YPT for a tour in a land that we know and love, the nuclear wasteland of
Chernobyl and unrecognised country of Transnistria, both complemented by the
atmospheric Eastern European winter. Beginning in the vibrant Ukrainian capital
of Kiev, we will venture into the nuclear exclusion zone of Chernobyl,
featuring the ghost city of Pripyat. Led by our guide who was born inside the
exclusion zone, we can guarantee access to places that most visitors never see.
Kiev, we head South stopping at a recently decommissioned Soviet nuclear
missile launch base, where you will have the chance to push the button that
would have seen the end of the world as we know it! We then head on to the
rough port town of Odessa. Infamously known as the maternal city of the Russian
Mafia. This is our crossing point into the unrecognized country of
Transnistria, trapped in the style of the Soviet Union since a brutal civil war
with Moldova during the collapse of the USSR. We will spend two days here and
our years of experience and vast array of contacts in Transnistria mean we can
show you the far flung corners of this fascinating rebel republic.
then hit up the least visited and poorest country in Europe: Moldova! Here we
will tour the capital of Chisinau before visiting an underground winery to
sample a hearty amount of Moldova’s most well known export. Inside are the
personal wine collections of Putin, Merkel and even Hermann Goring! We will
even enjoy a tasting session in the same suite that both Vladimir Putin and
Yuri Gagarin celebrated their birthdays in.
we bid farewell to Moldova, we will then board a DDR era night train to
Romania. It remains a 1970’s time warp and often still has the ‘made in the
DDR’ plaques attached to the walls. The train is lifted in the air at the
border to change the wheels. This is a Stalin era technique deployed at the
borders of the Soviet Union in order to deter Western invasion.
offer discounts to all returning customers; contact us if you have any
questions or if you would like to book your place today!
Option for those arriving early enough to join a trip out into the Ukrainian wilderness to fire some Soviet machine guns, drive a Soviet tank, or both! (extra cost)
At 18:00, we meet up as a group outside of the hotel and head to the legendary Hospital Bar. Listed among the top places to drink in before you die, if you want to see people being set on fire or tied down and fed alcohol through a giant syringe, this is the place!
Dinner and drinks at the Hospital Bar.
Overnight in our Kiev hotel.
Saturday 5th November
We wake up nice and early to get on our comfortable AC minibus to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. On the way there,we stop for breakfast at a well-stocked gas station as well as watch a documentary on the disaster.The journey to the first checkpoint will take around two hours.
On arrival, we go through the entry procedure and processing of our permits. This can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to one hour.
Visit the village Zalissya and the main square of the town of Chernobyl.
Lunch at the Workers’ Cafe (no produce is grown onsite).
Visit the dock, local shops, Monument to the Firefighters, exposition of the remotely operated machines, hills of the buried village Kopachi, rustic kindergarten, panoramic angle of NPPA and the new sarcophagus, the Stone Road sign of Pripyat, Bridge of Death, Lenin Street, the main square of Pripyat, supermarket, Amusement Park, School #3 (with gas masks), and the Olympic swimming pool.
Visit Duga 3, nicknamed the “Russian Woodpecker,” a Soviet over-the-horizon radar at its base Chernobyl-2.
We will also try our best to visit some sights we cannot mention online.
Transfer back to Kiev.
After a short rest we’ll head out for an evening meal and some drinks.
Overnight in Kiev hotel.
Sunday 6th November
We load our bags onto the bus and hit the road into Southern Ukraine with a breakfast stop on the way.
Our first stop will be one of the most incredible sights in Ukraine, a recently-decommissioned Soviet ICBM base located in the wilderness of the Ukrainian steppe. If the missiles were launched from this top-secret Soviet base, the target cities were New York, Chicago, London and Paris and after about 30 min and one button the world as we know it would have been gone!
We’ll complete a fully guided tour of the base and even descend into the original control room and have the chance to set off the launch sequence that would have launched the rockets.
Around the base are hundreds of tons of discarded Soviet military equipment from missiles and tanks to fighter jets and anti aircraft weapons. You are free to film and photograph whatever you like.
Traditional Ukrainian dumplings and tea at the base before we hit the road to Odessa, arriving in the late evening at our hotel located in the Arkadia district.
Free time for dinner in one of the many restaurants around the hotel.
Overnight in Odessa.
Monday 7th November
Breakfast at the hotel, followed by an optional tour of the infamous Odessa Catacombs (extra cost of 10 Euro). These are one of the largest subterranean networks on earth and were used by everybody from the Mafia dumping bodies to the partisans attacking Nazi troops.
After the tour you’ll have free time in this historic city and have the chance to explore downtown.
In the late afternoon we’ll meet back at the hotel where we’ll be met by our team from Transnistria who will be leading us into the rebel republic.
We depart via bus for the 3-hour private bus ride to Tiraspol, capital of the breakaway republic of Transnistria.
On arrival at the border we will cross the no man’s land between Ukraine and Transnistria which is an infamous smuggling route and we register with immigration and KGB/MGB before transferring to the local version of the Soviet InTourist Hotel. This is the quintessential Soviet experience in the region’s original tourist hotel.
We go for dinner locally with drinks afterwards in one of the country’s few nightclubs.
Overnight in a Soviet Hotel.
Tuesday 8th November
For breakfast we’ll head to a great Ukrainian restaurant in Tiraspol. Be prepared as Transnistrians are well known for handing out complimentary shots of pepper-flavoured Vodka, whether it’s 9:00am or not!
We’ll then kick off our city tour of Tiraspol and stop at the flea market in Tiraspol, here it’s possible to buy all kinds of Soviet antiques for rock bottom prices. You never know what you will find!
Walk down the main street called October 25th street which has a billboard of former President Smirnoff: The warlord who turned president for almost twenty years. We’ll see the embassies of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the foreboding HQ of the infamous Sheriff organization and stop at a bookshop to pick up some Russian and Transnistrian nationalist paraphernalia, a mug with Putin or a fridge magnet of ICBMs firing across the atmosphere — why not?
We’ll then stop at the impressive House of the Soviets, built in Stalinist style with a large bust of Lenin outside.
We’ll mix with students at the Dolce Vita cafe, an inexpensive place with great buffet-style food and the eatery of choice for students at nearby Tiraspol university.
We’ll then transfer to the other end of October 25th street to see the North Korean style statue of Russian General Suvorov. Surrounding it are the flags of Russia, Transnistria and the breakaway brotherhood states of Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia.
Have your picture taken in front of a giant crest of Transnistria featuring the hammer and sickle!
Visit Parliament, housing one of the biggest statues of Lenin outside Russia.
Visit the Eternal Flame Memorial complex dedicated to the Soviet-Afghan war, WW2 and the Transnistrian civil war. Check out the battle-damaged T-34 monument to WW2; it’s permitted to climb on it and get an awesome photo.
We’ll then switch it up and board an old Soviet ferry without an engine and cross the Dniester river to see how the village people live across from Tiraspol. This is an area truly lost in the USSR!
We’ll visit a still-functioning palace of culture with an enormous head of Lenin outside, pockmarked with Kalashnikov bullet holes after Moldovan troops symbolically ‘executed’ him during the civil war.
We’ll then visit a stunning and completely self-sufficient monastery complex that has to be seen to be believed. We know many of the priests there and sometimes they allow us to sample their incredible homemade wine, however, this is subject to whether the one priest with the key is available on the day.
We pay a visit to a local store which hasn’t changed since the USSR and still uses an abacus to calculate the total. Here we’ll stock up on $3 Kvint cognac (One of the best cognacs of the Soviet era), $1 vodka and local smoked cheese.
We then head to a stunning viewpoint and Soviet obelisk that was one of the most brutal battlefields during WW2. In the Russian-speaking world, it’s respect to the dead to raise a shot of cognac or vodka in their honour and we’ll do just that!
Return to Tiraspol and head for dinner at 7Fridays, a Tiraspol institution!
Overnight in Tiraspol.
Wednesday 9th November
After breakfast we Transfer to Bender, one of Transnistria’s biggest cities and the site of fierce fighting during the civil war. We enter one of the largest outdoor markets in all of Transnistria. Guests will be able to shop and buy anything they want at very, very low prices. Also, many opportunities for old-world-type photos. This is a true old school, Russian market. Expect pigs’ heads, spices and everything imaginable for sale.
We leave the market and continue walking down the main street until we reach the main church in the center, well renovated and a favorite place for couples to get married. Here you can buy inexpensive Russian Orthodox jewellery and icons.
We’ll check out the city hall which has been left exactly as it was during the civil war and is still filled with bullet holes.
We continue walking down the main street until we arrive at Lenin Park. We view the main fountain, the bust of Lenin before going into the local cinema which is largely unchanged since Soviet times except Mission Impossible is playing instead of Soviet propaganda.
We continue to walk down the main street until we reach the train station, renovated and well maintained. It seems like a ghost town because only a few trains stop here, and there are almost no passengers. Besides the train station is an old Soviet train from WWII with the hammer and sickle on the front.
We’ll have lunch in the town at a local cafe called CCCP, this is designed to create a sense of nostalgia for locals and is packed with original Soviet memorabilia and great food.
We head to the river to check out ‘The Great October’ theme park. There are old amusement rides including bumper cars and mini Ferris wheels here. A scene right out of the 1950s, it may look abandoned but the rides are still operating and are very cheap.
After Bender, we’ll board our bus for the short two-hour journey to Chisinau, the capital of Europe’s least visited country: Moldova!
Check into the local Soviet-era hotel and head out for dinner and drinks at an incredible steakhouse.
Overnight in Chisinau hotel.
Thursday 10th November
After breakfast, we’ll start our city walking tour of Chisinau. We’ll visit the abandoned National Hotel, see one of the most stunning monasteries in the city which was thankfully spared destruction under communism, and see the infamous city prison which has been declared a breach of human rights amongst other things.
We’ll see the enormous World War II Memorial and climb some tanks and surface to air missiles at the Military Museum!
Visit the local flea market, great for antiques and Soviet kitsch!
Lunch at a local Soviet-style canteen followed by free time in the city.
Overnight in Chisinau hotel.
Friday 11th November
After breakfast we’ll board our bus for the thirty-minute drive to Cricova Winery to see the wine-making process and to — of course — sample a good amount of Eastern Europe’s best wine! This is one of the most fantastic wine cellars you are ever likely to see. Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel have wine collections here and on display is wine liberated from Hermann Göring during the last days of WW2. Yuri Gagarin famously spend two nights getting drunk in the tunnels and claimed ‘’it was easier to get to space than to pull myself out of Cricova Winery!’’.
Free afternoon in Chisinau.
We’ll meet up in the afternoon to grab our bags and souvenir wine and head to the station for the 16:55 train to Bucharest. This is an old-school communist-era 4-berth sleeper and still has the made in the DDR plates on some of the walls!
During the night, we’ll pass border control and the train will be lifted off the tracks to change wheel gauge.
Overnight on the sleeper train.
End of Group 4.
Saturday 12th November
06:30 arrival in Bucharest (depending on customs).
The train station in Bucharest has a large supply of places to grab breakfast and get wifi. Here we’ll bid farewell to each other.
Option to extend your adventure further into the Eastern Bloc as our concurrent Eurasian tour explores Communist-era Bucharest before heading deeper into the Balkans and the former Yugoslavia!