Planning and setting out on The Greater Eastern trip!
With one country that I failed to visit on the Great Eastern Summer, I had to come back and check it off the list.
Oh, Belarus. Country 104. The one country in Eastern Europe that I needed a visa for and even from the neighboring capitals, a rushed service would take at least two business days. Back in New York, I took my time to apply for the visa so I could pass through Minsk.
With a ticket I purchased months earlier taking me from New York to Milan, then Prague to Amsterdam and Beijing, I added a cheap flight through Ryanair to Vilnius from Milan (which apparently is the same as Bergamo according to Ryanair) and planned to take the train to Minsk and then to Kiev. From Kiev I found a well priced one way to Prague.
Belarus Visa from the New York Consulate
The visa process like many bureaucratic processes was so awful, I had to share. Fortunately Belarus does process visa from their consulate. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like they do very many as they were adamant on finding a way to not issue me a visa. Following the directions online, I had all the paperwork except my tickets as I was planning to purchase the train tickets from Vilnius and then from Minsk. I did however had a flight into Vilnius and back from Kiev.
They argued that I didn’t have proof that I would travel through Belarus and could technically go around the country passing through Poland to Kiev. Perplexed I asked “then why would I be here applying for a visa?” to which the officer replied “it’s late, I don’t have time for this” and handed back my stack of paperwork.
The second time around with the additional flight receipts I booked specifically to satisfy their requirement, they questioned me further, but eventually relented and issued my visa.
Though I was set with a visa in hand, a trip all the way to Eastern Europe for one country felt like a bit of a waste. So with some last minute research I found a great flight from Ukraine going into Armenia and returning from Georgia. Country 105 and 106 was set.
Now to piece it all together. The final itinerary would be as follows if everything goes according to plan.
- New York City flight to Milan
- Milan drive through Tuscany to Pisa
- Pisa drive to Bergamo
- Bergamo flight to Vilnius
- Vilnius train to Minsk
- Minsk train to Kiev
- Kiev flight to Yerevan
- Yerevan ground transport to Tbilisi
- Tbilisi flight to Kiev
- Kiev flight to Prague
- Prague flight to Amsterdam
- Amsterdam flight to Beijing
- Beijing flight to New York City
This is going to be an exhausting trip but there will be some interesting new cultures to experience and sights to see!
Have you been to either Belarus, Armenia, or Georgia? What was your favorite takeaway from your visit?