Archive for Self settlers

September 1: Chernobyl

Posted in Abandoned buildings, Administration building, Apartment buildings, Chernobyl, Ghost towns, Kiev, Parishev, Playground, Pripyat, Self settlers, Stores, Summer camp, Taxis, Train, Travel, Ukraine, Vacation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2016 by Amanda

This morning we again headed to Pripyat.  The first stop was a store with a yellow phone booth in front of it.  This store had several locked locks but, of course, there were other ways in!  This store still had several cash registers and a piano amongst other debris.  A lot of the ceiling tiles were in pristine condition.


Store with the yellow phone booth.

After that it was the administration building.  I found a 1995/1996 calendar so this building was probably used to around that time.  There were also a few interesting signs but this building was mostly empty.


The 1995/96 calendar.

I then briefly looked at a small playground near some apartment buildings and separated by a street.  One part of the playground looked a bit like a UFO.

I looked around one of the apartment buildings for a bit.  It seemed to be a less-visited one but there was evidence of squatters in one of the apartments with intact windows.  This building had quite a variety of wallpaper left in it.  There was also a fair bit of furniture and some of it was in pretty good condition.  One apartment had a chair that matched the wallpaper.  Of course, I also found a piano!  I definitely could have spent more time here as I didn’t even approach the upper floors.


Matching chair and wallpaper.

Then it was off to the former liquor store that now holds a number of pianos from a neighbouring apartment building.  Some of the pianos still work!

After leaving the city of Pripyat for the final time, we went to look at trains.  I would have liked to have seen the actual train station but that wasn’t allowed.  There were also some tanks there but we were told not to touch because of the high radiation.  There was also some wood cut from the red forest and definitely didn’t look normal!


Wood from the Red Forest.

After lunch, we headed to the village of Parishev to meet a well-known self-settler named Ivan Ivanovich.  To get there we had to go past a guard booth on one road where the actual gate was actually located around the corner on a different road and had to be moved manually.  This village still has an operating fire station which serves a large area and several self-settlers but Ivan is the only one who welcomes visits.  On Thursday, we were his first visitors that week but he’d had four groups visit the week before.  The village has a number of houses and a former bus shelter.  Some of the roads are getting a bit overgrown though.  The levels of the radiation in this area are the same as most places outside the zone.  He evacuated but returned about a year after the disaster.  His wife died a few months ago and he seems a lonely and sad now.  He was upset that his television wasn’t working when we visited; hopefully, he managed to get it fix as I can see how important it would be for him.  He showed us he (non-working) car from the 1950s which he keeps in his garage.  We also had time to briefly look at another (abandoned) house in the village.


Ivan showing us his car.

We then headed to a children’s summer camp.  It clearly had been visited in a while as there was a tree blocking the road.  I think I would have loved this place as a young child.  Quite a few of the cabins were painted with children’s illustrations.  The place had a very peaceful feel and was located near the river though trees now block the view.  Liquidators stayed here during the aftermath of the disaster.


One of the cabins.

We arrived back at Kiev’s train station in the early evening.  The taxi system is definitely weird.  It is much cheaper to call a taxi which our guide did for us.  There were plenty of taxis there but we had to wait for specific ones and it was rather chaotic.  You’d think this would be a place to have a taxi stand.  Anyway, I arrived at my hotel without incident though the driver was definitely crazy.

August 29: Chernobyl

Posted in Abandoned buildings, Chernobyl, Ghost towns, Russian Woodpecker, Self settlers, Soviet Union, Travel, Ukraine, Vacation, Zalissya with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2016 by Amanda

Today was the beginning of my whole reason for coming to Ukraine in the first place!  I was at the meeting point at the train station quite early as I was paranoid about somehow getting misdirected; I wasn’t the only one though!  I found the other three people in the group but we didn’t find the guide right away which was a little stressful.  On the drive to the first checkpoint (at the edge of the 30 km exclusion zone) we watched a documentary about the disaster.

There were a lot of rules that we had to sign a form agreeing to but a lot of them aren’t enforced most of the time (wearing long sleeves, not entering buildings in Pripyat etc.).

Not long after the first checkpoint we stopped at the “village” of Zalissya.  By my standards it was definitely more of a town and had housed about 2,000 people.  Its last resident, a self-settler, died only about a year ago.  Self settlers were older people who came back to their homes illegally after the evacuation but their presence was tolerated; there were once thousands but as many have now died (of old age) their numbers have dwindled to maybe a couple hundred.  We visited her house that still had clothes in the closet, pictures on the way and such.  There were obviously many buildings to explore here including many houses, two grocery stores, a health clinic, and a school but my favourite was definitely the culture house (basically a community centre).  It had originally be a family’s house (more like a mansion) but had been repurposed by the Soviets; they even changed the founding date on the building!  I think we could have spent close to a whole day here but we all knew that there were much better things to come so we moved on by lunchtime.


Entrance to the culture house with its Soviet founding date

The town of Chernobyl is actually still pretty active as workers as still housed there; they stay for 15 days and then leave for 15 days. This is where our hotel (more of a hostel really) was; it also has a functioning church and a (very small) store along with quite a bit of housing and some offices. There are also some memorials here including signs for all the communities in both Ukraine and Belarus within the exclusion zone; there are so many!


Just some of the signs of the former communities with the exclusion zone.

We then headed to Chernobyl’s port where there are some rusting boats.

After that we headed to a huge formerly secret Duga radar station. It was called Chernobyl 2 or by its nickname, the Russian Woodpecker. It is about 900 metres long. It was officially a summer camp. It was down a bit of a rough road and not too close to anything else. While it didn’t take long to look at the radar itself as I wasn’t interested in climbing it, there were lots of other places to explore at the site. I especially enjoyed looking through the medical centre. This was place was the first of a number of places I encountered that had signs of the Olympics back in 1980; the Olympics were clearly a big deal for the Soviet Union. While we were there one group member wandered off and we couldn’t find him for some time which was quite distressing to our guide; it seems that she would have been in big trouble if the police had to search for him. We did end finding him eventually and got through the 10 km checkpoint (our first experience with the radiation detectors) before the 7 pm deadline.


Just part of the radar

My feet once again felt pretty terrible at the end of the day. After dinner, we headed to a bridge with a nice view of the power plant in the distance.