This is why I'm a bit weird, but from time to time I get cravings to visit cold, grey, stark post-communist countries in Eastern Europe.
I have one of those longings right now. While some people crave Thailand and the Caribbea....yeah wait I crave that too...yeah take me there RIGHT now.....er, anyway I also really crave fucked up places that have had oppressive or war-torn pasts. Is there something wrong with me?
It was a year ago since my mother and I drove around Czech, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia in a Skoda, perhaps that's why. It's only been a few months since The Dove and I bussed the Baltics.
Maybe it's because I know I won't be travelling for a while. (Gah! This is my ball and chain, people. No freedom to explore the EASTERN BLOC or see Bosnia - yes Bosnia - anytime soon fills me with panic and an overwhelming urge to handcuff and blindfold the Brit and announce that we are eloping to the Ukraine.) But that would be unfair and his worst nightmare, so I can't do that.
Desperate to go to Ukraine. I imagine it to be fiercely cold (fur cold). Grey, misty; the air filled with radioactive isotopes. Ex-Soviet grannies herding goats; onion domes. Lots of angular slabs of concrete, and buildings that look like space ships. So ugly that they're actually beautiful.
Anyway, what bought this all on again was really that I've started following this dude who lives in the frigging Chernobyl Exclusion Zone on Instagram. (Chernobyl_Zone.)
Either he's completely insane, exposing himself to the radiation that is more or less constantly being emitted from the exploded Reactor 4, or he wanders around all day in a lead suit. But fuck he takes great photos. Mostly of the achnigly eerie town of Pripyat, which was built for employees of Chernobyl and their families. There are dolls, old chandeliers, arm chairs and bumper cars everywhere- basically people's stuff - just left as 50 000 people evacuated in 1986.
Kindergarten class. With writing left on the chalk board.
And that yellow ferris wheel pops up everywhere.
Bumper cars, as they were left in the amusement park bumper car arena.
It's like Communism frozen in time. (My favourite kind!)
I want to go. Is that mad? Would I die of thyroid cancer if I did?
It must be OFF THE CHARTS fascinating. I want to learn everything I can about it. Then go. In a lead suit. One day. When I'm feeling brave.
How fucking freaky is this? Photo by Wichard Graas.
Here are accounts from people who have gone:
And this dude.
This dude runs tours.
Some people returned to Pripyat. And made a website. Like this dude.
And this dude gathered the web's most poignant photos and put them in one post.
I rally rally rally rally want to go.