Inspiring Travel Books: Playing the Moldovans at Tennis

I have no idea where the idea to visit Moldova came from.  However, the idea definitely became solidified after I watched Places That Don’t Exist, a show exploring unrecognized nations, and I learned about Transnistria.  This tiny breakaway state has declared independence from Moldova and seeks to reclaim its Soviet past.  With its own government,military, currency, postal system and idea of what is socially acceptable, Transnistria is one of the least-visited regions of Europe and, as I discovered in 2010, a fascinating and welcoming place to visit.

All of this brings us to Tony Hawks’ book Playing the Moldovans at Tennis.  The author accepts a dare- to track down the entire Moldovan football (soccer!) team and beat each and every player at a game of tennis.  While his plan initially seems rather simple, the realization that he will have to cross into Transnistria to challenge a player from this “lawless” “nation” throws a kink in his plans…

If you become interested in Transnistria and don’t feel like crossing the militarized checkpoint to visit (it’s not that bad… I did it as a solo female traveler!), another great book about the region is Nicolai Lilin’s Siberian Education.  I’m glad I read this one upon my return from the region, as it describes Lilin’s early years in the town of Bender (the second-largest in Transnistria) where he was part of a community (the Urka) descended from criminals who had been relocated from Siberia.  Lilin describes the crime for which Trannistria is famous (infamous, perhaps), but which the average visitor will not encounter during their visit.

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One response to “Inspiring Travel Books: Playing the Moldovans at Tennis

  1. Wow, you’ve been there? I’m jealous. 🙂 I’ve wanted to visit Transnistria for a while, but Moldova is difficult and very expensive to get to from Hungary. It’s great to hear that you had no problem there.

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