Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Botanical Garden

I enjoy walking around Minsk, but I’ve spent most of my time walking around the same few places. A few days ago, I decided to try something new, to get to the Botanical Garden without taking any major streets. I almost succeeded in avoiding big streets, though I had to walk for a few minutes along Platonava Street, where I stopped to visit a couple of very interesting stores: a shop selling a wide selection of traditional Belarusian fabrics and a place specializing in work clothes. I didn’t need anything from either place, but I liked the fabric store a lot. In addition to raw fabrics, they sell bed linens and table linens, so I’m sure I’ll be back.

My busy street led right up to a side door at the Botanical Garden, an entrance I’d never discovered before this. I bought myself a ticket and the lady told me I should without fail go to visit the public greenhouse. As I headed straight over, snow began falling lightly. The light powdery coating decorated what I saw and made me especially glad to be there.

I arrived at the conservatory just as a group of school kids began to leave, and by the time I’d hung up my coat and taken a few steps in, I had the place almost to myself. Noticing bird cages lining the main walkway, I decided to start by walking past the birds, parrots of various kinds. I wondered if any of them talked. Yes, in fact, they do. The chattiest of the birds greeted me as I walked up. “Privet,” he said. (“Hello.”) I answered, and we greeted each other several times before I walked away. A boy and his grandmother walked up to the cage, and the same bird rapped on the cage with is beak and asked, “Kto tam?” (“Who’s there?”) The boy rapped back, and the bird asked again, “Who’s there?” The next bird answered, something about a crocodile. Alla said they were almost quoting a cartoon dialog involving a character called Crocodile Gena.

Of course the birds served simply as extra decorations in a building dedicated to flowers and plants. Touring the building, I stopped especially to admire the plants in flower and the cactus. Near the cactus garden, I noticed a door I’d ignored on my previous visits. It turns out there’s a café here, with reasonable prices and nice-looking food, though I didn’t stay to eat because I wanted to have lunch at home. I figured I could walk down the central pathway and out the main gate, right near a subway station.

Imagine my disappointment at the main gate then, when I discovered it locked and unattended. Apparently they use only the side entrance during the winter, and I had to walk all the way back and then retrace my steps outside the long wall so I could get to the subway. The two gates are far apart, and I got pretty hungry by the time I reached home, but enjoyed a great walk and a beautiful opportunity to see the Botanical Garden in winter.

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