Minsk Journal – Days 1 and 2

Well, I’ve been awake for around 30 hours now and I’m exhibiting all the symptoms of extreme exhaustion – confusion, disorientation, unstoppable giggling…

The trip to Minsk was no joke and involved a plane from SFO to Washington D.C., then another from D.C. To Frankfurt, Germany, and another from Frankfurt to Minsk. In between, hours of waiting around and a long shuttle ride to the hotel made this a truly epic journey. It’s funny the way going through this kind of thing makes people bond. Right now the whole PR and press group are sharing that distant, dazed look one normally has to buy from a shady guy in a hoodie.

Despite the length, the trip has been surprisingly easy and uneventful (an impression seconded by PR director Chris Cook who’s been this way many, many times). In fact, the only things of note about my progress here was confirming that bad customer service is not an American problem but is a world wide epidemic. In the Frankfurt airport, I and other customers waited for ages while a guy spent ten minutes per cup making lattes from a machine that only required him to push the “latte” button. Meanwhile, this woman blithely created yogurt parfaits no one wanted.

Parfaits are the priority.

Also of note – Germans seem to enjoy monogrammed Coke.

What, no Neilie?

When we got to Minsk, we went through the immigration process amazingly quickly and boarded a small shuttle to the hotel. The driver was really into pop music and the radio was a mix of Russian pop and aging American hits and let me tell you, there’s something really surreal about driving through an Eastern European landscape peppered with signs in Cyrillic while totally jet-lagged, listening to Smashmouth.

At the hotel (which is pretty nice I must say – nice big bathroom, high ceilings – perhaps a little dark and ominous in the hallways – I had just enough energy to shower before passing out for a few hours. At eight, I got up for the welcome dinner which was held here in the hotel’s restaurant. It was a large spread full of local fare like borscht, salmon, potatoes and various chicken dishes. Most interesting culinary experiment – a drink called “birch sap” which tastes kinda like flat tonic water.

Most interesting feature of the dinner? The entertainment. As we entered, this guy tooted along on the sax with a playback CD of “Strangers in the Night.” Slow dance anyone? His repertoire made us feel (as a fellow journalist commented) like we were in some kind of wacky 60s movie as he wrapped up Strangers and went on to play Wham!’s Careless Whispers and Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther theme. Post sax-recital, a woman took the stage and launched into Sade’s “Nothing Can Come Between Us”. Verrrrry interesting.

Now I’m back in my room and ready to fall on my face. Gonna hit the hay since we have an early morning tomorrow – lots of adventures!

Comments (1) »

  • Ken says:

    OMG Jealous! You’re getting so much world travelling done! Looking forward to hearing more about this particular adventure.

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