Back in the USSR

About Tour

Constitutionally, the USSR was a federation of constituent Union Republics, which were either unitary states, or federations, who signed the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR in December 1922, and existed till 1991. 

The Soviet Union became the first country to adopt a command economy, whereby production and distribution of goods were centralized and directed by the government. 

Until its dissolution in late 1991, the way the Soviet economy operated remained essentially unchanged. The economy was formally directed by central planning, carried out by Gosplan and organized in five-year plans. 

The education system was highly centralized and universally accessible to all citizens. 

Health care was to be controlled by the state and would be provided to its citizens free of charge, a revolutionary concept at the time.  

As the most widely spoken of the Soviet Union's many languages, Russian de facto functioned as an official language, as the "language of interethnic communication", but only assumed the de jure status as the official national language in 1990. 

Being Communist, the Soviet Union was officially atheist. Nevertheless, many citizens engaged in religious practices, some secretly. 

The culture of the Soviet Union passed through several stages during the USSR's existence. During the first decade following the revolution, there was relative freedom and artists experimented with several different styles to find a distinctive Soviet style of art. Lenin wanted art to be accessible to the Russian people. On the other hand, hundreds of intellectuals, writers, and artists were exiled or executed, and their work banned. 

 

1 st Day

Back in the USSR

Included highlights:

Today we invite you to discover Transnistria – the old USSR is still alive and well in this autonomous region. It is a breakaway territory within the internationally recognized borders of Moldova. The country’s national coat of arms still includes the traditional hammer and sickle and the Lenin statue hasn’t yet been pulled down. This communist state is called “the last remaining Stalinist dictatorship in Europe”. 

First stop – at Bender Fortress. In 1713, the fortress, the town, and the neighboring village Varniţa were the site of skirmishes (kalabalik) between Charles XII of Sweden, who had taken refuge there with the Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa after his defeat in the Battle of Poltava. 

City tour of Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria and traditional ukrainian lunch.

 

Optional highlights:

On the way back to Chisinau, stop to Noul Neamt for a tour of the monastery. 

Kvint could be added as optional for groups minimum 5 people. 

Included meals:
  • Lunch

What People Say

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Natalia is an excellent guide, full of interesting information about the places we went, recommended a very good hotel, a good van and driver. She is everything else you want/expect from a tour guide, and she was also a hard-working, intelligent and caring member of our team. Without her skills, flexibility and perseverance, our trip would not have been as successful as it was. She really cares about her clients, and has the willingness and ability to make whatever needs to happen, happen. She was great!

Dear Razvan, 

Thank you so much for this fantastic educational trip. Your organisation was perfect, your company / guidance most appreciated. 

And i can say that this trip immediately comes in my top 5 trips ever in my 27 year career. Thanks a lot: fantastic discoveries, fantastic explanations, very good and nice hotels, excellent food everywhere, and so on...

Also specal thanks to Natasha. With her enthusiasm she made us discover Moldova and Transnistria in a fantastic way.

Have you ever wanted to go on a culture-wine-food tour? In California? France? Italy? Please, have some imagination! Be a little adventurous and go on one in Romania and Moldova. 

It was my good luck to participate in a tour organized by Ways Travel, during which i checked out the many wonders of Romania and Moldova. 

Our group on the bus was an international gang of nine – a Belgian, a German, a Norwegian, an Australian, a few Americans of interesting ethnic alloys and me, dual Dutch and American citizen. What can I say, it was an experience just sitting on a bus with these people and hear their war stories and get initiated into the workings of the behind-the-scenes travel industry. 

Leader of our tribe was the fabulous tour guide Victoria, who speaks four languages, English, German, Russian, Romanian, one of those people who makes a simple bilingual person such as myself feel humble and uneducated. 

The trip was a symphony of history, food, drink, music and dance. Dancing with the Gypsies no less. I tell you, it was fabulous, it was intoxicating. We got history – a dizzying whirl of wars and battles and bloody strife. Of conquests and annexations, of armies rampaging through the countryside, raping, pillaging and impaling. We heard colorful tales about Dacian tribes, the Roman Empire, the Red Horde, the Saxons, the Ottoman Empire, the communist era under Ceausescu. And let’s not forget to mention good old Count Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, who hailed from Transylvania. Really, we deserved every drop of hootch we got along the way to recover from all the tragedies we vicariously suffered through. 

In Romania we loved the beautiful towns of Sibiu and Sighisoara. In Sighisoara we missed seeing the house where Dracula was born because a movie was being filmed and they’d closed it off for visitors. Fortunately, we had a liqueur and brandy tasting to cheer us up. We hadn’t had lunch yet and our stomachs were empty, which helped raise the mood quickly. 

A highlight was our visit to the home of a Roma family in Transylvania and learning more about their culture and lifestyle. (You can read a story about this on my blog here.) Not all Gypsies are beggars living in the streets of large cities. It’s always a good thing to be disabused of your prejudices and preconceived notions. 

We stayed in excellent hotels and lodges, as well as in a humble hostel run by a monastery. We ate fancy restaurant food as well as simple village fare. We saw exquisite as well as cheery architecture, visited opulent cathedrals as well as the modest underground monastery chapel in Orhei Vechi, not far from Chisinau. The vino flowing across the miles was a charming mix of the good, the bad and the holy. The holy being the wine we tasted in a monastery, blessed by the priests. Unfortunately, the blessing did not transform it into nectar of the gods, but the dinner there was quite gourmet, all prepared from food grown by the monks without chemical assistance. 

We also visited Transnistria, which is a rather unique place, as most of you will already know. It is also home to the famous Kvint brandy factory and would you believe, we went there for a brandy dégustation – seven varieties of brandy. It was very informative, interesting and intoxicating. It was also lunch time, but fortunately there was food. We eventually struggled out of there, back on the bus, across the border that is not a border, and traveled down to the Purcari wineries in the south of Moldova where we were treated to . . . you guessed it . . . a wine tasting. Of ten types of wine. Not just any old village plonk, either. No, we got to sip the wine of kings, queens and tsars. Our livers got a workout that day. 

I’m going to stop here. There was more, much more, but I don’t want to give away everything, because what you should do, really, is check out Ways Travel’s website at www.ways.md .