May 14, 2014
After my weekend of sightseeing around Minsk, I had one more work day. It was the day before a national holiday, so it was rather quieter in the office than it had been the previous week, but there were still enough people around that we got some things done. At the end of the day, I bid farewell to the conference room that had been my base of operations, which wasn’t so different than a conference room at home.
My guide for the evening wanted to take me to see some art, but due to the holiday, the gallery was closed, so we went to a park in a part of Minsk I hadn’t yet seen.
After the park, my guide and I met another person from the office and had dinner at a restaurant that served Belarusian dishes. The menus were the largest I’d ever seen; the covers were essentially small wooden doors. They had an English menu for me to peruse, though some of the items still were mysterious to me, like the one with “swept away sauce”. Whatever it was I ended up eating, it was tasty.
I knew I had to get up very early Tuesday morning, so probably I should have started packing earlier than Monday night, but I hadn’t. Still, I couldn’t resist taking one more small stroll after I got dropped off at the hotel, enjoying the night street scenes one more time. Only then did I start packing, staying up way too late considering the car was coming to pick me up at 4:15 a.m. Tuesday. I was pleasantly surprised to find shops open in the airport even at that early hour and bought a couple more souvenirs. The only slight glitch in getting through security was finding the half of the immigration form I’d been handed back when I was allowed into the country; I didn’t realize I’d have to present it when I left so had taken it out of my passport. Fortunately, I’d just put it in a different part of my purse so it was easy enough to produce once I understood what the official was asking me for. After getting through, I had enough time look at all the duty free shops and use the toilet, which was upstairs in a very quiet and unpopulated part of the airport that looked to be undergoing renovation.
Then it was time to get on the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, where I had a couple hours layover before boarding my Delta flight home to Detroit. The plane to Detroit was as empty as I’ve seen a plane in yearsâ€”it was almost spooky there were so few people in my section. With all that room to move around, the nine plus hours in the air were pretty darn pleasant. I napped a little, I read, I listened to podcasts, I watched stuff and played games on the entertainment console at the seat, I ate both of the meals they served, I drank the orange drink I’d picked up in Frankfurt.
We landed in Detroit in early afternoon and before too long I was past immigration and customs and in my car heading home. I stopped for gas since I knew I’d be too tired in the morning, what with adjusting to the seven-hour time difference. That stop meant I came into our subdivision a different way than usual, and as I came to an intersection near our house, I saw a car that looked like Mr. Karen’s drive by, with someone who looked very much like Mr. Karen at the wheel. I puzzled and stared and realized it was Mr. Karen. We waved at each other and he followed me to our house—he’d come all the way home on his lunch break to leave welcome home flowers for me on the kitchen table. They were pretty, but it was better getting to spend a few minutes with him in person before he had to head back to work.
This concludes my adventures in Minsk. As with so many things in my life, I was apprehensive ahead of time about doing the trip but it turned out to be just fine. Better than fine, actually; I’d love to go back again.
I put way more photos in Flickr than I included in this series of posts; they’re all here if you want to see even more Minsk.