Visiting The Capital city of Tiraspol in the autonomous republic of Transnistria (Transdniestria) also called The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic
Within Europe’s least visited country of Moldova there is a break away autonomous region that considers themselves a separate nation. When the USSR broke up in the early 90s one province of Moldova did not want to leave. They fought a civil war for a year or so then there has been a ceasefire ever since. They consider themselves a separate country. They have their own borders, currency, passports. They speak Russian and wanted to be annexed by Russia but that request was denied in 2006. Anyway no country in the world recognizes them as a country except themselves. I had heard wild tales, but except for a small hassle at the border, it was pretty tame. It was not full of Russian flags or pictures of soldiers strangling Bald Eagles like had been rumored.
Crossing the Border into Transnistria
Traveling to Tiraspol independently by public transport was easy and straightforward. Similar to any overland border crossing. This is not a very busy border so procedures were quick. Walking around Tiraspol is easy.
Entering the PMR/ Transnistria from Moldova
I went to the Central Gare (bus station in Chisinau) if you walk into the building and out the north side there is a window to the right from here you can buy a ticket to Tiraspol. it was 74 Lei for two people. There are no platforms but the driver came up to the window and we were on the mini bus (marshuka) and off immediately, taking the last two seats not together. At the border we too were the only foreigners. Everyone on the minibus got off and got in line. They asked us questions in English. Questions like were we transiting or returning that day. Then we were turned over to an officer who did not speak English and he took our passports away. He was taking our passports to the section where the bus passes migration and we were given our passports back at that point. The immigration card was in the passport.
Returning to Chisinau Moldova from the PMR
On the way back we took a large coach style bus. You could pay in Lei or Rubles. Buses leave around every half hour and are 39 rubles or 49 lei. At the border with Moldova the guard came onto the bus (unlike the minibus where we got off). The guard checked passports and got off then someone got on and shouted in Russian “The Americans?”. We raised our hands and he took our passports. The bus drove up and through another point. The bus had a helper in addition to the driver the bus helper went with the guard and brought our passports back to us after going through the border. Pretty easy, only strange as we were the only no Moldovans so we had an extra step. Nobody on the bus seemed to be annoyed at the extra step.
What to do in Tiraspol
Like most towns in this region I like to walk around looking at tanks, churches, parks and statues of Lenin.
Transnistria has their own currency
This was not as much of an issue as the guide books made it sound. There were no plastic coins. They have their own Ruble notes. I exchanged some Euros for the notes, bus tickets could be bought in Lei or Rubles.
There is a supermarket called Sheriff on near the bus station. This is a great place to use up any remaining PMR currency on souvenirs or snacks.
My favorite souvenir. There is a brandy factory called Kvint that has been making brandy in Tiraspol since 1897. A bottle makes for a nice and useful souvenir. Kvint is sold in the Sheriff Supermarket.