I was lucky enough to be part of a strange group of gentlemen who were on the other side of the world from their families for Christmas. So, we put together a plan that I still don’t believe today. What if we were to spend our Christmas in Chernobyl? That’s (almost) exactly what we did. On Christmas day at a the ghastly time of 2am we suited up as Santa Claus in London and boarded a flight to Kiev. Within a few hours we found ourselves with a collection of “other” passport holders, waiting for a visa to enter Ukraine. With Santa suits on, we smiled for the camera as they issued visas and waived us through passport control.
A short Uber ride later we found ourselves at our accommodation, ready for a short nap and meal. What was left of Christmas we spent exploring the city, seeing the sights and meeting as many friendly faces as possible. It is strange, I was awfully apprehensive to wear the Santa suit at first, however, the longer I wore it, the more people we met and (it seemed) the better time we had.
We awoke to an alarm and hurriedly donned our(regular) clothes while shaking off the night before. As we scoffed down our breakfast our tour guide impatiently honked outside. We took our last bites while stepping towards the door. We swallowed the last of breakfast as we entered the tour van. He explained that we would be watching a documentary as we travelled the 90 minutes from Kiev to Chernobyl.
The following is a YouTube video and a photo essay from deep within the radioactive zone. We spent a full day exploring Chernobyl before boarding an overnight train to Odessa. This “Travel Photography from Chernobyl Ukraine” series has been published in multiple newspapers and online publications. Let me know what you thinking the comments below.