Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
burble

Unusual holiday destinations (picture heavy!)

20 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Inspired by the 'TripAdvisor - the worst' thread I thought I'd post some pictures from the slightly unusual holiday I had in May.

It was pretty much all arranged through the good people at Lupine Travel who arranged the Chernobyl stuff for the BBC when Top Gear were there.

Firstly we flew from Luton (what a sh1te hole) to Chisinau in Moldova - the poorest country in Europe.  My other half has been there a couple of times on business and really enjoyed her time there where she made some good friends.

 

2017-05-11%2013.14.39.jpg

 

The hotel we stayed in was straight from the 1970's Soviet Union.  Concrete.  Lots of Concrete:


2017-05-05%2014.30.26.jpg

 

I wouldn't describe the room decor as modern but it was spotlessly clean and unlike a lot of hotels I stay in there shower was really good.


2017-05-08%2009.15.04.jpg

 

It was good to know they'd taken care of fire safety by installing fire cocks.


2017-05-06%2012.16.36.jpg

I'm not entirely sure why, but the pyramid of 1970's televisions outside the breakfast room amused me greatly.


2017-05-08%2009.06.36.jpg

 

Moldova is known for wine and is home to the two largest wine cellars in the world.  We went to Cricova, the second largest cellar which has about 120Km of roadways dug into the limestone.  The temperature in the winery was perfect, outside it was really hot but inside it was about 12 degrees.  We had a tour of the winery then had a wine tasting which resulted in us all getting a bit pissed.  The food was excellent.  These wine barrels are enormous, about 10 foot in diameter.


2017-05-06%2014.49.39.jpg

 

I'll very happily go back to Moldova.  It's cheap, very cheap there and the people were very friendly.  Food was excellent and I was surprised at how much Englush was spoken, there were a few places we went where restaurant menus were only in English.

Edited by burble
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Then it was on to Transnistria.  Officially part of Moldova, Transnistria is a break away, self proclaimed state that wants to rejoin the Soviet Union.  It's the only country to still have a hammer and sickle on the flag.  It feels very different to Moldova and it was very rare to hear Romanian spoken even though it is one of the official languages.  Well, sort of.  The official language of Moldova is Romanian but in Transnistria the Romanian language is known as Moldovan.

On crossing the border we had to go through a border check and have a 'visa' issued to us.  As it isn't an officially recognised country Transnistria doesn't stamp your passport, you get this piece of paper.  After being given mine the border guard wished me 'good luck' which got my attention.  I like to think she meant to wish me a good time.


2017-05-082014.37.38.jpg

 

En route to Tiraspol, the capital we stopped off to see the highest point in Transnistria.  It's very close to the Ukranian border, close enough that a number of people found their mobile phones had attached to a Ukranian network.  At the highest point there was a monument.  Made of shuttered concrete of course.  The Soviets did love a bit of shuttered concrete.


2017-05-08%2012.53.35.jpg

 

There's loads of statues of Lenin dotted around the place.  This one is the largest Lenin head.  On the road leading up to here we went past a funeral parade for a child that was probably 10 years old.  It was an open coffin.


2017-05-08%2013.14.21.jpg

 

Outside the Transnistrian Parliament building there's yet another Lenin.  You're allowed to take pictures of the statue but not of the building itself, a grumpy looking military policeman was very clear on this point.  It was all lip service though, he clearly didn't give a toss.


2017-05-10%2010.36.53.jpg

 

Walking around Tiraspol we came across this, it still seems odd to see the hammer and sickle on stuff.


2017-05-09%2014.49.56.jpg

 

The weather was really, really warm so it was good to be able to get a cold pint of Czech lager in a frozen glass from the iffy looking nightclub opposite our hotel.


2017-05-08%2019.42.28.jpg

 

I don't feel the need to go back to Transnistria again.  It was interesting to see the differences between two parts of what is essentially the same country but the people were not at all friendly and the food was funking rubbish.  The money was great though.  Plastic tokens for coins, anyone?

Edited by burble

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I've always been interested in Chernobyl so when I realised that it was easy to visit the place I had to get booked.  We flew up from Chisinau to Kiev the day before our 2 day Chernobyl tour was due to start.  The plan was to drop stuff at the hotel and head out to explore Kiev but we were both knackered so didn't leave the hotel grounds all day.  We will go back to Kiev and have a proper look about the place.

This is a brief outline of some of the things we did and saw.

We met up with the rest of the tour group (there were 12 of us on total) at Independance Square in the centre of Kiev.  After a 90 minute or so drive we arrived at the border of the 30km exclusion zone.  Whilst waiting we saw this thing.  Luckily it wasn't our transport - have you seen the film Chernobyl Diaries:


2017-05-13%2010.33.45.jpg

After a bit of waiting around we went through the border and soon arrived in the town of Chernobyl.


2017-05-13%2012.14.38.jpg

We had a brief look around Chernobyl town then went towards the Nuclear Power Plant.  Our first stop was about 700m away from reactor # 4 where we went to look at the cooling pond where the enormous catfish can be seen.  It's hard to judge how big they were but they were huge.  The water was absolutely full of the things too.

2017-05-13%2013.44.33.jpg

 

Next up we got the closest to reactor # 4 that we would get, about 100m away.  I got closer after taking this photo (google satellite view, we were on the diagonal road near the parked cars)


2017-05-13%2014.01.45.jpg

From there we went to Pripyat town stopping off at the iconic Pripyat sign


2017-05-13%2014.13.34.jpg

I expect most people will have seen pictures of the abandoned funfair.  This was never open to the public, it was meant to open on May 1st 1984 (May day was a big celebration in the Soviet Union).  It was quite a sight to see these iconic sights with my own eyes.


2017-05-13%2014.54.00.jpg
2017-05-13%2014.57.48.jpg

It was then time for lunch.  We went to the canteen that the workers at the power plant use.  The plan is no longer producing electricity but there's still quite a few people working at the plant.  The food wasn't too bad, a bit non descript and the bread was a bit brick like but it tasted ok.


2017-05-13%2015.52.50.jpg

Then we went off to one of the many schools. In one room was a whole load of gas masks.  They weren't here because of the proximity to the power plant but because of the cold war threat to the USSR.


2017-05-13%2016.29.07.jpg

One last visit for the day, we went to the top of a 16 storey tower block (exploring the abandoned flats along the way).  From the roof we had a good view of the new sarcophagus over reactor # 4.


2017-05-13%2018.05.11.jpg

That was the end of the first day.  We stayed overnight at Hotel Desiatka in Chernobyl town.  The hotel was OK, nothing amazing but clean and comfortable.  Unfortunately there was planned maintenance on the town water supply so we were without running water from about 9pm and it hadn't come back on by the time we had to leave the next morning.  Food in the hotel was really good, there was no choice, you got given whatever it was they cooked but it tasted great.  The group had dinner and a few drinks together (alcohol is only served for 2 hours a day between 8pm and 10pm) then called it a night.


2017-05-14%2008.49.55.jpg

The next day we went to Duga 3 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duga_radar) which is also known as the Russian Woodpecker.  We had a look aroudn the control buildings, training rooms and then climbed up the array a bit.  I didn't go very high, the ladders didn't seem the most stable things in the world.  The array is utterly enormous.


2017-05-14%2010.58.12.jpg

From there we went back to the power plant to look at the unfinished cooling towers that were built for reactor 5 and 6 which were both under construction at the time of the accident.  This is the tower that was meant for reactor # 5:


2017-05-14%2012.28.03.jpg

The location of the power plant was chosen partially because of the Pripyat river which was used to provide the water to cool the plant.


2017-05-14%2013.16.35.jpg

Next up was the hospital.  I wouldn't much like to have surgery in this operating theatre.


2017-05-14%2013.33.43.jpg

Then it was time to leave and head back to Kiev.  When leaving the 10Km exclusion zone or heading in to the Chernobyl canteen we had to go through these machines to check us for contamination.  I'm not convinced they did much other than show a green light when activated.


2017-05-14%2016.15.07.jpg

We saw a huge amount whilst in the exclusion zone and I really want to go back.  Next time though I'll not take photos, I want to take everything in at the time rather than looking back at photos.

Edited by burble
5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On our last full day in Ukraine we went to Pervomaysk nuclear missile base which thanks to crappy traffic in Kiev took about 4 hours to reach.  Some of the people we met on the Chernobyl tour were on this trip too so we ended up having a good laugh.  We even saw one bloke getting a BJ whilst stuck in the traffic.

If you've seen the Top Gear episode where they go to Chernobyl then you may recognise some of the photos, there's a scene where the 3 idiots are standing next to a Satan SA-18 missile.  This is that missile.  It's huge, 34m or so long.

2017-05-15%2015.26.33.jpg

First off we went around a small museum, then ee went down into the control silo which is at it's deepest point about 45m under ground.  The button I'm pushing here is the final step that was required to launch the missiles.  I have a video somewhere of the sounds that went off in the room when the launch sequence was started, it's a shrill noise and despite knowing that nothign was going to happen it's quite tense in the room when the sounds are going off.

2017-05-15%2014.35.15.jpg

Back above ground we saw the one of the vehicles that transported and loaded the missiles into the silo.

2017-05-15%2015.09.43.jpg

Whilst being transported the nuclear payload was stored in this sort of thing.

2017-05-15%2015.08.42.jpg

The command centres are in a state that they could be brought back into service but the missile silos have been filled in with concrete.

2017-05-15%2015.08.29.jpg

Had a missle been launched it would have taken 15 seconds or so for the silo roof to go from fully closed to fully open.

2017-05-15%2015.07.24.jpg

Then it was time to go back to Kiev.  We flew home the following day, both absolutely knackered but having had a brilliant time away.

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So then, what interesting or unusual holiday destinations have you lot been to?

I've still got an unusual destination to come this year - we're off to North Korea in September.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Truly fascinating trip and brilliant photos.  +++

I'd love to visit the Chernobyl exclusion zone sometime, partly to see the town and so on but also the rural landscape now it's effectively one of Europe's finest nature reserves.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do it!  It's easy to get things arranged and it's an amazing trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow.  Fantastic photos and a very interesting read.+++

I'm also delighted to see that you managed to fit in the phrase "We even saw one bloke getting a BJ whilst stuck in the traffic." :roflmao:

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great shots and thanks for sharing looks like you had a great time. I always find I appreciate what we have in the UK more when I go to places that are less fortunate. I often think it would be worthwhile sending some to these countries to see how good they have it. We are so miserable but have so much I find it very frustrating at times.  

I want to do more travelling but not really the time to do it with two young kids.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Photobucket upgrade error message means I can't see your pics! :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bastards.  They want $400 to enable 3rd party hosting.  They can feck off.

I'll upload them somewhere else and edit the posts

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, I won't edit the post - the edit button is no longer there.

Sorry, can't be arsed to post from scratch.  TSN needs a fecking kick.   It's as slow as anything and now I can't edit an old post.  Feck that.  Feck that in the ear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is very, very slow of late.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Photobucket update seems to have killed off nearly every tutorial and guide across many forums.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dropbox the same recently too. The bandwidth costs etc must have been ridiculous.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, NewNiceMrMe said:

It is very, very slow of late.

It's fecking awful, all but unusable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Scotty said:

Dropbox the same recently too. The bandwidth costs etc must have been ridiculous.

No, not really.  The cost of bandwidth isn't the issue, it's the desire to monetise things that's causing it.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In that case they're slow on the uptake. They could have done that years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They could but they wanted to get a massive userbase that use the product a lot.  That way people are often left with little choice but to pay up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Balls, thanks anyway Burble +++

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0