Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nesvizh & Mir

--- Warning --- I think this post is too long. You can skip it because I can't figure out how to shorten it and it's my own dang fault. -S

We had plans last weekend to take a packaged tour to the town of Lida, where we expected to see a reenactment of a historic wedding at a medieval castle. The tour didn’t fill up, however, and the operator canceled. When we learned this, Alla looked around to figure out how best to get to Lida on our own. In the process she discovered that the historic reenactment might be a little hokey and we decided to take a different trip, to a couple of historic towns easier to reach.

It seemed most convenient to travel on our own rather than on a packaged tour, but we did run into a couple of wrinkles at the beginning of our trip. Alla learned that the buses to Nesvizh start at a secondary bus station a few miles from our apartment, and she learned that the #30 and #20 trolleybus lines would get us from the train station to this bus station. So, we started nice and early in the morning so we would have time to get to the train station and reach our bus. First we got onto a #30 trolleybus and passed within a block of our apartment on our way to the bus station. (First note to selves: Catch #30 trolleybus closer to home.) We nearly missed the bus to Nesvizh because the sign on the bus named the final destination and we were waiting for a bus with the word Nesvish on the placard. Anyway, once on the bus we rode back to the train station where we started our day and then proceeded to Nesvizh. (Second note to selves: ...)

We really loved Nesvizh. It’s a cute little town on a river, with just enough restaurants to support a few tourists and several interesting things to see and do. We started in the old town hall, which dates back to the 1500’s, visited a church, and headed on to the main attraction: a beautiful palace on the banks of the river with many hectares of parkland surrounding it. We hired a horse and buggy for an introduction to the parkland and decided that Nesvizh is worthy of a return trip simply to go to the park and swim in the river.

We wanted to take a bus from Nesvizh to Mir, but were mistaken about the schedule and got to the station too early. Rather than wait, we hired a taxi. Far down the road we passed a solo cyclist we’d seen a couple times earlier that day in Nesvizh. She was making good progress and reminded me how much I enjoy bicycle tourism.

Mir’s biggest attraction is a beautiful castle, also on a river. We explored the castle in some detail before walking toward the bus station. It was at the moment we approached the bus station that I realized we did well by coming to Mir on our own. We stepped into a little church and saw a chamber orchestra set up at the front. It turns out that we’d stumbled upon the Belarus National Chamber Orchestra, 22 extremely talented musicians playing in an acoustically wonderful location. We took the last two seats and enjoyed a phenomenal concert. This was the first concert in the church in 130 years and there were certainly no tour buses anywhere in sight.

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