Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Travelling on Diesel Electric train through ex – USSR (Soviet Union Belarus) from Jirovichi to Ros via Slonim

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

After spending 6 blessed  days in Jirovichi Sveto Uspenski Manastir (Zhirovichky Monastery) and having the possibility to pray and venerate the multitde of holy relics kept in Jirovichki (holy cloister), eat with the seminary students in Jirovichi spiritual seminary and receive a blessing of Archibishop Gurij and many of the Jirovichi serving father, hieromonks and talk to seminary students, visit the monastery library, viist students classrooms, computer lab  and get impression an impressions on general serminary monastir life, next on today I had the chance to travel for a one more time on an eletric multiple unit (famous in Russia / Belarus / Ukraine) as "elektrichka".

Sviato-Uspenskij-Jirovichki-manastir-bus-station

My  travel started in Jirovichi bus station which is situated nearby the Jirovichi Monastery walls.

Jirovichi is really unique monastery for a pilgrimage as it is the largest Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery and seminary (orthodox spiritual academy school) in Belarus. In Jirovichi is also the most holy considered icon in Belarus which happens to be also the smallest icon of the Non-hand made image of Virgin Mary (Theotokos).

Jirovichi-Dormition-of-Mother-Mary-Eastern_Orthodox-monastery

The miracle making icon of Holy Theotokos is self ingraved on a stone and was given as a sign from heaven to the inhabitants of Belarusia lands at that time because, perhaps many of the Belarusian "savage" like living people (dveriani) were falsely honouring cult hand made stones and trees and by the glorious miracle of God, the pagan inhabitants turned to faith in the True Lord and Savior Jesus Christ being astoned to see such an unique image of the mother of the Lord The Stone icon of the Virgin Mary appeared for a first time in Jirovichi in about year 1460.

The stone Virgin Mary icon was found by shepherds on top of a burning pear tree while wandering in the wood searching for their last sheeps.
Jirovichij (Bojii Mater)
as popular among Belarusians is said to have conducted a multitude of miracles through the years even to this very day.

Jirovichi-holy-icon-of-Mother-Mary-Jirovichka-bojia-mater

The found Stone self-ingraved icon of Jirovichi monastery, the smallest (miracle making) icon of Virgin Mary on earth

Today in Jirovichi monastery the place where the burning pear was is on the entrance of the monastery main Church which is in honour of the Dormition of Virgin Mary.

Jirovichi-bojij-mater-Mother-of-God-Jirovichi-holiest-place-of-Belarus

Jirovichi Bojii Mater

The monastery has 2 corpuses one for seminary students and one for monks. Inside the monastery there are about 20 monks and 10 priests regularly serving various services and holy liturgy daily. The seminary has a beautiful garden and a holy spring (well) right infront of the main Church entrance.

Jirovichka-Bojij-Mater-Virgin-Mary-miracle-making-icon-Jirovichi-monastery-Belarus

Jirovichi Mother of the Son of God Holy Icon

I've catched a bus from the holiest place of Belarus situated in village of Jirovichi (hosts about 1000+- citizens) to Slonim (Vokzal) = Train Station in Russian language. The bus from Jirovichi to Slonim is about 20-30 km and ticket was 8000 BYR (which is very cheap to about 0.40 USD).

Then from Slonim's Train station I've bought a Train ticket to Ros as I needed to go to Krasnoselsk and there was no direct transportation to it. Ros is a nearby poselok to Krasnoselsk (another poselok) nearby the town of Valkowysk , (Volkovoisk), Волковыск is inhabited by about 44000 people as of time of writting. In Russian (poselok is a little bigger than village but not really to be called town usually consists to up to few thousands of people up to 10 000 ppl.

Slonim-city-center-tank

Slonim City Center Tank

Travelling through ex empire of Soviet Union ( USSR ) which was an union in many things to reside the today's European Union is an unique experience as one sees the endeavor of soviet people to build different things that kept running the so called communist regime. 

The train ticket is really cost low (costed me 14.900 BYR Belarussian Rubles = about 0.80 dollar cents!). The train ticket looked just like an ordinary cash reeipt printed on a cheap paper, however uniquely on the train ticket is written besides the departure and arrival towns also, number of kilometers from town A to town B that you pay for, in my case from Slonim to Rosy this was 088 km. The train itself is a real excitement for anyone who is in love with history and old trains.

Slonim-city-Belarus-train-station

Slonim Belarus, Bus Station with a Kiosk

While waiting the train I dropped by the Caffeteria nearby the Train Station (Vokzal) and get a coffee for 6000 BYR (about 0.25 USD) and 2  kinda of local Belarusian snacks (bulochka) which costed about 3000 BYR each (0.12 USD)! Amazingly I had my coffee and a quick meal for less than a dollar, amazingly cheap isn't it? 🙂

Diesel-Elektrichka-inter-town-village-train-Belarus-DR1A-135
 

The Russian type trains are different from European as the rails distance is higher than in rest of Europe. Actually there was practical reason behind the rails standard differene as the Russian rails standard was invented to be different from European in order to stop Hitler's Nazi Germany to easily transport goods / tanks etc. from and to the Stalin's U.S.S.R.

Because of the different rail distance the inside of the train coupe is also wider separated in two column seats on each of it could sit up to 3 people:

Elektrichka-common-train-between-villages-and-cities-in-Belarus-Russia-and-ex-USSR

The train toilet is also unique to see as it belonged to the perhaps 30-40 years old train:

Even though the toilet doesn't look shiny still it was clean and there was a toilet paper, what intrigued me most was the hole on the ground in front of the toilet seat, the meaning of it was to be a kinda of a natural air-condition 🙂
The toilet flush is really amazing to see too, usually in europe and everywhere I've been including in Arab Emirates (Dubai), the water flush is being triggered on top of toilet paper with hand, well in ex-USSR this is different to to flush the water you have to press a button with your leg. The sink water is also interesting to see usually in Europe sink water is being triggered by pushing on top or by turning a stopcock, here in Russia you have to press down to make water flow. Talking about oddities another oddity for non-Belarusians in Belarus is the home bath locks, usually in europe we're used to have some kind of lock mechanism, locking with a key is most common, here in Belarus in home the lock doors mechanism is simply a button to be pressed up or down. 

In the train there was policeman, the policeman here in Belarus are firm man walking threating all around the train, so no place for bad or misbehaving citizens here in Belarus 🙂

I've safely reached village of Ros in 16:35 (with a delay of about 5 minutes) which is pretty normal for a non-western train, so overall train timing was cool. The train had some signatures with some instructions what is allowed and disallowed in the train, smoking was strictly prohibited and there was huge sum fine / "shtraf". Even though that I've seen a young person to smoke a cigarette (while closing the doors) in between coupes compartment obviously not much caring about the cops standing just a few wagons next 🙂

Before reaching Rosy we've passed on few villages, the villages here in Belarus are very beatiful there is difference in how Belarusians built a lot of their old wooden houses if compared to lets say Bulgaria or Balkans where we build brick solid houses a lot of village houses in Belarus are wooden, here is few pictures to give you an idea on how a typical Belarusian village looks like:

Belarus-ex-USSR-village

Belarus-derevnija-picture-ex-USSR-village

Even though the harsh Soviet atheistic communism regime which tried to force unbelieve in God and kill all kind of religiousness in people after the fall of the (USSR) United Soviet Socialistic Republic Belarusians who used to be historically a very religious people are gradually returning to faith.
An interesting fact worthy to mention is Belarus used to be proclaimed the first officially Atheistic country in the world which "freed itself" from the slavery of faith as the anti-christ communists used to be loving saing. 

Well obviously they were wrong nowadays, in many of villages which doesn't have their own Church in Belarus it is typical practice to bringup the Holy Cross of Christ as in below picture, each year the nearby city / town / Poselok Eastern Orthodox priest comes to pray to God for the blessing of the village and abundance of fruits this typically happens on Eastern or Nativity. In Belarus the Eastern Orthodox population is about 78% with some 15% person of Catholics, so often villages with mixed (Orthodox and Catholic) citizens has both separate crosses like in the picture where Orthodox and Catholics christians go to pray seperately.

Belarus-ex-USSR-village-Cross

Share this on