Yesterday I crossed the Poland-Belarus border, heading towards Hrodna and then Minsk. While I still keep bad memories of my last year trip, which included the issues with visa, then with a plane, and, eventually, a long trip by train, this time it went smooth.
Passport and luggage control went smoothly and trouble-free too. People with small children apparently do not have to queue. I wish each time travelling to Belarus was so easy-peasy. Unfortunately, we did not have much time to enjoy beautiful Hrodna.
Experiencing the Belarusian train: Learning about Home Education
I believe that interesting and polite people that we share our journeys with make them more interesting. This time on the Hrodna-Minsk train, I had a chance to talk to an interesting Belarusian lady, travelling with a small boy. She lives near Hrodna and educates her daughter home.
We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling, and she particularly argued that it allowed releasing her daughter’s individuality and adapting the methods to her personality, unlike in the state education. As I understood, the state schools do not welcome home education, yet it has become a bit more popular among parents recently.
Also, I did really enjoy myself in ‘kupe’-class of compartment. It cost a bit more but was significantly more comfortable. In fact, frankly speaking, ‘kupe’ is still very affordable for a PhD student like myself. The price for such high-standard sleeping-type of a compartment is around five pounds. Although the trip lasted for around six hours, I had my own bed and clean bed sheet.
Another great thing of travelling cross Belarus by train is ‘samovar’. Those who travelled, for example, cross Russia will know what I am talking about. You can either order tea from a ticket inspector or just get hot water yourself from samovar. For free. Samovar makes travelling by train truly unique experience. Seriously.
Using samovar and listening to horrible Russian popsa on the train reminded me of my trip to Russia that I made around 10 years ago. With a friend of mine, Bianca Sadowska, we travelled by trains cross Russia and reached as far as to Ulan-Ude, near the border with Mongolia.
That was my first such serious travelling experience: from Warsaw to Lviv and then we made a couple of stops in Russia, and back to Poland. Today Bianca is about to complete her PhD at the University of Gdansk (Poland) on the scientific and socio-political activity of Alexander Hilferding, a linguist and folklorist.
Now I am dashing to explore the city but I will, definitely, keep you all posted on my journey cross Belarus.