We went to Transnistria yesterday. Trans-what? Exactly. Doesn’t really exist, but yet, it does…
Tiraspol is internationally recognized as the second largest city in Moldova, but is currently the capital and administrative center of the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria.)
As we were leaving Chisinau, I was warned by Moldovans to “Be careful with your American passport!” I asked why, but there was no real answer in return. Just “Be careful. Maybe the border guards won’t be so nice.” That was nothing new to me as I’m used to being treated pretty badly at all road borders around the globe. I was traveling with a Ukrainian in her car, so I thought, “we’ll see how it goes. Worse comes to worst, we’ll just turn around at the border and head back to Chisinau.”
Naturally, I couldn’t take any photos at the border crossings, but suffice it to say, the experience was hands-down the best, most pleasant experience either of us have ever had with border controls. At the first crossing, the guard eyed over my friend’s Ukrainian passport for a lengthy bit of time, but declined to look at mine at all. (What?!)
At the second stop, as we went to register for a day trip, my friend overheard a guard saying to another visitor in Russian, “We’re very friendly ~ we welcome everyone!” No problems there, either, and we crossed over into Transnistria. Gone were any signs in English – everything was in Russian, and some Ukrainian.
Walking up and down October 25th street, the “main drag,” as they say…we couldn’t help noticing that the streets seemed quite empty. The whole place was quiet and subdued.
Here are some questions I wanted answered:
- What do people here do about passports? = “…it appears that people here still identify themselves as Soviet citizens, though they often carry double passports: Russian, Moldavian or Ukrainian, depending if they have family living in one of these countries. The Transnistrian passport itself is a thing on its own. It cannot be used anywhere else in the world. It is basically a book, which looks like a passport from the outside, but where on the inside you will find hand written personal details, approved with some official stamps.” http://www.offbeattravelling.com/transnistria-trans-what/
- As simply explained as possible, what happened to cause the breakaway from Moldova? = “The ostensible cause of the conflict was the fear, which was not beyond reason, that Moldova would merge with Romania. And these Slavic speakers in Transnistria did not want that to happen as they would become a minority in greater Romania.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adst/moldovas-transnistrian-co_b_11180694.html
We left a place that doesn’t really exist – ( it was like being ferreted back through history in a time capsule to the Soviet period ) – at sunset, and were more than happy to have had the experience and to have seen it for ourselves.
Border crossing on way back: Different guards from earlier, and still friendly. This time, one of them did take my passport, but it was more to just read about the places I’ve been and to ask about them.
Notes: They have their own currency, Transnistrian Rubles. About 14TRB = 1USD. Between my friend and I, we had about $20 and had a HUGE lunch (a whole fish with vegetables, a Greek Salad, a large pork chop with vegetables), 2 beers, then later on two coffees, and souvenir cookies and still had 2 rubles to spare.
8jul17. Tiraspol, Transnistria.