Brest – 13 May 2012

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Warsaw to Brest, Belarus by bus at 10pm. 

Only for seasoned travellers with a lot of patience!

I am the only one that gets on in Warsaw on the Intercars (Eurolines) coach which travels from Paris to Moscow. The bus has some very travel weary people on board. No one speaks English.

Two drivers, rather unfriendly and drive so slowly – 8 hours to do 203km!

 The border wait and passport checks are exceptionally long.

I also have to purchase local medical insurance at the border which costs me all of 2 Euro, but without which one cannot enter Belarus. I have full comprehensive travel insurance, but this is not accepted in Belarus. The only passport control officer, discovering that I do not have insurance, simply closes his office and walks me about 80 metres to the insurance office and everyone behind me in the queue just has to wait. Everyone seems very nice about it.

This all takes place between about 3 and 5 am.



At 6:15 Nina Marchenko, my guide, Boris Bruk, the head of the Brest Jewish Community and his son Andrey, the driver, meet me at the Brest Central Bus Station.



After a coffee, we are off to Vysokie, where my 3rd great grandfather, Chaim Rabinowitz comes from. The Jewish memorial in front of the ruins of the synagogue and some houses are only the reminders of the Jewish community of Vysokie.



Back to Brest. Once upon a time Jewish buidlings in Brest.



Good luck reading the signs.

The athletic track that once was the Jewish Cemetery



The Train Museum



The Fortress of Brest.

Huge monument, changing of the guard, a collection of Jewish gravestones, ceremony marking the end of Orthodox Easter.



Chabad Rabbi Chaim Rabinowitz



Menachem Begin’s House



The Cinema where the original shul of Shaul Wahl stood. Stone work in the basement. The inner building can be seen from across the road.



My relationship family tree with Shaul Wahl – my 12th great grandfather



The house associated with Rabbi Chaim Halevy Soloveichik whom my granfather Nachum Mendel Rabinowitz studied under at the Brisker Yeshiva in the early 20th Century.



The Jewish Museum of Boris Bruk



Making sure I get good service on the train to Baranovichi.

Their friend Victor takes me by car to Novogrudok, another 60km away. Can you read these road signs? Neither can he!


Checking into the hotel takes the special combined skills of Victor and Tamara, my Belarussian friend on the phone, assiting me as the receptionist tries to explain in Belorussian that she needs my passport, my invitation to Belarus, my medical insurance and my migration card before she can give me the key. I then get a 3 bedroom hotel suit for $16 per night.
And there are babooshkas in the restaurant dancing the night away!


I take a little walk around Novogrudok at sunset

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