Sunday, February 04, 2018

Ukraine Trio

As the 2018 travel season kicks in, I thought I would share a few snaps from three of the more interesting trips from my nesting period.  First up of these, is Ukraine.  


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When Ukraine won Eurovision
​ 2016​
, I asked around who might be keen to join me to see the 
​2017 ​
event in Kiev.  
​Not ​u
nexpectedly, one proud Dutch hand was raised, and Lottie, Sushil and I were off. 


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Central Kiev was much lovelier and European than any of us expected of a post-WWII Soviet capital.

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Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), where the Orange Revolution kicked off in 2004.


​​
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A sign next to the Maidan.  This 
​went 
well with Eurovision's Ukrainian hosts asking people to come see their country as it 
​i​
s a modern, open and tolerant European nation.  We were all quite charmed with it, and I would encourage everyone to go.  Most Ukrainians are Westward-looking, and deserve (and need) our support.


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The Motherland Monument overlooks the city.



​Around 90 minutes outside of Kiev lie
 Chernobyl, and the nearby city of ​
Pripyat
​, where the ​plant workers lived.  This was the highlight of the trip for me - ever since I'd learned that the 
​radioactivity had 
died down enough to visit, I've wanted to see this Soviet ghost city.
​​


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​​
Welcome to Pripyat!


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Pripyat's main street now, with a photo of it before.


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Central Pripyat


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The iconic May Day  in Pripyat.  This wasn't supposed to open unti
​l​
 01 May, but the 
​authorities
 opened it the day after the Chernobyl explosion to calm the town's residents and show that everything was OK.  


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​​
Within two days of the park's early opening, the entire city was exacuated "temporarily".  No one ever moved back.


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​Disused​
 bumper cars.


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​Stadium 
in the woods.


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​As we had a private guide, rather than a group tour, he took us up an 
​abandoned 
tower block (against regulations) to see the views.​


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On the ground, it's difficult to tell how large Pripyat was, as it's overgrown with trees.  From the roof, you can see it was a medium-sized city; tower blocks stretched out a good distance in each direction from our vantage.


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​Chernobyl from Pripyat - shows how close the city was to the plant.  The giant domed building is the ​new sarcophagus covering reactor 4.  Immediately after the explosion, one was put up, by selfless men and women who knew they would die from the exposure.  However, that was at risk of collapse, and this internationally-funded and -designed sarcophagus covered the original one and the reactor debris therein.


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Sushil atop Pripyat.



On our last day, we went to 
Ukrainka
​, another planned city, similar to Pripyat, but very much still alive.  We wanted to see what Pripyat might be like now, had the Chernobyl explosion never happened.​  Ukrainka is much smaller than Pripyat, but the look and feel of the two cities are remarkably similar.


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​Ukrainka's main square.​
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Memorial in front of blocks of flats.


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Mostly, we just hung out in local pubs, watching the city go about its business outside, and eventually 
​befriending
 these two, who attempted to speak with us through drunken slurs (while falling off their seats), and tried desperately to buy us several rounds of vodka shots.


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​​
Fortunately, our waiter, 
Віталій
​, spoke very good English​ and agreed with us that he would bring us shot glasses full of water.  
It was an awesome 
​way to end our time in Ukraine.

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