(Smarhon, Hrondna Voblast, Belarus)

Masha Zhdanava clicks the final moments of still water in Smahron, Belarus

Masha Zhdanava clicks the final moments of still water in Smahron, Belarus

"The photo was taken in western Belarus very close to the Lithuanian border. My family owns a woodhouse here. It's a quite and laid back area. You won't find any bars and restraunts in the neighborhood. One man in the village just a half a mile upstream runs a small farm hotel. He has a horse trained for riding if you're interested. There's another village two or three miles away. They used to run a disco night in the club every Saturday there. I think they still do. It's pretty much for those under twenty though.  Skinny dipping is one of the best things to do in the area. You can do it all day every day and probably won't be noticed by anyone. Activities to compliment include berries and mushrooms picking, fishing, hanging in a hammock and such. I took this photo of a friends while she was staying with me in the woodhouse in the summer of 2010. We woke up very early and went to the bank. The river stream is so powerful here that it beats you off your feet when you're in, and the water runs through every part of your body really fast. If you are going for an early swim like this one, there is nothing better than a large cup of tea afterwards."

-Masha Zhdanava

Go: From Minsk, two and a half hours by car of two hours by train. From Vilnius, two hours by car or three hours by train.

Stay: If you would like to stay at the farm hotel up the stream from Masha, let us know and we will send word through her.

Eat: Khaladnik, a cold borsch make of beets, beet leaves or sorrel and served with sour cream, hard-boiled eggs, and boiled potatoes.

Drink: A large cup of tea after a cold swim. If something stronger is needed, try krambambula, vodka diluted with water, mixed with honey, and flavored with spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper).