Posts Tagged ‘western countries’

Trip to Geographical Center of Europe Polotsk Belarus

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

I spend 3 days from last week with my beloved girlfriend Svetlana in Polotsk Belarus. Since I'm here in Belarus for only 21 days, I'm trying to see as much as possible from what is remarkable from this beautiful green country. Polotsk is famous with;
 

  • Polotsk (Полоцк) is old Orthodox Christian Spiritual center and oldest city of Belarus (founded y. 862)
     
  • It is famous for being home city of Saint Efrosinia Polotskaya
     
  •  Polotsk  is Geographical Center of Europe
     
  • Saint Ephrosinia Church (12th century) – where Cross of st. Efrosinia is kept
     
  • Museum of Book-printing – one of the best in Europe
     
  • "The Stone of Boris" – monument of old Slavonic culture

    stone of Boris monument Polatsk Belarus
     

  • Spaso Efrosinievsky Nuns Monastery (Convent) – (established y. 1582) – monastery islocated 15 minutes from Central Train Station

It is interesting that probably the greatest Belarusian enlightener enlightener Frantsysk Skorina was born in Polatsk, Skorina is among most important people of Belarus of all time. It was in Polotsk also when first Belarusian "printer" was used.

I went to Polotsk with absoultely no idea what to expect. To reach there we travelled on a Belarusian train in a sleeping coupe. Mentioning train I should say train station in Minsk is very well organized and looks very European, the only inconvenient thing from other Western countries trains is you have to call Train Station and reserve ticket in advance. If you don't do so there is a high risk there are no free tickets.

Вокзал Vokzal Central Train Station Minsk Belarus

Central Railway Station Minsk, Belarus

Minsk Central Train Station Vokzal Minsk / Вокзал Минск

Minsk inside Central Train station (Copyright Wikipedia)

The train we were in was old probably 25 or 30 years old, but inside all was clean and well maintained, the train windows had curtains and in between coupe corridors there was even carpet. The train toilet seemed a bit ancient and was a bit dirty, but I guess this is normal as even in developed countries like Holland train toilets are bit dirty. Smoking inside the train just like in Bulgaria nowadays was prohibited. Overall train travel was from 11:53 to 08:20 The train is quite slow if compared to Western European but, was confortable and most importantly warm. Going down from train in Polotsk, I noticed even though the train station was little it was generally well organized. We left our laggage in a Luggage Keeping Room (very cheap for 1 day it costs about 1 euro or less!).

Polotsk is a famous tourist destinations for people from Russia and Ukraine, so finding and booking a Hotel in advance was a bit of a struggle. Thanksfully Svetlana managed to book in advance a Hotel Parus. Hotel cost was cheap too about 12 EURO per night for person. Parus hotel was destinated quite good, with rooms having a sightview to Dvina River
After leaving our luggage in Train Station, we went for an eat and find out prices in cafeterias are very low too. We eat quickly in tiny cafeteria – Mini Cafe and for Coffee Tea and a small snacks we pay only about 1.5 euro!
As Polotsk is small with inhabitants of only 80 000 ppl and is a famous spiritual center for centuries – the city "feels" very calm and relaxed. It is very easy to orientate too, the central part of the city is located in less than 10 minutes walk from Central Train Station. Next to train station is the Central Bus Station. The central part has few old monuments and just 3 minutes after crossing the central part (on the right)you reach the part with 3 of city landmarks;

– Historical Museum of Book Printing
– Saint Sophia Cathedral
– Bogoyavlensky sybor (Epiphany Cathedral Church)

saint Sophia Cathedral Polatsk Belarus

Saint Sophia Cathedral Polatsk

Polock River Dvina view

River view to Saint Sophia Cathedral Polatsk

polotsk-bogoyavlenski-sobor-Epiphany-cathedral-Polotsk

Cathedral of Epiphany Polotsk, Belarus

Svetlana planned, we stay 1 day in Polotsk and then travel to one of the other old cities of Belarus Grodno and then to Vitebsk, however we were so tired and Polotsk was so beautiful that we decided stay in Polotsk for one more day. On first day in Polotsk near the hotel there was a small Inn (Damyan) offering menu with traditional Belarusian kitchen food. We ate two nights there and in general  the prices there were normal for a tourist city – a dinner for 2 costs 15 / 20 euro. The inn decoration was with traditional tools and objects used in old times Belarusian living style. Unsurprisingly many of the tools were very similar to ones in Bulgaria so I felt pretty much like in our traditional  Bulgarian taverns ( Mehana ).

On Second day we catch bus number 4 (IRC) to reach to Spaso Efrosinievsky Monastery – named so in honor of st. Efrosinia of Polotsk. It is my first I visit Belarusian / (Russian) Monastery and honestly I was amazed how well all in monastery is organized.

Spaso Efrosinievski manastir Polotsk Belarus main Church building

Starting from Buildings Church buildings and even Nuns and Priests I met I can say Belarusian Spiritual Life is on supreme level. The Monastery had 3 Church buildings, where on the picture you see two of the Church buildings. The architecture of main Church was very much in Byzantine Eastern Style and the Church architecture differs from the usual Russian styled Churches, I've seen in Minsk and Polotsk. The Church architecture very much reminded me of our homeland Churches in Bulgaria.
The main Church building keeps thousand of Christian saints and st. Martyrs Holy Relics. Just to name a few – relics of St. martyr Georgi, st. Seraphim Sarovski, st. Longin (the keeper of the Lord's tomb), st. mrtr Panteleimon, st Nicolas, st Spiridon …
On the left near the alter walls are kept the Holy incorruptable body of saint Efrosinia Polatskaya, The holy incorruptible body of the saint is 10 centuries old!

saint Efrosinia Polatskaya Orthodox Christian icon

In Church photography was prohibited so unfortunately I couldn't take picture of st. Efrosinia's Holy Body. On the left and right corner of the Church near the outer doors there are a number of saints Holy relics to venerate. On the right near the Church Alter, there was a shrine containing a holy relics piece of approximately 100 of the greatest Christian saints!!!
The blessing one gets by visiting the monastery is great, being in the Church and near the Holy relics makes one feel the Pure Joy of Grace of the Holy Spirit flowing.
I and Svetlana stay for half of the evening service and then took to our hotel in Polotsk receiving the blessing of multtude of saints. On the next day, took our baggage and on our way to Train Station, we saw an old house used currently as Kids Museum. I've been in a kids museum already and I know though it is made for Children the joy to be there is not different even for adults as in each of us lives a kid. Below are few pictures from the Kids Museum 🙂

Kids-Museum-Polotsk-Belarusian-architect-Church-in-building

Inside Kids museum (Church inside building 🙂 )

old-Belarusian-things-traditional-Belarusian-instrument

Old Belarusian Musical Instrument (top in Yellow)

kids-museum-Polotsk-Georgi-and-Svetlana

Weighting tools Kids museum (Me and Svetlana)

On 3rd day of our stay in Polotsk, we catch a bus back to Minsk. The bus was a small mini-bus very similar to ones we have in Bulgaria. Just like with almost everything in Belarus it was necessary to reserve and buy our bus tickets in advance (on previous day).
In General we had great time in Polotsk. It is cheap there are things to see and it is small and everything is nearby you. If you happen be in Belarus visit Polotsk for a day or 2 its worthy.

Interview with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko (The Independent)

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Many people and most of the Western European countries blame Lukashenko to be dictator, to be stealing the freedom of Belarusians and as a bad and intolerant. It is my own understanding that though Lukashenko's leadership of Belarus might have it is bad sides he is not so bad. His thinking actually is much more Christian than most of important politics of the Western European Union. Belarus is still keeping some of their society models left from communism and even today. It is very interesting interview, unfortunately no english translations so, one has to understand a bunch of Russian to understand what they're speaking about. What is interesting to compare one representative of Slavonic world against one typical person who even though Russian by blood and genetics (the interviewing person Evgeni) is a cultural traitor. The interviewer for the newspaper "The Independent" is obviously dressed, looks and talks like most of western europeans, his questions like every journalist are mostly tricky. I really liked how Lukashenko understands Democracy, as being identified with justice on the first place. Lukashenko saying that today we have no democracy in western countries, because there is no righteousness in ruling and things in country is very right.
Belarusian economy managed to survive through the so called Perestroika. If my homeland Bulgaria had enough smart politicians to lead the country into proper re-structure of our economy to an open economy, Bulgaria would not have been in such a terrible
economic state as it is today ….
 

Lukashenko interview Лукашенко – интервью "The Independent" и "BBC" _ телеве

 

19 January Epiphany – The Baptism of Christ Church hymn in Russian and Serbian Orthodox Church

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

On 19th of January each year, many of the Orthodox Churches who still follow the Old Church Calendar celebrate one of the 12 most important feasts in Church life.

On this date Russian Orthodox Church Serbs, Ukrainians, Molodovan and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem are celebrating.

In  Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Greek and Romanian, Croatia and other Eastern Orthodox who follow new calendar, The Day of Jordan (The day in which Jesus was baptized in Jordan) is celebrated on 6-th of January on the same date when Russian, Serbs, Ukrains and other Orthodox Churches using old calendar celebrate Nativity of Christ.

The feast of Baptism of Christ is one of the most ancient feasts in Church history.
Here is the Church troparion as sung on (Jordanov den – as we say in Bulgaria – St. John's Day).


 

Epiphany Troparion / Тропарь Крещения (Troparion The Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ in Russian)


 

Тропарь Крещения Господня (Troparion Kreshtenie Gospodne as sung in city of Luhovic Russia


 


 

Tropar Bogojavljenja – The Lord's Baptism in Serbian Orthodox Church

The Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ hymn in Arabic

It is interesting fact to know that in Roman Catholic Church and most western countries the feast of Epiphany is known as the feast of Three Magi Kings (The Three Wise man who came to bring expensive gifts to venerate the birth of King of Kings the Lord Jesus Christ). Many of the traditions accepted in Western Countries for Epiphany are very similar to traditions practiced by countries where there is widespread Roman Catholicism influence. I've red about the feast as practiced in various countries in Western Europe and it appears many of the traditions are similar as paradigm to German and Dutch SinterKlaas (Saint Nicolas) feast. It is interesting fact that some of the traditions like the releasing of the Cross in Rivers by the Orthodox Priest and cross take out by the bravest man  in Bulgaria is also practiced in Greece, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and probably some Orthodox Christian regions of countries belonging to ex-YugoSlavia.