Being the first to get under the skin of an alternative destination is what we at Regent Holidays love to do most (and we think we do it very well). That’s why we’re excited about Transdniestr—not only have very few western tourists heard about it, even fewer have ever visited. A self-declared independent republic, this breakaway state is not internationally recognized as a country but governs itself, controls its own borders, maintains its own currency and even celebrates its own national events.
On this group tour, join a Soviet country that technically doesn’t exist in their celebrations of Victory Day, when the streets are lined with large military parades to remember those who lost their lives in WW2—known locally as the Great Patriotic War. The parades take place in Tiraspol, the capital city of this fascinating breakaway state in which the USSR lives on. In addition to exploring After exploring Transdniestr, spend a few days discovering the Soviet history of Moldova.
Arrive in Chisinau, Moldova. Transfer to the hotel for 2 nights. Welcome dinner at local restaurant. (D)
Today drive to Comrat, the capital of the smallest Autonomy in the world - Gagauzia. In order to understand who the “Gagauz” are - visit to the Museum of History and Ethnography from Besalma village. Here, learn about the history, culture and daily life of the Gagauz from ancient times to the modern days. After enjoying a small performance of Gagauz songs and dances, head to Copceac and visit the last working “Kholhoz” from Moldova - a sort of state-run farm. Here, enjoy a traditional Gagauz lunch over stories of from the old communist life. Victory Farm was founded in 1947 and is now the leader in producing and exporting fruits and vegetables in the southern area of Moldova. It is the only surviving collective farm after the collapse of Soviet Union. Return to Chisinau and en route stop in Hincesti at Manuc Manor. The mansion is a French-style castle, complete with a winter garden, guard towers and a park. It was built in the second half of the XIX century by Alexander Bernardazzi, Moldova’s most famous architect and for several decades has been owned by the Mirzoian family, Manuc-Bey's descendants. (B,L)
This morning visit the Military Museum in Chisinau and learn about Moldova’s Soviet history and its fate during the Second World War. Continue to Transnistria and after crossing the border, which the Moldovans do not recognise, stop in a local village for a special lunch in a private Moldovan family home. They will share their problems living in an unrecognized country and how frustrating it is not being able to speak their native language. We also include a visit to Aquatir, a large sturgeon-breeding and black caviar-processing industrial complex near Tiraspol. In the late afternoon arrive in the capital and enjoy a brief city tour before checking in the hotel for an overnight stay. (B,L)
Transnistria - is a breakaway territory within the internationally recognized borders of Moldova. Although not recognized by any other official country or international organization, it is de facto an independent state named the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. The country’s national coat of arms still includes the traditional hammer and sickle and the Lenin statue hasn’t yet been pulled down. The Pridnestrovie today may still retain the look of a Communist state and it’s called “the last remaining Stalinist dictatorship in Europe”.
This morning visit the Museum of Local History of Tiraspol, which gives a fascinating insight into the history of this break away republic. Afterwards embark on a morning tour of Tiraspol to orientate yourself with a city still housing Lenin statues and Soviet posters before the Victory Day Parade. The celebratory military parade is held annually on the 9th of May and sees uniformed officers and military bands march through the heart of the capital. Visit the main street with its parliamentary building boasting a relatively new Lenin statue and opposite, a T-32 tank from the Great Patriotic War era forms part of a monument which also contains soil from the pivotal battle of Stalingrad. Head north along the Dnister River , a route that takes you through small towns and villages still littered with statues of Lenin and other Communist monuments. Return to Moldova and stop near Old Orhei, which houses a stone fortress and the centuries-old St. Maria Dormata, a preserved orthodox cave monastery. Enjoy a traditional dinner and accommodation in Château Vartely. (B,D)
Visit Curchi Monastery, founded by a local man called Jordanian Curchi in 1765. The monastery ensemble consists of two churches and nine other buildings containing the living areas of the monks and abbots. On the way back to Chisinau visit Cricova Winery. Moldova has a growing reputation for its wine produce so no tour to the country is complete without a tasting tour; Cricova hosts one of the biggest underground wine cities in Europe. Over 120km of underground tunnels sit up to 100m below ground, once excavated when the limestone was used to build Chisinau and converted into a wine storage facility in the 50’s. More than a million vintage wines are kept in these tunnels and there are even said to be bottles owned by Vladimir Putin amongst the rare collections. In the afternoon, arrive in Chisinau to discover the not so apparent attractions of the capital of the Republic of Moldova. The tour will visit the open markets, the Unic Shopping Centre, the Ciuflea Monastery, the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History. Many of Chisinau’s major highlights are concentrated in the central part of town so a walk around the city’s main avenue visits the Organ Hall, the City Hall, the Cathedral Complex, the Grand National Assembly Square and the impressive House of Government. (B,L)
Today loosen your belts as delicious local lunches and dinners with wine are sampled. Learn how to cook Moldovan food. At "Casa Parinteasca" Craft Centre in the village of Palanca, see traditional Moldovan costumes and customs, as well as learning how to cook the best known Moldavian dish – “placinte” (a delicious pastry). After we prepare everything, the lady of the house will put them in the oven for 3 hours at least, and whilst they cook, visit the Honey Museum from Raciula, learn about the life of bees, taste different kinds of honey and other honey products. Later visit several families who produce different kinds of liquors, a family who produces different kinds of cheeses, and the third family, who produces different products made from the apples of their own orchard.
Returning to ”Casa Parinteasca” Museum enjoy a very special lunch, sampling your earlier cooking. Traditional dishes will be served with the best local wine, while the organic herbal tea, accompanied by quince jam is a delicious end to the meal. After lunch if there is time visit a few monasteries in the local area before retuning to Chisinau for a farewell dinner with local wine. (B,L,D)
Transfer to the airport for your flight back to the UK. (B)