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Location: L'viv

Day 1 - 15 May 2021

Lviv International Airport - LWO

L'viv, Lviv International Airport - LWO

Content: I arrived at the airport in Lviv around 10.30 in the evening. I had read about how to best get to the city center from the airport, so I assumed I would be able to simply walk outside and grab a taxi and go. However, there were no taxi's to be found, not even one. I asked one of the security guys, but he didn't speak any English. After going back inside I found a group of young people and asked them how to get a taxi and they told me to call a certain number to order one, and then they left. Slowly I started seeing everyone around me leave. I had taken some cash out, and looked for an information desk, but nothing was open. The WiFi was terrible, and wasn't even enough to send a message, let alone order an uber. Eventually, I was the only one left. I decided to speak to the lady of the money exchange shop. She only spoke a little bit of English, but more than enough to help me out. She also happened to sell sim cards, so we started with that. After installing it, she managed to call the cab company for me, and an hour after arrival I finally got in the taxi.

DREAM Hostel Lviv

L'viv, DREAM Hostel Lviv

Content: The hostel I was staying at was in the middle of the city centre, right next to the main square, which was bustling full of life. It was jam packed full of people. A proper Saturday night out "pre-corona", with no one wearing a mask. It almost felt uncomfortable to see so many people gathered around without any protection. This is what life has become now, an anti-social germophobic mess, but on the other hand it was beautiful to see people enjoy themselves without worrying about anything. I decided to stay in that night and get some rest for the following day to start exploring the city.

Location: L'viv

Day 2 - 16 May 2021

Cheese Bakery

L'viv, Cheese Bakery

Content: The next morning it was time to explore what Lviv was all about. I quickly learned that the main activity of my two days in here would be eating and drinking. Everything was centered around the main square, which was surrounded by little cobblestreets with colourful ancient buildings. The receptionist had recommended all her favourite places to me, and I started my journey. I first had a very healthy breakfast in a really hip cafe. After some strolling through the small streets I went for lunch at the Cheese Bakery, which had a great view over the square, perfect for people watching.

Observation tower at Lviv City Hall

L'viv, Observation tower at Lviv City Hall
L'viv, Observation tower at Lviv City Hall

Content: I then decided to do some sightseeing and went up to the City Hall Tower to see the city from above. It honestly had a lot of resemblance with Kraków, with its similar architecture and infrastructure.

People Place Bar

L'viv, People Place Bar
L'viv, People Place Bar

Content: In the evening I went for dinner in a very popular cafe, called People's Place and had an amazing vegetarian lasagna.

Location: L'viv

Day 3 - 17 May 2021

DREAM Hostel Lviv

L'viv, DREAM Hostel Lviv

Content: I checked out of my hostel as I was going to travel to Kiev in the evening. The hostel was great, as they allowed me to keep my luggage for free and they offered a 10% discount in the cafe downstairs which served really healthy food.

Location: Lviv city

Day 3 - 17 May 2021

Lviv

Lviv city, Lviv
Lviv city, Lviv
Lviv city, Lviv
Lviv city, Lviv

Content: I spent this morning exploring the rest of town. The city is full of cute little cobblestone streets with lovely local shops. The center is very small, so it's easy to go around in one day.

Location: L'viv

Day 3 - 17 May 2021

Lviv Coffee Manufacture

L'viv, Lviv Coffee Manufacture
L'viv, Lviv Coffee Manufacture

Content: A must visit in Lviv is the quirky cafe called the Lviv Coffee Manufacture. It's partially a museum, with a very interesting story, and some of the best coffee in town.

Lviv Railway Station

L'viv, Lviv Railway Station

Content: It was time to travel onwards. I took a train from Lviv to Kiev, which took about 7 hours.

Location: Chernobyl tour

Day 4 - 18 May 2021

Chernobyl Reactor #4

Chernobyl tour , Chernobyl Reactor #4
Chernobyl tour , Chernobyl Reactor #4

Content: When you visit Kiev, one of the main things to do, of course, is to visit Chernobyl. I booked my tour with Chernobylwel.com, who offer tours both in Russian and English. We started the tour at the Independence Square in Kiev, where we took a minivan to the area of Chernobyl. I was the only foreigner on the tour, everyone else was from Ukraine and did the tour in Russian. It was nice to see that young locals were also interested to learn more about what happened here, as most Ukrainians I had met so far did not visit, nor did they have an interest to do so.. We first made our way to the different reactors in the area. While we were driving we were passing an area that used to be the closest village to the reactors. This village was completely contaminated after the blast, and was not able to be saved, except for a few houses. Most of the houses were made out of wood, and the radiation wouldn't come out, only the brick buildings were able to be washed down. So, in order to secure the area, the wooden buildings were dismantled and burried underground, creating a hilly landscape. There were many of these burial sites around the area, as this was the only viable way to get rid of contaminated objects (even as big as entire trucks). When we arrived at the reactors, our guide explained what happened and what was the aftermath of the explosion. Interestingly enough, the people who lived around the reactor didn't know that the explosion happened and the government tried to hide it at first. Until they realised that it was becoming way too dangerous to stay around it and everyone had to be evacuated immediately. The government then started a long process in which they tried to clean the area. Initially, they wanted to restore the reactor and continue using the others. They were already in the process of building a bunch of other reactors, and it was going to be the biggest nuclear plant in all of Europe. However, after the explosion people didn't feel comfortable about them anymore, and they had to be closed down. They still worked for a decade though, as the entire county was dependent on the electricity that came from Chernobyl, and they couldn't stop providing this to the people. Now, 35 years after the explosion they are completely dismantling the reactors, and plan to bury it all underground. We stopped in front of reactor 4 which was the reactor that had exploded. Our guide showed us pictures of what the plant looked like before and after, and we were able to see it now with a cover to keep the radiation from spreading further.

Location: Pryp'yat'

Day 4 - 18 May 2021

Pryp'yat'

Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'

Content: After visiting the reactors, we went to a truck graveyard. The trucks that were dumped there were used to clear out the area and to bury everything. The trucks there were safe enough for us to visit, but there were other truck graveyards that were buzzing with radiation and are off limits. We continued our way to the town of Prypiat. This is the famous town that everyone thinks of when thinking of Chernobyl. It was a promising city, offering very modern facilities to anyone who decided to move there, and it was bustling with life before 1986. It even had the first big supermarket outside of the main cities that provided any kind of products you could imagine. But this was a very distant memory from what I was able to see now. We visited the amusement park, which had a ferris-wheel and bumby cars. Everything was slowly being taken over by nature. Our guide showed photos of what it used to be like, and it was difficult to imagine. Instead of a bustling city, it was more like a ghost town. Something that you would see in a scene of a horror movie. At this point it also started raining really heavily which just added to the eeriness of the place. We walked through what used to be the center of town, but currently felt more like a walk in a forest. We stopped at several places and received an explanation of its past life. When the residents of Prypiat were initially asked to evacuate they were told that they would be able to return again after three days, so they were asked to only bring some essentials. However, people were never able to return back to their old lives. Some people returned to collect some of their belongings, but for many people it was too painful to return even for that. People were offered a new home in another city, and tried to move on with their lives, except for a few people who did move back and still live solitary lives in a rundown house, surrounded by constant radiation. The houses that were left behind became a hotspot for looters, who took everything of value. As a result, the houses now look more as if they are torn by war, than by abandonment. Throughout the tour we checked the levels of radiation. A normal level of radiation is.0.13 millirems. Throughout the places that we visited in Chernobyl the average level of radiation was 2 millirems. When we stopped at the bumby cars, we checked and it was 4.6 millirems, which was the highest we were allowed to be around during the tour.

Location: Russian antenna

Day 4 - 18 May 2021

Pryp'yat'

Russian antenna, Pryp'yat'
Russian antenna, Pryp'yat'
Russian antenna, Pryp'yat'

Content: We moved on with our tour, and visited an antenna that was built by the Soviet Union. They used this antenna to receive signals of bombs that were directed to Russia from the US. It was a great idea at first, which was supposed to be top secret, but it didn't really work out as planned. People were able to pick up the signal on their local radios, and it gave a constant knocking sound. The Russian government continued to deny that they had any idea where this sound came from, and tried to resolve the issue. However after the blast, the antenna was completely contaminated, and they weren't able to use it at all anymore. They have since tried to dismantle it, but it was too difficult to achieve. It is now left in the forrest, and looks incredibly creepy. It's an immense structure, that looks almost alien like. A masterpiece on its own, but also incredibly intimidating.

Location: Pryp'yat'

Day 4 - 18 May 2021

Pryp'yat'

Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'
Pryp'yat', Pryp'yat'

Content: The last stop on our tour was a small village where we were able to enter the houses and get a more close up look of how everything was left after the explosion. Again, looters destroyed the place and took anything that they might be able to sell, and the government took any artifacts that were too radioactive to be burried in a nearby burial site. As a consequence, the houses are completely torn apart, with just a few personal items left behind such as a shoe or a stuffed animal. The overall experience of visiting Chernobyl is both fascinating and incredibly sad. It's very difficult to imagine how the residents surrounding Chernobyl must have felt right after the explosion and the impact that it had on everyone's lives. They claim that only 31 people have died as a direct effect of the explosion, which were mainly firefighters. Some of their bodies are still somewhere under the rubbles, unaccessible for any human to retrieve. However, it is expected that thousands more might have died indirectly of the effects of the explosion.

Location: Kyiv

Day 5 - 19 May 2021

AV-2 capsule hotel

Kyiv, AV-2 capsule hotel
Kyiv, AV-2 capsule hotel
Kyiv, AV-2 capsule hotel

Content: I stayed at the AV-2 Capsule Hotel in Kiev. They have two locations in the center which are both really close to all the main sites. The hostel is a really cool concept, as they have all these individual capsules in different themes. I stayed in the female only dorm with pink capsules, but they also had Star Trek related capsules and others. It's a really clean hostel that provides a lot of privacy and the toilets are those fancy Japanese kind with heated seats.

Location: Kyiv City

Day 5 - 19 May 2021

Kyiv City

Kyiv City, Kyiv City
Kyiv City, Kyiv City
Kyiv City, Kyiv City
Kyiv City, Kyiv City
Kyiv City, Kyiv City

Content: I spent two days exploring Kiev city. I was very surprised about Kiev, as it was completely different than I had imagined. I had the idea that the city would have an abundance of Soviet architecture and that it would feel very Russian, but in fact it was very Victorian, and it felt more like being in Vienna. The buildings were beautiful with small balconies, in soft yellow pastel colours. The main street was very wide, with big pedestrian roads, and trees, leading onto the main square, which is appropriately called Independence Square. This is where the heart of the Revolution took place in 2014, and you can still see memorabilia around the city. There was a beautiful outdoor gallery close to the Independence Square which displayed photographs of revolutionaries who fought for their independence. I also visited a very interesting restaurant, that doubled as a museum about the revolution, called the Last Barricade. It had a secret bar hidden in the back, and weekly performances of modern folk music. I tried a very local dish called vareniki, which is one of the main local dishes, and it's basically a savoury dumpling filled with meat, but I went for the sweet version with cherry paste and condenced milk. I wasn't really sure how I felt about it, it was strange, and I didn't love it, but I also couldn't stop eating it.

Location: Kyiv

Day 5 - 19 May 2021

St. Sophia's Cathedral

Kyiv, St. Sophia's Cathedral
Kyiv, St. Sophia's Cathedral
Kyiv, St. Sophia's Cathedral
Kyiv, St. Sophia's Cathedral
Kyiv, St. Sophia's Cathedral

Content: Unfortunately, the weather wasn't amazing the majority of the time I spent in Kiev, but I tried to make the most out of exploring with my umbrella. I visited some cathedrals, that were designed in a predominantly Russian architecture, which were very colourful, with big golden domes. These churches were scattered around the city, and they were quite a big contrast with the otherwise very European feel of Kiev.

1957 Coffee Bar

Kyiv, 1957 Coffee Bar

Content: I spent most of my time eating in different little cafes and shopping. Kiev has a lot of "instagrammable" cafes, such as a very nice little coffeeshop within a shoe store called Kachorovska

Location: Kyiv City

Day 6 - 20 May 2021

Kyiv City

Kyiv City, Kyiv City

Content: I spent a few more hours shopping and wandering around the city before it was time to head back to the airport.

Location: Kiev Airport

Day 6 - 20 May 2021

Kyiv Boryspil International Airport

Kiev Airport , Kyiv Boryspil International Airport

Content: It was time for my flight back to Dubai. Ukraine was really surprising, and I can definitely recommend a visit. The people are amazing, and it's a very beautiful country.