What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend than crossing another country off our list. Ukraine makes country #27 worldwide and #22 European countries for me. Mario and I traveled to Kiev or Kyiv, Ukraine.
Since we had an early morning flight we decided to spent the night at the airport the evening before, making it a nice few minute walk to the terminal the next morning. We received an upgraded room with a view of the conference center.
The next morning we took an early morning flight to Boryspil International Airport. After passport control, we met our driver who would take us to the hotel. There are a few different ways to get into city center, one can take a taxi, Uber, Sky bus or train into city center and then take the metro to your hotel. The airport is about 45 mins to city center depending on traffic.
Since we checked in the night before using our Marriott app our room was ready when we arrived at the Aloft hotel at 11:30am. We scored a room on the 22th floor with a great view of the city below. Our German SIM isn’t free to use in Ukraine so I had to change it out for our Google SIM. From there we went exploring. Right next to our hotel is Gulliver shopping mall with 6 floors, so we walked around. Then we walked and found lunch. Then we found the meeting spot for our trip tomorrow.
We saw the Friendship of Nations Arch and took in view of Dnipro river and Park bridge. We walked to St. Michael Gold Dome Monastery which is built in Ukrainian Baroque style. Then we walked a few blocks and saw the St. Sophia cathedral (Софійський собор) which is an 11th century orthodox cathedral. Then on the way back to the hotel, I stopped in a shop and grabbed a few souvenirs. Then we walked back to hotel where we ordered in Domino’s pizza and I sadly spent the rest of the evening working on grad school homework.
Today we would be traveling to Chernobyl (Чорнобиль) and Pryp’yat (Прип'ять). I booked our tour with Gamma Travel. Our tour left at 7:30 and the meeting location was a 30 minute walk away. We drove about 2 hours till we reach the check point. The weather was very foggy and very chilly, but I hear that in the summer the mosquitoes are horrible, so I will take the cold any day.
While there we got a ticket which was checked along with our passport. After that our group was allowed to enter. I decided to rent a dosimeter radiation detection measurement instrument, so we could see the gamma ray along the tour. First stop was at the welcome sign of the city and then we stopped and viewed the different machines used to clean up the accident.
Then we drove to Daga which is an antenna system used between July 1976-December 1989. It is known as the “Russian woodpecker” since when it ran it sounded like a woodpecker hitting a tree. It very interesting to see unclose and to take in the massive size among the fog. As we walked there we passed many abandoned buildings.
From there we stopped and took in the views of the reactors. When building the Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant, there were planning on building 7 reactors. We saw Reactor 5 which was about 85% finished but never finished. Then saw the cooling stream and then from a distance saw Reactor 4 which has been covered with steel and concrete structure known as sarcophagus or Shelter Structure which was place in 2016. From there we drove closer. We arrived at the observation deck/monument.
From there we had lunch at the cafeteria which would have feed those working at the unfinished reactor 5. Before lunch we needed to walk through a radiation checker, to make sure we weren't contaminated. We have a typical Ukraine lunch, it was very good.
After lunch we walked around Pryp’yat (Прип'ять) for about 2hrs. This city is named after the river it is near and was build to house the workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. After the accident it became a ghost town. Even after all these years, scientists estimate the zone around the former plant will not be habitable for up to 20,000 years. It was very eerie walking among the town. First we came to the hospital. Then saw School # 1 which still had books on tables and papers posted on bulletin boards. Then saw apartment building very similar to stairwell apartments. Then saw a grocery store, a store with pianos inside and then arrive in the city center. We saw the hotel, another grocery store and the conference center. From there we went to the amusement part and saw the ride which will never see riders again. From there we walked back to our van and at the check point, we needed to get out of the van and go thought the radiation checking machine, similar to what we did at lunch. Then we started our drive back to Kiev. From the dropped off spot we walked back to the hotel.
Since today was our last day, we wanted to see more sites. First, we took a taxi from our hotel and travel to The Motherland Monument which is a huge statue atop of the National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. It is often compare to our Statue of Liberty. On the shield is the state emblem of Soviet Union. From there we walked to Kieve Perchersk Lavra which is a complex of religious building and catacombs and caves. We enjoyed the building from the outside. From there we took an Uber to the St. Andrews which a 18th century Eastern Orthodox Church. . As we heading back toward the hotel, we saw the National Opera of Ukraine and Opera House and St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral.
We left the next day on a mid morning flight getting us back to Stuttgart around lunch time. Another great trip in the books!
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A teacher who loves traveling the world.