We did not take the most direct route out of Chisinau, as this would take us through the disputed region of Transnistria – currently under Russian military control, and seeking independence.
Instead we headed South, despite Lonely Planets’ insistence that Transnistria is a “must see” – if crap Soviet architecture really floats your boat?
Maybe next time….?
(BTW – hope there is a next time, enjoyed Chisinau and the Moldovans!)
This Southern crossing looked relatively minor and quiet on the map, and indeed was lovely and quiet when we got there.
We tried on multiple occasions and at multiple change outlets in Moldova to get hold of some Ukranian currency – but “Nyet!” – nowhere had any – despite the signs outside indicating otherwise?
Approaching the border post there were insurance booths, but these sell only Moldovan insurance green cards? Enquiring about Ukranian cards produced general waves in the direction of the border. Hhhhmmm….this could be a repeat of the Moldovan entry debacle?
Waking up the sleepy but inquisitive border staff on the Moldovan side they took our paperwork, practiced a few lines of English on us, then expressed some disgust at the “Winter Nips” sweets I passed around.
We waited a while, then they waved us through with “Goodbyes” and “Good lucks”. An easy and pleasant half hour in the shade listening to the birds sing!
Driving slowly to the Ukranian gate we were met by a large Ukranian female soldier whose combat fatigues were straining to keep everything in some kind of order. Her barked command for green card revealed a fair proportion of the Ukranian Federal gold reserve in place of teeth. We tried to explain that we had not been able to get the card and could we purchase here or after customs please? At this point she inexplicably got all girly and giggly and wobbled off to consult a superior, then relented and let us through.
The staff were pretty helpful though, and roused a uniformed chap who could issue insurance, but who obviously rarely did as he struggled with the forms for a good half hour. They were also a bit flummoxed by our lack of Ukranian currency and suggested €15 – over the odds – but only a few quid over, and what else could we do?
Passports then stamped, and the whole lot taken to a third and final chap who gave the entire paperwork bundle the once over and deemed us fit to proceed.
This whole green card thing is getting a bit weird? Two crossings expected us to already have one, but despite much searching we have been unable to purchase Moldovan or Ukranian prior to their borders?
Leaving customs we entered….a field….with a rough track across it?The village of Serpneve then lined the track, which proved to be an opportunity for our suspension to work overtime.We had planned 3-4 hours to get to Odessa on the Black Sea but both Odometer and trip computer soon revealed our speed was rarely above 20kph.
At this rate Odessa was over 10 hours away!
I took over driving – and swerved, braked and accelerated hard in an effort to avoid the potholes, cracks and 4×4 sized splits in what was once tarmac.
Even my totally awesome off-road skills and super cool driving style (!) rarely took us above 40kph. This was the price we had to pay for using the easy but obscure border crossings!
A check of the map showed that – assuming the E87 was not similarly surfaced like Satans scrotum – we had 60 km’s of this bone crunching to endure.
Another thing that was very striking about the villages in this corner of the Ukraine, although it took a while to register….a complete absence of commerce. Of any description. No adverts. No village shops. No stalls. No markets. Not even people selling produce in their front yards. Lonely Planet describes this area as “one of the least developed areas in all of Europe” and we concur!