Northern Perspectives

Sven Herrmann, Kiel

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Reise Reise Macedonia and Kosovo

We made a trip to Macedonia this month. Our main destination was Skopje, Macedonias capital city. From Germany it is about a 2,5 hours flight. No visa is required for EU citizens.
Skopje is a bit of an adventure. The traffic is crazy and the exhaust fumes are hard on the lungs. You can  quickly see, that Macedonia is not one of the richest countries in Europe. This is mainly because times were hard after the independence in 1991.  But Macedonia is on the rise and since 2005 a candidate for the EU membership.
After seeing the center of Skopje you get the impression, that this country is still on the search for its roots and culture. The goverment put up statues over statues. Alexander the great next to venetian lions, surrounded by orthodox church leaders and artists. Somehow a MickeyMouse version of the rich Macedonian past. Talking to the locals makes clear, that most people see their roots mainly in the ottoman and albanian tradition. 
We enjoyed our trip. Macedonia is definetely worth a visit. People are very friendly and Skopje has a lot to offer. Sadly couldn`t make it to the south (Ohrid and Bitola).

City center.

You should definetely visit "Kale" fortress. It is the highest point of the city and directly in the center surrounded by mosques. Every day at 12o`clock your can hear all the muezzins singing. A really interesting experience!

From the Mother Teresa house.

Below Kale fortress is the ottoman quarter and the most beautiful part of Skopje.

To Vodno mountain and the Millenium-Cross.

To Pristina by bus.
Sadly we didn`t have the time to see Prizren, but we at least made it to Pristina. Kosovos capital is much cleaner and more modern, than we exspected. Tourist shops, the fact that the official currency is Euro and a lot of young people who are speaking good english gives it almost a western european feeling. 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Reise Reise....Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev is the largest city in Ukraine and should definitely be on your to-do list. Modern era meets tradition. We`ve heard horror stories about criminality, violence, corruption and instability and not a single of these points is true (And no....there is no war going on...). Kiev is a very friendly and european city. People usually speak good english and are always willing to help. The traffic is absolutely chaotic and jammed 24hours a day. Also you shouldn`t drink the water unless you want to puke your guts out and you definitely shouldn`t be russian.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Prypjat and Chernobyl

A year ago we decided to visit Ukraine. It should be  a short-trip, so we chose to visit Kiev only. After looking for flights we recognized, that we would have to stay an extra day. So why not visit one of the most contaminated places on earth?
After a a lot of research we chose SoloEastTravel (, which seemed to be the most sophisticated tour provider. Important for us was to visit this place with a lot of respect and in this regard we were very lucky with our guide Nazar, who had an quite respectful approach to show the zone. He also had a lot of knowledge and spoke good english.

 After a 2 hours drive from kiev, we arrived the first 30Km Checkpoint of the exclusion zone.

The zone is quite busy. Cars and buses are frequently passing by. In between wild dogs are using the warm streets for a nap.

Stop at the Kopachi kindergarden(Копачі).

300 meters away from the reactor.

 Moving through the zone is mostly only possible by using the streets. The area beyond is still highly contaminated and full of radioactive hotspots.

 Prypjat is like a time travel into communist Sovjet Union.

The pool house.

 In one of the schools in Prypjat. This place is packed with childrens gasmasks.

At the old river port (Покинутий річковий порт)


 Chernobyl, reactor No.4 with the new sarcophagus.


 Last stop, the Duga-3 antenna array. Built to detect enemy nuclear missiles, but never gone into service.

Visiting such a high contaminated place seems not like the smartest thing to do, but if you stick to the rules it is quite safe. Stay away from the hotspots, don`t touch anything, don`t sit down etc....just don`t be stupid. The level auf radiation we got from our flights to Ukraine were higher than the one we recieved in the zone.
But if you visit the zone please renember, that this was the biggest nuclear catastrophe in history and caused incredible pain for the people in Ukraine and Belarus and still effects a lot of lifes today.
Don`t be that giggling selfie-guy and behave respecfully.