The first time I heard Of Transnistria was during my trip to North Korea last may (you can read more about it here). A guy that was in my group was talking about going there in the summer. Once I came back home and I had finally an internet connection, I started gathering information about this place. After a week I had my tickets booked to Chișinău!
Transnistria (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic) is a self-proclaimed country but it is not recognized by the UN. They have their own army, their own parliament, and their own currency ( Transnistrian ruble) that is worthless outside Transnistria.
Transnistria still have Lenin statues in the streets ( also randomly some golden seven dwarfs statues too! what a contrast!) and a lot of soviet architectures and this was definitely the reason why I wanted to see this place!
To get to Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, the best way is to fly into Moldova and take public transport from there. I took a marshrutka ( a shared minibus) from the main bus station near "Piata Centrala". There are buses leaving to Tiraspol every 30 minutes and they are super easy to spot and they have a big sign on the front. A one-way ticket to Tiraspol was 37 Lei and it took around 1h45m.
Before entering Transnistria there is a border and passport control. I didn't have to fill any entry card and I wasn't asked any bribe ( apparently it happens often, just say NO!). The process was straightforward and because I had a hotel booked I was granted a 24 hours entry card. It is extremely important to KEEP that card until you leave the country, upon exit this card will be asked by officials ( they didn't ask mine!).
The first impression of Transnistria, coming from Moldova, was really like being in Russia; suddenly all the signs are on the streets and in the shops are in Russian. I changed very little money into local rubles as they are useless once you leave the country. My hotel didn't accept any Moldovan LEI but they did accept EURO and USD.
All the sights are on the main road of Tiraspol: Strada 25 Octombrie.
You can literally spend an afternoon walking on this street to see the different architectures, the Lenin statues, and the tank monument.
I also wanted to see the monument of aviation so I went there in the morning. I walked all the way there, it took me just under 1 hour from the center of the city.
I took the bus back to Chisinau from the main bus terminal in Tiraspol. Buses leave frequently and the cost this time was around 60 LEI. Surprisingly I was able to pay in Moldovan currency!
This was definitely a strange, and at time surreal, visit but nonetheless super interesting and exciting; especially seeing Lenin statues still standing!
as Transnistria is not officially recognized...does it still count as a country visited? I SAY YES! :)