Being under lockdown isn’t ideal, but it gives a good chance to go over old photos and indeed write about places I’ve been or lived. Here’s part 1 to the time I lived in Tiraspol, Transnistria, how to move to Transnistria.
In 2014 I’d moved to Varna in Bulgaria to open a European office for YPT, one that still exists today. It so happened that my mum was also getting married that year and that between said wedding and my tour to Crimea (I’ll write about that later) I’d have a free month.
This threw up two choices, stay in the UK or hang out in Europe? I duly reached out to legendary Transnistria expert and expat Tim Tiraspol. A house was hastily arranged and I headed off to fly to Bucharest. Why Bucharest rather than Chisinau? It’s a lot cheaper.
I did one night in a dodgy hotel by the station before boarding the Bucharest – Chisinau train. This is one my favourite train journeys and I even managed to score a private cabin.
On arrival in Chisinau I checked directly into the iconic Hotel Cosmos, a big Soviet kitsch affair and just the kind of place I love.
Next to the cosmos there’s a place called London steak House. One can enjoy numerous vodkas and a steak for under 10 dollars. Long story short I lost 3 days before finally departing to Tiraspol.
Transnistrian border folk used to be famously corrupt, but long stay residents are now more welcome and you merely need to simply register. On arrival my host family picked me up, we did the necessary paperwork and I was presented with my house.
My apartment was as Soviet as it gets! Everything was soviet era from the huge fridge to the shit glasses, in fact it was only the WiFi router that stood out.
Opposite my house was a branch of the infamous Sheriff supermarket. Useful for being a supermarket and more importantly getting money.
This is where it gets interesting! As an unrecognised country the PMR isn’t linked to the worlds banking networks. There’s one ATM in Tiraspol that dispenses Russian roubles, but you need Transnistrian ones.
Getting money thus involved a long line, a lot of paperwork and an old school card stamper. Now I had a fistful of so many Roubless I looked lije was heading to the strip clubs in Moscow. Alas I wasn’t. Strip clubs in Moscow are not exactly the nightlife scene of conservative Tiraspol. .
I duly headed to the supermarket for a night exchange of Roubles for goods. Beer, vodka, cheese and bread were purchased. I was ready to be an expat in Tiraspol.