Today was an interesting day with a lot of different perspectives. On a spring day in 1986 a nuclear power plant exploded in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Thirty years later there are still highly radioactive areas dangerous and fatal for humans. To be perfectly honest, I had interest in the thought of going here but once I arrived I was rather put off by the entire place (which is 100% opposite of my usual mindset).
There are many security checkpoints, abandoned buildings and radioactive areas that they say are not more harmful than flying in an airplane for a few hours. I think this is what I found hard to believe. Why would we pay money to a place where humans 'messed up' I thought to myself? It was a collection of buildings in a forest with empty rooms and collapsed infrastructures. One after another, a swimming pool, cinema, hospital, schools, etc. A trophy city used as soviet propaganda to the world. I felt as though it was repetitive and nothing that special (unless you are into nuclear power, engineering, etc - which I know nothing about).
With that being said, I was traveling with a group of Swedes that had a much different mindset on Chernobyl than my own. Rather than questioning failure, they viewed Chernobyl as a place of historical significance. This made Chernobyl a much more interesting and quite amazing place to visit. The energy I surrounded myself with made me realize (once again) that there are many more perspectives than my own and it's important to never stop challenging your beliefs.
I was able to find light in a catastrophe that was beyond dangerous the environment simply by surrounding myself with people who think differently than myself.
Beyond Chernobyl, the US department of state has a high warning to all visiting Ukraine. The media makes it seem as though this country is collapsing and dead, but it was beyond alive and really amazing to explore this a place portrayed so poorly. The war on the eastern side seems so far away, and the people are not really effected by what is going on.
Why yes, the roads need some work, and the infrastructure is not as developed as Western Europe, but the people are kind and open-hearted. The restaurants are design worthy and the hotels are clean and safe. I did not feel threatened once while traveling here and I am beyond happy to have had the opportunity to visit a country that I normally would not think of venturing to.
I am the first to admit when I am wrong, and I was 100% wrong about how I viewed Ukraine. It's been an amazing couple of days surrounded by even better people. A trip like this is the kind of trip that really opens your eyes to new perspectives and I'm glad I could experience it how I did (PS - The reason we came here is because the team at Nema Problema raised enough money to rebuild a kindergarten in a Ukrainian Suburb, just another example of good people doing even better things).
a few recommendations for those visiting:
1. Vinnystia - Hotel France, Karaoke Bar & Butterfly (pool 'club')
2. Kiev - Bakkara Art Hotel, Lovely Uncle (dinner or breakfast)
3. Chernobyl Day Tour
Ukraine, its been real.