I was surprised how many people asked me if I was crazy and/or scared about going to Chernobyl. I was nothing but intrigued.
I took a group tour that left about an hour after my train arrived overnight from Odessa, so the timing was good. The only downside to this tour was that I was the last one to get in the van. I got a middle seat in the back row BETWEEN some German friends who wanted the windows but wanted to talk to each other across me. After a bit, I told them to switch seats or shut up. They did neither.
However, I didn’t let them rain on my parade.
We drove through some checkpoints, I almost got either arrested or kicked off the tour, because the tour company had made a typo when sending the list ahead to the checkpoint, so the info on my passport didn’t match up. However, my guide looked just like the singer Meatloaf (but with a sweet mullet), and he managed to get me in.
We drove into the exclusion zone and up toward the town of Pripyat, which is actually where the Chernobyl power plant is located. They were still working on the covering to isolate the destroyed reactor.
Everyone was told to leave things behind, planning to be gone only for a day or 2. Later, some were allowed to come back to retrieve more belongings, but most everything was left behind.
Some people have returned and live there, often without permission, but it’s a crazy, isolated life.
Next, we went into the school. It was frozen in time, aside from what the elements have done over the years.
The town had just finished building a new amusement park, slated to open the next weekend. The disaster occurred on a Tuesday, and not 1 single person ever rode any of these rides.
We had lunch at a local restaurant. Luckily, it was near Easter time, so they had a ‘fasting’ menu, since it’s common for Orthodox people to adopt a vegan diet in the run-up to Easter. There was some weird stuff on the meat plate, and people were jealous of my seemingly-normal dishes.
On the way out, of course we got a flat tire, which was lots of fun, and then we had to pass through some radiation detection equipment on the way out of the exclusion zone.
This is just one of many reasons we need to treat our planet better.
Chernobyl was really intense. I’m glad I went.This entry was posted in Chernobyl, Europe, Ukraine