Belarus Travel #belarus


David M. Fox <fox@...>
 

This message was posted on the JewishGen Discussion Group in response to
the message >from Eric Adler about his trip to Grodno.

David Fox
fox@erols.com
Belarus SIG Coordinator

**************************
Subject: Re: trip to Grodno
From: YuriShch1@aol.com
Date: Sat, 7 Nov 1998 01:29:56 EST
X-Message-Number: 25

Hi everybody!

My name is Yuri Shcherbina, I'm a Jew who was living in Grodno
for 25 years, and having left there only two years ago. BTW, my
parents still live there.

It was very exciting to hear about the Eric's trip to Grodno,
and it brought back so many memories. I'm very grateful to Eric
for this message.

There are just a few things that I would like to express my
opinion about, which I think were incorrect and which I can explain.

Here are some notes re this exiting letter:

I also requested an "express" single-entry visa, which they
processed in less than an hour but which cost me DM 200
(about $120). Normal visa processing time takes longer
(depending on type of visa) and costs less.
I'm not sure it really costs less. The American Embassies in
Moscow, Minsk and Vilnius charge $150 for a single-entry visa
issuing to Belorussian citizens. When somebody is brave enough
to ask them why it is so expensive, they usually say that the
price is absolutely equal to the price that Belorussian Embassy
charges for American citizens applying for the same type of the
visa.

There is no direct train >from Minsk to Grodno, so
the best option is taking a train >from Poland.
This is incorrect, as there are at least four direct trains
from Minsk to Grodno. There is also a direct bus route connecting
these towns. It takes about five hours to get in Grodno by a bus.
The train >from Poland is more expensive and takes longer.

rent a car in Belarus.
This is correct. It is impossible.

It supposedly has records of births, deaths, and maybe
marriages after about 1900.
They usually keep documents that have been issued during
the last 80 years. But, of course, with some exceptions.

(she was not allowed to tell me exactly).
She was allowed to tell you. She just did not know.

She explained that a person at another archive named Kornashova
or something had recently been fired for giving out too much
information (and too freely), possibly to people >from Israel.
Because of this, she was very formal with me.
Not because of this: 100 bucks cash would probably have made
her very friendly. That is exactly what people there call
"Russian business."

The Synagogue. The main synagogue in Grodno is a very important
building, built in the 16th century, I believe.
At the end of the 15 century.

There were once something like 37 synagogues in the city.
Forty-five synagogues, based on the Grodno Directory published
before W.W.I.

a Jew named Yuri Chaimovich Boyarsky staked responsibility
for the project. He has not, however, made satisfactory progress
on the project. At the very least, he is a poor manager /
fundraiser / restorer. All the people I spoke to in Grodno,
both Jews and non-Jews, called him a liar...
This is a very sad story. I knew him as a very nice, friendly
and honest person. I don't believe he really was involved in this
"shakher--makher". I remember him working hard on the restoration
of the Synagogue and Jewish Community in Grodno. He is a very old
man, he does not have children, what could be his reason for
corruption? At his age people usually think about their coming
visit to G-d, not about money...

A very important person in the community is named Grischa Chosid
The more appropriate spelling would be Grisha (Grigoriy) Hasid.
He is son of Nisel.

doing 18 km/h over the speed limit of 60 km/h
The speed limit in out-city-zone is 90 km/h, sometimes 100.
No idea why Eric got the ticket if it happened out of city.

Minsk was largely built after World War II,
Both, Minsk and Grodno are very old towns: Grodno is about
900 years old, Minsk is about 700. But unlike Grodno, Minsk
was completely ruined during the W.W.II, that's why it looks
like a modern city.

Much of the Grodno ghetto is either preserved or being renovated
Thanks to Yuri Boyarsky, who people seemed to be speaking badly about.

One dominate feature in the city is Lenin Square, a large open
area with a huge statue of Lenin, the base of which is rumored
to be built >from gravestones >from the old main Jewish cemetery
where the stadium now stands.
The mentioned statue is pretty new, built about 10 years ago.
But the old one really was standing on the pedestal made of the
old Jewish gravestones.


Very sincerely,
Yuri Shcherbina,
LA, CA
YuriShch1@aol.com


DREAME@...
 

The price of visa for the FSU are pretty standard at $100-150US.

There are several daily trains >from Minsk to Grodno as well as a bus.

The train >from Poland takes several additional hours when crossing into the
FSU, as the guage on the rail cars in Europe/Eastern Europe are larger than
those in the former FSU, so the wheels on the cars must be changed at the
border.

I don't believe it is possible to rent a car. You may find an English
speaking guide with a car... gas stations, "rest stops" , etc. are few and far
between, and the roads are horrible.

I wouldn't believe every story I am told in the FSU about graft, corruption or
people being "liars"...

I do not personally (through my agency) recommend anyone going into an area
where there is no U.S. Embassy.

Sincerely,

Shirley R. Rose,
President
Travel-Rite, Inc.
L.A. California
dreame@aol.com