178. Tiraspol, Transnistria
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It’s different. It’s like you walked back in time during the Soviet era. It’s not dangerous as stated in some places. Just follow your Guide’s instructions and you’ll be fine. Plus, they want tourist to visit as indicated by the sign below. And things are really cheap there.
Tiraspol is the capital of Transnistra, self-proclaimed state which is actually located in the country of Moldova. It still has ties to Russia. You can only get to it by going via the Ukraine or Moldova.
How To Get Here
You can take a train to Chișinău, Moldova and then take a local transport or a car across the border. Start your booking to Moldova at RailEurope or Eurail.
The nearest airport is Chișinău International Airport (KIV), the home of Air Moldova and FlyOne.
The following airlines serve the Chișinău International Airport (KIV):
Aeroflot (SU), Air Moldova (9U), Austrian Airlines (OS), LOT Polish (LO), Lufthansa German Airlines (LH), S7 Airlines (S7),Tandem Aero (TQ), Tarom (RO), Turkish Airlines (TK), Ukraine International (PS), Volotea (V7), Wizz Air (W6) and atlasglobal (KK).
Eurolines has service to Moldova from points in the rest of Europe. You are taken to the main train station in Chișinău, which is really beautiful by the way. From there you can pick up your Guide and take a local mini van or a private car to Tiraspol.
If you are already in the region you can take the drive. Just use a service like Google Maps for directions and get a local Guide.
Where To Stay
JayWay Boutique Travel arranged for us to stay in Chișinău, Moldova and just did a day trip. There are hotel sin Transistra that are very cheap so you can opt to stay here as well. Just ensure that you specify that when you apply for the visa at the border.
Where To Eat
There are a lot of places to eat. We actually ate at a Ukrainian restaurant with some interesting cuisine such as lard covered in chocolate. None of us really cared for that, but the rest of the food and the staff were quite good.
What To Do
My best piece of advice here is to have a local Moldovan guide take you across the border. They know the language and the nuances so you’ll have nothing to worry about. DO NOT take any photos at the border, the police or any kind of military-related things you will see. Just don’t do it.
I did this trip compliments of JayWay Boutique Travel who took care of all the details, I just had to show up. We started our journey in Chișinău, Moldova and headed for the border via a van. Once at the border, we presented our passports to some non-smiling/non-English speaking Immigration Officers and after about 30 minutes of processing and scrutiny, we were granted access. Yeah!
It is a pretty amazing place and the closest I’ve gotten to seeing what the Soviet Union must have looked like. Except for the fact that there are tons of places with the name Sheriff written on it. This is the guy who owns a local caviar factory which we visited. He owns hotels, a stadium, gas stations and supermarkets.
The people are quite friendly although its tough to have them break a smile so it was tough to know if they were happy or not. They seemed happy though. We never once felt threatened at any time during our visit of a few hours.
We walked around Tiraspol and drive through Bender which is the town on the border. At no time, were we told that we could not take any photos. We did try to enter the City Hall and the guard inside, strongly said “No!” So we left.
Cars ran the gamut from Ladas to Mercedes. There were some old trucks as well, but nothing dilapidated at all. I mean it was like seeing cars from any other city.
They do have many monuments and tiny Orthodox churches. In the center of the city, there’s a Russian tank and a church all in the same space with a war memorial across the way as well as an eternal flame all honoring the dead of previous wars.
We visited the Cavair farm and also a very famous Cognac factory called KVINT. Really good stuff. One interesting thing is that they don’t know the sex of the fish right away and in order to figure it out, they use a sonogram system. Very intriguing to watch.
At the KVINT factory, we did see a bottle that was taken up to Space and returned by Yuri Gagarin. How cool to see that as I’m a space geek.
The buildings are grand and the streets are super wide. Some of the buildings have stopped in the middle of construction as they ran out of money.Buses run down the wide streets taking people where they need to go efficiently.
Uniforms are a things there, but not really coordinated and the officers wear large brimmed hats which makes them look really stern. They seem nice though.
Once we were done checking out the place, we headed back towards Chișinău. Going through the process in reverse. One of the security officers popped his head into our van, whispered something to another officer and were pulled over for extra scrutiny. This lasted about 10 minutes and we were on our way. While we waited, we noticed that the line of traffic was pretty long as many of the locals work in Chișinău, Moldova.
Here are some photos to whet your appetite.
Language: Russian, Ukranian and Moldovan
Currency: Transnistrian ruble (RUP)
JayWay Boutique Travel (Specializing in Central & Eastern Europe Travel)
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Here’s what my friend Veronika thinks about Tiraspol.
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