Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Last Week in Ukraine: Visiting the Hydro Park, Chernobyl Museum, Pechersk Lavra, and the Motherland Statue in Kyiv

So I'm a bit behind on my posts as usual... this is from my last week in Ukraine (which was about 3 weeks ago). I spent the week in Kyiv, and since I didn't have any plans to meet up with people, I just hung out with new friends that I met at my hostel - TIU Kreshatyk. I stayed in that hostel almost every time that I went to Kyiv during my 2 years in Ukraine, and its my favorite hostel because its not too big and you always meet friendly travelers there. I actually helped them paint a little during my stay there in December since they were remodeling : )

Hanging out in the kitchen while the guys painted. 
Starting to paint the wall in the common room. 
At 1:30am - we are almost done and Olya is refueling with coffee. 
Finished! In this house... we are family! 
I went exploring around the Hydro Park area of Kyiv with an Austrian guy named Dominik, that I met at the hostel. I had never been there before, though I'd passed it while riding the metro (the subway) and our friend Roma (who works at the hostel) recommended visiting it. There is a small stretch of the Kyiv metro where the metro trains run above ground, mainly to cross the Dnipro river. The Hydro Park is located along the banks of the river, and apparently its a very popular swimming place in the summer even though the beaches are small. 
Walking with Dominik and Roma on Kreshatyk street, near the Maidan.
Ukrainian street dogs aren't afraid to stare you down. 
The view from the bank of the Dnipro - you can see the Motherland "Родина мать" statue in the distance on the left. 
The other side of the Dnipro, with lots of new fancy apartment buildings along the waterfront. 
Dominik left a few tickets to the National Chernobyl museum, so I snagged one of them and went to check it out. It was not very easy to find - I spent about 30 minutes slushing around the streets trying to find it. I had to ask about 5 passerby which way to go, and not all of them knew where the museum was. I can't imagine how tourists who don't speak Russian or Ukrainian can find this museum. 

There was a small sign for the museum on the right hand street corner, so I turned left (following the sign)... apparently I turned too early because it was the next street down. 
Notice how the streets aren't really plowed here... so I really did slush my way around. 
I finally found it - the entrance to the museum. 
Once I got inside, the cashier lady was extremely angry and displeased that I had brought a ticket with me - I guess there had been a slight misunderstanding, Dominik thought the tickets were free and they apparently weren't. The cashier lady insisted that they did not sell or give out tickets in advance, so she argued and screamed at me for a while and then eventually let me in with that ticket. This happened to be one of those situations where I was glad that I spoke Russian but found that it was unfortunate that I spoke Russian, because the cashier lady was super offended that I was arguing back and said some very mean things to me. After this, I was afraid to ask the lady if I could purchase a headset so I just walked around the museum by myself. The museum was small but interesting, and I'd definitely recommend getting a headset in your native language if you visit because all the exhibits are in Russian.

Documents and artifacts belonging to people who worked at the Chernobyl factory - many of them were in the military. 
Portraits of loved ones who passed away in the explosion. 
Some kind of full body nuclear radiation scanner. 
Cards and paper cranes from children worldwide.
Photos taken some years afterwards, when all the homes and buildings were deserted and partially destroyed. 
Photos of those affected by the explosion. 
I also met a group of 5 Swedish guys at the hostel, they had come to Ukraine to watch a Swedish football team play in Dnipropetrovsk and were just staying in Kyiv for the weekend before they flew home. We had a great time hanging out and walking around the city center, we even went to Puzata Hata so that they could try local Ukrainian food. Puzata Hata is great because its the most affordable place to eat downtown and you can see what you are ordering, since its a cafeteria style buffet line restuarant. They wanted to check out some of the city's sights, so we went to the Pechersk Lavra "Печерская лавра" - a Eastern Orthodox cathedral built as a monastery by some famous caves. After that, we hiked up to the big Motherland "Родина мать"statue. 

The view of the Dnipro river from the Dnipro metro station (which is above ground). 
The Pechersk Lavra cathedral. 
The bottom of the cathedral's walls, where you can walk down into the caves. 
The Motherland statue! It reminded of the Statue of Liberty, though its not quite as tall.
After wrapping up all my COS (close of service) paperwork for Peace Corps, I ended my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer on December 14th! There is a tradition for COS-ing volunteers at our main Peace Corps office in Kyiv - you get to ring the bell to signify that you are officially done! 

Officially finished with my 27 months of Peace Corps service! 


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Crazy About Ukraine said...

Congrats on finishing your Peace Corps service! :)

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