In the far north of Sweden above the Arctic Circle is a small town named Kiruna. During the winters, Kiruna is a white wonderland. Winter comes early and stays late, yet that does not slow the city down. Over a Thanksgiving break, I spent five jam-packed days exploring Kiruna and Swedish Lapland. Here is my five-day itinerary for Kiruna.
Every Thursday, I will be posting a photo from my travels and a spotlight on the location. Today’s Spotlight Thursday is from my dark tourism tour of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Pripyat, Ukraine was a hip young city in Ukraine that was virtually unknown outside of the region. That anonymity was elevated to infamy in the early hours of 26 April 1986. Just a few miles away from the city was the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station (Cherynbol, the Soviets couldn’t call it the Lenin disaster after all).
It’s been 30 years since the Chernobyl disaster changed the world. Its effects are still felt in the surrounding areas. I was born 4 years after the disaster but I have always known its name. I was aware of the disaster but had never really understood the causes, effects, or results. Over the years, I had seen many of the Buzzfeed or Dailymail collections of photos from the Chernobyl exclusion zone but a Chernobyl tour had never crossed my mind. Yet, in November 2015, I arrived in Ukraine for a two-day tour of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone with ChernobylWEL.COMe.
There is a chill in the air as I exit the subway station. First order of business is to find a coffee shop for breakfast. I found that I picked places I could just point at pastries since I couldn’t read the signs. I ordered a nice pastry filled with berry compote and hot tea. I had a quarter mile walk through the streets of Berlin before I arrived at my destination, the historic Brandenburg Gate of Berlin, Germany.
A cold wind slams into me as I walk out the Keflavik International Airport. I am actually in Iceland and it’s early February. I unlock my rental car and program my Reykjavik hostel into my GPS unit. I have my hostel for tonight book and have to return the rental car in two and half weeks. I am about to embark on a winter road trip in Iceland without a plan. I have a 10 item bucket list of things I want to do.