Poland & Ukraine

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Whilst flying home from Croatia after my last trip in March I was flicking through the in flight magazine and I noticed that Wizz Air fly Kiev from London. Once checking online that the price of a single ticket was a pithy £40 my mind was made up. To get a 1400 mile (2253 km) flight for that money took any notion of not going out of my hands.

Krakow market square

A friend of mine had always said how Lviv was a great town in Ukraine and I always wanted to go to Krakow in Poland so I thought I’d fly there first, pop over the border to Lviv and spend a few days there before moving on to my final stop in Kiev. So another fiendish travel plan had been successfully hatched.

Auschwitz

Whilst in Krakow I knew I could visit the Auschwitz Concentration Camp the scene of the murder of over 1.3 million (mostly Jewish) people during World War II. I only had limited time in Krakow but my major reservation about going there was that it might be quite upsetting. In the end I decided to go and I was glad I did as it was very thought provoking and humbling.

Chernobyl

In Kiev I knew I would be around 100km from Chernobyl, the scene of one of the worlds greatest ever environmental disasters. I knew that there was a nearby deserted town called Prypiat which was also part of one of many ‘Chernobyl tours’ run for tourists. I couldn’t get any concrete information on safety. I knew that the farm land in that area could not grow crops for another 20,000 years and the locals didn’t seem to be too keen to be moving back into that area any time soon.

I consulted the Kiev forums on couchsurfing and I was very lucky that a few locals replied and said that it was definitely NOT SAFE. I was told that if I went my teeth and finger nails would be most likely experience some form of ‘damage’. Some tour groups also advise you to wear old clothes and throw them away after the trip but I can’t throw my face away so this was enough to convince me to give it a miss.

The safety of Chernobyl tours was a recurring theme of my holiday. I met quite a few tourists in Kiev who had travelled especially to go there and had no problem telling me that it was all no problem and that Ukrainian reservations were because of national embarrassment. Every Ukrainian I met told me that it wasn’t safe and that those tours are run to make money from foreign tourists who don’t know any better. Admittance to the average tourist attraction in Kiev is about £2 but a day trip to Chernobyl is £80. Anyway if you’re thinking of going you should probably do some research and make up your own mind.

Have a look at my other posts from this trip – Krakow, Auschwitz, Lviv and Kiev.

James Mullarkey

I write about the web and digital, mediocre sporting performances and places I've been, for this blog and only this blog.