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Published: July 12th 2012
Yesterday evening we had made arrangements for accomodation in Tiraspol and had planned to leave quite early in the morning. But in the morning we found an sms from the host saying we should arrive only around 2pm. So, we spend the morning at the hotel using internet and blogging.
We left eventually by a bus a bit before noon. As mentioned before, Tiraspol is located in Transnistria area, which is an autonomous breakaway republic in Moldova. We were kind of nervous because we had heard officials at border crossing were asking for bribes and harrassing westerners also in other ways. On the way it however became obvious that what we should have been worried about was the traffic and the driving style of our maxitaxi driver. He (and other drivers) were making insane passings all the time. Border crossing itself was very smooth.
In Tiraspol we met our host, Timothy. Or in local language Timofei. He is an American guy running a hostel in Tiraspol and according to himself, the very only westerner living in whole Transnistria. His hostel was under renovation so he took us to stay at his apartment. It was a small apartment with kitchen
and combined living room/bedroom. It was totally renovated and nice, though. Strange thing was that during our time in the apartment we never saw his wife except in the morning by accident. She stayed behind a curtain which was separating their bed from the rest of the living room the whole time, without saying as much as hi to us. I guess she wasn't crazy about her husband dragging random traverels into their home 😊
First thing we had lunch and coffee at a restaurant close to the apartment, and then Timothy took us for a sightseeing tour. Not that there are any special tourist sights to check, but he showed us all the monuments and important buildings of the city. It was much prettier than Chisinau and seemed like a relaxed and "good mood" town. What we had been reading about Tiraspol on the internet beforehand had given an image that it is "the last piece of Soviet union left" and such things. And all those horror stories about the police, border guards etc. Honestly, I don't understand where these things come from. Timothy just commented it's probably propaganda, but I guess it's not. Maybe things just have
changed. However it is, the "country" seemed like a relaxed and friendly place and it didn't seem at any point likely that there would be any issues. As Timothy put it, Tiraspol is one of the best places in the world to go have fun at - because it has supposedly good night life, and prices are dirt cheap. We were too lame to try out the night life, and well, we were also not well enough dressed in our sandals and shorts. We did sit at a cafe for several hours though catching up with our blog and trying out the local food and wine: the bill was around 5 euros each. And that also included one portion of very good ice cream. It's so cheap because the place has it's own currency Transnistrian rouble, which doesn't exist nor can it be exchanged anywhere else in the world.
Generally Transnistria looked like a piece of Russia in the middle of Romanian speaking Moldova, so in that sense I understand the comparisons to Soviet Union. Also because there are virtually no Western chains in the country, not even McDonald's, not to mention clothes or such. Our brief stop at Tiraspol just made it obvious how wrong idea you can get from a place by reading travel forums and postings on the internet. We are glad we went to see how it really was. Due to our early wake up we started to get tired already at 9-10pm, and walked the 4 kilometers back to the apartment. There we stayed up for a while watching tv before going to sleep. In the morning we plan to take a train to the last country of this trip, Ukraine.
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