ONE OF THOSE countries that isn’t really a country, Transnistria covers 1,607 square miles of eastern Moldova, along the border with Ukraine. It’s often described as “one of the last remnants of the Soviet Union,” or even the “North Korea of Europe.” Due to various guidebook/Internet warnings about bribery and corruption at the border, it took me three months to work up the courage to hop on a train from my then-home of Odessa to Tiraspol, Transnistria’s capital.
Did expectations match reality? Soviet and a bit kitschy, yes; authoritarian police state with little to no capitalism, absolutely not. As for getting hassled or hit up for money by Transnistrian officials, I had no issues whatsoever. Crossing the border by bus or car may be more difficult and time consuming from what I hear, but apparently the situation in general has drastically improved over the past year.
A bit sleepy by day, Tiraspol was bursting with energy at night on the particular weekend I was there in late October, 2011. Transnistria’s population — especially its youth — face some of the toughest restrictions in the world in terms of opportunity and travel outside their territory, but this is by no means holding them back.
– 25th of October Street – Улица 25 Октября
– Lenin Street – Улица Ленина
– Victory Park – Парк Победы
– 7 Fridays – 7 Пятницъ
– Central Market – Центральный рынок
– House, or Palace, of the Soviets – Дом советов