A 20-30 minute drive followed. The road led us through deep woods and most of the time it was not possible to drive faster than 10km/h due to terrible road conditions.
As we arrived another stray dog came to greet us. The entrance was a gate made out of green metal which reminded me of the Soviet Union and something being kept secret.
It's impressing how high the radar system is, but ludicrously when you think about the fact that it was never operating the right way.
The Soviets spent millions of Rubels to build a rocket defence radar system. In the end it was just sending disruption signals. Not knowing that those signals were a failure , USA thought that the Soviet Union was trying to mind control them.
Another unbelievable fact is that the Soviets thought they could keep this massive machine as a secret while it was standing in the middle of nowhere actually pretty visible.
What I really adored about this place was the sandy ground all around the radar system. It actually reminded me of the summer beach vacation in the Netherlands but in a depressing way.
A couple of meters away from the radar system we climbed into an abandoned military base. Right into it through a window connected with the ground through a shaky ladder - pretty dangerous but thrilling.
The base was built to train soldiers, so we found a classroom with propaganda posters, which kind of reminded me of a power plant control panel.
Right next to it we found presumably a server room.
Lots of shelfs which looked as if they were made for the computers of the rocket defence system.
Once we got out of the building we were standing right behind the radar system which imposed on us again, how big it actually is.
Walking further through the military area we explored something which seemed to had been a driving school with a car garage right next to it.
Since it started to get darker we had to make it back to our bus to leave the 10km zone because it was closing at 7PM.
At the checkpoint we had to get out of the bus due to the bus and us being checked for radiation.
None of us was radioactive so we could get back to have dinner and go to the hotel.
After some chats with the guide and a few group members I was on my way to bed.
I was interrupted on my way because the guide wanted to introduce us to the stray dog living behind the hotel. I have never seen such a fat dog... I felt pretty sorry for her because she could not even walk normally.
Back in my room I dropped myself into bed realising that I was going to spend my first night in the exclusion zone. I slept pretty good because it was very quiet.
The next day we had breakfast around 9AM, the luggage already in the bus.
This time I was also smart enough to put enough clothes on because I was freezing off my ass the morning before.
Back at the 10km zone we rode through the „Red forest “. Our Geiger counters were going crazy! Up to 30 micro Sievert while usual background radiation lays with 0.18 micro Sievert.
Actually, one thing left us wondering: why is the red forest not red?
The answer is simple: A couple of years ago all the trees were cut down because they saved the radiation inside of them. The soil was also taken away and new trees were planted.
Our next stop was the „Bridge of death“ where a couple of inhabitants of Pripyat were standing to see the „nice“ coloured fire coming out the the reactor right after the explosion. Of course, none of them knew that the color they saw was caused by radiation.
In the end they were all exposed to lethal doses of radiation and most likely only minutes after standing on the bridge, starting to feel sick and puked.
A couple of seconds later we arrived at the famous town sign of Pripyat. Still seeing the shades of vandalism on it which had been reported a couple of days before our visit there.
At time of my visit: Couple of days before my visit:
Close to the sign we explored a hotspot: Radioactive soil. If the Geiger counter was held closer to the ground it was measuring 30 micro Sievert at some point.
That is also the reason why you should not sit down in the zone or lick the street (as the guide said) because the soil is still radioactive
At the last check point right before Pripyat we had the last chance to pee for a couple of hours (otherwise we'd have to pee in the wild, in a radioactive zone !). Then we were going to the hospital where the fire fighters were brought in after the accident, suffering from an acute radiation dose.
The feeling in my tummy got weirder, knowing that we were walking around at the same place, where the first people with radiation poisoning were brought in.
Also knowing that the clothes they were wearing are still in the basement - not protected at all... Just lying around because no one dares to touch it.
Next to the entrance we realised someone starring at us from the inside of the hospital at the upper floor. Really creepy! It turned out that he was a tourist from another group.
Closer to the entrance our guide asked us to wait outside of hospital due to much security being present in this area. So, he went inside alone to get something very special but dangerous: A piece of fire fighter clothes!
He asked us to keep safe distance and to give him a Geiger counter.
The highest measurement he got was around 240 micro Sievert. That was so far the scariest moment for I think all of us.
Walking a bit further we made it to the cafe of Pripyat. Luckily the colourful windows are still intact, but can now only give a small indication, together with the remains of the once nice entrance, of the atmosphere back in the days.
Walking along a jetty I could even see a fish, but I hurried to get back to save land soon because I know how clumsy I am. I was somehow afraid of falling into the water.
The next location was the cinema of Pripyat with a breath-taking mosaic on its facade. For being over 30 years old it was amazingly preserved.
Inside it was dark and a weird atmosphere was in the air.
I made multiple pictures in a row with my Canon, and on one of those I've found to my surprise something weird. You can spot two light flashes in the middle picture if comparing it with the left one.
I've only seen flashes like that once before: on the picture of the elephant foot taken in reactor number 4 while its exploration - right picture.
Please leave a comment if you have a better guess about the red/blue flashes in the middle picture.
Seeing the cinema from the front gave me another flashback.
Looking at this picture later, a friend of mine recognised that an „Orb“ is visible on it.
Orbs are believed to be captures of spirits. So, who knows what I caught there.
At the main entrance another stunning mosaic was visible.
After a call with the bus driver we got picked up to drive to a pretty famous place which was empty that moment so no danger to go inside: The public swimming pool.
Walking through the already pretty damaged entrance I got more and more excited.
First we passed the basketball court, then we went upstairs and finally arrived at the swimming pool hall.
I felt impressed by looking at the empty pool, but also sad because most of the building had been already destroyed by vandals.
Making it a few steps further to the famous classroom with hundreds of gas masks just chilling on the ground. Back in the days every school or kids garden was equipped with gas masks in case of the Americans starting an attack. After the accident they were taken out of their storage.
Our guide asked us if we could guess what had happened to all the filters of the masks? No one knew. So, he explained that even those were stolen due to a fun fact: Since smoking weed is illegal in the Ukraine, young people stole the filters to exhale into it after taking a hit from a joint. The filters were absorbing the smell.
Making it around the room the Ukrainian girl found a book written in German. So, I had to read a part out loud.
Walking through the hallway of the location I came along some unbelievable good preserved books. The inside looked as if it was brand new!