I’ve reached my final stop on my tour of the western edge of the former USSR. Traveling through Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and now Moldova has provided me with some insight into the different trajectories that countries have followed since breaking with Mother Russia. It has been fascinating to see the large variations between the situations in each of these places. I plan on writing more extensively on this in a future post.
In the meantime, my time in Ukraine was pleasant enough. Though like just about anywhere, I could have spent longer in Odessa and Kiev, a few days seemed to be sufficient to whet my curiosity and take in the main sights. From Odessa I crossed into Transnistria, an internationally unrecognized republic. Between 1990 and 1992 Transnistrian separatists fought with Moldova for independence. While de jure indendence has been lacking, the area functions as a de facto independent country with its own currency, government, and military. It’s certainly one of the most peculiar places I have ever been. I couchsurfed with an incredibly hospitable local university student who showed me around the capital of Tiraspol. Spending a night in the dorms of Shevchenko Transnistria State University was definitely a unique experience for me.
After a day and a night in Tiraspol I have landed in Chișinău. With Moldova being a rural country, Chișinău is the only significantly built up area that I noticed after getting out of Transnistria. The scenery along the drive from Tiraspol to Chișinău is mostly farmland and gentle hills. Chișinău, while not a large city by European standards, is huge compared to anything else around. I plan to spend about two days here and then head on to Romania.