A Tale of Two Cities

This weekend we made our first trip out of the city of Minsk. We took a train to Vitebsk and then on to Polotsk, back to Vitebsk, then back to Minsk. There was a bit of a mix up with our first train tickets, so we ended up getting a late train and arriving in Vitebsk at 11:30 pm! It actually wasn't too bad because we had our own little compartment on the train with 4 beds, pillows, and blankets, so we all got a good nap on the way. We did learn a lesson on buying tickets, though, so the rest of the trip went smoothly!  

It was quite chilly but according to our friends in Polotsk, it is about to get cold and "it will never be warm again." She was, of course, speaking of this year, not eternally, but it's a bit depressing to realize the warm weather is ending 😢. I'm glad we had the chance to explore a bit before it gets toooo cold! 

I just realized that these pictures uploaded in reverse chronological order. It's too much effort to rearrange them, so consider this to be retracing our steps. 

In front of the train station in Vitebsk at the end of our trip

Both Vitebsk and Polotsk have beautiful greenways through the center of town. And yes, this picture is posed. 

All tuckered out after a long day of walking 

That's a bell

So many gorgeous architectural details and beautiful buildings! 

When you see a cool door, you take a picture in front of it, right? 

Two churches. Both old.

Tractors driving down the city streets make me feel right at home! 

Ethan is dabbing. Abby just looks cold. 

It might be freezing cold, but fall is just gorgeous. 

We pretty much did one of two things for the past two days: walk or sit on a train. Lots to see along the way! 

In front of the Mark Chegall Museum which was unfortunately closed 😢 Check out his art if you are not familiar with it! 

When you see a pile of bright yellow leaves, you jump in them and then take a cute pictue in them (aka force four kids to look at the camera and smile).

Just being silly 

Sometimes you just need a nap after walking up a million steps. 

My beautiful family in front of a beautiful church. Steve probably knows which cathedral this is... I lost track! 

When you see a hill with lush green grass, you roll down it of course! 

Some views of Vitebsk

The bridge is covered with padlocks of all shapes and sizes. I'm really curious about the story behind this. 

When you're in a foreign country, food rules go (mostly) out the window, and you get to eat pancakes with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar for breakfast. And since this only cost $1.50, you don't even have to split it with your siblings! 

Hash tag biscuit 😂 

We had a super cool hotel room! Jo loved the typewriter. We ended up with a suite with two rooms, an entryway, and a bathroom. Things are incredibly cheap here, so two nights in the suite cost a TOTAL of $125.  Steve took more pictures of the hotel's unique decor. 

Reading Dr. Seuss A B Cs on the train. Johanna was seriously cracking up! 

Nastia is one of the new friends we met in Polotsk. She shared a lot of history with us. 

Vira is a friend of a friend who offered to show us around Polotsk. She was very hospitable and knowledgeable! 

Geographic center of Europe 

Cool door = family picture time 

Saint Sophia Cathedral.  Parts of it have been restored after an explosion and other parts are almost a thousand years old if I remember right. 

We got to see a display of the artist нинель счастья (Ninel Schastnaya). Beautiful, beautiful work! This was Ethan's favorite. 

This room showed the apparel of various time periods. Mikayla and Abby liked the late 1700s.

Ethan liked this one because it looks like a pirate. 

Huge outdoor cuckoo clock at the University 

There was a big globe in the library and we found Richmond, Indiana! (РИЧМОНД) 

This is Cumberland, Maryland (Камберленд) and Baltimore in big letters. 

Talking head.  It's part of a legend our guides shared with us.

This was the kids and my fist real train ride! 

As we walked up to the train station to go back to Minsk at the end of our trip, Steve said something to the kids about them being world travelers. Ethan nonchalantly said, "Yeah, that's just what we do." 

And now today I am exhausted.  We got our school work done, so I think now we will get a pizza and watch a movie.  No walking!