For those of you who email me about such things, Bendery is also known as Bender…
And Bendery was actually the first town we entered in Transnistria. After passing through the border checkpoint, one descends the hill pictured below into Bendery:
By the way, despite all of the rumors about bribes and hassles crossing the border into Transnistria, we encountered none of that either coming or going. The border officials were courteous and pleasant to us and even gave us receipts for the required fees to enter Transnistria.
The Battle of Bendery:
Bendery stood out in my mind before arriving in Transnistria because it was host to the most vicious fighting during the 1992 conflict. And, indeed, many buildings in the center have walls that still feature the unmistakable patterns of bullet damage.
However, you won’t see much evidence of the war if you just stay on the main road and drive straight through to Tiraspol – you have to actually go into Bendery for that. Instead, as the road to Tiraspol merely passes along the outskirts of Bendery, you’ll just see modern housing blocks as well as a supermarket and gas station pressed up against a dramatic monument.
The housing blocks reminded me of how Pripyat must have looked in its prime:
The first place we stopped was near the monument:
Transnistria is quite clean and free of graffiti:
Across the street was this Sherrif supermarket complex:
I talked about the ubiquitous Sheriff organization in my last post on Transnistria and its presence is felt just as strongly outside Tiraspol as within.
Some of the residential neighborhoods of Bendery:
It is the older center of the city where many of the scars of war may still be seen on the buildings… And memorials to those killed during the war are evident along many of the main streets in this area:
Driving over the Dniester River on the infamous Bendery-Tiraspol bridge… There are still Russian troops positioned on the bridge:
Close to the bridge (on the Bendery side) is a memorial park dedicated to local victims of the 1992 war. An eternal flame to the unknown soldier burns in front of a tank which fies the Transnistrian flag.
The countryside past Bendery on the way to Tiraspol:
Remember I mentioned that Sheriff seems to control nearly every capitalist enterprise in the country? Well, our trip out of Transnistria through Bendery is a good example of that.
We needed fuel and where else could one stop but the Sheriff gas station?
And my Italian likes snacks, so a stop at the Sheriff supermarket (pictured above on the way into Transnistria) was necessary as well. Seconds after taking this picture an older man in a suit approached me and politely, but firmly informed me that I would not be taking any more pictures inside of the Sheriff supermarket: