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At this point our trip to Europe is less than a month away. I’m already starting to go into a panic mode, as is usually the case with me. Will I remember everything? I doubt it. I need to get some tranquilizers (for me and the kids).
Of course, it’s critical not to miss the flights, considering the fact that my husband’s and sister-in-law’s Belarus visas will expire on the day of our departure. Speaking of, this is something I kept going back and forth on. You see, we are set to fly from Minsk, but Grodno (my hometown) is 4 hours away.
The flight doesn’t leave till 1:30 PM, so technically, we do have enough time to make it there…if nothing goes wrong. But the idea of waking up my kids at 6:00 AM just doesn’t seem appealing. Minsk has a Hilton hotel that costs only 5,000 points per night. I currently have 10,000 points, but I could always buy a Daily Getaways package if we needed more rooms. This is one example where buying points makes total sense.
On the other hand, packing and unpacking for one-night hotel stay is hard with small children. Of course, I also wanted to spend more time with my sister and nephews. What to do? Well, an interesting alternative was brought up by my mom. During our visit we are supposed to visit several castles in Belarus: Mir and Nesvizh (UNESCO heritage sites)
We were planning to see both in one day and then go back to Grodno in the evening. My mom suggested that we all just spend the night in the city of Nesvizh instead. It made perfect sense because it’s located two hours form Minsk airport, basically at a half-way point. She is currently looking to hire someone with a 12-passsenger van, and the driver would have to spend the night with us. So, this part isn’t taken care of yet (sighs heavily).
But knowing my mom, she will find someone. Of course, now we just needed to decide where to spend the night. I did a quick search on Google and lo and behold, you can actually stay in Palace Hotel, located inside Nesvizh castle. How cool is that? In the meantime, here is our exchange via Skype:
Mom: We don’t need to pay for hotel. I’ll find someone who knows someone in Nesvizh and they will let us stay for free in their house. Free!
Me: I. Want. The. Freakin. Castle.
Whoa, since when did I get so fancy? Needless to say, I was quite intrigued by this possibility. But what about the price? It’s not bad at all, actually. I went ahead and made reservations for several rooms, and this is what it costs to get a single occupancy room for our (unknown at this point) driver:
It even includes breakfast and can be canceled without penalty few days prior to our arrival. I made this particular reservation in my husband’s name because like I said, we don’t yet know who will be driving us. The hotel does accept credit cards, so I should be able to use my sign-up bonus from Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard to offset the cost. Originally, I was planning to get us all basic rooms, but this description of their VIP suite caught my eye:
“Rooms of Lux category are the most posh rooms of our hotel, situated on the 3rd floor of the castle itself with a magnificent view from the window. VIP room #1 is located on the right side, decorated in a boutique color, the guest room is combined with the sleeping room, which gives an additional advantage. In the price we have breakfast, Wi-Fi, an air-conditioner, satellite TV, a tea set, a hair-dryer, a fridge, a phone connected to other rooms and reception included. Nice presents from the Hotel Management are also included in the price.”
How can I say No to a magnificent view, air-conditioner and nice presents? And you can even call the reception from your room!?! Sign me up. The cost was $215 per night, not cheap. An interesting part: Booking.com site would let me add 5 people to the reservation, but the photos only showed one king-size bed. What the what? So, I called the hotel and nice fellow Belorussian lady by the name of Svetlana told me they will bring three additional beds into the dining room. Three! Take that, American hotels that will add one rollaway, max.
I was concerned what kind of beds we are talking about here, because my sister-in-law is quite picky. Svetlana assured me that they are high-quality beds (by Belarus standards, naturally). She told me to definitely splurge on the VIP suite because it is indeed magnificent. I told my sister-in-law about the whole thing and she too, was seduced by the magnificent VIP suite. It better be spectacular! I figured it would be fun for my whole family to hang out at the suite in the evening. It will make our last night together unforgettable. Plus, apparently, there is a pool on premises, though I am yet to discover any photos of it anywhere.
This will sound crazy, but I’ve never visited Nesvizh castle, even though I’ve lived only two hours away. I’ve heard of it, but it was in a state of disrepair, neglected during Soviet time. Only recently an effort was put forth to bring it back to its original splendor. The reviews from tourists have been overwhelmingly positive and most consider it a crown jewel among castles in Belarus (read about its history on Wikipedia). It doesn’t hurt that it’s set in a beautiful area, with lake and gardens to enjoy nearby.
Built in 16th century, the castle has definitely seen its share of drama and intrigue. At one point it was even a royal palace, the most impressive structure in this part of Eastern Europe. Here is a story of one famous 16th century resident: “Barbara Radziwill, a beautiful Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania, died young, at age of only 30. The circumstances of her death are still causing controversy. Her reign as queen at the side of Sigismund II Augustus only lasted five months, after a secret marriage and early signs of illness. There’s a theory that she was poisoned by her mother-in-law, however not proven.”
I’m definitely looking forward to exploring this important piece of Belarus history. Better late than never, I guess.
P.S. If you don’t have Booking.com account, you can join via my referral link and get $25 credit after your first stay. Thanks in advance!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.