The day of the actual trip came. 7:30 am I was at the meeting point with other members of my group waiting for the journey to begin. Luckily for me, the group was small so that I would enjoy all the benefits. In total, we were seven people consisting of 2 Russians, 2 Americans, 1 English, 1 Ukranian and myself, the Greek member of the group.
All the necessary documentation and payment took place between 7:30 am, and 7:50 am. At 8:00 am, we were at the bus ready to start our journey to Chernobyl. Fortunately, beginning a trip this early means avoiding the traffic, which I must confess at Kyiv the traffic issue is massive, and I believed that Athens had traffic issues.
Chernobyl is approx. 130km north of Kyiv, so you need to be prepared for an almost a two-hour drive. You also need to be ready for the road conditions which I must say are terrible. Anyway, we were leaving Kyiv fast, and we started entering the countryside, which I must admit that it is beautiful. The scenery is breathtaking in some areas.
Given the speed and range of the journey, I started facing two issues. First of all, the climate inside the Van. It was cold, so cold that I did not feel comfortable and I can tolerate a decent amount of cold, despite being Greek. It was like being in a fridge! The second issue was the road. The Van was going up and down at times so hard that I found myself bouncing on my seat. It was a Ford Transit Van, which I do not consider the most suited for such trips, but I sincerely did not expect this. If I could endure the bumpy road, then radiation will be nothing.
Thankfully, despite the road issues, the absence of heat in the Van I managed to survive, and we finally arrived at the 30km exclusion zone checkpoint. We had to follow a specific set of guidelines to get our passes for the exclusion Zone. Two gifts shops were on the two sides of the road from where you could also get coffee/tea and water. I did not bother with the shops, but I started exploring with my eyes the surroundings, and some "bulletin board" with useful information. We also met our tour guide, a charming and funny young Ukranian guy who gave us some info and helped us with our passes. The funniest thing he said, "You will encounter no zombies, and I hope you will survive and exit this place otherwise you are stuck here with me!" Hillarious!!!
One crucial info, do not take photographs of the Police/Soldiers! They will shoot you! I am joking, no I am not, yes I am, but they don't like being photographed as our tour guide told us, and I respect that! I would not like having hundreds of tourists taking my photo! If one day, you go to Chernobyl, respect that!
A soldier approached us, checked our passes, counted us, checked our passports and gave us his blessing! We are about to enter the 30km exclusion zone! In our cold Van and of we go. I am thrilled; I am...
See also, Post 2, booking a trip to Chernobyl.