Spent a month in Belarus this July – we have some good friends there we work with so it was an excellent time. Some good restaurants. People are extremely friendly, just gotta adapt to the culture a bit. Most seemed to be very interested in the fact that I was American. Felt kind of like the country is just starting to open up and it will be of more international interest in the upcoming 5 – 10 years. English is spoken in Minsk but probably less then in ukraine (my only other former soviet point of comparison).
For entertainment, there’s not much going on during the week but Zbitskaya street friday and saturday has bars overflowing into the streets during the summer time. It was a bit more expensive then I was expecting but I didn’t really try to hustle for the best apartment rates.
There’s a bit of bureaucracy when it comes to renting an apartment, as a foreigner on a visa I had to notify the government of my whereabouts. I changed apartments and this resulted in me, my friend (who speaks russian) and the new landlord having to spend half a day at a government office updating them. I believe hotels can manage all this in the background for you so if I were to go back I would just get a hotel for the whole stay.