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Published: July 18th 2012
We had an early wake up at 7.30 and even though we hadn't stayed up particularly late the night before, we were kind of tired all day. But, we had to get our bureaucratic stuff done, so couldn't stay in bed. We will return home by train, bus and boat, and the quickest route goes via Belarus. To go to Belarus we need a transit visa, which gives us permission to stay for 48 hours. So, first thing in the morning (after a heavy breakfast consisting of sausages, fried potato pancakes, fried mushrooms and coffee) we headed to the Belarus Embassy via photo shop to get passport pictures done. When we arrived at the embassy, we were first directed to some slightly shady office on the other side of the street, where a man helped us fill in application forms and a woman sold us an obligatory insurance. Then we just went to the embassy, left the forms, waited a bit and got our visas. Much more easier than I had feared. The whole thing took maybe 1,5 hours.
Next bureaucracy to handle was buying our train tickets to Minsk. The queues were a bit long and
second class tickets were sold out, so we had to buy the much more expensive first class tickets. But now we at least had our way home mostly sorted out. From Minsk it would be easy to get to Vilnius and from there on to Tallinn and Helsinki.
By this time we were tired, from the terrible lack of sleep due to early 7.30 wake up 😉 but I suppose also because seems we both had some slight issues in our stomachs. Anyway, we ended up sitting at Coffee House for at least an hour. Then moved to a small restaurant to have a small lunch. The weather had turned kind of cool and there were even rain showers. I immediately started missing the heath from Romania and Turkey, even though at times it even seemed like too much. But anyway it was better than being chilly and especially better than what most likely awaits us in Finland.
After lunch we felt strengthened enough to go to our actual destination of the day: Chernobyl Museum. We had wanted to go on a tour on the Chernobyl site itself, but once we arrived in Kiev, we found out that
such trips would have to be booked few weeks beforehand, otherwise they would cost hundreds of euros. Thus, we settled for the museum. I don't really know why, but somehow I didn't get too much out of the museum. We had audio guides (which was necessary because there was no explanations in English at the exhibition), but still..many of the exhibition stalls displayed some report and document papers and IDs of firemen and other workers who worked at the disaster site. I can see the point of trying to personalize the disaster by introducing those who heroically tried to clean up the mess, but I was expecting the exhibition to concentrate more on the chain of events, what happened afterwards (and how the Soviet authorities tried to conceal the accident at first) and what were the long term impacts. Those topics were also covered somewhat, but for my liking it was too many report papers which we couldn't understand anyway. One insteresting and slightly disturbing sight we saw at the museum was a deformed piglet's body.
Once we finished at the museum we again went to eat..in a way the whole day seemed mostly to consist of wandering from
one café to another. This time it was Double Coffee where the soups were quite disappointing. We didn't have much on the agenda for the rest of the day, so we tried to go to an assumed big department store in the center, but it seemed closed or otherwise totally lifeless. We ended up eating again..this time at an Italian restaurant, where we got good food. After dinner we tried to again go on the main street to enjoy the athmosphere and live bands, but it was too cold..very windy. So, we returned to the hostel and sat with Giorgi for a while before going to bed.
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