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Brest (Belarus) (Брест) is a city on the Belarusian-Polish border, formerly also known as Brest-Litowsk and Brześć nad Bugiem. The city is located on the Bug and Mukhavets rivers and famous for its „Hero-Fortress“, a big Soviet propaganda complex with a gigantic concrete monument in the form of a Red army soldier's head. Brest is inhabitated by more than 300.000 people.
Places to visit
There are several museums in town worth visiting, the most famous is the “Museum of the heroic defense of the Brest fortress” on the western outskirts of the town. On the islands of the fortress territory one will find also the Art museum of the Oblast and Bereste, an archaeological museum. It is constructed around a digging site, where streets and houses from the middle-age beginning of the city were discovered. From the city centre the marshrutki 5 and 10 are going to the fortress (крепость), but only on request. From the centre it takes some 30 minutes by foot to reach the site.
Between fortress and centre on the prospekt Masherova an open air museum displays railway technology.
Another museum that is dedicated to rail-way history is located on the train station Brest Tsentral'nyj: The station's museum, consisting of one and a half rooms, tells the history of the famous station, but is hardly known and not easy to access. To get there you have to ask the "dezhurnyj" of the station, who than will call the museum's chief and guide. Entrance is free of charge. It's a perfect place to visit while the gauge conversion is being done (see below).
In the central part of the city are some more museums to be found: The Homeland museum (ul. Karla Marksa 60), the historical museum of the city (ul. Levanevskogo 3) and the museum of the saved art objects - the exhibition consists art objects that were found by the border guards in the luggage of people leaving Belarus and illegally taking them abroad.
Not far away from Brest are the Beloveska primeval forests. A good area for rambling, biking and canoeing.
Brest is divided into two rayony, the Leninskij and the Moskovskij. This is important for those foreigner who want to stay more than five working days: You have to register on the Ovir of the rayon you are living in.
Between ul. Pushkinskaya and Kujbysheva a big marked, the so called Kolkhoznyj rynok, is located. Inside the round building with its dome all kinds of food, despite of fresh vegetables and fruits, are sold. Outside, but still under a roof, one gets the fresh stuff. On the other side of the fence kind of black traders, often elderly women, sell fresh fruits and vegetables, sometimes also milk products an meat or fish from their own gardens or kitchens.
Restaurants, Pubs, and the like
One of the most famous and best restaurants is the Jules Verne (Russian: Жюль Верн) on ul. Gogolya 29. In a very pleasant, somewhat maritime atmosphere very different kinds of food are offered, mainly Indian, so also vegetarians will be happy there. Jules Verne is considered to be one of the more pricey restaurants in town.
Good food in a serious atmosphere can be found in the Café na Voznesenskoj (Кафе на Вознесенской) in the ulitsa Komsomolskaya 34. They offer business lunch from 12.00 h to 15.00 h and are opened from 12.00 h until 01.00 h in the night. If you never thought pizza could be made with flaky pastry, this Café, that looks more like a restaurant, will teach you something new! The biggest minus is the big TV-set in one of the rooms, but sitting in the second one you hardly will notice it.
On the ul. Gogolya the Pub-House (Russian Паб–Хаус) offered drinks and very meaty food in a rustic ambience. The place was much darker than usual pubs or cafés and there is no O.P. feeling - wooden chairs and so on. In summer one could visit the beer garden. Past tense? Yes, unfortunately the entire building was destroyed after a conflict with the owner in June 2012.
A big pizzeria with quite good food is the Venetsiya in ul. Internatsyonal'naya. One can sit inside and outside.
The pedestrian zone of Brest, the Sovietskaya street (ул. советская) is dotted with several cafés, pizzerias, bars, clubs and other places where one can get something to eat and drink. Some other places like the Magellan café are located in the side streets.
On the Ulitsa Sovietskaya you'll find the Beltelekom with a big and modern computer pool. They offer WiFi, one just has to buy a card to access the net. Another Beltelekom is near the crossing of Sovetskaya and prospekt Masherova, but it is much smaller. As it seems, open WiFi networks are not allowed in Belarus', because the Beltelekom has got a monopoly on this. But ones you've bought an access card (one hour costs about two US-Dollar, but you have to show your passport, internet is state controlled!) you can use it day and night near any Beltelekom building and many hotels in Belarus'.
As in most CIS countries Hospitality Club still is much more popular than CouchSurfing or BeWelcome. Especially in smaller towns it would be much easier to find a place to stay when you Geroičeskaja Oborona HC.
When travelling by train from Berlin to Moscow Brest is the place where the gauge conversion takes place. Sometimes it is possible to use this break to leave the train and go for walk into the city. You have to talk to the sleeping car attendant to get to know whether you may leave and when and where to get back on the train. The ul. Sovetskaya is near by, after crossing the pedestrians bridge turn left and after some 50 meters right. The pedestrian zone starts after some 300 meters.
One also can get to Brest by bus from many European countries. The central bus station is located in ulitsa Mitskevicha in the central part of the city. From here buses to many towns and villages in the Brest oblast' are departing.
Public transport in Brest is cheap. There are buses, trolleybuses and so called “marshrutki”, minibuses, that are going on a certain route, one can stopp at bus-stops to get in or off. Tickets for buses are called "talony" and can be baught for some 20 Euro cents in kiosks near the bus-stops or from the driver. The marshrutka costs about 35 Cents. Of course there are taxis in Brest, too. If there is no counter in the cab one should agree on the price in advance to avoid stupid surprises. A trip from Central station to the city centre should cost not more than four Dollars.
You'll find a Polish consulate in the ulitsa Kujbysheva 34 (+375-162/222071), a Russian one in Pushkinskaya 10 (+375-162/237842), and an Ukrainian in Vorovskogo 19 (+375-162-220455).
Usually one or two teachers for German language (native speakers) are in town via the DAAD or the Robert-Bosch-Stiftung, who work in the local universities.