belavia and Minsk. I dont think I've seen any reports from Belavia before.

Yes, I think so too, not a very widely covered carrier nor place.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 2):
By co-incidence, I happened to spot and take a pic of a Belavia 735 in MAN last weekend. I had no idea they flew there - unless it was a seasonal flight.

No, that's not a regular route. Maybe a diversion or a charter or something.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
Belarus visas aren’t exactly the easiest things to acquire
Why is that?

Well they have a myriad of requirements like needing an invitation letter (just like Russia) etc. There are agencies that will provide you these and handle all the hassle for you but of course this means more costs. But judging from Reifel's reply below it looks like these rules may only exist on paper, so in reality it might be a bit easier.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
Isn't it owned by that guy Scatman John?

Nils, do you know what "Scat" also means?

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
It makes you wonder if she actually is aware of the rules and regulations.

Or knows how to use Timatic?

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
Belavia has quite a classic livery there, it reminds me a bit of the old Sabena one.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
I like that retro style livery.

Heh, yeah, they definitely don't need a retro plane!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
  I've never heard about this one. Did you know this in advance? € 2 a day is not bad but still, a scam it is.

Yes, it is well documented everywhere where the visa regulations etc. are explained.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
Look at those radiators, that's really old fashioned while the airport itself seems quite modern.

Modern? Minsk-2? Hell no, the only modern part are the duty free shops  . Ok, the FIDS maybe too.

Quoting debonair (Reply 4):
What a detour for flying B2... Back in the good old times BELAVIA did sight seeing flights over Berlin with their AN24, inclusive go-arounds at Berlin-Tempelhof. Man, that was fun!!!   

Really? Wow, that sounds amazing! Shame they don't do these anymore...

Quoting debonair (Reply 4):
Will we see the AN148 Kharkov (HRK)?

AN-148 yes, Kharkiv - no  .

Quoting reifel (Reply 5):
Wow, what a trek and so nice to read something about Belavia, and as I have been in Minsk too last year (in the winter at -20 degrees) in order to watch a away soccer games from my favorite team Paris St Germain with a couple of friends it was quite bringing back memories.

Really? So it is not that unbeaten path after all!

Quoting reifel (Reply 5):
In the past I remember even for transit guests connecting right away on a plane on one ticket it was mandatory to have a visa, which often led to denied boardings. Maybe they changed this rule? Because then you could have remained airside without visa. That said, I completely understand the reason for the transit visa.

Again I found contradicting information regarding this. Some sources claim that you can do an airside transit without a visa, some others said that no, you can't do it. The consensus seems to be on the former, though. Also the guy at the Finnish Embassy did ask me whether I was planning on leaving the airport, implying that I wouldn't need the visa for staying there.

Quoting reifel (Reply 5):
You know, when I saw the rules for getting visas I really was expecting problems and a lot of bureaucracy. But this is on the paper.

That is good to know. Nice to hear that they actually have some common sense instead of blindly sticking to the rules. I sure hope that weird "income statement" the Chinese visa requirements list is just a dead letter of the law as I have no intention of supplying one...

Quoting reifel (Reply 5):
Behind each desk in this little room are old bielarussian ladies, then they don'T speak a word of english but I managed to get the insurance for a few euros (great insurance, which covers costs to bring your dead body out of Belarus to the nearest border (which would be Lithuania) haha... And then the insurance confirmation is handwritten and all that. But it is a nice souvenir  

Hah, that is hilarious. I have this image in my mind of an old Russian made lorry driving right at the nearest Belarus - EU border (to Lithuania I guess) and a couple of burly men getting out and throwing your body over the fence on the other side to fulfill this obligation...

Quoting reifel (Reply 5):
Haha, yes I had no clue what to do with all that money. Paying an average meal at a restaurant is paying with a couple of dozens of bills  

Tell me about it! Special feeling for sure.

Quoting reifel (Reply 5):
Other than that I found Minsk actually quite a pleasant cities. Nice buildings, parks, clean, a lot of restaurants and bars and generally friendly people (when they speak with you). I would actually even recommend it!

Yeah, I guess you could sort of get used to it.

Quoting reifel (Reply 5):
But isn't that quite the normal procedure in a lot of countries, i.e. Turkey, Indonesia etc?

True. It's been a while since I've been in these kind of places.

Quoting reifel (Reply 5):
I took a domestic flight from Minsk 1 (the city airport, the "old" one) to Gomel and this was interesting, since all passengers passport were checked by some milice guys although this being a domestic flight. It was like in China were they do this on domestic flights too IIRC.

Wow, I envy you. Shame Minsk-1 doesn't have any flights anymore. Which airline was that? Gomelavia?

I would really like to visit Brest(-Litovsk) at some point, that city has an amazing history and the fortress there would be very interesting. After all it is one of the Hero Cities of the Soviet Union (then again so is Minsk).

Quoting reifel (Reply 5):
Again, thanks a lot for sharing, this is really a special trip to make. And Kiev is great, too, although it's becoming somehow a "mainstream" destinations these days  

Yeah, I was surprised how different Kyiv was from three years ago.

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 6):
Exotic place to visit for being so close. I have no intention of going there anytime soon though, especially with the current diplomatic crisis between Sweden and Belarus.

If you decide to do so be sure to leave your teddy bear home, bringing that into the country would get you into trouble at customs!  
Quoting deltamartin (Reply 6):
One of the 737 models I haven't logged. Maybe I should try to get on an SAS example before they leave the fleet.

Really? Come on, BT has plenty of them right at your doorstep, flying to ARN daily!

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 6):
I think it might be a wing!  

Hahaha, tio poäng.

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 6):
Cool indeed, but pretty it is not!  

Hey, a Swede should like it!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 7):
Nice continuation report Mr Finn. Where to from KBP???

Hold your horses, young man. All in due time, in due time.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 7):
Not bad. I was suprised by the number of TBS-MSQ flights when I was in Tblisi

Yes, Belarus and Georgia seem to be getting along quite nicely, a bit weird considering that Belarus is buddies with the Russians and Georgia quite the opposite. Belavia will soon actually fly to all the three commercial airports in Georgia, Batumi and Tbilisi will be joined by the newly opened Kutaisi airport (where Wizzair Ukraine will also commence flights from IEV and apparently there are rumors of MOL coming into town too).

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 8):
I feel like I would enjoy a visit there, simply because of how much it would remind me of the "old" Bulgaria. The clean sidewalks, the empty highways, the quiet city squares. Not that I particularly miss those old times but it would make for a nice "blast from the past" experience.

Yeah, I guess it would be quite nostalgic for many people who grew up in these countries.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 8):
By the way in Bulgaria there used to be (maybe it still exists) a TV station called Scat TV.

Are you kidding me?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 8):
That's quite a nightmare. I haven't decided what's worse: To be sitting next to an infant/child or a teenager. Both scenarios sound equally punishing. Good thing that you could sleep for (at least) part of the flight.

Well a sole teenager is fine - (s)he will just look annoyed and grim, maybe play the music a little too loud and smell a bit bad, but when you are cornered by a bunch of them it is a whole different kettle of fish!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 8):
Petteri, I thought you had a fairly decent taste. This livery, albeit brightly colored (which is appreciated) is downright horrendous.

Why? It is nicely colorful (even though those colors also happen to belong to Sweden) and something different. I like it.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 8):
Thanks for sharing this with us Petteri. It made for a great read with my post-dinner beer.

Cheers!

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 9):
Fantastic report. I recently went to Azerbaijan and had a very similar experience.

Yeah, Azerbaijan has been on my list for a while, just shame about their visa policy or mainly the lack of arrival visa facilities and since there's no embassy in Finland it is a bit complicated.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 9):
Thanks a lot for writing this. I am seeing a lot of cheap fares on Belavia to go to Iran from Europe and may actually hop on it after this report.

In business class perhaps? Would love to see what kind of lounge they have at MSQ!  
Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 9):
= Lol. I could write a book on this  .

I bet you could! Maybe you should consult for the next version of Timatic to provide some insider insight?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
excellent review, one of the best reports you have posted. Great to get an impression of Belavia and Minsk.

Thanks PH, what made you like it so much? The lack of attitude?  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
So I still had to drag my arse to the embassy a couple of times to drop off my passport and fetch it with the visa, but that was quite okay really.
Several times?

Well the first time to drop the passport and the paperwork off, then back a week later to pick up the passport with the visa (which was quite a tight schedule as I was leaving for the US just the next day so definitely needed my passport!).

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
The Xiamen Airlines configuration has probably not been changed.

Yes, I thought of this as well.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
Inside there’s a sandwich (I think it was chicken):
You think?
Quoting roberts87 (Reply 13):
You think it was chicken? As in you can't remember, or it was barely eadible and it resembled some like chicken?  

Well it was in the middle of the night and I was still half asleep, so frankly I can't really remember. Could've been turkey or maybe some kind of ham too.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
What exactly does it cover?

Hah, I actually dug out the certificate they sold me and tried to decode the rules written in very bad English but really couldn't. But it seems to be your usual medical insurance, covering medical care etc. if you fall ill.

Some highlights from the terms:

"additional services are rendered (a TV-set, an air conditioner, a video etc.) as well as the services of the hairdresser or cosmetologist"

"215. In case of death of the insured person the insurer is to pay for the services of the first and urgent medicak (sp) aid rendered with the aim of saving the mans life, as well as for the medical and transportation services."

I bet a lawyer would have a field day decoding these and figuring out who is responsible for what if something bad had happened  .

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
Out of the MEB3 only Etihad flies to MSQ:
What does that stand for?

MEB3 is a term coined by anna.aero, it comes from "Middle Eastern Big Three" and obviously refers to the unholy trinity of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airways, the three biggest and most prolific of the Gulf carriers.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
Where's McD not popular?

Good point.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
Boy am I glad that I decided to spend a little more money and booked the Ibis instead of some obscure el cheapo local hotel
I guess this wasn't pricey either.

Around 65 EUR per night, a bit pricey for an Ibis but cheap considering the prices western hotel chains charge in Kyiv. But expensive considering Ukrainian hotels, you can get a room for 20 EUR but the standard might be anything...

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 11):
I'm really enjoying this odyssey of yours through the backwaters of the former Soviet Union.

Thanks, glad you like them.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 11):
Although I must say I don't much fancy being treated and and regarded as a donkey that shits gold. Seriously, is there anything you don't need to pay for to be able to enter or leave the country?

Well thanks to the embargo and all Belarus is quite desperate for any western money they can get their hands on and I don't think it's not that much to pay the 2 EUR per day. At least they don't have any "Airport improvement fees" or such payable at departure.

And I think that requiring an insurance from travelers is perfectly justified, if I was running a country I wouldn't want foreign tourists clogging my hospitals and emergency services without a guaranteed payment. But yeah, only accepting certain companies is of course a scam.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 12):
Yes--this is what I gather from the internet, not sure how true it is. After all, the internet told me to not take pictures in Chisinau--and there was never a problem!

The internet is wrong! Stop the press!

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 12):
Haha. Well, how are diplomatic relations between Finland and Belarus anyway? Considering Russia's your enemy and Belarus' "bestest buddy"?

Well Finland is in line with the rest of the EU by not liking Mr. Lukashenko one tiny bit. Apart from that Belavia has been flying here for a year now so I guess there's some business between us.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 12):
Well, I wouldn't have wanted to bother him at 2 a.m. 23:00 is a more reasonable hour anyway...

He suggested it himself, not me.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 12):
In Romania, everyone parks on pedestrian crossings. In the US, only the police and security guards.

Have you ever seen some genuine South Boston double parking? That is a hilarious sight!

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 12):
Yes, I hear about a lot of scams out of Belarus. Like hiding your mobile phone in a piece of bread. Sounds like something Kafka would write if he was alive today... If the bread would become sentient and ate the phone. Sorry, I digress. Anyway--not a big fan of obligatory anything. That includes insurance.

What are you talking about? Are you sure you didn't wake up as a cockroach this morning?

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 12):
Yeah, don't remind me--can be pretty bad to enter the USA. Not really for citizens, but visitors--can be a loooong wait and intense questioning. Shouldn't be too bad for Finns, though.

Yeah, honestly it is not that bad but the queues can be a bit appalling and I don't really like the tone that grilling has. Most of the agents make you feel like a total shitebag.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 12):
80 USD? Did you want to buy the whole country?   I had changed 25 EUR in Moldova and still have half the Moldovan lei left... And I stayed more than you in Belarus.

Heh yeah, good point. I wasn't sure what the actual pricelevel was and I needed to get rid of my Dollars anyway. Plus I needed some spare cash if I had to resort to a taxi to the airport, that 40 kilometer ride can cost 30-40 USD or the equivalent in Roubles.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 12):
So, I can go there? I speak 10 words of Russian but I can read Cyrillic. I assume you can read Cyrillic, then? Considering the comment for the avtobusvokzal sign?

Yes, I think you could manage it. These days I can decode Cyrillic, it is a bit slow but yes, I can manage things like the metro and signposts like this.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 13):
Georgia has wine?!

You are kidding, aren't you?

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 13):
I was a bit distracted on the second picture, so didn't see much of the town hall. And no, I wasn't distracted by the statue...

Haha. Belarus and Ukraine are alike - lots of stunning female genetic material around... Although I didn't see any marriage agencies in Minsk, these are dime a dozen in Ukraine.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 13):
Yikes! So definately no "drinking your own alchol is prohibited" as on most European carriers.

Well there are official rules and there are conventions. More on this subject on the next part...

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
Hey Petteri Jesus 76, nice report!

Jonas, please.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
I thought you had it all planned, if you ever chose to leave cold depressing Finland.

What the hell are you talking about? You should limit the number of Ikea köttbullar you consume at lunch, they are not healthy in doses over a dozen!

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
Hmm didn't you fly them already... Oh wait, that was Armavia 

There's still Donavia remaining.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
If only chinese visas were that cheap, and easy to get...

Thanks for reminding me, I have to start thinking about getting mine...

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
Hah, what a suitable name for his nationality   Did you offer him an invitation to Helsinki?

Yes, of course. But this guy is seriously busy, he is in Japan right now. But will get back before we are there...

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
Just like Schipol. However at AMS they would've probably confiscated your camera, and shot you with their taser gun if they ever saw you "making" pictures.

What? Never had any problems shooting photos at AMS. Never seen any Segways there either, come to think of it!

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
So in other words it's guaranteed to be crook free?

Well no place on this earth is crook free. But yes, I don't think there is much if any petty crime. The crooks in this place are in a different level of the society.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
Does this mean the same thing as in Holland:
What the hell does it mean in the first place?

Red lights, Jonas - don't play so innocent!

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 14):
So how come you don't order a new one? On the other hand, what's the point with having DYKWIA tags on your checked luggage.

I have a spare one. And I thought your strategy was putting them on your hand luggage and waiting for upgaredes?


User currently offlineROGERBCN From Andorra, joined Sep 2006, 1209 posts, RR: 20
Reply 18, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 7456 times:

Hola Petteri,

Great report on a totally unknown company to me and so on total undisclosed country like Belarus.

It is really nice to read such an adventure. Tiblisi airport has very nice looks, so different from Minsk, some of the areas still hold a total Soviet look; the restaurant seems out of the pre-perestroika years, man what a shock! The planes look dated but nonetheless interesting to fly and I really thank you for sharing it with us.

Salut!

Roger

Really looking forward to reading the third part.



"At reise er at leve" H.C. Andersen (Travelling is Living)
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 19, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 7391 times:

Hello Petteri


Great report, thanks for sharing it with us.
Nice to see an exotic mix of destinations this year.
Belavia looks good, however I just don't like those nasty CRJ's.
Kiev and Belavia look great as well.

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1380 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 7028 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 17):
Wow, I envy you. Shame Minsk-1 doesn't have any flights anymore. Which airline was that? Gomelavia?

Hi Petteri, yes it was Gomelavia. It cost 17 EUR and it was quite an odysee just ot get on the flight. E-mails were never answered, local travel agents never replied. However one day before my intended date of flying I got an e-mail where they told me tomorrows flight is cancelled (i didn't even had a booking), and the flight in 2 days they will know it in 2 days in the morning if it will take place. It was cancelled too eventually. However they told me to come in 3 days to the airport. This wasn't even showing in the timetable! The said "bring 17 EUR and pay at the airport, there is always space". Okay, went there, and the flight was actually running indeed. Buying the ticket was easy, however no English spoken. Ticket was a paperticket, however not a handwritten one. however the whole ticket was in cyrillic and I had to explain how to write my name in cyrillic. The flight came from Kaliningrad and continued to Gomel. Everyone had to leave the plane in Minsk and pass immigration. Then we reboarded. The f/a was an older soviet looking lady with a huge brown fur jacket going down to the ground. The plane had funky dark red seats and green carpets. Pilots were flying like fighters and were the first to leave the plane while on the ground in Gomel. Afterwards passenger disembarked. The bus from the airport in Gomel to the city was an old soviet one smelling gazoline everywhere... A few days later the airline stopped scheduled service. That was a trek. I still need to write a more detailled report, though... but had no time yet...


User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6903 posts, RR: 77
Reply 21, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 6949 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Thanks PH, what made you like it so much?

Well, mostly the amount of pictures from "exotic" destinations and the flights on Belavia (never seen here before).

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 17):
Some highlights from the terms:

"additional services are rendered (a TV-set, an air conditioner, a video etc.) as well as the services of the hairdresser or cosmetologist"

"215. In case of death of the insured person the insurer is to pay for the services of the first and urgent medicak (sp) aid rendered with the aim of saving the mans life, as well as for the medical and transportation services."

I bet a lawyer would have a field day decoding these and figuring out who is responsible for what if something bad had happened
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 17):
Around 65 EUR per night, a bit pricey for an Ibis but cheap considering the prices western hotel chains charge in Kyiv.

Very odd!


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineMexicana757 From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 3047 posts, RR: 28
Reply 22, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 6807 times:

Great trip report FlyingFinn. A very enjoyable read.    Nice to see a report on a place many people don't get to venture into. Thanks for sharing and great pictures.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Well the guy has such a strong stench of vodka that I just hope he’d keep his mouth closed... After hearing that I’m from Finland his friend on the other side of the aisle pulls out a full one liter bottle of Finlandia vodka from his duty free to show it to me, so I give him the thumbs up sign. Well, at the end of this 45 minute flight that bottle was empty...
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
My seatmate keeps sending some SMSes during the taxi, but right as we enter the runway he nods off and starts snoring loudly, spewing toxic alcohol fumes around.

Those sentences made me chuckle at the image of such things happening to you.     


User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 610 posts, RR: 5
Reply 23, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 6675 times:

Hello FlyingFinn76

Great continuation of your Georgia trip report!

Minsk does seem to be an interesting place, I'll definitely need to visit sometime.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Kyiv offered the possibility for another interesting aviationwise experience

Looking forward the your Ukrainian adventures.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I most certainly hope this is not due to pleasing the Big Bear!

I wouldn't think the Big Bear has such a large influence on your country anymore. At least I hope so.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
which looks just like a restaurant in Leningrad around 1975

That looks indeed from another time and place.

Great pictures from Minsk! And hey, you caught an amazingly long set of nice legs there behind that horse carriage  
I bet these were not the only ones  

Cheers, LXM83


User currently offlineCARST From Germany, joined Jul 2006, 836 posts, RR: 2
Reply 24, posted (2 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 6646 times:

Nice report, very interesting picturs from Minsk and Belavia. I think not so many people will go to Minsk these days and take so many photos. A small, but very special report at this website.

Keep em comin!


25 CPAir : Great report, thanks for share!
26 BrusselsSouth : Hi FlyingFinn, Excellent report as always, very interesting, even more so that I'll (hopefully) be visiting Belarus (along with a couple of other form
27 Post contains images FlyingFinn76 : Hi guys, Lovely to see more comments online here, thank you very much for posting them! Wow, nice fare! Hmm, this sounds like once in a lifetime exper
28 FLIEGER67 : Hi, P., more great stuff, interesting to follow. Sure Minsk is the place to be once a time and never again. Also Belavia is sure interesting. Looking
29 lukeyboy95 : Hi P. Well these flights seemed to tick alot of boxes for being interesting and something different. More so Minsk - which in some people's eye's migh
30 Post contains images FlyingFinn76 : Hiya Markus && Luke, thanks for the additional comments! Yeah, my sentiments exactly. So when are you going? Hah, that is an interesting way o
31 lukeyboy95 : Not at all! It is absolutely fascinating... the architecture./ the people/ those murals... it is like a terrible social experiment gone wrong. I like
32 Post contains images flightsimboy : All I can say is thanks for taking us on these trips
33 Bobloblaw : Really great TR, I love seeing Minsk. Thanks
34 Post contains images OA260 : Hey P nice report I have to say I love their script. Quite interesting. A ripp off Burger King Interesting pictures of the destination. A step back in
35 adamspotter : Hi there FlyingFinn Another excellent and entertaining report, thanks for sharing. Very interesting to see a report on Belavia and Minsk, really enjoy
Top Of Page
Forum Index

Reply To This Topic The White Country And Airline: TBS-MSQ-KBP
Username:
No username? Sign up now!
Password: 


Forgot Password? Be reminded.
Remember me on this computer (uses cookies)
  • Trip reports only! Other topics here
  • If criticizing an airline, express yourself in a dignified manner.
  • No adverts of any kind. This includes web pages.
  • No hostile language or criticizing of others.
  • Do not post copyright protected material.
  • Use relevant and describing topics.
  • Check if your post already been discussed.
  • Check your spelling!
  • DETAILED RULES
Add Images Add SmiliesPosting Help

Please check your spelling (press "Check Spelling" above)


Similar topics:More similar topics...
The Real Finncomm And The Better End Of Finland posted Wed Oct 26 2011 09:09:11 by FLIEGER67
Chasing The B736, MD82 And A321 Around Scandinavia posted Thu Sep 29 2011 15:29:11 by SloAir
The White City: BEG-VIE-RIX-HEL posted Sun Sep 25 2011 21:06:40 by FlyingFinn76
To The A.Net Meeting And Back On EW/LH/LO posted Tue Jul 19 2011 01:24:46 by SPLTA
The "I Wish I Chose A Different Airline" TR posted Wed Dec 22 2010 15:40:00 by dl767captain
4 CRJ Hops From MDT To The Deep South And Back posted Fri Jul 23 2010 16:55:55 by OB1783P
An Indian Summer; The South – S2 And IT (Part 2) posted Thu Jul 15 2010 07:56:52 by lukeyboy95
An Indian Summer; The North – BA And IT (Part 1) posted Fri Jun 11 2010 07:12:08 by lukeyboy95
Qatar Airways - The World's Three Star Airline posted Sat Oct 10 2009 07:20:46 by Coal
London On The Dash 8/100 And More TS A313 posted Thu Oct 1 2009 14:30:50 by FLIEGER67

Sponsor Message:
Printer friendly format