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Stalinist Tourism

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ADN-ZB-Quaschinski-Hö-4.8.1951 Berlin: Das Stalin-Denkmal vor der Sporthalle in der Stalinallee (heute Karl-Marx-Allee).

Amazingly, this seems to be real:

Saturday 6th May – Bucharest Morning

  • Enjoy a hearty breakfast before we check out and securely store our bags in the hotel.
  • We’ll then meet our local Romanian guide for a day tour of Ceausescu’s Bucharest! No trip to Romania would be worth its salt unless we went and looked at everything and anything Ceausescu related, the don of Eastern Bloc extreme. We will do a local walking tour, seeing all the must-see sites from “revolutionary” times such as the enormous Palace of the Parliament, see where the Communist regime went down in flames on the bullet riddled streets around Revolutionary Square, see the churches that avoided Communist destruction by being placed on wheels and slid across the city and much more.

Afternoon

  • We’ll then give you the chance to explore the city at your own pace. You can use this opportunity to wander the streets of the charming old town, visit the ruins of Dracula’s palace in the centre of the city, explore the flea market near the old Russian church, view a severed arm that is said to bring you luck in one of Bucharest’s most charming churches, or you can venture out of downtown to visit the infamous Spring Palace. It was here during the decades of Communist rule, that Nicolae Ceausescu and his family lived in luxury. Preserved by the military during the violent downfall of Communism in Romania, the house looks almost the same as when the dictator and his family were in power. Expect gold plated bathrooms, gifts from Chairman Mao, and opulence like you’ve never seen!
  • The station features many supermarkets, fast food establishments and convenience stores. Here we’ll stock up on supplies for the night.
  • At 7:15pm, we’ll meet our transport for the evening: a Soviet era sleeper train formerly in service in East Germany. We will share 4 to a cabin and the train will be lifted off its wheels during the night to change gauge. This was a Stalin era trick to prevent invasion from the West.
  • The train often has a very retro bar cart attached which is a great place to socialise and watch the sunset over the Romanian countryside.
  • Overnight on the train as we head to Chisinau, Moldova.
  • Monday 8th May – Tiraspol Morning
  • We grab breakfast and meet our local fixers who will take us into the war torn, breakaway state of Transnistria.
  • We transfer to Tiraspol, passing Russian border guards and KGB controls, then check into our Soviet era hotel.
  • We’ll then 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.
  • Afternoon
  • 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 you 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 in 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
  • Afterwards we can head to one of the countries few nightclubs and try our hand at Russian karaoke!
  • Overnight in Tiraspol

Whether there is a guest lecture by Jill Stein remains to be seen.

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