"CRF" is not a crime show you've never heard of, it stands for "Cutting Room Floor." Below are some of our favorite pics that never made the blog. We figured we'd reminisce a little while we're home for a visit. (Back in Europe August 16th).
This is one of our most favorite photographs. It was taken on one of many long drives on one of many snow white days. The iconic Belarusian tractor is right there in the central image of our former Soviet winter. We were the only car on the road and took this photo in complete quiet aside from our idling engine.
Something we've noticed, looking back at pictures, is just how often this shade of blue popped up. Since it's the same color as the tractors, we wonder if there's just a surplus of this paint. When everything is state owned, it's not like you're going to get independent paint companies coming out with ones called Robin's Egg and Sky. Bright colors abounded, on fence posts and sides of houses, but none as often as this Belarusian blue.
We stayed in some interesting hotels and apartments. You need a visa to enter Belarus, so they don't get many casual visitors. So, when we saw a place to stay, we basically started unpacking (after handing in our passports to get registered with the government, of course). The restaurant attached to this hotel was all booked up for a wedding the night we stayed - and this bridal shop happened to be located right in the building. We were hoping to spot the bridal party, charm them all and swindle an invite to the party. No luck. Also on the premises, a beauty salon and barber shop, neither of which were open.
This was taken in Polotsk, our very first stop in Belarus and a wonderful first impression that shook off most of our nerves and readied us for more good times and lovely people to come. It also happens to be the geographical center of the European continent.
Since it's difficult to enter Belarus, it's hard to say "oh, the next time we're there..." So, we regret even more not stopping at this railway museum. Just down the road from Brest fortress, we spotted the large collection of locomotives. Apparently, many are still functional and are used in movies. It looked incredibly impressive and would have, no doubt, been a very fun time.
We visited a few more churches than we probably would have had the weather been nicer. In Novogrudok, we stayed in housing attached to a convent. A nice younger lady had to convince the also nice but skeptical older lady to let us stay in one room even though our last names were different and my hand was ringless.
Next door to that very nun hotel was this restaurant, recommended by both ladies, young and old. We were shown to this back room and dined on whatever they had. Sharing the small room with us was a party of eight who came in to pick at their food and sip their drinks periodically. Then, back out they would go. It gave us an opportunity to take a photo of their table, set like so many we'd seen before. It was very common to see a bottle of vodka and either soda or tomato juice on a dinner table like you'd normally see wine and water. Hopefully, whatever kept this group from sitting down from enjoying their meal all at once didn't involve any heavy machinery, because they definitely went through two bottles of each.
Here's that blue again. Belarusian roads were fantastic, especially compared to some of the others we'd recently driven on. However, they were very rarely plowed. It was amazing to see vans like this slip their way down streets like a zamboni gone haywire. Our Subaru Outback, outfitted with snow tires from Riga, far outshone the competition. Subaru did not pay us for that comment.