Shell Game Skopje Mecedonia

Well – Always been facinated by this game, that is all over the world. The profit must be quite good, as it take only a minute to realise, that the one doing the magic tricks is not alone in this scam. Most of the bystanders is into this game as well.  The bystanders will win some money and in this way draw the attention of the tourist. They will also try to make the tourist join. Maybe a lot of money will change hands. They are leading the bull to the slaughterhouse.

At first you maybe will win some money, when the bet is low. But as the bet increses suddently you ill not be that lucky. You will maybe think that you always has 1/3 chance of winning, but you will be wrong. What if the ball is not in the game at all, but somehere else? Then there is 100 pct. chance of losing.

You can better you chances by saying that you think that the ball is under one of the shells and then turning over the other two, leaving the one, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

If you want to play this game, do it for the fun of it and never for money you do not want to lose.

Transnistria – A perfect little Soviet sattelite state

Transnistria – a country that dosen’t exist.

Transnistria is a bit of land between Moldova and Ukraine near the Dnestr River. It broke ties with Moldova and declared independence 1990 resulting in a civil war ending in 1992  It is a fully working state with police, army and currency (transnistria Ruble). It has not been recognised by any United Nations member and rely heavely on Russian subvention. Belowe is a pictureframe of Putin at Dnestr.

Putin at Dnestr

There is absolutely no reason not to go to Transnistra. The people are really friendly and its kind of fun, that the country do not exist Official. Do not be let on by the old stories of the borderproblems. Nowadays it is fast and easy to get in and out.

In many way it is just like a fairy tale about communism like it should be. Marx didn’t define Communism other than as a paradise utopia that followed socialism.  Maybe Transnistria is it  Not that life is not hard in Transnisstria. It is. This enclave is frozen in time.

Tiraspol

Tiraspol is the Capital of Transnistria. Here there are still many of the soviet statues of Lenin and big impressive soviet communist buildings along the main street.

 

Well, It is impossible to get enough of Lenin. In Tiraspol he is still around.

There is another blog post about Tiraspol, see below .

Transnistria Tiraspol – Independence day celebrations.

In the backstreet the nice and easy life of the citizens of Tiraspol is lived.

On the production side nothing really seems to work. Lots of factories was abandoned. But this is the same all over the world. Or maybe the closure of the factories are a result of the civil war?

Bender

Is a city close to the border with Moldova. Known for Bender Fortress and little else. I didn’t like the fortress much. It was crudely renovated with big blocks of cement, and that was not invented in 1538. However I think there is other more interesting thing to do in Bender.

And yes!!! –  There is a green Lenin in the park.

Bucharest Taxi Scam

Bucharest is a wonderful City. The Taxies however not so much.

After a bone breaking ride from Sofia to Bucharest by minibus with no shock absorbers  trough the night, I arrived in a ploughed field  outside Bucharest in the middle of the morning. My options where limited. Two taxi drivers where waiting. You just know this is not going to be good.  I did get him to use the meter. But of cause with a tax of  17 Lei instead of 1,39. This is just an example.

As I figured out it is the tariff on the metre that is the real deal breaker.

Above is seen a meter. This meter is completely legal. There is two tariff. One for driving and one for waiting in queue. (It happens :o)) This means that there is no Sunday afternoon tariff and no other kind of extras. If the driving tariff is not 1,39 Lei or there about. Something is fishy. Do not take anything for granted. Everything can be faked. I was told by a local, that an indications could be found on the side of the taxi as shown. If the data of the orange plate is outdated, it is definitely a pirate. The above picture is of cause of a legal one.  It seems to me just a little bit to easy to falsified. And I know that when you see the meter, it is to late.

This leads me to the wonderful world of mobile data. You can of cause use your mobile phone to access a maps and here it is easy to see how many kilometres there are to your destination.  Gives a rough estimate of how much the faire will be. Gives a bit of leverage.

Bucharest is a wonderful city to get lost in. And when you want to go home  taxies are very cheap and available. It is possible to get taxi with apps. or just phone them to avoid the hassle.

I kind of like the rascal’s. It is just like putting your wit up against theirs and loosing. It is only a question how much.

When succeeding  in getting a 1.39 Lei Taxi, I think it is important to tip. It is really not a question of survival.  It is in the end of the day it is only money.

1700 Bucharest to Chisinau Sleeper

 

The train between Bucharest and Chisinau is absolutely wonderful. It have been unaffected by time and is  a real treat for Soviet nostalgic like myself.

 

 

Buying a ticket in Bucharest main station  Gara de Nord was absolutely no problem. Now  435km of pure nostalgia on wheels was ahead. In the front of the train there were 2 passenger carriers for local not going on the whole length of the trip. The implications of this is that this is going to be one time-consuming trip. The train will stop at every single village on the way. But as I see it, this makes  it a true little adventure. It was warm like a Russian sauna when I entered the train. The smell of sausage, sweat and cigarettes was very strong. I asked if it was possible to open the window but according to the conductor it was not possible. I was in a 4 bed compartment. This is 2nd class. In 1st class there is only two beds. I shared the compartment with a man from Moldova. Most compartments where empty in my carriage.  At 1700 sharp the train was set in motion. The little ventilation from the speed helped.

The slow journey trough the  relatively flat landscape with frequent stops  commenced.  The train was signalling trough the night and the monotone sound of wheels on track  had a mesmerising sound to it. The further we drove into the night, the  colder it got. Lined has been provided by the conductor. And I had good use of the rough thick blanket At 0230 we arrived at the border. All the border and custom control  was done. I had a problem, as the Moldavian side had to check my passport. Normally I will be very reluctant  to leave my passport out of sight, but if you cannot trust border authorities, who can you trust. It took the better part of 3 hours before I got my passport back. I put it all to a part of the experience.

Now one of the weirdest scenes and part of the reason for going on this train. The changing of the wheels. In our modern efficient time this is relic from older civilised ages where travel took time. To prevent any invasion by rail the gauges is a little smaller in Moldova than in Romania. Hence they will lift the carriages and  change the wheels. This is a very loud business and there is a lot of moving around and working with heavy tools. During this time you will find the toilet locked….They need to change the Engine too. In the next compartment there has been removed some steel poles to release wheels from the body.  To separate the body from the wheels heavy duty hydraulic lifts are used. It is a massive job and takes 3-4 hours. During this time you are going to stay inside the train. I do not know if it is a military secret anymore, this business with the track, but I took some pictures with my phone. In II world war it didn’t hold the German invasion and nowadays it is just a mayor inconvenience. For non tourists I can see their point of view.

For me however it is a genuine adventure. This is what train travel is all about. Original and unique. It is just like looking into a world 40 years ago. A time machine on wheels. And gives you time to reflection or some much needed sleep (bring earplugs .o) ).

Facts: Bus 8 hours – Night train  13 hours 49 min.