Backpacking in Belarus: Top 5 Sights in Bobruisk

“We’re in the army. Now. Woah oh we’re in the army.” – Status Quo.

Backpacking in Belarus: Top 5 Sights in Bobruisk

Backpacking in Belarus: Top 5 Sights in Bobruisk

I find it hard to believe that it has been nine years since I backpacked my way to the unknown and non-touristy city of Bobruisk in Belarus. This obscure journey was the story I wrote for Shaun Schofield’s book “Albania to America”, my debut as a published author came from Belarus would you believe! And while I contributed a lengthy chapter to Shaun’s excellent book, I didn’t quite ever get round to covering the sight seeing I did in just two days here in the city of Bobruisk.

My view of Bobruisk, Belarus from my hotel room in 2007

My view of Bobruisk, Belarus from my hotel room in 2007

Without a map of the city, but with a Solitudinal Sphere book and zero knowledge of Belarussian, I hit up a top 5 sights, and no more. It stops at five – that was it! A city with 5 different legitimate spellings, Bobruisk can also be spelt: Babrujsk, Babruysk, Bobruysk, or Bobruisk (Belarusian: Бабру́йск, Łacinka: Babrujsk, Russian: Бобру́йск, Polish: Bobrujsk, Yiddish: באברויסק‎). Confusing? Completely. But imagine backpacking your way there without a Belarussian Ruble, any maps or knowledge and nothing really except some Northern Irish wanderlust.

Backpacking in Bobruisk, Belarus. No seriously, where the fuck am I?!

Backpacking in Bobruisk, Belarus. No seriously, where the fuck am I?!

You might also wonder why, nine years on, here in 2016 I am finally writing a top 5 on Bobruisk. But don’t wonder, I have an archive of over 2,000 articles to write!! Today is Belarus’s turn, probably inspired by the fact that two weeks ago, I was pretty close to Bobruisk again, geographically. I was a few miles from the Belarus border when I toured Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine. Also, out of all the ex-Soviet Union countries, Belarus was actually the second one I visited, the first being Russia.

Belarus, 2007

Belarus, 2007

My Journey to Bobruisk
I got a train from Minsk to the city of Bobruisk. It was July 2007 and I bought a beer at Minsk train station bar which was about 18 pence. It is still the cheapest beer I have ever bought from an actual bar and it was damn good. I was travelling alone but I was pretty excited back in those days. I had nobody to impress, I had nothing to lose. I had just started my travel blog, too.

18 pence for a beer in Minsk, Belarus

18 pence for a beer in Minsk, Belarus

I chatted to a local lady called Taisa on the train to Bobruisk, however if I recall she got off earlier and I ended up hitching a ride on a Lada from the train station to my hotel. Hotel? No hostels and in 2007 there was only one hotel in Bobruisk, well on Google anyway.

Backpacking through Belarus - the train from Minsk to Bobruisk

Backpacking through Belarus – the train from Minsk to Bobruisk

Where to Stay in Bobruisk
I stayed in Hotel Tourist. It was the best and only hotel in Bobruisk at the time. Its location was a bit shit and I got a taxi into the city centre and walked back out again. The rest of the time I was with the Irish Football Association. David Currie from the IFA looked after me immensely as I was on the coach with the Northern Ireland ladies team.

My room at Hotel Tourist, Belarus

My room at Hotel Tourist, Belarus

I had my own private room. I didn’t take many photos in those days or videos etc. but you get the idea. I was on the third or fourth floor. There was no backpackers hostel there in 2007 and the city was not far from the Belarus side of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Hotel Tourist, Belarus

Hotel Tourist, Belarus

I just checked online and the Hotel Tourist in Bobruisk, Belarus now has its own website and with an English translation, how cool!

Entrance to Hotel Tourist

Entrance to Hotel Tourist

Once at the hotel, I had some time on my own and got some sight seeing in. The rest of the time I was with the Northern Ireland ladies team and officials. Here’s my 2007 top five from the lonely city of Bobruisk, Belarus.

Belshina River, Bobruisk, Belarus

Berezina River, Bobruisk, Belarus

1.Sparta Stadium (Home of Belshina Belarus)
I became the first ever Northern Ireland fan to travel independently to Belarus to watch a Northern Ireland international football match. To this day, that fact remains. The senior Northern Ireland ladies team have played Belarus and I was the only NI fan there, in August 2007 (1st August in case you’re wondering why I said July earlier). The senior Northern Ireland men’s team have yet to play Belarus at all, despite the fact that the Belarus team has existed for over 20 years now.

Yes, I'm the only Northern Ireland fan at the Sparta Stadium in Bobruisk, Belarus

Yes, I’m the only Northern Ireland fan at the Sparta Stadium in Bobruisk, Belarus

We headed to the Sparta Stadium, the home of Belshina Belarus, a team that actually play in red and black stripes, the same as AFC Bournemouth and Crusaders FC. However the seating was green, yellow and red. It was a small and compact stadium. On the day, despite my lunatic singing, Northern Ireland ladies team lost 5-0 to Belarus. I got to meet the entire teams of both countries and some excellent souvenirs.

With the entire Northern Ireland ladies team.

With the entire Northern Ireland ladies team.

With some of the Belarus ladies team.

With some of the Belarus ladies team.

Did I fancy some of the girls playing? Yes, probably about 90% of them, on both sides!

The sexy Northern Ireland ladies team line up in Belarus, 2007

The sexy Northern Ireland ladies team line up in Belarus, 2007

A gift I received from the Irish FA for being the only NI fan there.

A gift I received from the Irish FA for being the only NI fan there.

2.Bobruisk Green Library
Next up get your fix of truly bizarre buildings. I wandered aimlessly around the city centre with a few locals raising an eyelid to me as I took photos. The green library shone out as a key building. I didn’t go inside. There were at least another 10 obscure buildings here.

Top sights in Bobruisk, yes really a green library!

Top sights in Bobruisk, yes really a green library!

3.The Berezina River
Our Hotel was right next to the Berezina River. The river seemed dirty and polluted but relaxed. I met a few local people walking alongside it on my two separate wanders. There was some information there written in Russian/Belarussian and a ton of crazy Soviet head busts and statues.

By the Belshina River in Bobruisk, Belarus

By the Berezina River in Bobruisk, Belarus

But more importanly of note is that you are visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site here. The Berezina Preserve by the river is in the UNESCO list of Biosphere Preserves, something I had no idea about until my visit.

An information board by the Belshina River

An information board by the Berezina River

4.Bobruisk Train Station
My first memory of Bobruisk was of the magnificent Bobruisk Train Station. When I look back at the 9 years since, I’m not quite sure I have seen a nicer looking train station, inside or out. Yes, it’s smaller than most but it was clean and I have a happy memory of it.

Backpacking in Belarus: Top 5 Sights in Bobruisk

Backpacking in Belarus: Bobruisk Train Station

5.St. Nicholaus Cathedral
I only really visited one church and saw one religious building in Bobruisk. I headed to the prominent Cathedral. I have no idea if the Cathedral is still there, or its the one I saw, or if it is called St. Nicholaus! It was a long time ago and like I say I didn’t take as many videos and photos back then, kind of wish I had taken more videos. But hey, this is the journey.

St. Nicholaus Church in Bobruisk, Belarus

St. Nicholaus Church in Bobruisk, Belarus

As well as hitting up those five, I had a few beers in the hotel bar and joined the Northern Ireland team for a training session and team talk. It was all crazy. At the time, I read up on the sad history of Belarus, finding out the country lost 1/3 of its population during Stalin’s reign and before that, Hitler’s Nazis had invaded the city of Bobruisk, killing Jews and sending them on trains bound for concentration camps in Poland. A Jewish Memorial was in a park in the city centre. And even after all that shit, the Chernobyl Disaster in 1986 caused Belarussian towns and cities to be evacuated forever and Bobruisk is a city which suffered too. So please, spare a thought for Bel A Rus, literally meaning “White Russia”. The Soviet era hasn’t quite passed this little country by just yet and I loved my time there.

Thirsty Thursdays in the Hotel Bar in Bobruisk, Belarus (about 40 pence this time)

Thirsty Thursdays in the Hotel Bar in Bobruisk, Belarus (about 40 pence this time)

As I read up on more Lenin era Communist ideals here in Kyrgyzstan, to the people of Bobruisk, thanks for the memories, including your ugly porridge. Who knows if we will meet again, some sunny day.

Backpacking in Belarus, 2007

Backpacking in Belarus, 2007

With thanks to David Currie, Alfie Wylie, the Irish FA and the Northern Ireland girls including Ashley Hutton who grew up in the same neighbourhood as me. As I remember fondly, this tune was played everywhere in the country on my trip:

And I made some very short videos in Bobruisk back then:

Join 15,017 Monthly Readers! If you enjoyed this article and LOVE travel and SAVING money, get e-mail updates from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! (It’s Free) 😉 Jonny

About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
This entry was posted in Belarus, Bobruisk, Central Asia/Middle East, Lists, My Top 5s. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Backpacking in Belarus: Top 5 Sights in Bobruisk

  1. Ray says:

    Reading random travel stories like this has inspired me to make a similar journey for one of Canada’s National Teams in the future! While we typically play most of our matches within the United States or Canada, we do get to play in some of the lesser visited CONCACAF nations from time to time, like El Salvador, Belize, Honduras and Dominica. It would be really cool to watch a National match on one of the more obscure Caribbean Islands that no one ever visits unless it is a port of call on a cruise or something! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Ray thanks for the comment. Yes this was a crazy journey and one of my earliest obscure ones. At the time most people thought I was mad for going to Belarus, later others regretted not going. You should definitely go to a Canada away match somewhere random, it’s even better if you are the only fan, though times have changed since 2007 with the internet growing so much since then, it’s unlikely any Northern Ireland match (ladies or mens) will ever have just one fan again. Safe travels. Jonny

  3. Pingback: Backpacking in Ukraine: Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Tour Part 4 – Secret Duga Radar System - Don't Stop Living

  4. Pingback: Backpacking in Ukraine: Chernobyl Tour Part 7 – The Abandoned City of Pripyat, Top 10 "Sights" - Don't Stop Living

  5. Pingback: Backpacking in Ukraine: Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Tour Part 1 – Chicane Kiev - Don't Stop Living

  6. Pingback: Backpacking in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan: Top 8 Things to Check Out in Nukus, the Capital City - Don't Stop Living

  7. Pingback: Backpacking in The Republic of Karakalpakstan: Top 8 Things to Check Out in Nukus, the Capital City - Don't Stop Living

  8. Pingback: Backpacking in Uzbekistan: Textbook Top 8 Sights in Tashkent, the Capital City - Don't Stop Living

  9. Pingback: Backpacking in the Former Soviet Union: My Top 20 Moments So Far - Don't Stop Living

  10. Pingback: Touring the Artistic Wall Murals in the District of Zaspa, Gdańsk, Poland - Don't Stop Living

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge


UA-36691711-1