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Published: August 8th 2009
Wikipedia - Transnistria
Having met our new dutch friends, Vicky no longer felt obliged to go to a territory where she might never come back from so I (Fiona) headed off for the adventure!
Obviously, given the night before it was rather a later start than planned... but we made it to the central bus station around midday and headed off to Transnistria in a negotiated private car with some other randoms. After some standard perilous driving, we arrived at the border and definitely on our best behaviour. Now we'd heard all sorts of stories about the border control - bribes, fines, threats etc etc. We had prepared ourselves with some dollars and thought we could blag it. But, suprisingly, absolutely no need. It was a perfectly simple border crossing! We filled out a form, the guy typed in his computer, and we crossed! Easy as that, so I have no idea why everyone gets so worried.
We could only pass a couple of hours in Tiraspol as we arranged (rather confusingly) with our driver to meet him at 4pm and return back to Chisinau. This visit is probably better shown by photos, but I can't upload them for now. There were soviet monuments, lenin statues, putin's face everywhere... We did get weird looks for speaking a foreign language on the streets but in general, and to my great suprise, people were really friendly! They wanted to ask us questions as to why we were there, and what we thought, and laughed at every answer, but at no point did we ever feel like we could be in trouble. After wandering around and much discreet photo taking, we finished in the FC Sheriff shop - probably the closest thing to a souvenir. Then we met our driver and headed back.
En route to the border again, our driver, who I should mention looked about 12, happily pulled over and took group photos for us at numerous sights. What was very bizarre though, was driving along with happy hardcore music blasting out at full volume which he seemed to think we might like, and in fact we very much appreciated! At the border, again no problems, apart from a very weirdly phrased question about how much money we had - but we didn't have to hand any over. I think it helped that our driver seemed to know everyone and had a Transnistria registered car.
But, we couldn't have a visit without any problems.... Namely, the fee we negociated for our ride back. We thought it was ten dollars for all of us (which is quite standard for Moldova) but, apparently we agreed to 10 euros each which then turned into 15 dollars. This is probably due to the fact that none of us know any russian, and the driver knew no english, so it was sign languaging to the extreme level. And lots of shouting... shouting in Russian is scary. Anyway, I waved my visa card around, said Chisinau a lot, and mentioned 50 dollars. This seemed to work and the happy hardcore came back on shortly afterwards. However, we get to Chisinau, lots more shouting about where to go... and which bankomat... WHICH BANKOMAT!>?!?! We soon saw one and ran to get some money... But, and this is so unlucky, a freak powercut had shut down ALL cash machines in Chisinau. I was ready to cry and run away. But, suddenly the cash machine spurred into action and we had to take out 500 lei - a small fortune in Moldova but probs around 25 quid - so to end the shouting i wasn't that bothered - but he had taken our dollars as well. Anyway, I'd ended caring.
So all in all, Transnistria - it may not be recognised as a country by anyone but Russia, and have all sorts of scare tactics but - we survived and easily. The only problem was the trip home, and if we knew any Russian we probably wouldn't have been in the situation...
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