Date: September 2019 Duration: 5 hours Distance: 230km
Leaving Galați after very little sleep as a result of a wedding on the Danube, I head for the EU exit for the second time on this trip. The border with Moldova is just a few kilometres away along the river, on the other side of an old industrial area.
I am alone at the exit border of Romania. The guard is mostly interested in asking me questions about London.
Entering Moldova is a bit more work and waiting around. The guard this time collects documentation from everyone in the queue, including driving licences which is quite unusual, before disappearing into his office for about 15 minutes.
Finally in Moldova and I am rather pleased that I did not attempt my other plan from the previous day. I arrived in Galați mid-afternoon and gave thought to the idea of pushing on to the city of Comrat, around 150km into Moldova and half-way along my route to Transnistria.
I had previously considered Bulgarian roads to be of poor quality, but they’re positively wonderful compared to those in Moldova. I am following the Euroroute E584, a trunk road. Shortly before the road enters Ukraine, I take a left turn along the E584 on an unpaved section which lasts for several kilometers. If I was in any doubt that I am riding on a trunk road, this is soon confirmed by the numerous trucks I pass.
There is however sign of recent investment with some good quality highway but much of it still looks as if it has been hardly maintained since this was part of the USSR.
My ride through Moldova is just that, only riding. I plan to stop once for petrol and then to leave the country around 5 hours after entering it, going into the self-declared Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, also known as Transnistria.
The next day is Transnistrian Independence Day in Tiraspol, the capital city. It’s a shame to skip Moldova as despite appearing quite an empty country, it would have been good to explore and visit some of it. However the pull of a Soviet-style military parade is far too tempting to miss out on.
Eventually on the approach into what appears to be a regular town, I encounter a Moldovan customs checkpoint. I am waved through, as they’re only interested in traffic travelling in the other direction.
About 500 metres later I come to the border post for Transnistria. I’m instructed to park up and buy a vignette for €4, and then visit passport and customs control.
After what is one of my most rapid border crossings outside of the EU, I am riding in Transnistria. I was expecting something quite soviet…