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Pictures of our trip to Transnistria
- From August 22 to September 1, 2013 – Moldova Border - Tiraspol - Chiţcani - Bendery - Moldova Border
Moldova Part a – August 21 to 22, 2013 - Ukraine Border - Cǎuşeni - Transnistria Border
Ukraine Part a – August 17 to 21, 2013 - Ilyichevsk Port - Odessa - Bilhorod Dnistrovsky - Moldova Border
Georgia Part 3b – August 13 to 15, 2013 - Abkhazia Border - Poti - Ferry to Ilyichevsk/Ukraine
Cape Verde October 28, 2013 to ..... 2014 - Islands of Santiago - Fogo - Brava - Santiago
Ukraine Part b September 4 to 22, 2013 - Moldova Border - Odessa Port - Container/Freighter to Praia/Cape Verde
Moldova Part b September 1 to 4, 2013 - Transnistria Border - Chişinǎu - Orheiul Vechi - Ukraine Border


                    Eastern Europe Map
     Transnistria Map              Moldova Map


latest picture: September 1, 2013
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Remarks to Transnistria:
Transnistria belongs to the so-called “countries with limited recognition”, like e.g. Abkhazia, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, Palestine, Somaliland, South Ossetia, Taiwan, Western Sahara, Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk. All are either “claimed” or “occupied” from another country.
Hence Transnistria is claimed by Moldova, but declared 1990 its independence and is supported herein by Russia. That means for tourists that – with the exception of just a few – they cannot expect much assistance from their home country if something went wrong. Moldova permits a visit of Transnistria without any problem, is it from their territory or from the Ukraine. The official name of Transnistria is 'Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic PMR'.
001  8/22/2013: After the helpful border
crossing in Bendery, the border town to
Moldova, Emil adds the sticker of our
179th country. The border officials watch
with pleasure. Bendery is one of the few
settlements on the western shore of the
Dniester River
002  As the only post-Soviet country,
Transnistria bears still sickle and hammer
in its red-green-red flag. Officially
Transnistria is known as a breakaway
state within Moldova and reads
“Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic”
003  A large bust of an austere Lenin
stands in front of the parliament building
of Tiraspol, the capital with about
160’000 people (out of a total of barely
600’000). There was war of secession
from November 1990 to July 1992
between Moldova and Transnistria
August 22nd, 2013; 5.15pm: Coming from Moldova, all eyes are focused on our LandCruiser when we park at the border post of Bendery (also Bender) in Transnistria (also called Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, short PMR) – a selfdeclared Republic, which broke 1990 away from Moldova. It is a small, 125 miles [202km] long strip of land with around 1‘377 sq.mi. [3’567km²] squeezed in between Moldova and Ukraine, almost always east of the Dniester River with an own flag, own passports, own stamps, an own currency – the Transnistria Ruble and own car licence plates. Like Nagorno Karabakh and Abkhazia they don’t have an own internet domain. After the two mentioned states it is our third selfdeclared country, which is not recognized by the international community that we shall visit. It becomes our 179th country.
004  At the bank of the Dniester River –
along the “25th October Street” – opposite
the parliament building with the statue of
Lenin is the "Monument Square" with a
Soviet T-34 tank, an eternal flame, the
“Memorial of Glory” .....
005  ..... and a war memorial for those
316 to 637 casualties who fell during the
1990-1992 Transnistrian war on both
sides. Transnistria was supported mainly
by Russia and the Ukraine while Moldova
was assisted by Romania
006  The Russian-Orthodox
“Church of the Nativity” – also
known as “Cathedral of the Birth
of Christ” – was built 1999
We feel it: The customs officers are proud that we are interested in their country. They speak a little German and English and are helpful in facilitating our entry formalities. We pay a road tax of Leu 312 (Moldova currency MDL) (=US$25.50) and get an immigration card where date and exact time of entry are duly noted. Should we stay longer than three days, we will have to register in the capital Tiraspol.
007  Babushkas are repainting the bridge
railing over the Dniester River. All
Transnistria is being poshed-up for the
approaching visit of the Patriarch of the
Russian Orthodox Church,
Kirill I of Moscow
008  A tourist boat chugs down
the Dniester River that is meandering
picturesquely along Tiraspol
009  Newly weds head in an adorned
limousine towards the "Monument Square"
at the Dniester River Park for a photo
shooting. Famous places or even monu-
ments are always privileged settings to
commemorate the most beautiful day
When – after completing our 1½ hours lasting entry procedure – we add “Transnistria” to our country ribbon, the officers demonstrate us their pleasure. How differently one can experience the very same border crossing! Our friend Marco from Zurich who was recently here with his bicycle has nothing good to tell.
010  It gleams in splendid white: The
“House of the Soviets”, built 1956 in
Stalin's Empire style, houses today the
City Council of Tiraspol as well as the
authorities of the country
011  The coat of arms of Tiraspol
with the “Cathedral of the Birth of
Christ” in the background. The
city was founded 1792
012  Public tribute to deceased
important personalities in Tiraspol (?)
Since early morning we are in contact with Tom, an American, who guides us via SMS to his hostel in the capital Tiraspol, where we made yesterday a reservation by phone for a double room. When we arrive at 6pm at the guest house, it is a kind of a shock to see the ramshackle house in the neglected garden. Inside it does not look any better either. Here we are supposed to stay?
013  The two policemen stop us at the
"Monument Square". They are not happy
with our papers. We understand not one
single word. After they phone around we
get green light and are even allowed to
park there. As of shortly Transnistria was
“well known” and infamous for its
corruption – we cannot complain at all
014  The statue of Generalissimo
Alexander Suvorov in the central square
– the founder of Tiraspol in 1792 – was
erected 1979 in commemoration
of his 250th anniversary
015  Trasnistria is an about 250 mile
long narrow strip of land (1’377 sq.mi.),
sandwiched between Moldova and the
Ukraine. It introduced its own car number
plates and contrary to Abkhazia its own
currency (Transnistria Ruble). Own stamps
do exist for internal use, but otherwise
Moldova stamps have to be taken
And our LandCruiser with all our belongings should be parked unguarded further away on an empty space in front of a lonely teardown house? And this for US$40 a night! Tom reduces the price by a third when he sees the disappointment on our faces. But we have already decided: We are not going to stay here! “I would not even have stayed for free”, I say still appalled to Emil when we return to our LandCruiser, determined to find another accommodation.
016  The Zeleny Market (central market)
in Tiraspol is piled up with farming
products. There is nothing left to desire
017  Honey from own bee hives,
analog of the Caucasus, is offered
in glasses of all sizes
018  In the meat department
inside the market hall we
find especially pork
“Nice to see you” welcomes us the charming lady at the reception of the Hotel Timoty in Tiraspol, where we inquire about the room rates. It is one of the few times that we are greeted so warmly at a hotel! Without breakfast we get for US$50 a luxury suite with a sleeping room, a separate office with Wifi, a big fridge, a Jacuzzi bathtub and for our LandCruiser safe hotel parking. Why not treating oneself to a bit of luxury?
019  Fresh milk products are never lacking
on these public markets. They have not
changed much since the Soviet time.
We remember well the year 1995 when
we drove through the new Central Asian
countries and Russia
020  Sweet and tasty strawberries
and raspberries, juicy apples – this and
a lot more is available at the central
market in Tiraspol
021  As sales pitch suitable (but a big
wobbly): Eggs arranged to pyramids at
Tiraspol market
Tanja, the administrator, speaks perfectly English and is the warmth in person. After three days she also takes care of the compulsory registration at the immigration, invites us for a breakfast, offers us the hotel washing machine for free, gives us the tip which bank has an ATM that releases US$100 per day (hotels are paid in US$ cash, but for the daily necessities the Transnistria Ruble is used) and recommends us interesting sights and good restaurants. We feel so at ease that it becomes 10 days until we are able to break away! (The Visa-ATM is on the northern side of 25. October Street, between Lenin Street and Strada Cotovschi)
022  Breakfast in our apartment at Hotel
Timoty in Tiraspol: Own "office", bathroom
with spa, separate dormitory, refrigerator,
wifi and parking for $50. Tim's Tiraspol
Hostel (double $40) we cannot recommend,
because it’s definitively highly overpriced
023  No, Liliana does not have a
problem to overcome the huge jug
of beer. Otherwise Emil would
always be prepared to help out!
024  Daily street market in front of
the Sheriff supermarket in Tiraspol.
Liliana buys our apples always at the
babushka with the green headscarf
We like Tiraspol at the first go: Alleys lined with trees, spacious squares, remarkable little traffic, free parking spaces everywhere and a tempting central market à la russe with fresh farm products like curd, butter, cottage cheese, yoghurt and eggs that are piled elaborately to pyramids. Honey from own beehives, but also vegetable and fruits right up to raspberries and strawberries are not missing. Nothing is lacking. At the meat hall nearby mostly pork is sold, recognizable by the pork heads staring glassy-eyed at us.
025  Almost an African looking scene: For
15 PMR-Rubles (US$1.35) we cross the
Dniester river. It is the easiest way from
Tiraspol to Chiţcani near the Moldavian
border where the beautiful "Noul Neamţ"
Monastery Complex is situated
026  The first thing that greets us in the
splendid "Noul Neamţ" Monastery Complex
is this imposing tall belfry (230 ft.)
027  Huge billboards announce the visit
of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox
Church, Kirill I of Moscow, on September
8th and 9th, 2013 in Transnistria. Also at
the "Noul Neamţ" Monastery Complex in
Chiţcani monks are busy cleaning,
painting and gardening
It happens at the “Monument Square” near the bridge over the Dniester River: A policeman stationed there at a police booth has sighted us and follows us with his motorbike. He makes us signs to stop. “Documents” he orders. He studies them annoyingly long, but seems not to be satisfied. He takes out his cellular phone and spends an eternity talking, whereas he mentions over and over the name “Emil Schmid” – the only two words we could understand.
028  While the front of the “Dormition
of the Mother of God” church at the
"Noul Neamţ" Monastery Complex in
Chiţcani catches our eyes mainly by its
five blue onion shaped towers .....
029  ..... its interior with the altar
captivates for its overwhelming
rich work of art .....
030  ..... and its beautiful wall paintings
that seem almost lifelike
Having already heard and read some stories about their infamous corruption, we are ready for the worst. But nothing the like happens. He lets us go. To our surprise he even shows us a spot where we may park just beside the „Monument Square, not far from the Soviet T-34 tank, from the „Memorial of Glory“ with the eternal flame and from the war monument for the 3l6 - 637 men who lost their lives on both sides during the Transnistria war between 1990-1992. On the other side of the road is the parliament building with the tall statue of Lenin – along with the sickle and hammer in the red-green-red flag of Transnistria it is a further example from the old Soviet era – regretting bygone times?
The “Ascension of Jesus Cathedral” belongs also to the "Noul Neamţ" Monastery Complex in Chiţcani. The interior with its fascinating
frescoes and icons appears bright and pleasant. The monastery was closed in 1962 when Moldova was part of the Soviet Union.
It was then used as a hospital, a storehouse and a makeshift museum. When it was reactivated in 1990 it first underwent renovation
There is always something happening at the scenic Dniester River. On the bridge, “Babushkas” are busy in giving the railing a new coat of white paint. The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill I of Moscow, is expected. Therefore, the whole city is pepped up. We watch the tourist boat chugging up and down the river and enjoy the newly weds that are arriving in their beautifully decorated white limousines for a photo shooting.
034  "Noul Neamţ" is again a working
monastery. Raisins, fruits and vegetable
grow under the care of the monks
035  Almost ripe to harvest: Rose hips
(Rosa canina) along the road. Unfortu-
nately we are no tea drinkers
036  Whatever this rusty sign in Chiţcani
says, it is from the old Soviet era and
stood probably once for a kolkhoz
The day we are taking the little ferry crossing the Dniester River for 15 Rubles (US$1.35) to the other side, it is sunny but very windy. The scene at the small river crossing has almost a nostalgic African touch. After a couple of miles through a small bush road we are standing in front of the Noul Neamţ Monastery Complex in Chiţcani. What awaits us is simply overwhelming. We were never prepared to find such a treasure of churches, art work, frescoes, icons and wall paintings that seem almost lifelike. For hours, we admire the exuberant elaborate decor. We are the only visitors.
037  Can it be more peaceful? Sunbathing
on a sandbar of the quiet Dniester River at
038  In the border town of Bendery is
the restored Alexander Nevsky Church
with golden onion shaped towers
039  The towers and encircling walls of
the citadel of Bendery form an imposing
silhouette at the border town to Moldova.
The fortress was originally built in the
15th century by Ştefan cel Mare (Stefan
the Great) as a small wooden fort and
was enlarged afterwards gradually
However monks are at work. Preparations for the upcoming visit of Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow are under way also here. The monks do everything themselves: Cleaning, painting and gardening. It is again a fully functional monastery. Also vegetable and fruits are growing under the care of the friars. Tempting are the huge ripe blue raisins ready to pick, which hang heavily from the pergola. The monastery was closed in 1962 when Moldova was part of the Soviet Union. It was then used as a hospital, a storehouse and a makeshift museum. In 1990 it was reactivated and first underwent renovation. Deeply impressed we return in the evening to our hotel.
The fortress of Bendery (called Tighina in Moldavian) is over 600 years old.
Its location offers a wide spread view over the Dniester River and the vast open land
040  Entrance to the Bendery Fortress:
To the right the “Pantheon of Russian Glory”
with busts of several “outstanding”
041  The double headed eagle at the
entrance to the fortress appears also on
the Bendery flag, but has noticeable simi-
larities with today’s Russian coat of arms
042  Time for a souvenir photo
of Liliana in front of a cannon
from the 19th century
There is one more sight in the local region that we want to visit before we leave Transnistria. The historic citadel of Bendery, the border town to Moldova that reigns over the city with its turrets and defence walls, and from where one enjoys a sweeping view over the Dniester River and the vast open land. The over 600 years old fortress was originally built by Stefan the Great in the 15th century as a small wooden fort that was enlarged gradually. Especially impressive is the clean and well dotted museum that shows us a part of history with its relief, dioramas, and a torture chamber with its terrible methods.
The clean and well dotted museum within the Bendery Fortress shows us a part of history
043  Diorama of a military camp north
of the Bendery fortress
044  A model of the medieval fortress
of Bendery respectively Tighina
045  Diorama of the storm by the Russian
army of the Bendery Fortress in 1770
Who is waiting for us when in the late afternoon we return to our hotel? It is the local TV, organized by Tanja. We don’t mind giving an interview about our positive experiences in Transnistria. We would have loved to stay also for the Independence Day of September 2nd. But the hotel is fully booked for this day since a long time.
046  The good-looking Ottoman guard
from the 16th century attracts Liliana. She
cannot resist posing for a picture with him
Just out of here! In the torture chamber we get geese pickles
also without being able to understand the Russian instructions
047  “The Iron Maiden” (or also
“The Virgin of Nuremberg”): The
victim was locked up inside
048  Nail chair: The victim
was strapped to it
Therefore on September 1st, 2013, we say good-bye to Tanja. Without doubt, she contributed a lot from the first day onwards that we had an interesting and relaxed time in Transnistria. But also the previously so notorious police have shown us only their best side. When we drive through the city of Tiraspol towards the Moldavian border, preparations for the festivities are already on the way: Tribunes are erected and people are busy decorating the city.
049  According to the relief in the
museum (picture #044) there were
normal houses in the inner court yard
050  The balistrarias at this end of
the fortress point to the Dniester River
051  Sweeping view from one of the
Bendery fortress towers. Next to our
parked LandCruiser a newly wed couple
has their photos taken from all sides
The "Greater"-Middle East trip 2012/13:
Sharjah/Dubai/1st Traveler's Festival/Emirates National Auto Museum - UAE with car Nov. 2012 to Jan. 2013 - part 1
Western UAE - Liwa - United Arab Emirates  with car in January 2013 - part 2
Oman 2013 - Part 1 - February 2013: Musandam Peninsula
Oman 2013 - Part 2 - February 2013: Sohar - Muscat - Rustaq - Nizwa
Oman 2013 - Part 3 - March 2013: Sur - East Coast - Island of Masirah - Dhofar
Oman 2013 - Part 4 - March 2013: Salalah & Surroundings (Dhofar) - Nizwa
Oman 2013 - Part 5 - March 2013: Western Hajar Mountains
Al Ain, Eastcoast & Ras al Khaima - United Arab Emirates with our car in April 2013 - part 3
Iran - Part 1: Ferry Port Bandar Abbas-Shiraz-Persepolis-Pasargad (between Persepolis and Yazd) May 2013
Iran - Part 2: Pasargad (excl.)-Yazd-Esfahan May 2013
Iran - Part 3: Esfahan (excl.)-Chelgerd-Hamadan-Sanandaj-Orumiyeh-Turkey Border May 2013
Turkey: Iran Border-Esendere-Hakkari-Van-Doğubayazıt-Kars-Ardahan-Hopa-Georgia Border May/June 2013
Georgia - Part 1: Turkey Border-Ajaria-Gori-Tbilisi-Kakheti-Azerbaijan Border June 2013
Azerbaijan: Georgia Border-Balakən-Şəki-Lahıç-Baku-Xınalıq-Quba-Laza-Baku-Gəncə-Georgia Border June 2013
Georgia - Part 2a: Azerbaijan Border-Tbilisi-Armenia Border June/July 2013
Armenia - Part 1: Georgia Border-Haghpat-Dilijan-Sevan-Tatev-Goris-Nagorno Karabakh July 2013
Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia-Stepanakert-Gandzasar-Martakert-Tigranakert-Tnjri-Shoushi-Armenia July
Armenia - Part 2: Nagorno Karabakh-Goris-Tatev-Noravank-Khor Virap-Echmiadzin-Yerewan-Geghard-Gyumri-Georgia Border July 2013
Georgia - Part 2b: Armenia Border-Ninotsminda-Tbilisi-Mtskheta-Kazbegi-Kutaisi-Zugdidi July 2013
Georgia - Part 3a: Zugdidi-Swaneti-Zugdidi-Abkhazia Border – July/August 2013
Abkhazia: Georgia-Sukhumi-Tsebelda-Novyy Aton-Lake Ritsa-Gagra-Pitsunda-Georgia August 2013
Georgia - Part 3b: Abkhazia Border-Poti-Ferry to Ilyichevsk/Ukraine – August 2013
Ukraine - Part a: Ilyichevsk-Odessa-Bilhorod Dnistrovsky-Moldova Border August 2013
Moldova - Part a: Ukraine Border-Cǎuşeni-Transnistria Border – August 2013
Moldova - Part b: Transnistria Border-Chişinǎu-Orheiul Vechi-Ukraine Border September 2013
Ukraine - Part b: Moldova Border-Odessa Port-Container/Freighter to Praia/Cape Verde September 2013