Due to the stupid snorer in my room I ended up over sleeping. Once I had my act together I headed out and took the metro to save time.
My firt stop was the Chernobyl Museum. On April 26, 1986 at 1:23 am the Chernobyl nuclear power plant had a reactor explode. This is considered to be the worst nuclear accident the world has ever seen. The audio guide claimed that within hours a 30 km "dead zone" was created. All the towns were evacuated, Pripyat was the largest. According to the museum the evacuation happened within hours. This, however, isn't true. The town was evacuated about 4 days later when the radioactive cloud reached a Swedish plant and they put out the warning. The cloud floated not only over the modern states of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova, but also Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Holland, Belgium, Slovenia, Poland Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, France and the UK. You can take tours of Pripyat for about $175 plus free radiation, however I declined. I think I would have done it if it wasn't so expensive.
The museum was pretty well done, if a little loose with the facts. The first room concentrated on the people who gave up their lives trying to contain and control the blast. Most of these people died pretty horrific radiation poisoning deaths. For the most part the dead zone will remain until 2016, however some of the chemicals that were released are far more deadly and it could be a century before the area is truly ready for habitation again.
One section was on outside help. The first country to step forward was Cuba, Castro opened up a hospital for children with radiation poisoning. A letter from an American 4th grader read
"Dear President Reagan,
I have a suggestion. We should tell the Russians that they should enclose their nuclear power plants. We should say that we care for them because they're human beings too. We should also have more donors. We should send more bone marrow transplantation people to Moscow.
We should tell them not to feel so bad because we were down hearted also.
I am 9 and 3/4 and my favorite food is bagel.
I'm really just including that because it was really sweet.
The following section was pictures of those who had been left behind. It showed weddings and birthday parties. The guide said that it was meant to show how time marches on and how wounds heal. I found it to be rather sad. After that I spend some time with a section on current pictures of the evacuated Pripyat. It was really eerie. In the last room there were some objects from Pripyat, including a bit of the church. There were yards of fabric on the ceilings, one white, one black. They were meant to be birds, the black death and the white rebirth. I just found the whole thing to be odd.
Next up was the One Street Museum. It's about Andrews Descent, Kiev's most popular street. The whole thing was really quite interesting. The street may even date all the way to the 12th century. Everything seemed to have happened here. Witches were once burned here and one of the oldest theological schools in Eastern Europe was founded here in 1616. Empress Elizabeth laid the first brick for St. Andrews church in 1744. This moved onto typical house interiors. For some time in the 19th century this was Kiev's red light district. Eventually it became the place to live and a lot of the displays were on famous Ukrainians whom I had never heard of before. Eventually it moved on to the world wars. The more recent photo's and post cars were really interesting. one object was a gold toilet!
After the museum I wandered back to the hostel and grabbed a sandwich for dinner. I spent some time online working on the blog and finally got a few entries published. Later on I had problems sleeping again due to the snorer.