Back into EU

It was time to leave Kiev, and this pretty awesome room I had been staying in!

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It would be a day consisting of driving, with the plan to at least go a few kilometres into Poland. I wanted to be on the right side of the border if anything would take extra time.

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Before leaving Ukraine, I went into some small random village to buy cheap spirits. The village I went into seemed to have never seen any tourists before, and some children were standing, just looking at my motorcycle, while I was shopping and packing. I found this probably really fake bottle, but I really liked the label!

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I also tried to see if I could find a good brand battery for the motorcycle, but they only had local brands wherever I went.

At the border it was the same thing again, with the officers just telling me to go past all the cars. With the panniers, it was a tight fit, but I managed! 

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They asked me about the contents in my panniers, and I just told them ”sleeping gear”, and they let me through.

In the evening I arrived in Lublin, where I found a hostel. I went out to grab a pizza with a guy from the hostel, but the part of the city we lived in and went through didn’t look all too fun.

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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!

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!

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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