East Europe trip initiated!

I got my motorcycle home last two days ago, and as I was afraid of, it worked perfectly. I am back to the theory it was the rain’s fault, and not a faulty antenna, as it apparently fixed itself. I went for some test drives, maybe 40 kilometres, and nothing happened.

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While visiting my parents in the evening I bought a ticket from Kapellskär to Paldiski at Wedsney, 12.00.

First thing Tuesday, I put back all the cables at the right places, connected the charger for the GPS and overlooked everything easily accessible to see if there were any visible damage. Nothing burnt as I could see.

Astrid and I went out on a smaller day trip to drive some more. We went to Borgåsund to eat lunch at a small café, but it was too early in the season, as it was only open on the weekends. Next place close-by were Gula Hästen, which had nothing vegetarian more than ”child pancakes”, and four of them would not be enough. Instead, we aimed at Arboga, but not too far away I saw a sigh to Westerqvarn, which is a really nice lunch restaurant. They had both good food and salad table, and we sat there for a couple of hours before going home.

The picture below is a “look-a-like” from when I was practice driving motorcycle with my mom, a year ago!

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As everything worked perfectly I started packing my stuff, cleaning what had to be cleaned and prepare the rest for the day after. I still had the packing list from before, and after deleting some things, it didn’t take long before the panniers were filled again.

Wednesday morning I woke up at 07.00, packed the last things and made some sandwiches. I didn’t really have time for breakfast as I was a bit nervous about forgetting anything.

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At 08.16 I started driving, this time with the odometer at 50727. There were no problems or queues on the way, driving by Sollentuna, but I was pretty confused when I arrived. They were rebuilding everywhere, but after asking some chauffeurs, I came to the right place. While waiting for the off-loaded cars to drive past the walk way I spoke to an English truck driver who was thinking of buying a bike to tour with, mainly a DRZ 400, or a 250 of something, as there were many forest roads around where he lived at.

The check in went great and after some queueing I boarded. I got to strap down my motorbike before going to the cabin. Apparently I got upgraded to a two-people cabin with window instead of four-people without window, and as the roommate here said, it is probably because they put the truck drivers together, and the ”civilians” together.

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While writing this I am eating my breakfast/lunch, and now I am on my way for real again!

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Trying off-road

A bit after nine in the evening, I got off the boat. I only had to wait for three trucks to get off before it was my turn.

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My priority was to find somewhere to sleep as fast as possible, as it was already pretty late, and started getting dark. I tried to keep by the coast and after just a few kilometres I found a petrol station, so I decided to fill up first.

I looked at my GPS and saw some small side roads. The first one went into the forest, with some abandoned buildings on both sides, but as there were some small collections of water, I decided to look further. The risk if mosquitos or other irritating animals were too big.

A few kilometres ahead I saw a pretty cool abandoned house by the sea. I though I turned on a small road, but there was only grass, and I saw on the GPS that I was in between two small roads. I went over the bumpy plain, until I had a ditch ahead of me. I turned back and went on the road a couple of hundred metres forth.

More than the sandy part at the end of the road, there were no problems. The motorcycle was easier to handle than I had thought, even on the ”off-road” parts. The house looked cool and I set camp.

I woke up at 9.20 and started packing. While eating brakfast I documented my sleeping place, and some nice parts of the house and surroundings.

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My plan was to follow the coast line, but the bigger road I was on was too much inland. After looking at the GPS I decided to try the gravel road out into nowhere. I have actually never been driving on gravel for real before, but after some testing that also felt good. This road didn’t go anywhere good, though. After more careful planning I had a road that would lead me to the coast, but the roads were even worse. Some of them was like the two dirt pitches with grass in the middle. Pretty challenging, and really fun!

I also had to pass three water crossings, this one on the picture being the smallest one.

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The third, and biggest one, I actually tried to turn around from. The ground was too soft, so I felt I couldn’t move the bike in any other direction, though, and instad I put some power into it, passing without a problem. The water was splashing everywhere, though, and I’m glad my boots are waterproof!

I also saw a nice building I wanted to visit, out at a point. When I came closer I saw the road went over a beach made of pebbles, but once again I didn’t have the strength to turn around. It was a slope towards the water, but I made that one too. A lighter bike would be nice, though! Actually thinking of buying a Transalp as a second bike, which could be a fun medium bike!

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After this, I put my GPS on the nearest asphalt road, and started driving easy instad. It was pretty hot after all the grind, and I decided to take some kilometres instead.

When I stayed for lunch I saw a woman with a handlebar bag and two Ortlieb Rear panniers biking by outside. I wonder where she was going?

During the lunch I decided to book a cheap hotel outside of Riga.

What I hadn’t though of was that i had to drive through Riga to get there. That took so long time, and also the cooling fan for the radiator made a scraping sound every time it started spinning. I have to check that one up. My headset went out of battery, so I had to do the boring part without music also.

The hotel were next to a police station, which felt nice. After a check-in and parking of the bike, I called home to update the situation before going out for food. It was the same as for lunch; I had to order a normal dish minus the meat, as they didn’t have any ”real” vegetarian food. I was at a kebab place, and they made some really tasty bread, which they stuffed with cheese and vegetables. I bought some breakfast at the shop nearby and took a look at the surroundings, but there wasn’t much to see.

More Soviet missile silos

I decided to look for something more to do in Lithuania, and I also wanted to go to Klaipeda, as I had a tip from Magnus about where to change my tires. While looking at the internet (dark tourism) I found a tour around four old silos pretty close to Klaipeda. I decided to go there!

While talking to Lukasz, who I would meet in Poland, he told me he had booked a cheap room. Now I also had a plan for the next day, as it was a total of 10.5 hours drive time down to Tychy, Poland.

After calling the number for the silo tours, I got an address for the small city nearby, as it was easier to find your way from there. After a few hours riding I was there, got directions and ate lunch in the city. After taking a wrong turn (I took the next small forest road, which consisted of sand and roots,which was fun, but felt wrong) I met a lumberjack or something in the forest, who could tell me I was wrong when I asked for the silo. I managed to turn around, and out at the road I stopped a car who could tell me exactly where I was going. That road was much bigger (and gravel instead of sand), and soon I was at the museum. I paid for a ticket, and changed into more comfortable clothes while waiting for the tour to begin. As the group I was supposed to go with hadn’t arrived a bit after four, I got an audio tour instead, which suited me fine, as I could take photos in my own pace.

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There were some weapon development history in the middle, with a Swedish anti tank-weapon among them! The tour leader couldn’t really answer why, though, when I asked.

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Much of the tour reminded me of the silos in Kazakstan, but it was cool to see them restored, and also to hear the explanations about the layout and the functions of the different rooms. I also got the history about when and why the silos were built.

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I do think those were a bit smaller than the one I visited in Kazakstan, though!

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(See https://gonebiking.se/2015/06/20/soviet-missile-silos/ and https://gonebiking.se/2015/06/19/ for more info about that one!)

After the tour my plan was to take a couple of hours more, to have less hours to drive the day after. I passed into Poland and started to check for hotels and restaurants, as I couldn’t drive safely much longer without eating anything. The hotel at the place I was eating at would cost me 44.55 euro though, so I felt that I would rather use my tent. I went for half an hour more, further into Polen, and the next place I stayed at was half the price, which was acceptable. They also had a 24 hour open restaurant, so I could eat another dinner, and also breakfast there, rather cheap. I had 600 kilometres left to Tychy, and Lukasz told me about a bunker I should visit along the road, so the plans for tomorrow was already being made!

Bunkers, bunkers and more bunkers!

After a breakfast consisting of pancakes, I started riding around 08.30, unusually early. After eating lunch in the outskirts of Warsaw I made a wrong turn, and then probably another one, which made the pass by almost half an hour longer, probably. Shit happens!

My first visit for the day were pretty far south, almost at my end destination. I was going to visit the bunker Lukasz told me about. When I arrived, you had to pay a small entrance fee of less than an euro. The problem was that I didn’t have any cash, and therefore had to go back three kilometres to an ATM.

The bunker was huge, and had been able to house a train. It was over 300 metre long, with extra corridors on both sides.

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There was also an underground path, which you could get to by climbing down a really steep and narrow staircase. With the motorcycle gear I almost had to squeeze through!

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After the visit, I drove the last 2.5 hours to Tychy. I met up with Lukasz, and we checked me into my room at a guesthouse he had booked for me, so I could shower and unpack while he want back to his niece’s birthday party.

When he was done, he picked me up by car at ten. We drove to some nearby abandoned WW2 bunkers he knew off, and it was a cool sight. Also got a small view of Tychy by night. We also went into the forest to find another one, and after finding it (it was really dark now) saw the eyes of a doe, watching us!

My body was really tired after all the hours riding today, and since the clock was over midnight, we post-poned the next place to tomorrow!

Auschwitz

This day, Lukasz would take me to Auschwitz. He had his daughter this day too, so I got to meet Amie, short for Amelie! Lukasz mother would take her in the city, while Lukasz showed me around.

At Auschwitz (1), we went on a group tour with a guide. The tour was well-made, everyone got a headset, connected to the guides microphone.

The other parts of it were pretty heavy. It’s hard to describe overall, but I felt really uncomfortable during the whole tour, to no surprise. I don’t have much to say about it.

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Afterwards, we went back to get Amie and Lukasz mother, and ate a small lunch in the city!

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The next stop was Birkenau (Auschwitz 2). We didn’t have too much time, but saw what was important. On the way there, we also visited two railway wagons which had been used.

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Someone also called my name out of nowhere, and apparently Jonathan, a scout I was in the same group as a couple of years ago, was there at vacation too. You never now who you’ll meet!

We went back to Tychy, and I got dropped off at the guest house. The plan was to go out with the motorcycles, so I prepared everything I needed, until Lukasz was done with all his.

First destination was the top of a pretty huge slug heap. It was really nice off-roading to get there, and some pretty steep gravel road. Beautiful view, though!

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Then, we were going to another bunker. We went the wrong way first, which took us to a nice water crossing!

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With a map, we got to the bunker, and some memorials and cemeteries, too. I rode a bison!

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New tires!

As I only had two nights in the guest house, I moved to a hotel I had booked during the night. The people working there were super friendly, really happy and helped with whatever I needed, for example laundry, even though it wasn’t supposed to be included. They also told me they could put my bike on their parking, behind a gate, so no one would try to steal it!

I went to meet with Lukasz, who would show me to a place for new tires. Thanks to friends of Lukasz, a person from Moto-fan.pl, I got some discount on the tires when buying them from Olek Motocykle! Instead of the around 2900 SEK I would have paid on the internet at home, I paid 1850 SEK thanks to Poland being cheaper, discount and so on!

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Lukasz took me to a place his friend told us changed tires cheap and fast, and after eating asmall lunch, everything was done less than 30 minutes later! I took the old tires with me, and gave them to Lukasz, as they still had some kilometres left and he wanted to test more road oriented tires.

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In the afternoon we went out to ride in the mountains with some of the other Moto-fan.pl members! It started raining during the drive, but not too much. Lukasz got wet, though!

We stopped at a restaurant somewhere high up for dinner. Everyone bought soup, and I tried to order in polish. Lukasz told the server ”Jackiie just came out from the hospital”, so I guess I didn’t pronounce it right! 😉

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After riding some more, the three others went home, while we adventured some more. We went out to a really cool soviet bunker, pretty big one, with what looked like three loading docks in garages. There were also instructions on the inside on how you would do after using the contamination suit, to always remember your weapon and were to put the dirty clothes. Cool!

We passed a steam punk restaurant on the way home, which we unfortunately couldn’t go up in (there was an elevator) as it was pretty high class and they didn’t want us to disturb the other guests. The things I saw at the entrance floor were good looking, though!

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After a visit at the supermarket Lukasz got an idea for a photo, which would be the ending of this day!

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Open air cinema!

Best roads in my life, so far!

I had gotten a tip from Marco about which roads I should drive in Slovakia, but first, I was going to Krakow. After a quick good bye at Lukasz office, and getting an USB-extender cable, I went east!

There was some nice roads I could have driven, which also would be less expensive, but sadly I didn’t have time.

Outside of Krakow, I went to the shooting range to test a package of weapons. I tried a Glock 17, .357 Magnum, MP5, AK47 and a shotgun from Turkey, Escort. I also added M4 afterwards. It wasn’t actually as fun as I expected, but it is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time!

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After going south for a while, I saw the mountains before me, and what a view! I stayed for maybe half an hour, just taking different photos to get a really good one, and I am satisfied!

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When I finally turned onto the road I was looking forward to, it was really awesome. Maybe 90 kilometres of serpentine roads, with hills and turns everywhere, and really nice views! Almost no traffic, so I was able to drive in my own tempo. It was some really nice technical riding, and I got to lean pretty hard with the motorcycle, instead of the more usual leaning on the highways or country roads!

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When I was approaching the end of the road, and the clock was about nine, I wanted to find a nice spot to pitch my tent on. The roads I could find up in the mountains were only walking roads, though, and I was not allowed to go there by motorcycle. As there were slopes and ski lifts, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to get to a really good place either. After looking up hotels nearby for a minute, I found a pensionat a couple of kilometres away, and pretty cheap (especially compared to the hotels nearby, which were four and five stars, and started at 100 euro). They didn’t speak too much english, and I didn’t have cash with me, but I managed to get the IBAN number so I could make a transaction. I also got some skin cream by the lady, as my upper lip were really dry.

The dinner for tonight was pasta and tomato dry soup powder mixed together!

Outside of EU!

In the morning I checked out my options. I didn’t have a much time as I thought left, so I couldn’t go south, and go to Romania, and go to Kiev for the Chernobyl tour.

When googling around I found out that the nice roads in Romania doesn’t even open until end of June, as there would still be snow on them. As that was my main plan with Romania, it now was a pretty easy choice, and I therefore checked for Chernobyl tours. After calling one, which would be earliest on Saturday, I found one which would be on Friday 13th instad, which would ”save” me one day. I would have two days to drive to Kiev, which would be enough too.

After booking the tour, I started driving. I ate pizza for lunch, which was different. Instead of tomato sauce I got ketchup on the side. 

When looking for a lunch place I saw this; is it an old bridge or something?

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Soon I was in Poland again, and later in the evening, I was at the border crossing to Ukraine! It was already ten or so in the evening.

There were a long, long queue of cars, but everyone started waving at me. I wasn’t really sure of what they meant, but someone who spoke english told me to just go past everything. If it is because I am Swedish, or because I am driving a motorcycle, I am not sure, but I probably saved an hour!

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Leaving Poland was easy, but entering Ukraine harder. Someone helped me to translate, though, and I am not sure what everything was about, but that guy fixed everything for me! He told me the roads were bad in Ukraine, and I told him I had travelled Russia, to which he answered that ”then the roads in Ukraine are good”.

I had forgot to turn the ignition off, so the lights were on. With all the stops and starts, I had drained the battery fairly well, and I heard the starter go really slow, and then not at all. The same guy and girl who had helped me earlier, helped me by hooking their car up to my motorcycle so I could get going.

First thing I did in Ukraine was hitting a giant pothole. Really good start, but nothing broke, as far as I know!

I was also out of fuel, so after riding for a while, also trying to find a hotel of some kind, I refuelled. The battery had gotten enough charge, at least, and now the engine started without a problem!

What I didn’t think of, was that my internet was for the EU, not for Europe. Because of that, I couldn’t check anything, for example hotels.

As the clock shifted forward one hour, it was now half past twelve, and I hadn’t seen any hotel or anything nearby. I decided to pitch my tent, and tried to find small roads. The first one I found was muddy and had some grass on it, and it had been raining earlier. That didn’t go well.

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Really tired after getting out of there, I turned from the main road onto a gravel road, which looked like there wouldn’t be much traffic. I found an acre which was not used at the moment, and pitched my tent there, behind a tree (really stealthy, I now). It was really dark, with no city nearby, and if it would have been a clear sky it would have been perfect!

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Vegetarian restaurant <3

Apparently those roads were well used. The gravel road was more or less a main road, probably to a village, and even the mud road to the right were pretty well trafficked. Welcome to Ukraine!

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After a breakfast consisting of Snickers, I started my 600 kilometres long day ride. I didn’t know it then, but it would be really boring, as it would be mainly highway and citys.

At lunch, I met a Ukraine and a German who was waiting on some colleagues for a work meeting. I had a nice talk, and the Ukraine helped me order. He also told me I shouldn’t drink the tap water, which I thought were normal, as it was still Europe.

The traffic in Kiev was chaotic. There were no big problems for me, but I kept to the one file most of the time, and just tried to go by the rhythm.

I had found a hostel for 3 euros which I was aiming at. When parked on the street, a guy outside a bar started helping me, and with his help I found it! Too bad it was in a basement, and smelled like mold. Also, the electricity was out, and there were no lockers. No way in hell I would stay at this place for two nights.

The guy made a quick google and found another nearby hostel, so he took me there, to Kiev Art Hostel. It was on the second floor, and the cost was 10 euro, which instead gave me my own room with a bunk bed, and a small balcony. Much better! There were maintenance on the water boiler though, so I had a really cold shower.

This was the first city I really stayed in, so I took the chance to get out and take a walk at random. I also bought a SIM-card, as internet is always nice to have.

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As it was getting late I looked for a place to eat at, and TripAdvisor told me about a vegetarian restaurant nearby. I went there, and it was awesome, and really cozy! You had to take off your shoes when you came in, and you sat on the floor at pillows. When the waiter was going to take your order, they sat down opposite you, which was really cute! As the menu was in Ukrainian, I asked for a recommendation, and got a bean burger and a glass of Italian red wine. It was really nice, but I had to finish the burger by fork and knife.

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I went to bed later than planned, and soon I would go to Chernobyl!

Chernobyl

I was supposed to meet the tour leader and group close to Independence Square at 08.00, and went up at 07.00 to have enough time to fix something to eat. When I got off the subway I tried my chance at a sandwich shop, but they didn’t have any vegetarian food. A fellow overheard me though, and led me to a food store that was open at this time! They didn’t have any vegetarian ready-to-eat food, but I bought myself water, snickers, bananas and cookies, enough to keep my energy levels high until lunch!

My group consisted of eight participants, a driver and a tour leader, with the people being from all over the place; three from the US, one from the Netherlands, one from England and some more. The other bus seemed to be a Swedish group traveling with Östresor.

On the two hour bus ride there, they showed us a lot of documentaries about the accident, and also prepared us for the checkpoints we would go through. The first one was at a 30 kilometre radius from the reactor, and the main thing we needed to know was not to photograph the security personell.

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We got to see some horses, with the explanation that they develop antioxidants that protect them from radiation, and therefore survive without a problem. The next stop was Duga, the huge radar array, with the bigger one being around 500 metres long, and 150 metres high!

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You are not really allowed to climb it, but we got to do it anyway, with a really nice view, and some blisters in my hands!

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The next stop was to feed the catfish in the cooling lake. As no one were eating those, they grew huge!

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The visit at the reactor place were actually not that cool. As everything is shielded you don’t really see much, but the new shielding looks pretty cool!

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On the way to the city, Pripyat, we stopped by the welcome sign, where our guide showed us how high the radiation could be in some spots. By just walking a couple of metres, it want up by more than twenty times!

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Pripyat was the coolest place to visit during the whole tour. We started with the old café, which looked like it had been really beautiful back in the days, but it was still really cool. Outside, there was an old vending machine, which I think you got water through, but I am not sure!

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We continued, and went by a room with some old propaganda that I think was going to be used when they would show off the city. There were an old theatre behind the doors, but we were not allowed to walk in there, because of the floor. There were a few places here and there we weren’t allowed at, but we got to see many places we were not supposed to anyway!

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The classical spot, the tivoli, was really nice. I have actually never seen a picture of someone sitting in the radio cars or ferry wheel before.

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I have also tried editing the pictures in different ways. Still learning, but some results look really cool!

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Next stop was the sports stadium. You could see the outline of everything, but 30 years of trees growing wild makes a difference!

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The basket court and winning pool were really cool!

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Then, we visited a class room. Some earlier photographers had rearranged the things inside to take some cool photos, so no, the doll was not supposed to be like this from the beginning.

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We continued doing things we were not allowed to do, and got inside a 15-store house. There were great views from above, and on the way down I ran into some of the apartments to get some more photos, and see if there were anything left!

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On the way out of the zone, we hade to go through two radiation checks, to see that we had not picked anything up. Pretty old machines, but everyone were let through!

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After some stops at the memorial monuments, we started the two hour ride home. I slept most of the time, and suddenly we were back.

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It was a great day, with some really nice people int he group whom I talked to a lot, some whom was working with diplomatic business, e.g. in east Ukraine. Pretty cool to hear the stories and perspectives of that person!

Back in Kiev, I was on my way back to the hostel when I heard some street musicians playing. They were playing really good, I loved it!

For dinner, I went back to the same restaurant as the day before. The plan was to go west, as it was time to plan my travel home!