After a filling lunch we were off to our most exciting sights of the day.
Passing through the Red Forest, we headed on our way to the city of Prypiat. The Red Forest is a patch of forest, mostly pine trees, that got the most of the radioactive wind after the explosion. When we stopped on the road that goes through the forest, everyone’s Geiger counter started to beep like crazy. It was unnerving, as the bus had given us a false sense of security. The radioactivity just went right through it, and at that moment we realized just how present this invisible killer is.
As I mentioned earlier, Prypiat is where the plant’s workers and their family lived. Created in 1970, it was a city with schools, shops, community centers and everything else any good city might need. Before the accident, the population of the Prypiat was 49,400. Today, some of the workers of the plants still stay there (used as a hotel), but otherwise Prypiat is an official ghost town.
Our first stop was at the community center, which used to have a gym, a cinema and much, much more.
At the back of the community center was a fair that was being set up for the May 1st celebration. The rides were never used, but now stand as a visual symbol for the city of Prypiat.
After the community center we headed to the pool and rec center.
Our last stop of the day was at an elementary school. This place was the highlight of the day for me, with plenty of creepiness.
Eventually we had to leave, but not before going through another radiation check.
All day, all I could think is OH MY GOG THIS IS SO COOL!!! Not that I was taking joy in these people’s misery, but talk about photography heaven! Everywhere we went there was mood, textures, colour and history. It was such a great example of what would happen in a world without us; it was just so fascinating. And all of that pealing paint, broken glass, trees growing everywhere: wow.
Now, going to Chernobyl isn’t the soundest idea. It’s dangerous. Of course, there is the radiation but also one needs to consider nearly 25 years of exposure to the elements. On quite a few occasions today, we felt that tours like this won’t be able to continue on for much longer, as stairs, flooring and ceilings are giving through. Is it worth it though? Totally. And did I step on the grass and laid on the group for a better shot: you bet!