Tiraspol


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December 30th 2019
Published: July 20th 2020
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Kumanek Restaurant
30th Dec: We left Odessa and drove to the Trasnistrian/Moldovan border. The journey didn't take too long and I slept through most of it. The borders weren't too bad, just a bit tedious as the staff were too busy playing computer games to actually do any work. Also, because we were entering Moldova via Transnistria, our guide had to take all our passports to the Moldovan immigration booth to it stamped as we needed the proper Moldovan entry stamp or there would be problems when we leave Moldova. Transnistria, or Pridnestrovia as it is known in Russian, is an unrecognised, breakaway state. It is considered part of Moldova by the UN and only other breakaway states recognise it as its own country. The journey then took another hour or so to reach Tiraspol, the capital city. Since it was dark, there was nothing to see on the way. We turned up at our hotel, which was a Soviet era relic called the Aist. Apparently, they used to have a gorgeous old school Soviet style reception area, which has been pulled down, and we were greeted with what looked like a building site. The room wasn't great either, very old and the bedding looked pretty dubious, too. The central heating didn't work, but there was a plug in heater, so we wouldn't freeze to death during the night. Also, the hot water went off. Nobody stays in the Aist for a luxurious experience, but to experience life back in the USSR. I don't think I would have lasted too long as I like my creature comforts of heat and hot water.

After freshening up, we headed out for a bit of a walk around and some dinner. We headed over to the Sheriff Supermarket, just across from our hotel so that we could exchange some money at the bureau de change for Transnistrian rubles as the local currency. My first impression of Transnistria was how quiet it was. As we walked up the main street, there weren't many people around. We walked past a huge, well kept white building, which our guide told us was Sheriff HQ. Transnistria is basically run by a bloke or group of blokes known as Sheriff, no one is quite sure who 'Sheriff' is, as although there are some names floating about there aren't really any pictures of them, so they live pretty anonymously. Rumour has it that they are ex police officers, who seized their chance to gain money and power after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the military conflict of 1992. They run a lot of the businesses and industries in Transnistria, the local football team, and also the political system, albeit behind the scenes. The restaurant we went to was Casta Sushi and Burger. While our hotel may have been an old school relic from the Soviet era, this place was nice and modern with a large menu with a variety of cuisines. As much as I love sushi, I was wondering how good it cold be, one of the guides said it was decent, but I decided to play it safe and go with another dish. I ordered mustard pork and it was really, really good. After a couple of full on days, it was nice to relax and chat over a beer at dinner. Some of the others went to check out a local bar, but I was too tired and headed back to the hotel to sleep.

31st Dec: We didn't have too early of a start, which was nice and I'd had a pretty good night's sleep. We met and headed off for breakfast. We were going to a Ukrainian restaurant that wasn't too far from where we were staying, about a ten minute walk, and we got to have a first look at Transnistria in the daylight. We were the only people in the restaurant, but since it wasn't too big, we took up pretty much all of the tables. Kumanek, the restaurant, has a breakfast menu, which wasn't too big, but everything sounded pretty good. I prefer savoury foods for breakfast, but there were some cream cheese pancakes that sounded absolutely delicious, so I went for those. While we were waiting for our food, the waitress brought us a little appetiser to try; pepper vodka and a small square of bread with what looked like bacon fat wrapped around a pickle on top. Thank God I didn't have a hangover, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to stomach it. Both the vodka and the fat covered pickle and bread tasted better than they looked, although I wouldn't be rushing for seconds. On the other hand, the pancakes were amazing. If I could eat these everyday for breakfast, it would convert me to sweet things. While I did enjoy my breakfast, we did seem to spend rather a long time waiting for food, which was annoying as we only had a limited amount of time in Tiraspol.

After finishing our breakfast, we headed out for a walk around downtown Tiraspol. We walked back the way we had came. The house next to the restaurant was rather dilapidated looking. I enjoyed the walk along the street, taking in the sights, not that there was anything interesting to see, I just liked seeing what normal life was like in this little known region. We passed the Civil Registry, which was pretty beautiful. We headed along another street, passing the Supreme Council building, which had the Transnistrian and Russian flags hanging above it, and onto the main boulevard, 25th October Street. This is the street we'd walked along the previous evening and it was nice to see it in daytime. It was still quite quiet, but definitely had a bit more life to it. I was also really happy with the weather as although it was cold, the sky was bright and blue. Walking along the main street, there were some really cool red and green murals on the buildings. We passed the cinema, which looked like a Soviet relic. We headed up to the City House of Culture, which was in a park. Houses of Culture, or Palaces of Culture as they are also known, were clubhouses that were found in towns and villages throughout the Soviet Union and the wider Eastern bloc. They were used for recreation purposes, such as watching films, concerts and plays, sporting activities and crafts. We didn't go into the building, but continued on to the flea market that was nearby. There were quite a few traders at the flea market, but not a lot of customers. I think us bunch of tourists were a bit of a curiosity, and the traders were all friendly. I had a walk around the market, but there was nothing that I wanted to buy. It was interesting to see the items that were on offer. There were some Soviet pins badges, some touristy stuff, some home ware and a lot of junk. It was definitely a case of one man's trash is another man's treasure.

From the market we took a walk through the park and came across some flagpoles with their flags flying high in the breeze. I didn't recognise any of the flags as they were of other unrecognised countries. They belonged to Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh, more places to visit then. We passed the Monument to Suvorov, who was a talented military commander in the Russian Empire. We continued walking up 25th October Street and came to a rather grand statue of Lenin with his coat blowing in the breeze. Behind the statue was the Soviet Supreme Parliament Building, which was very old school looking. We crossed the road and headed to the Memorial of Glory. The memorial commemorates those who died and the veterans of the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet-Afghan War, and the Transnistrian War. I took a look at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which has a pretty haunting looking statue of a woman in front of it. This statue depicts a grieving mother. There was also two statues of male soldiers in front of the memorial. I liked the contrast in the facial expressions of the two soldiers, one looked weary like the fighting had taken its toll on him, while the other looked totally defiant. I wish I was able to read Russian to be able to understand more of the memorial as there were some blocks of texts that i wish I could have read. In the centre, there was the Eternal Flame burning on. All around the flame were graves of the war dead, I think they were all from the more recent Transnistrian War. The graves have sketches of those that are laid to rest beneath them on them. It may sound a bit strange, but I do rather like the sketches as it humanises their deaths as you are not just reading a name but seeing what that person looked like. There is also a small church, the Chapel of St. George the Victorious, on the site. I wanted to go and take a look around the inside of it, but when I got to the door, I found it was locked. There is a Tank Monument, which was transported there from Hungary in April 1945.

From the memorial, we headed back along the main street. We stopped off at a bookshop, Dom Knigi, that was a bit of a Soviet relic. It was interesting to have a look around and see what was available. We continued on to the City Hall. I really liked this building as it was brilliant white with large pillars at the front. The pillars were painted with the Tiraspol city flag on the columns, which made the building look really vibrant. Another really interesting thing that we came across was a wall of posters of people next to the city hall. The people on the posters were residents of Tiraspol who had done good things for the city and the posters were there to show that their hard work had been appreciated. For lunch, we went to a cafe, Dolce Vita, that was just across the street. I felt a bit sorry for the staff when we all trooped in, I was glad that I was near the front of the queue. There was one fridge filled with savoury foods and then a much larger one dedicated to cakes. I ordered a quiche and some salad, which was delicious and I had finished it before some of the others had even been served. I had made sure that I had enough space for some dessert and I spent a while perusing the cake fridge. When the queue had gone done, I ordered a slice of walnut cake and I really enjoyed it. I could easily have spent longer in Tiraspol just to sample more the cafe's cakes.

After lunch, our tour bus picked us up and we headed to the Car Ferry to give that a whirl. The car ferry is near the Aist Hotel and connects the two sides of the Dnister River. We had to wait for the ferry to come back from the other side and we ditched our bus to ride the ferry. It was nice and relaxing to cross the river, although the sun had disappeared so it had gotten pretty cold. The ferry used to be the only way to cross the river, but now there is a bridge further along the river. We got back on our bus and left the capital city of Tiraspol behind. We drove south to the village of Kitskany. Our first stop there was the village's House of Culture. There was a bust of Lenin in front of the House of Culture, and inside there were beautiful murals that were in a state of disrepair. Beneath the murals, there was a collection box asking for donations to help with the restoration of the murals, which I was happy to stick some money in. We had a look around the main hall, but it was bloody freezing, so I didn't linger in there for too long. By the front of the House of Culture, there were boards with photos of the village's best citizens on them. Back on the bus, we headed to our next stop, the village supermarket. It was cute and had quite a selection of different products. We were meant to get drinks to take up to the memorial we would visit later and watch the sunset, but since the weather had become pretty crappy, we just had a drink outside of the store. It was nice to try some local alcohol, we had brandy, but I felt like we wasted a lot of time standing around, when we could have been visiting other places.

The next stop was Noul Neamt monastery. The monastery was founded in 1861, when some monks left Neamt monastery to set up their own monastery. During the rule of the Soviet Union, the monastery was turned into a hospital, and reopened for its original purpose in 1989. As we entered the monastery, the first thing we did was climb the bell tower. The first few flights up weren't too bad, but the higher you got the steeper and smaller, the ladders got. However it was worth it as the views of the surrounding area was great. The monastery was a lot larger than I expected, we took a walk through the grounds and visited one of the chapels. While we were walking around the grounds, our tour guide got accosted by one of the priests. We think he'd been on the wine because he was very, very talkative. Our last stop was the Kitskany Bridgehead Memorial Complex. We walked up the hill to have a look at the memorial, but since it was dark by this point, we couldn't see much. At the back of the memorial, you can see Ukraine, Transnistria and Moldova, but since it was dark, we just had to guess where each place was. It was rainy, cold and windy, so were happy to stay there for a couple of minutes before heading back to the bus.

When we got back to the hotel, we did a quick run to the Sheriff supermarket across the way. I love looking in supermarkets in the different countries I visit to see what people buy and eat. We had a good look around and there weren't too many surprises. I ended up getting some sweets, which weren't amazing, and some canned coffee, which was heavily discounted. I'm presuming that Transnistrians aren't fans of cold, canned sugar free coffee, their loss is my gain. Back in our basic room, I was able to leave the coffee out on the balcony to stay cold in place of having a fridge. After a while, we headed out for dinner. We went to Mafia restaurant, which is pretty much next door to the place we'd been the previous evening. I had a really nice pizza. After dinner, we headed off to see what was happening for New Year's Eve. There looked like there was going to be a street party, but it was a bit lacklustre. We went for a bar for a bit, and then back out, but there wasn't really any atmosphere. I'm not really into New Year's Eve, so it didn't bother me and I returned to the hotel, not long after midnight.


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Flags of Other Unrecognised Countries Flags of Other Unrecognised Countries
Flags of Other Unrecognised Countries

L-R: Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh


22nd July 2020

Transnistria
I've been curious about Transnistria for a little while now. We considered doing this a from Bucharest to Odessa via Transnistria, but ran out of time on that trip. Which company are you travelling with? By the way I'll have to look up Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh! It's kinda cute how all the 'rebel' countries are sticking together :) Cheers, Ren
23rd July 2020

Rebel Countries Club
I like how they stick together, too. I went with Young Pioneer Tours. Now I've visited one, I've got to try and visit the rest :)

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