Category: Ukraine

Categories

First Anniversary of my Book

On this date, one year ago my book Atlas of Dark Destinations, pictured above, was released internationally. Back then I marked the occasion with this celebratory post (the date also happens to coincide with the National Day here in Austria).

At that point I was still cautiously optimistic that the book would earn me some money beyond the advance I had been given by the publishers. Unfortunately, a year on, that has still not happened. Sales have not yet fully recouped the advance, so I’ve not earned a single extra penny from it so far. I wasn’t

Islands of Dark Tourism

In this post I want to take you off the beaten track and to some less well explored, more exotic, remote locations. The eight selected places have only one thing in common: they are all islands. Other than that they are very different from each other and represent a range of distinct categories of dark tourism that dark globe trotters visit for very different reasons.

Of course there are well-known dark islands, too, such as Alcatraz or Robben Island, both former prison islands turned memorials, which today attract large numbers of visitors and hence overlap with mainstream tourism; but here we are going to get further away from that.

Tirana in 2022

On Monday I returned from a six-day visit to Albania, my first proper dark-tourism trip this year! I was based in the capital Tirana and did most of my fieldwork there, but also went on a guided day trip to one of the former communist-era prisons/hard labour camps in the mountains in the north of the country … but that will be for another separate Blog Post some time soon. For this post I’m going to concentrate on Tirana only.

It was

Dark travel videos and a surprise change in Turkmenistan

Last week I was contacted by someone in the English department of the Franco-German co-operation TV channel ARTE. I was alerted to two series of short video productions (with episodes of between 5 to 8 minutes in length) on topics that include, or at least overlap with, dark tourism themes. (Find the links to the programmes below!)

  

The first one is called “Toxic Tour” and has six episodes, each about

Russian Reflections

This photo was taken in St Petersburg and shows a reflection of one of the most iconic sights in this city, namely the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood … what a name in the current circumstances! (But its name is actually a reference to the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881.)

Secondly, I know in the West all eyes are currently on Ukraine and especially the Ukrainians, who are suffering the most in this ongoing war, and I naturally feel for them too. But my heart also bleeds for Russia – for various reasons I will

Fear-mongering vs a feel-good discovery

on the news yesterday were reports about a sensational discovery in the Antarctic waters. An expedition managed to track down and photograph the wreck of the Endurance, the ship of the Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-16 Antarctica expedition, also called “Endurance”. The ship hit pack ice early on, got stuck in it and was thus immobilized. As the ice increasingly crushed the vessel, it had to be abandoned by the crew who camped off-board on the ice. The ship eventually sank on 21 November 1915.

After that,

International Women’s Day 2022

Just a short one for once … Today is 8 March, Women’s day. Last year on this date I gave you a post featuring various more or less gigantic female statues.

One of them was the humongous titanium-clad Rodina Mat (aka Motherland Monument) in Kyiv, featured in the photo above. The statue is a staggering 62m tall (with the sword), combined with the plinth she towers over the city over a 100m high.

The photo was

Babyn Yar

As the brutal war that Putin’s Russia has launched against Ukraine continues, there has been another clash with the world of dark tourism too.

On Monday there was a missile strike on the Kyiv TV Tower, once the world’s tallest steel lattice structure. The link to dark tourism is this: the TV Tower is directly adjacent to a very dark site of the Holocaust, Babi Yar, or Babyn Yar in Ukrainian spelling, a massacre site and mass grave. During the

Nuclear Threats

Sunday’s announcement that Putin has put Russia’s nuclear forces on “high alert” really knocked me off balance. You see, I’m a child of the Cold War … I came of age in the early 1980s, at the very height of the Cold War, one of its most dangerous phases, in fact. I became increasingly aware that any minute could be my last. I’m somewhat reminded of that feeling now. Although there are significant differences: for one thing,

Very Dark Times for Ukraine

I’ve been struggling for words over these past three days. But slowly they are coming back.

And I thought I just have to speak out in some way rather than just staying silent. So I decided to throw my otherwise self-prescribed political neutrality on this blog overboard and make a statement.

In a way that’s partly because now it’s personal. Putin’s

Post from Moscow!

I don’t mean that I’m in Moscow and posting this on my Blog from there. No, I’m still in Vienna, Austria, but I had a parcel from Moscow delivered to my door by the Austrian postal service this morning. I had to pay a delivery fee of 6 EUR – so I was tempted to entitle this post “From Russia – not with love but a fee” …

Here’s a photo of the

Dark Tourism & Furniture

And here comes the second of the themed posts (after last week’s “DT & hands”) that featured in our most recent poll, which didn’t have a clear result. So for this time I’ve picked furniture.

The photo below was taken at the DDR-Museum (‘GDR museum’) in Berlin and shows a reconstruction of the furnishings of a typical East German 1970s/early 80s living room – note in particular the

1st Anniversary, best of

It was exactly on this day, precisely one year ago, on 28 May 2020, that this blog went live and the first post went up. To mark this first anniversary, I went through the entire blog and picked twelve of my favourite photos used on the blog so far, one for each of the twelve months I’ve been here, as it were.
Here are my 12 choices … in no particular order:

Duga

As promised in the previous blog post about Chernobyl in general, I now give you a separate post with another photo essay from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, but this time concentrating on a single location within it: the fabled Duga over-the-horizon radar array.

It was part of the Soviet Union’s Cold-War-era early-warning systems supposed to detect the launching of missiles aimed at the USSR. Its location close to the Chernobyl NPP is apparently

35 Years since Chernobyl

On this day, 35 years ago, in the early hours of 26 April 1986, the Chernobyl disaster began. The story of that disaster, the technical details and the people involved, all that has been recounted numerous times in various places, including on my website (see Chernobyl, and ChNPP), and more recently this book (my review). For this post I decided to instead give you a photo essay and tell my personal story in relation to Chernobyl, gathered over the three tours to the Zone that

Dark Tourism & Toys

As decided in our most recent theme poll, I now bring you the winner, DT & toys. It was probably the oddest of the choices, the biggest juxtaposition, and hence the most intriguing. In any case it was a very clear win far ahead of all the other choices.

So what kind of dark do we get with toys. Well, for starters there are war toys, like model planes, tanks, toy guns and whatnot. In fact, one of the

Women’s Day

On this day it’s International Women’s Day, so I’m marking this by posting some photos of really big women sculptures. Above is the very biggest of them all, the largest female statue ever built. This is the Rodina Mat, aka “The Motherland Calls”, statue on Mamayev Hill in Volgograd, Russia. She’s the central part of the memorial complex for the Battle of Stalingrad. This is Soviet monumentalism at its most monumental! The figure is 52m tall from head to toe, with sword even 85m. At the

Dark Tourism & Broken Glass

Our latest theme poll had a clear winner so today I give you the requested one of broken glass (DT & bullet holes came second, and I may field that again in a future theme poll).

The photo above is what I consider one of the most appealing images of broken glass in my archives. It’s a close-up of a large war ruin I discovered in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina, in 2009. Here’s a

Two apologies and one recommendation

There’s an interesting film out about the so-called “stalkers” of Chernobyl, i.e. those people going there not by the usual tourist route, with a guide and a permit, but who enter the Exclusion Zone independently and illegally. The above photo was taken by one of them (Thierry Vanhuysse) and is part of a press package of the film company, which is where I took it from.
Apparently there’s quite a large scene of Chernobyl stalkers. I know one personally, who also told me that this film is a bit unrepresentative in so far as it only features a certain subtype of stalkers. The majority of stalkers, so I was told, follow an ethos of not banging on about their stalking exploits on blogs or social media, whereas