Monday, October 13, 2008

Minsk, a city at night

Minsk is a gorgeous city. Especially in the center, close to the presidential building which doubles as the leader's residence, the avenues are clean and wide and safe and grand-looking. The restored pre-war buildings echo the styles of older architectures (Classical, Baroque and Gothic), and they harmoniously hum with the park zones and the gargantuan concrete Soviet-style structures.

I found Minsk at night to be peaceful. It is walkable, if you have the leisurely time to do so and good walking shoes (I did). Otherwise, it will daunt you. As you go walk out the centre, the sameness of the Soviet-style buildings stretch out into infinity. If you head the other direction (to the older areas of the city, called upper Minsk), the sights are livelier, more eclectic and drop-dead charming.

If Minsk were a person, it would be a dark-haired, handsome but passive-bodied man. Dressed in a suit, he is sipping a cup of cappuccino at the News Cafe, not far from the president's residence. He's got a sophisticated style. His face is hopeful and unmoving.

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