Visiting Transnistria
July 25, 2008 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone here have any knowledge about visiting Transnistria, how dangerous it actually is, any tips on the practicalities for a day trip into the Tiraspol. Also, places worth visiting to get a real taste for the overall 'state' and political climate.

Hi, I will be visiting Moldova as a British national on a journalism internship and would like to visit Transnistria, mainly out of curiousity as it is said to be the 'black hole of Europe' and am intrigued about its relationship with Moldova.

Does anyone here have any knowledge about visiting Transnistria, how dangerous it actually is, any tips on the practicalities for a day trip into the Tiraspol. Also, places worth visiting to get a real taste for the overall 'state' and political climate.
posted by ashaw to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No personal experience, but here's a (seemingly) official tourism website.

Having traveled in rural Latvia and Lithuania (which are obviously culturally totally different from Moldova and Transnistria), here are some general things to keep in mind that you might not expect if you've never been to the more isolated corners of eastern Europe before:

- Extreme wealth exists alongside poverty: you'll see some pretty nice BMWs speeding by beggars in the streets.
- Random street crime, especially outside big cities, might be less common than in a place like London, but organized crime, corruption and graft are pretty big problems for locals. You probably won't see any serious crime take place when you visit. You may see young men who resemble skinheads or neo-Nazis; avoid these guys, especially if in groups.
- Local tensions about nationality, language, and independence might be best avoided unless brought up by a local. You'll probably have some Moldovan language skills by the time you visit, but knowing a little Russian will be helpful too, given that 60% of Transnistria is Russophone.
- The fact that you speak English could be really exciting for anyone you meet looking to practice a little, so even if you're busy or in a rush, try to take the time to say hello and make small talk.

Since you'll be in Moldova for some time anyway, ask around at work; you'll probably get all manner of responses. A visit for a weekend will, I imagine, be nothing to worry about.
posted by mdonley at 9:07 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've been there. You'll get shaken down a lot, in all likelihood. It helps a lot if you speak Russian; it'd be a nightmare if you didn't.

You can't help but to get a taste for the political climate and general atmosphere no matter what you do. Most of the people won't be impressed by any Romanian (let's be honest, Moldovan is Romanian) skills you have. Is it dangerous? Well, the dangers you may experience will be largely limited to having a lot of money removed from your wallet (in a quasi-official way), being held for largely imaginary infractions long enough to miss your bus, train or plane and screw up your stay for a night or two. So plan for an unexpectedly extended visit. Be willing to pay many (often expensive) bribes to do things like transverse a bus station. It may cost you a truly uncomfortable amount. There is generally not very much chance to argue the bribes. I know of people who have been roughed up and truly regret their visit for a number of reasons - and all of them had some idea of what they were getting into.

The truth is, you'll find that it's not a particularly interesting place, and in the end you will probably wish you'd spent that day or two in the Moldovan countryside, talking to people and seeing more of that culture. I'm not one to dissuade adventure at all, but when I read that someone wants to get a "real taste" of something, I usually assume they want something with flavor.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:21 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Drum bun! My personal experience of the "stinga dreapta Prutului" is limited only to Romanian villages and the capital. My prietenii are all Romanian and from the "left" side of the Nistru.

This is what my friend Viorel emailed me from Bucuresti when I asked him, at the time I was in Moldova, about taking one of the twice-daily maxi-taxis that leave from the parking lot of the main Chisinau gara to points east in Transnistria/Pridnestrov'e:

Tiraspol is a boring Soviet industrial backwater. You'd do well to go for a swim and a picnic somewhere along the Nistru that is far from that Russian mess.

At the risk of being satirical: If you do go to Tiraspol, make sure you wear a leather bomber jacket, fake Italian shoes and drive black pimped-out Hummer and jam to russkaya popsa ca. 1994. Davaj!
posted by vkxmai at 9:35 AM on July 25, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, thanks, may i ask what you were doing in Transnistria, and how you got there? Would it help if you had a Moldovan guide?

How would you describe the place?
posted by ashaw at 9:39 AM on July 25, 2008

I can speak of getting there. As late as January 2006, there were at least two or three daily buses/maxi-taxis that leave Chisinau from the main train station in the morning and evening, depending upon weather. They cost at the time 150-200 MDL, depending upon which one and how soon you bought a "ticket," which basically means you walk up to the driver/owner and ask "cat costa? Skol'ko stojt?"

These trips are usually packed with babushkij going home and college students transiting from Bucuresti/Iasi/Chisinau for the weekend/holidays.
posted by vkxmai at 9:42 AM on July 25, 2008

I trust you've read this book.
posted by euphorb at 11:25 PM on July 25, 2008

I was there in 2005, though I can't see too much changing. I took a daily bus from Chisinau to Tiraspol. Me and the two other westerners I was travelling with were the only ones taken off the bus at the "border" and charged an "entrance fee". It wasn't too much but they wanted to know our intentions. They spoke Russian and seemed not to know any Romanian (Moldovan) which I speak. Anyway, once we paid we went on to Tiraspol. Its not really exciting and rather drab. The most interesting thing was the Soviet architecture. We only stayed a few hours though and it was long enough.

Here are some of my pics from there:

posted by chewbud at 1:15 AM on July 26, 2008

Sorry here are my pics
posted by chewbud at 1:16 AM on July 26, 2008

Have travelled there many times over the past year...only the early 20's crowd speaks english, so without a russian speaking guide or host, it will be a bit difficult to get around...interesting place to see if you want to get a feel for a 1970's communist community...I have enjoyed my times there, but I had local hosts.

Moderately the world goes...wouldn't walk alone at night. The police more than likely will stop you and look at your need a local visa from the police station if you are staying 24 hours...and don't be surprised if you get hassled for 20-50 euros...but my sense is they are happy with 5 or 10.

Chisinau is more interesting, a bit safer and you'll find a bit more english speaking suggestion would be to go there, get a taxi driver who speaks english (there are many), knows tiraspol and get them to drive you over (90 minutes) and show you around and take you back...strongly recommend if you go to Chinsau, stay at the Club Royal Park hotel. very nice, great food, and trust worthy.
posted by mdftexas at 1:21 AM on July 27, 2008

Seconding the Club Royal Park Hotel or the Villa Verde as viable hotels in Chisinau.
posted by vkxmai at 8:44 PM on July 27, 2008

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