April 17, 2009

National Gallery of I Don’t Think So

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 7:51 pm by Jenn

I’m in my final days now.  I have less than two weeks left in Baku and so many things left to do before I go.  Last week I knocked out the Carpet Museum, riding the Funicular and attempted a visit to the National Art Gallery.  I say attempted because we (me and Missy) actually went in, purchased tickets and then decided against the visit….why you ask?  Well, because they want you to check your coat, your purse and your camera….um, I don’t think so!  Why do they feel it’s necessary to take my coat everywhere I go?  I don’t want to take my coat off…I’m cold, thank you very much!  And really?  You want me to leave my purse with you?  Again, I don’t think so.  I am not going to leave my purse with my money, my identification, my credit cards, my cell phone and house keys at coat check in the United States of America – so don’t expect me to leave it in a country where the price I pay for pashminas depends on the mood of the salesman and the language I am speaking!  As for the camera…well that’s just ridiculous…we said we wouldn’t take pictures, the camera was packed away in the camera bag…they follow so close to you that you can practically smell their breath so what’s the big deal of wanting to keep an expensive item like a camera in our possession?  If it falls of the hook and breaks or someone steals it are they going to compensate us for the loss…NOPE!  So therefore, not leaving it….or any of the other stuff….just give us our money back!

The woman at the checking station was rather offended and the guard didn’t seem very happy either.  I understand they have a job to do, but at least if you are going to take someones valuables offer a locker area to keep them in at least….even the grocery store has that much – and I don’t leave my purse in the locker there either!

Hopefully my visit this week to the Palace in the Old City and the Modern Art Gallery will be better.


April 20, 2008

All About Town

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , at 9:32 pm by Jenn

I finally got the appropriate drivers installed and was able to get the pictures from my camera!  When my computer died many of my pictures were lost so I’m really thankful that I still had the pictures from Germany on my camera.  I can’t remember when the last time I backed up my photo files was, but I’m pretty sure it was before Germany.  My new promise to myself is going to be to store the pictures on a site like Flickr so that I don’t have to worry about this stuff anymore.

Ok, so last Tuesday was the day the movers came to crate up our boxes.  You remember the ones.  The ones that had to be packed in case we are leaving, but we are not sure we are leaving, but we need to be prepared in case we are leaving, so we are ready to leave if we need to leave, yeah those boxes.  Thankfully it was a nice day, because I really needed to walk to relieve some stress.  I was glad for the opportunity to take a few pictures on a nice, blue day.  So here they are:

  This is a picture of Take Away Sushi.  It’s about a block from our apartment and best of all they deliver!  It definitely isn’t the best sushi I’ve ever had, in fact, it’s pretty darn near the worst, but it’s sushi and it will do in a pinch especially during these “cupboard is bare” times.  There is also a pizza place/restaurant nearby.  We haven’t tried this one yet, but maybe one day this week.  We’ve heard good things about it.  It’s called Ziopepe.

At the end of the street is the Stella statue which I’ve posted pictures of before and on the other side of the street is this billboard which always has something festive.  This says Republic of Belarus:

 the sign is what I say marks the entrance of the park.  The park is nice and there are several statues and later in the spring there will be many flowers.  One of my favorite things in the park is this piece of graffiti which I’m surprised is still here:

  This marks my half way point in the walk (I think).  Since it was such a nice day I didn’t take my usual route.  I wanted to take pictures of the statues and walk down around the water.  A friend from work also suggested I see the peacock, so I went off in search of the bird.  I was a little disappointed that his tail was not blooming.  She said that later in the year his tail is in full bloom with so many beautiful flowers.  Here he is, minus the splendour:

 the building in the background is Hotel Belarus

This gazebo type monument/statue is really pretty from a distance, but up close it has been heavily vandalized with graffiti.  One of the things we comment on here is the lack of graffiti ( I know I’ve reference two pieces in this post).  The city is really clean and beautiful.  I personally think there is a group of Oompaloompas who go around and clean up the graffiti, though they have never been seen.  They must not go in to the park though!  Here’s a picture of the gazebo statue

In the distance behind the gazebo you can see the river.  Once this is in my sight I’m on a mission.  Up to this point I still hadn’t walked around the river because the weather just hadn’t been nice enough.  This was the perfect day.  Here are a few pictures:

  Still in the park, with the water getting closer.

 Near the statue of Alexander Puskin.

  Puskin was a famous Russian poet.  His statue sits in the park and he overlooks the river.  He has a wonderful view of the old town of Minsk and the Island of Tears.

I didn’t walk to the Island on this day, because I’d been there the day before.  I do want to post a few more pictures of the Island because it was such an interesting place and such an important part of recent Belarussian history.  As you are walking over the bridge you have an excellent view of the island (which is man made just for this memorial) and the memorial

  I couldn’t help but notice the flowers at the end of the bridge.  There is a rock here with a madonna statue inside with an plaque that reads something about “for our sons”

  The memorial itself is beautiful.  There are four groups of women.  To enter the memorial you walk through these iron gates.  Each gate door has a handle which is inscribed with the name of a major city of Belarus.  Inside the memorial the inside of each group of women is an altar with the walls containing the names of the fallen with a place for a candle next to each name.  The ceiling has a light which from the outside you can see.  They say this is illuminated at night, but I’ve never seen it (never been that close at night).


Also on the island is a statue of an angel boy who is rying.   This statue is at the end of one of the paths leading from the memorial. 

If you look very carefully you might notice that the penis on this statue is a little shiny.  Apparently many brides come to the island on their wedding day and rub the angel’s penis.  This is supposed to bless the marriage with fertility and a male son.  I don’t know if that is true or not, and my friend doesn’t know how this story orignated, but we have witnessed many brides crossing the bridge to the Island of Tears. 

This picture is taken heading up the hill to the American Embassy.  You’ll notice the American Flag showing through the trees.

April 14, 2008

Experiencing Technical Difficulty…Please Stand By

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 10:57 am by Jenn

As if there wasn’t enough craziness in my life already, my computer died in the middle of all of this.  Thankfully there were some TDY computer guys here and I wasn’t without my computer for very long…I was back up and running in less than 24 hours.  Problem being ALL of my software is packed!  So I can’t share any pictures until I can unpack!  There’s got to be a way!  I’m going to search the Fuji website today for software, I’m hopeful…

This was a very productive knitting weekend.   I made the cutest little _________ for Emilie’s baby, and started a ________!  Adorable!  Even Scott smiled and said how cute these things were.  The best thing about knitting for kids is that the projects go FAST!  I’m hoping for another finished object today.  I’m bummed though that I can’t even put my pictures on Ravelry.

Today is a sunny day so I maybe venture over to the Island of Tears at lunch time (yes, I’m blogging from work.  I know, I know – I’ll only be one more minute).

No news yet as to whether we stay or go.  Good Grief!


January 23, 2008

Mir Castle

Posted in Journal tagged , , at 10:58 pm by Jenn


Today was a tourist day!  These have been few and far between since arriving in Minsk.  A group of us went to мир замок (Mir Castle), about 60 miles from Belarus, toward Poland. 

 Mir Castle has been in various stages of construction since the late 15th Century.  It was badly damaged in 1813 during the Napoleonic era and sustained heavy damage again during WW2.  The original architecture was Gothic, but now includes Renaissance and Baroque styles.   Mir castle is shaped like a square with towers at each corner and one in the front center.  The Palace (living quarters) of the castle are currently being renovated so we were unable to see that portion (the palace runs along the left side and is 3 stories tall), but we were able to see the prison, and the military tower.    If you are looking at the front of the castle we toured the tower to the right.  The stairs were so steep and the stairwells were very narrow.   There was a beautiful church on the castle grounds, it was actually a burial place for 6 of the castle owners family.   Here are a few pictures of the day.

dscf0123-2.jpg  Me in the gallery area of the castle.

dscf0125-2.jpg  Overlooking the town of Mir from the military tower.  This is the Russian Orthodox church.  Nearby is also a catholic church.

dscf0128-2.jpg  There is a man made lake on the castle grounds.  The story goes, that there once was  garden here and when the castle owner destroyed the garden to put a man made lake that he put a curse on himself.  The lake remained shallow for a number of years and the man eventually became ill and died.  He never saw the lake completed.

dscf0132-2.jpg  There is also a  pretty church on the castle grounds, directly behind the castle.

dscf0134.jpg  This is a closer view of the artwork on the church.  It is really beautiful.

dscf0136-2.jpg  The bell tower of the church.

The day was so cold that I really couldn’t appreciate the scenery.  Not to mention that winter scenery in Belarus is kind of blah!  I’d like to revisit this area in the spring and stop by a waterfront restaurant for some shaslik on the way back to the city.

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