Transnistria - Tiraspol - Lenin Street

Moldovan Impressions: The Breakaway Territories, Part 3

Our mock tourist guide of Transnistria continues! After the history and travel logistics sections, let’s talk about the attractions, the gastronomy, and the souvenirs. I have to warn you: “pretty” isn’t the first adjective that comes to mind when thinking of Transnistria and its capital city, Tiraspol. And I dare anyone to name a Transnistrian national dish. Don’t […]

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Transnistria - Tiraspol - Kirov Park - Antikrizisnaya Vodka

Moldovan Impressions: The Breakaway Territories, Part 2

9 November 1989: the Berlin Wall falls, marking the end of the division between the East and the West. Within a year, the Eastern Bloc collapses. 27 August 1991: following the failed Soviet August Coup, Moldova, like most other republics in the USSR that haven’t done so yet, declares its independence. 8 December 1991: the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and […]

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Moldovan Impressions: The Breakaway Territories, Part 1

With only three and a half million inhabitants and a territory smaller than the New York metropolitan area, one might think that Moldova doesn’t have any ethnic conflicts. The composition of the population seems pretty straightforward: 70% Moldovans, followed essentially by ethnicities from neighboring countries, such as Ukrainians, Romanians, and Russians. Ah yes, Russia… Sure […]

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Road to Ordubad

Azerbaijan Adventures, Part 2

Reading about the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in a travel book leaves you under the impression that the place suffers from acute spying paranoia. Here’s what the Traiblazer Azerbaijan Guide (now in its 4th edition) has to say: “while local people are very friendly and hospitable, the same can’t be said for the police and officials […]

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Ordubad - Shora Cheshme Restaurant - Kitchen

Azerbaijan Adventures, Part 1

It’s been a long time since I last posted about my adventures in the Caucasus, and the Azerbaijan stories promise to be plentiful. I’d like to start this series with a quintessential Azerbaijan experience: the outdoor restaurant. This humble place, which always follows the same principles whether you’re in the mountains, arid plains, or shady […]

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Stepanakert - Papik Tatik Monument

Armenian Adventures, Part 5

The last part of our Armenian Adventures takes us to Nagorno-Karabakh, a de facto independent but unrecognized state within Azerbaijan (I’m sticking to the Wikipedia entry to avoid debates). Before heading to Karabakh, we made one last stop at the Goris market and nearby stores, where the usual Armenian produce (peppers, eggplant, zucchini, beans, radishes, tomatoes, […]

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Sukhum - Brigantina Mosaic

Georgian Adventures, Part 8

In our previous adventures, we entered Abkhazia, an almost-country that already has a language with a funky Cyrillic alphabet, a flag worthy of a banana republic, a warmongering emblem, a dead president (Vladislav Ardzinba, below), and authoritarian-looking billboards: Not to mention some of the most accomplished Soviet bus stop architecture: And some very Soviet-looking attractions, […]

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Ingur Bridge

Georgian Adventures, Part 7

The last leg of our Georgian Adventures took us to the controversial Republic of Abkhazia, the self-proclaimed independent region at the Northeastern tip of the country. Let me start with some practical information (dating from July 2010) for prospective travelers. Getting there isn’t trivial. The airport is closed, and its reconstruction is being delayed for […]

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