Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More Georgian food, the Chernobyl Museum, and Podil

I spent most of my day today in the Podil region of Kiev. I set out with the goal of visiting the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum. As a secondary goal, I wanted to try another Georgian restaurant, Mimino, located in the same part of the city. I knew that both were located somewhere within walking distance of metro station Kontraktova Ploshcha. I had their addresses, and a very crap map (I believe I've mentioned my disdain for the 2010 Bradt Guide to Ukraine...), and figured I could probably find them.

I found the restaurant first - and rather accidentally - but it was already 2pm by that point, and I was pretty hungry. Minimo was great! Much better ambiance than Alaverde (where I ate
on Monday), and incredibly good service. I didn't just eat khachapuri this time - I added in an appetizer of eggplant in walnut sauce. Both the khachapuri and the eggplant were fantastically scrumptious. Monday's khachapuri at Alaverde was yummy, but todays was simply wonderful. Granted, this place cost a bit more, but it was DEFINITELY worth it.

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There were a handful of people dining, although you can't see them in this shot. Even nearly empty of customers (2pm on a weekday isn't exactly prime dining time), the ambiance of Minimo was far superior to Alaverde.

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Egglpant in walnut sauce appetizer. Yum!

After my lunch - and feeling wonderfully stuffed - I continued on my quest for the Chernobyl Museum. The museum's website provides its address as Khoryv Lane #1. Silly me, I only looked at the English language part of the website, not the Ukrainian. All street signs here are in Ukrainian, but I figured I could transliterate it with no problem. I had jotted down Хорив #1, and set off on my merry way. Well, I found вул. Хорива with no problem - and although I had no idea what the abbreviation for 'lane' was in Ukrainian, I figured that surely this must be where I needed to be. I had a nice scenic walk down to #1 вул. Хорива, only to discover that it was a furniture store, located within an absolutely hideous example of Soviet era architecture not even worth a photo. Sigh. Wrong place. Time to retrace my steps. Luckily the area was scenic.

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Seen while walking about looking for the museum

After much more walking, I discovered про Хоревий #1 (ironically located a stone's throw from Minimo). Apparently in Ukrainian, 'lane' is провулок (similar to the Russian переулок). Ahh well. Anyhow, I had arrived at the Chernobyl Museum. Entrance to the museum costs a little over $1 (although if you want to take photos, which of course I did, you must pay roughly an additional $2). I'd say it was worth $3. If you didn't know very much about Chernobyl, and hadn't spent the better part of the past year researching it while planning your upcoming trip there, it would probably be incredibly eye opening and educational. As it was, I'd pretty much seen it all before.

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I'm not sure if this was a deformed pig or sheep. I thought it was interesting that it was on display, since many of the tour agencies that take groups into the exclusion zone (I'm going next week!!) point out on their sites that you will not see deformed animals on your trip...

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Photos from the abandoned city of Pripyat, where those who worked at the reactor lived.

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There was a lot that seemed designed more to creep one out than to educate.

The most interesting part of the whole thing was the speaker. There was some large group of middle-aged American tourists at the museum, and their guide had arranged a speaker for them. I may have snuck in. The speaker's name was Vladimir. He had been in the Soviet Army reserves in 1986, and was drafted to be part of the cleanup process after the accident. He worked at Chernobyl for a month and a half, leaving with severe radiation poisoning. It was incredibly fascinating, and I wish I hadn't missed the first half of his speech.

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Vladimir (right) and his translator (for the middle-aged American tourists)

After leaving the museum, I decided to walk around Podil for a little bit. I'd gotten somewhat oriented during my quest for the museum, and after walking around just a tad more, I realized where I was in relation to the funicular and the church that's I'd tried to visit on Monday. And off I went! This time I had no problems getting on the funicular. I'd already checked the internet and determined that the church I was looking for was the St. Andrew's Church of Kiev - and I knew exactly how to get there from the top of the funicular. Yay, google maps! The church is currently closed and undergoing massive renovation (apparently it has some serious foundation problems), but I was still able to get quite a few good external shots.

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St. Andrew's Church of Kiev

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Afterwards, I walked down the narrow, winding, cobblestone street - the Andriyivsky Descent - which leads from St. Andrew's Church, back down to Kontraktova Ploshcha. The street was lined with tons of venders of Ukrainian arts and crafts as well as of Soviet era kitsch. I must go back some day when I have more cash in my wallet. Along the way I encountered several cats and dogs - all of whom were friendly.

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This cat was chilling on a souvenir stand... and there was no human in sight. Was he the salesman?

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Bet you can guess who this silly critter reminded me of!

2 comments:

Mr. Kilgallin said...

I don't know if you're familiar with the American author Martin Cruz Smith, but he's written several novels set in the USSR (Gorky Park) and in the post-soviet era as well. The last one of those I read takes place in Pripyat, and is, I think, quite good for its genre (murder mystery, but dressed way up). It's called "Wolves Eat Dogs," if you haven't already read it. I like it, at any rate.

Anonymity said...

I actually have it on my Kindle, and it's next in line. Right now I'm reading The Chernobyl Murders by Michael Beres... which is unfortunately quite poorly written. So much potential for a great story, and yet, it just isn't. Glad to know Wolves Eat Dogs will be better (although I have read - and enjoyed - a few of Martin Cruz Smith's books, so that's not too surprising).