Whether you go by bus or car from Moldova to Ukraine, you’ll pass through Transnistria, the little-known territory between the two countries. Getting a bus from Chisinau to Odessa isn’t hard, although the bus station is hard to find outside of town. Bus tickets are about €10, and the ride takes 5-6 hours. I considered this option, but instead choose to use Blablacar, the best ride-sharing website in Europe. The price was about the same, but I figured it would be a much smoother ride and a shorter wait at the border.
July 3rd, 2017 – Day 887
My Blablacar was scheduled to pick me up at noon in the morning outside the derelict National Hotel in the south end of Chisinau. It was a good thing that my hostel was only a couple streets away, since it happened to be raining that morning. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, and stopped in the pharmacy next door to pick up a tube of toothpaste. The only flavor they had was tea tree, which I’m still trying to get used to.
My driver was a little late, and I was the first of three passengers to arrive. By noon, we were all packed in and ready to leave. Chisinau isn’t the biggest city, and within a few minutes we were out in the countryside. We drove half an hour, and then stopped at a market to pick up drinks and snacks for the ride.
An hour later, we reached the border of Transnistria, a region I knew very little of. It’s an autonomous region of Moldova, and a touchy region to say the least. I was thoroughly chastised when I pulled out my camera to take some photos. The area looked very similar to Moldova, but there were military personnel everywhere. Surprisingly, the forces stationed there are Russian. They act as a peace-keeping body. Unfortunately, as indicated by the reaction to my photos, the territory and its availability on social media is a rather guarded affair.
I didn’t have any problem getting into or out of the territory with my American passport, although they did thoroughly search the car and check the bags. There wasn’t any feeling of unsafety at the border or anywhere else in the country, and it’s somewhere I would like to visit again someday to learn more about their situation, rather than just passing through.
But pass through we did, and less than an hour later we were through Transnistria and into Ukraine. Just one more hour and we arrived in the city center of Odessa.
If you know more about the territory, feel free to comment on it below.
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