Mike and I had decided to visit Chernobyl and Pripyat.
The nearest City is Kiev, and since the place itself looked interesting we had an afternoon and an entire day exploring.
Above you can see some of the daunting old buildings in the area.
The place has a real glamour feel to it, with attractive girls everywhere and lots of sports cars sand jewellery.
We went into what we thought was a quiet bar, while we planned our exploration, when I went to visit the bathroom, it turned out, downstairs was a nightclub, modelled on a military bunker !.
The beating heart of the city is Khreshchatyk street. 1.2 kilometres long, practically everything happens on this street.
Our first “must see” site in the city.
The Golden Gate.
Originaly built in the 1100’s, its been “modernised” quite a lot since then.
The Golden dome of St Michael’s monastery.
St Sophia’s cathedral.
Not planned at all, we realised we’d be visiting during Independence day.
As we wandered around, lots of people had donned their uniforms and medals and were marching proudly through the streets.
Ukraine declared independence on the 24th August, 1991.
A statue to Mykhailo Hrushevsky, a famous academic, politician and historian.
National opera house of Ukraine built in 1867.
I normally explore new places on foot, at ground level, but time was pressing so we took the underground (I couldn’t believe just how far underground this went).
But we emerge back into the sunshine and see the Pechersk Lavra with its series of cave monastery’s underneath.
The National Military History Museum.
The whole area is landscaped with spectacular hillside views.
Statue’s commemorating the fallen, and an eternal flame.
I grew up during the cold war, I read a lot of military stuff at the time.
One other thing, was playing a computer game at the time called Gunship. You “flew” an AH64 Apache gunship in various scenarios on the Commodore 64.
Best part was when it detected an enemy vehicle it would flash up its name.
For this reason, I instantly recognised many of the vehicles in the museum. This one, nicknamed the Stalin Organ is a multi rocket launcher (the rocket tubes being similar to the pipes in a church organ).
Several BTR and BMP vehicles that I recognised, some tracked, some with wheels.
I even remember the vulnerability of the BMP found by the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. If you shoot through the back wheel tire, there is little armour and the petrol tank will catch fire.
I kept wandering around looking for a T72 tank. I kept seeing what I thought were T72’s, but always seemed to get it wrong, and Mike became increasingly impatient.
Interestingly, I’ve since read there is only one T72 in the whole museum. That is a type 3, which they captured and have put on display to prove that Russia is backing Ukrainian separatist (those types of tanks were never issue outside Russia).
Enough about tanks. I quiet, reflective moment when I stop and think how many people have died for simple freedoms like the ability to travel to another country and meet new people.
The horrifying scene of a PSD 10 Intercontinental ballistic missile launcher.
Finally, the thing I really wanted to see.
An MI 24 Hind helicopter in the E variant. Incredible to see a real one after all these years.
But slightly bitter sweet. With children queuing to sit inside it, it took something away from the awesome helicopter I’d expected to see.
We wandered back down the hill and to the bank of the Dnieper river.
There were some amateur film makers in questionable attire, but we just gave them a wide birth.
A pontoon next to a river boat provided us with a few beers then we continued on our way.
If I’d had more time I’d have like to visit the beach across the water.
This isn’t just a bit of sand next to a river, its a full beach environment with sunbathers, swimmers, the whole lot.
Hard to imagine that happening on the Manchester ship canal.
A slightly more modern bridge to the other side, shows just how wide this river is.
As we got into town, we passed under this bridge, and you could see some enterprising individual have set up a bungee swing under the bridge.
With a long day coming to a close, we find a restaurant with views over the river bank (it was a national holiday after all, so loads of people were in a party mood).
I’m hungry now, but what should I eat ?
Since were in Kiev, Chicken Kiev seems to be the thing to do.
Tasted superb, I really enjoyed it.
Wandering back into town to Independence square.
Thousands of people out celebrating.
The march comes to a close at Independence square and at the end several people embrace.
But the fun’s not over, and the party goes on into the night.