Best time to visit:
from april to september
In a word:
Visit a country that does not exist; Bathing in the Dnestr river; Discuss with the local policemen any infractions that have never happened but resolve everything by paying their "fine".
On board an old Skoda we leave Odessa, theUkraine and the carefree feeling of a very pleasant vacation spot! We head towards Chisinau, through the mysterious Transnistria!
I heard a lot of controversial stories about this small Russian-Moldavian territory ... it's an area that really intrigues me!
The self-proclaimed Republic of Transnistria (also Transdnestria; Pridnestrovskaya Moldavskaya Respublika or PMR), half a million inhabitants, is a very curious country and unknown to most.
It is an independent state of Moldova and, despite its autonomous government, the UN member countries do not recognize it
A small strip of land between Moldavia (of which it is a part) and Ukraine, east of the river Nistro, is actually a real country. With his elections, his army, his government, his police and Russian as an official language. The Romanian is banned, as is the leu, the Moldavian currency. Here the purchases are made with the ruble of Transnistria, the plastic coins look like those of the Monopoly. But it is not a game, far from it. They are all very serious here.
Large Soviet barracks alternate with wooden houses decorated in the style of Eastern Europe. The monuments that can be admired in the city are old tanks that recall past times and the statues of Lenin that stand out in the squares, icons that can now be found almost only here.
There are a few small factories like the Kvint distillery, which produces a famous cognac in all the countries of the former Soviet Union, there is Aquatir, a company that produces the best sturgeon caviar that can be found, and there is the Sheriff group, which owns petrol stations, supermarkets and even the stadium of the local soccer team.
We cross a series of Ukrainian villages quite isolated and dedicated only to agriculture, in an hour we reach the border between Ukraine and Transnistria. Yes, this small territory has its own flag, a Parliament, a coin (ruble of Transnistria), mail, police, army and borders controlled by its own border force!
The controls are quick and, in no time at all, we head towards Tiraspol, its capital!
Keep in mind that Transnistria is now a ghost town, not recognized. The main problem is not so much organized crime, traffickers, and the black market (not for tourists, at least) as the corruption of the police, who invent transgressions to steal money from the very few foreigners they encounter on the streets.
In half an hour of road we were stopped three times for: infraction of the speed, passage with the red and turning not allowed! Three very dubious fines ... If they had stopped us another time I think I would have given up on discovering this city! Everything has a limit ... Pure money that can tap me for free!
On the other hand, for a local policeman a tourist is a beautiful chicken to be plucked. And it's not like you get it in front of you every day, as this is among the least visited countries in the world. It is by far the least visited country in Europe, competing for the last positions in the world with remote islands in the Pacific.
For years it continued to be one of the last bastions of communism; a land where there are still monuments to Lenin or other Soviet heroes, because, as our contact explains, Andrey Smolenskiy, head of the Transnistria-tour: we must not break down the signs of our past! That is their story and as such it must be preserved!
Located on the east bank of the Dnestr River, the scene of a bloody civil war (1990-92), this pro-Soviet republic proclaimed, unilaterally, its independence from Moldavia but not recognized by any state in the world.
Andreiy is very proud of his land, as is rightly so, he passionately tells us so many really interesting stories and anecdotes!
We begin the visit from the Tiraspol Theater, the place where in 1990 the independence of Transnistria was declared ... but what to visit here?
At the western end of ulitsa 25 Oktober is the Soviet tank on which flies the green and red flag with the yellow hammer and sickle of Transnistria.
Behind there is the cemetery of heroes with the tomb of the unknown soldier near which a perennial flame burns. "You don't have a name but your deeds are eternal"; the plaque says in Russian.
Along this tree-lined street with impeccable cleanliness, ordinary people walk with their heads down.
Everything is silent, slow, dull.
These gigantic buildings and monuments of the Soviet Empire stand out, while ordinary people struggle to carry on in a land of which the rest of the world knows absolutely nothing.
Unfortunately we cannot stay for the night, we need a visa and special authorization and, this time, we are satisfied with this first timid taste of this land that does not exist!
And while a young married couple come down from their car to be immortalized in front of the most important monument of the nation: the Soviet tank ... we leave, with our old Skoda, from Tiraspol with numerous doubts about the future of this unknown republic that belongs to a equally poorly known nation: Moldova.
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