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Moldova was traditionally part of Romania; Romanian is the official language. Moldova is the eastern half of Romania and was ceded by the Ottoman Empire to the Russian Empire in 1871 against the wishes of the Moldavian nobles.

 

Transnistria is a strip of land between Moldova and Ukraine. In 1990 Transnistria declared independence from Moldova and fought a war for 4 months which ended in a ceasefire. It has a parliamentary government, army, and its own currency. More than 500,000 call it home, but it isn’t an independent nation, even though it has a constitution, flag, and coat of arms.

 

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Moldova-all-tracks

 

This is the track for our entire trip.

Red track is in Moldova; Pink track is in Tansnistria.

 

 

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The capital city of Moldova is Chisinau.

This is the Parliament building.

 

We had a quickie tour by van of the city as we arrived late in the day and left early the next morning for a winery tour.

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Moldova is famous for its wines and has many large wineries.

We visited the Cricova Winery and rode around in many of its 75 miles of tunnels.

The limestone in these tunnels was dug out to build the city of Chisinau in the 15C.

In the 1950s the tunnels were converted to an underground winery.

 

 

Our tour consisted of being whisked around in this bus from area to area.

The roadways are named after the varietal of the wine they store.

There are warehouses, tasting rooms, and other facilities.

The tunnels go down to 330’ underground and hold 1.25 million bottles of wine.

Jews were hidden in wine barrels during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

Legends: 1966 cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin entered the cellars and emerged with assistance two days later.

Putin celebrated his 50th birthday here.

 

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Not only are the winery’s wines stored in this cellar, individuals from everywhere in the world rent areas to store their personal collections.

 

They have a room devoted to photos of famous people who keep wine here.

Putin and other world leaders pay for storage of their wine.

 

Russia was the main importer of Moldavian wine until 2014 when Russia imposed embargoes on Moldovan wine in retaliation for Moldova thinking about joining the European Union.

 

Now Kazakhstan is the largest importer.

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We looked for Putin’s area – and found it.

 

Angela Merkel also has wine here.

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Here’s John Kerry’s section.

 

 

 

 

 

Our tour came with a wine tasting – this is our tour group in the “European Hall.”

 

This room is over 100’ underground; the area is beautifully designed.

 

There is a large circular area surrounded by 8 tasting rooms radiating off. One is very small for dignitaries. One is very plain.

 

 

 

In 1990 Transnistria declared independence from Moldova and fought a war for 4 months which ended in a ceasefire.

No member of the UN recognizes its existence, considering it to be part of Moldova.

The people cling to all things Russian. A large statue of Lenin (photo below) stands in front of the parliament building. Russia provides free gas and supplements residents’ pensions, as well as 1000 troops. Neither Russia or Moldova recognize the breakaway state.

 

Driving into Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria.

 

Many citizens of Transnistria also have Moldovan citizenship, but many also have Russian and Ukrainian citizenship allowing them to travel most anywhere.

 

Transnistria “feels” more Soviet than Russia does today!

 

The Russian word on the left spells “Sheriff.”

 

Sheriff is the 2nd largest company based in Transnistria.

 

It was formed in the early 1990s by former members of the special services.

 

It has grown to include nearly all forms of profitable private business in the country.

 

It is even very involved in Transnistrian politics and soccer.

 

This is part of the main street.

 

Lenin is the major statue on the main street. This is the Supreme Soviet building.

 

City Hall with another statue of Lenin.

 

The Tank Memorial (a T-34 Tank) to the victims of the Second World War commemorating the Soviet Victory of WW2.

 

This sign was in the restroom of the restaurant where we had lunch.

 

The toilets were western toilets, but obviously many customers were accustomed to using “squatters” and they didn’t want that!

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