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Reference: Rick Sutherland, USA

updated on 16/08/2011

I am a Californian with a passion for travel. Belarus was the 124th country that I have visited. Most of my trips have been by group tours, a travel company assembling a busload of tourists for a guided tour of country(ies). I was not able to find any group tours of Belarus to join.

So, for my Belarus visit, I searched the internet. In a travel guidebook company's travel forum, I entered the search word 'Belarus' and started scrolling through postings. I discovered a Belarusian man frequently answering all questions posted by travellers like me. That man was, and is, Andrei Burdenkoff.

I had recently travelled to former Soviet Socialist Republic's, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and discovered the toughest language barrier that this English (only) speaking tourist, had ever faced. I estimate that 90% of hotel front desk personnel and 95%airport check-in agents speak English, but from my experience there is a less than a 1% chance of being understood with the rest of the country's residents, especially including taxi drivers, bus station personnel, bus drivers and train station personnel and train car 'attendants'. Therefore, I needed an English speaking tour guide.

In preparation for the trip, I was constantly emailing Andrei, and he consistently replied to all my emails mostly within an hour, with good English. I arranged for Andrei to personally take care of my airport transfers, Minsk city tour, Khatyn and Glory Mound, Stalin Line WW2 and Minsk Jewish Ghetto tour over the course of my four days in Minsk.

Andrei was always on time for all of our departures, extremely knowledgeable about the present day and past history of Minsk, Belarus, and World War II, just what I was looking for. I have had dozens of tour guides over the years, and Andrei certainly ranks in the top 5.

Bonus referral: Andrei came to the rescue when I made the incredible mistake of leaving my computer powercord on the train from Brest to Minsk. I did not realize it until I got to the hotel. The hotel front desk person, in very good English, told me that 'Lost and Found' is not a concept practiced in Belarus, and that the powercord is gone. I phoned Andrei, and 30 minutes later Andrei called to tell me that he had made some phone calls, the powercord was found and would be on the next day train. Since I am a computer professional who needed to 'PCAnywhere' to my workstation back home, that was very good news.

It is hard to imagine that you can do any better than Andrei Burdenkoff for your touring needs in Minsk. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me at ricktp (at) hotmail.com.

Rick Sutherland 


Questions are welcome!

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