The morning was spent on a market and in the city center. I have to be more specific about prices here. Prices of imported goods and food are comparable to those in the west. Local stuff is cheap.
Getting on the train was a bit of an adventure. The train cars were of an old (Soviet era?) and heavy type where seats are arranged in a 6+2 setting with beds above and walls in between, but with an open aisle. There’s not really any space for a bicycle anywhere, so it was hastily wrapped in plastic bin bags by a somewhat annoyed conductress, and put on a normal seat. I also had to purchase another ticket for that seat (less than 4 Euros), despite having paid for it as luggage already at the ticket counter (about 50 Eurocents).
There is at least one conductress per car, who serves hot water/coffee/tea from the car’s built-in samovar on request.
The countryside is flat, and has been since Berlin. Somewhere after Baranoviči, I think, some remaining patches of snow appeared. It is somewhere around 0°C.
At the end, nearly in Minsk, the conductress went through the car and handed out tickets to everyone who wanted one. I didn’t quite understand the explanation. :/
So, Minsk. I checked into the nearest hostel and took the bike for a ride to Trapezia, one of the local bouldering gyms. I had checked with the hostel staff and indeed, it is advised to cycle on the sidewalk if one doesn’t want to be stopped by the police. I’m not surprised to see nobody cycling.
So I tried, and it is utter bullshit to have to avoid streets. It is slow and f*cking annoying due to potholes, curbs and people. And it’s probably less safe because at intersections drivers won’t see you. Oh wait, the curbs. No quick crossing at intersections anyway. o.O
Anyway, the bouldering was good. But I feel like I need to get used to other gyms’ routes. Here, for example, I found the coloring to be confusing sometimes (i.e. a route with green grips next to one with slightly-lighter-green ones).
The hostel (just next to the central station) is a bit of a failure. The rooms are too small and have too many beds in them. I met a Spaniard here who said he’d been here for 6 days and I’m the first foreigner he meets, and the first to speak English. He was quite happy to see me. However, I’ll go stay somewhere else tomorrow.
Belarusians have a nice way of ending a conversations. Amongst others, a lady in the market in Brest said it, and also the traffic cop who pulled me over in Brest: всего хорошего для ващ (all the best for you).