A Travellerspoint blog

Double border passing - A state within a state

Arriving in Moldova and heading to Tiraspol in the state of Transnistria

View Budapest and Moldova October 2006 on Maurizio's travel map.

The plane is small and pretty but don't give you that sense of safety that a big one gives you. There are only few passengers, mainly locals I think. The flight is short and the meal is good enough.

When we arrive in Chisinau the airport is a desert, I and two other people go to the immigration point to make the Visa.
It's a very easy procedure, all you need is the address where you are going to stay for the next days, fill up a form, pay 50 euros, be stared and looked oddly from the man on the other side and the Visa is done.

I receive my luggage directly from a man of the airport staff because in the airport there is not luggages reclaim structure.

Three meters after the immigration police there is the airport police. The policeman takes my passport and start to check the Visa like there was something strange in it. Your colleague did it to me just two minutes ago...?!? - I tell him. He stares down at me, some weird look and then let me pass.
After three other meters there is the luggage control, the man look at me and ask how much money I do have. He want to see them and then he tells me something in Russian: "Presenti... presenti...". Is not difficult to understand what it means, he want a present from my money. I expected something like this but not at my arrival, I give him 15 euros...

All the process didn't take very long, but it was intense. I finally manage to get out the airport and 4 or 5 taxi drivers offering their services immediately surround me.
I meet my friend; she came to pick me up with a taxi from Tiraspol so I don't have to pay the "tourist fare". And we go to Transnistria.

Flag of Transnistria

The journey is about one and a half hour, and the streets are without lights, the taxi driver seems to be very careful in the drive especially when we arrive at the border. Moldovan police patrols the border between Moldova and Transnistria from one side and Russian (and Transnistrian) police from the other side. Obviously you have to cross both the borderlines to go trough.
When we arrive on the border is a little intimidating, maybe because of all the story you read about this being a not very safe country or because is very dark and in the middle of nowhere or because they have their rifle in their hands and if they need to ask me something I'm not sure I'll be able to deal with them. Fortunately I'm with locals so I feel quite safe and I understand soon there is nothing to fear.
The Moldovan side is easy to pass, the police seems not to be too interested in us and we move slowly but smoothly.
When we arrive in the Transnistria side we have to stop to make the Visa, it can be an unrecognized country, but is still a country. They don't write anything on my passport anyway, just write my details and give me a small paper talon to keep with me.
Anyway this entire process of the border passing is very easy, really better than I thought. They are helpful and happy you are going in their country.

I discover that Russian have a "Paternal name", it means that they take the name of the father as part of their name together with father's surname.
For example if your father is Ivan Platonov:

  • if you are Irina (girl) your name will be:
    Platonov Irina Ivanovna where "Ivanovna" means daughter of Ivan
  • if you are Vladimir (boy) your name will be:
    Platonov Vladimir Ivanovich where "Ivanovich" means son of Ivan

The Transnistria (Pridnestróvskaia Moldávskaia Respública or PRM or Pridnestrovie in Russian) is since 1991 a self-declared and independent state with no international recognition. In Transnistria lives mainly three groups of people: Moldovans (31.9%), Russians (30.4%) and Ukrainians (28.8%), you can find things written in any of the three languages but mainly Russian.

We arrive in Tiraspol and we pass in front of the Sheriff Stadium a new and the only world-class stadium in Moldova and Transnistria, home to Football Club Sheriff.

Sheriff Ltd is a very important company in Transnistria, has been accused of running the country being controlled by the country's president and his family, but both Moldovan and Transnistrian press says is not and also there are not proof.
Anyway they make money run around the country and it make this little state seems healthier than Moldova itself.

We finally arrive at home which is in a very communist Russian style building, and inside is a cozy and nice flat as the few I saw in Ukraine and maybe more. I'm very tired and is quite late, after a small meal I go to sleep.

Posted by Maurizio 06:21 Archived in Moldova

From Dublin to Budapest the city of... Paprika

Quick stop on my way to Chisinau

View Budapest and Moldova October 2006 on Maurizio's travel map.

Budapest - Hungary

Before starting the description of Budapest I should say few words about my flat mate. She is a very nice girl, she organized for me this day-trip like I was her brother and everything was perfect. I asked her to tell me what is the thing that is very characteristic in Hungary and she gave me an answer I'd never expect.
"We have a spice - she said - that is very particular and unique, it's something that we use almost in every dish we cook, you'll be surprised - she insisted. And you can find it only in Hungary. I asked my mum to send me some by post so someday I can cook a very typical Hungarian meal - she promised. This spice is... Paprika." Amazing how the globalization didn't touch hungary at all! :)

The flight leaves very early in the morning so at 5am I'm already at the bus stop where I meet a guy who, after talking a little, I understand is Hungarian going to Budapest with my same flight. Nice start!
It's amazing, he's been living in Dublin for 5 years and he can only speak a very basic english. He tells me he works in a demolition company, so he's learnt to speak Polish better than English because of the huge amount of polish people that work with him. He says it's easier for him to learn Polish than for them to learn English. :)

The flight is quite pleasant, I rediscover something I've forgotten because of Ryanair: lunch on board.
We arrive in Budapest, "Pearl of the Danube" and as my friends always told me "a starting point for every best porn actress' career". :)

The guy meets a girl who is a hostess of an air company and I go to change some money. While I'm looking for a bus to the city centre i see him with another girl and a child introduced by him as his wife and son. He didn't expect them to be there, at the airport, so he arranged a date with the first girl. Plan failed!

Anyway they help me reaching the metro and the town and they also give me a ticket so I don't have to buy it. When I arrive in town I say goodbye to him and he tell me we will come back in Dublin with the same flight... see you!

I get off in Kalvin Ter station. It's a very warm day, I'm sweating, I think this temperature is not normal. I have to get rid of my jumper and shirt in order to survive the hot. I walk wearing a T-shirt like in a summer day. This journey couldn't begin better.

I walk on the street enjoying the atmosphere of this Eastern European city until I arrive on the river: the Danube.

I have to cross the river and the bridge in front of me seems to be the best way to do it. It's the Szabadság híd or Liberty Bridge .

Liberty Bridge

After the bridge I arrive at "Szent Gellért Tér" (Saint Gerard square) named after the hill that was named after the saint thrown to his death from the hill itself. I meet the first friend of my flat mate in front of the fountain in the square. They use to study together at university.

Saint Gerard square fountain

She bring me to the Citadella on the top of the Gellért Hill where we can have a wonderful panorama of the city, which I discover is divided in Buda where we are now and Pest on the other side of the Danube. On the top there is the Szabadság Szobor or Liberty Statue in remembrance of the liberation of Hungary from German forces during World War II by the Soviet army.

Gellért Hill and Liberty Statue

A walk around the hill and I can see all the tables where people sell souvenirs to the tourists, and they are exactly the same stuff they sell in Ukraine. From the back of the hill I can see the Buda Castle (Budai Vár), but there is no time to go in.

Buda Castle

After this brief walk and a nice chat we go to eat a good and cheap meal in a student place. I choose everything that is made with that strange spice my flat mate told me. What was the name... oh, yes... Paprika!

After that she have to leave so I decided to go to visit a market I saw on the other side of the bridge in a very nice old building, the Nagycsarnok (Great Market Hall).

Great Market Hall

The market is wonderful, a lot of food, fishes, meat, vegetables, wine, and a lot of colours especially red, I don't know what it is, but then I ask and they tell me it's... Paprika!


I buy a nice box of this exotic spice for my "Barnum museum of strange and unusual things" and then I decide to go back to the airport. I was supposed to meet the other girl at 4:30pm, but I misunderstood the time of the appointment so I missed her. My mistake. :(

Arriving at the airport and heading to Chisinau I discover that my plane is not what you can properly call a jet... but is part of the adventure. :)

Posted by Maurizio 09:57 Archived in Hungary

An unexpected journey

The plan and how it came out

This is a travel I wasn't really supposed to do, but since I knew someone living in "the unrecognized state of Transnistria" this is a chance I couldn't lose.
I planned 5 days but after I'm back I regret a little that I didn't stay longer because I really enjoyed Moldova in most of his aspect.
I can say this was definitely one of my most unforgettable journeys.

The flight isn't very cheap to get there, is not a very "touristic" destination, so I had to make a stop in Budapest and I decided to spend few hours in the city.
My flat mate was very happy to know that I was going to stop in Budapest for 8 hours, she is Hungarian and studied there for years. So she arranged me a meeting with two of her friends, female friends. :)
Then in Moldova I planned to go directly to Tiraspol and then stopping in Chisinau couple of days before leaving. My Moldovian colleague told me about the big wine culture in Moldova and I wanted to discover it.

This is the itinerary I got:

Departure: 27-Oct-2006
Return: 31-Oct-2006

Flight from Dublin to Budapest (Malev) and return
Flight from Budapest to Chisunau (Moldavian Airlines) and return.

Info About Hungary:
Capital (and largest city) Budapest 47°26′N 19°15′E
Official languages: Hungarian (Magyar)
Area: 93,030 km²
Population: 2006 estimate 10,076,581
Density 109/km²
Currency: Forint (HUF)

Info About Moldova:
Capital (and largest city): Chişinău 47°0′N 28°55′E
Official languages: Moldovan (Romanian)
Area: 33,843 km²
Population: Jan 2006 estimate 3,395,6002
Density: 111/km²
Currency: Moldovan leu (MDL)

Posted by Maurizio 08:57 Archived in Moldova

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