Chernobyl, Day 1 – the afternoon
Over lunch we had discussed what the best plan of action to get ourselves into the buildings was. Should we offer our guide a bribe? Should one of us keep him occupied with questions whilst the others snuck into the buildings to take photos? Should we just plead? We didn’t want to annoy our guide on the first day of our tour in case it ruined the next two days for us, and we didn’t want to deliberately break the rules by sneaking in anywhere in case we got driven straight back to Kyiv. Hmm what to do. We decided we’d play it safe for the rest of day one, then possibly offer him a bribe tomorrow. What was the worst that could happen? If we weren’t allowed into the buildings, there’d be no point spending the full three days here anyway.
After lunch, we piled back into the car. Shane asked if we could please go to one of the schools. Our guide told us he’d take us to one of the kindergartens a bit further outside the centre of the city. We would be be able to go inside this one because it was out of the way of the day tour groups (wouldn’t want to give them any ideas about sneaking into buildings… heh).
The front yard of the school was overgrown and quite thick with trees. Dismembered dolls and rusty toy trucks were lying in the grass on the way to the front entrance.
The kindergarten was incredible, and incredibly sad. There were a lot of beds, childrens’ toys, books and shoes remaining; it seemed like tourists didn’t go to that kindergarten often, and looters probably weren’t interested in much from a school.
There were a lot of childrens’ journals and workbooks scattered around, on tables and on the floor; and I could read some of what they had written. There were Cyrillic alphabet cards all over the floor too, and a medicine cabinet with empty and semi-empty bottles in it.
Aside from the childrens’ writing books, I found the rooms of beds the most moving, imagining little children napping there. Most of the mattresses and linen have been taken, with the frames left behind to rust.
Could have spent all day there, but it was getting late in the afternoon, so we got back into the car and visited one last place, what used to be a synagogue. There wasn’t anything inside the synagogue, everything had been cleaned out. There were trees growing from the roof gutters which was pretty fascinating. Not just weeds, but actual trees.
After we were done at the synagogue, we went back to the centre of Pripyat for dinner. On our way, we stopped at one of the checkpoints to have our radiation levels checked. I didn’t take any photos of the machines, but here’s one that someone else took a couple of years ago. I’ll admit, the first time we had our radiation checked we were a bit nervous, but the lowest-level light came on for all of us (I think there’s four levels?), and we went off to dinner. This time we didn’t eat in the workers’ lunch hall, we ate at a pub/diner-type place. We felt everyone stare at us as we walked through the room and were shown to our booth. After our food and drinks were brought out, they drew a curtain across the booth so that we were separated from everyone else. This was pretty funny – we’d been segregated! As with lunch, dinner was way too much food, and we couldn’t even finish it. We felt kinda rude, but it was a ridiculous amount of food, even for the boys.
After dinner we were driven back to our hotel (literally a thirty metre walk around the corner from the dinner hall, but no tourists are allowed to walk around Chernobyl, under any circumstances). We chilled out in our rooms, having some drinks and checking out our photos. At about 10pm we went downstairs so the boys could have smokes outside, and found the front door locked. They even lock you in overnight to make sure you don’t sneak into Pripyat! This is the result of so many idiot tourists having gone to Chernobyl and having done stupid things, like holding drunken parties in the abandoned buildings. Dicks.
The boys had to have an early night ’cause they’re soft, so that concluded day one of our Chernobyl tour.
Day two coming soon.
x Kitten of Doom