Hi Sophia,

trip in Belarus went very well- Just about flawlessly.  Our guide, Irina, was very helpful and on target and stuck to the itinerary.  She was also very knowledgeable about Jewish history. The driver was reliable and pleasant.  

There was a lot of preparation on our part and I think it paid off.  

The guide was flexible when we were in Antopol and trying to find information on Stan’s mom’s family.  She was willing to go with the flow and we eventually found a local person who knew something about the Jewish history in the town. 

The hotels were fine.  In Minsk, it was a really upscale hotel but it was not in the center of town - so we could not go out on our own too easily in the evening.  The hotel in PInsk was the darkest and dreariest hotel I’ve ever been in - a remnant of a Soviet hotel without much renovation in the last 40 years. (our comments - it was best available!) But there may not have been other hotels around. It was an experience- and with travel, you have to go with the flow and accept the situation. 

It was wonderful being with our 2 grown children for a whole week- this was one of the best parts of the trip and the planned itinerary, guide and driver, made it all the more enjoyable.  We learned so much about Belarus and Antopol and Smorgon- Stan’s parents were born there. It is a really laid back country, parts of it with little change in the last 100 years and other parts- Minsk and Grodno- were modern and then the national park was just so beautiful and uncrowded.  We were probably the only folks from USA touring- at least, we did not come upon others, but it made it a unique experience.

Thank you for all your help in setting up the trip and assisting when necessary.

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