Overland to Oz Itinerary Overview: Eastern Europe: Iasi – Chisinau – Moscow

by Anna Blanch on September 29, 2012

“All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.”~ Paul Fussell

As I mentioned in a previous post, delineating the different ‘regions’ of Europe is not a simple matter. I mentioned that I had decided to go with the CIA factbook delineation of Central, Eastern, South Eastern, with Russia recognised as a transcontinental country with a ‘regional’ label all of its own.

Eastern Europe: Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine

This itinerary includes Moldova and will transit through Ukraine on the way to Moscow.

      • Day 13: travel from Iasi, Romania to Chisinau, Moldova.
      • Day 14: Travel from Chisinau, Moldova to Moscow, Russia (Chisinau – Moscow )
      • Day 15: travel day
      • Day 16: arrive in Moscow

My itinerary will see me leaving from Iasi, (pronounced yash) and travelling via Chisinau in Moldova to Moscow.

The train arrives in Chisinau at 8:30am the morning following departure.

Bucharest (Bucuresti Nord) to Moscow (Moskva Kievskaja)
Train D402 / not daily
Schedule: Dep. 7:10 p.m. – Arr. 4:23 p.m. (second day arrival)
Travel time: 44:13
Train change: 1
Via: Bucharest, Buzau, Iasi, Chisinau(transfer to D47CH), Kiev, Moscow

This is my favourite online guide to romania and moldova for anyone else interested in this region.

After reading all the material relating to transit visas, i’m beginning to wonder if i’m going to have to sell a kidney to get a transit visa. This is one time where being australian is not going to help me. I guess the alternative would be to marry an american or a brit in the next 12 months – but I can’t see that happening either.

Oneway for me to travel to Chisinau will be via a Maxitaxis to Chisinau Which leave from outside the Billa supermarket five times daily (which cost 25 lei, and take about four hours). However there are also up to six daily buses (much slower) to Chisinau (30 lei) which depart from the bus station.

If been told that If you haven’t acquired a Moldovan visa in advance, that I should have a completed visa application ready at the border or risk being left behind by an impatient bus driver.

I’ve also been told that trains go throughout the day to Ungheni, a border town just 21km away. However, it is inadvisable to  take this train unless you already have a visa for Moldova, as there are no visa processing facilities at this crossing and you risk being turned away.

There’s an overnight train service between Bucharest and Chişinău; at 12 or 13 hours, the journey is longer than taking a bus or maxitaxi (the train heads north to Iaşi, then south again), but is more comfortable. It also lets you experience a unique bogie change at the border. The train lurches, vibrates and clanks while the undercarriages are changed; to slow down a potential invasion, the USSR changed all its train tracks to a wider gauge and, to this day, trains entering and exiting the ex-Soviet Union must undergo this bizarre operation.

So I still have decisions to make about this leg – do I travel by train, by maxi-taxi, or by bus and exactly which route out of Iasi is something I’m not completely sure about.

To go back to the post where I introduce all the itinerary posts, click here.

As always I welcome feedback, comments and advice during the planning of this trip. In the last week, readers have visited Goannatree from:

Netherlands, South Africa, Poland, Turkey, Russian Federation, Romania, Finland, Brazil, Ireland, Japan, Iraq,  the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Thailand. Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Ukraine, Vietnam, India, Belgium, Singapore, Spain, Iceland, Senegal, Peru, Egypt, Chile, Malaysia, Belize, Qatar,

Big deep breath….

South Korea, Germany, Belarus, Czech Republic, Mexico, Lebanon, Ecuador, Kenya, Macao, and Mongolia, Slovakia, Moldova, Taipei, Taiwan, Germany, Morocco, Switzerland, Jordan, Thailand, Israel, Sweden, Italy, Uganda,  Sudan, Cyprus, Brazil, Venezuela, Brunei  Darussalam,  Tanzania, Dominican Republic,

as well as…

Serbia, Cambodia, Albania, Nigeria,  Islamic Republic of Iran, South Africa, Denmark, Egypt, Trinidad and Tobago, Portugal, Greece, Barbados, Hungary, Hong Kong, Burma, Montenegro, and Chile —

it absolutely blows my mind…  – I am sure many of you have experience and advice to offer!


Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.

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Traveller. Scholar. Photographer. Writer. Dreamer. Teacher.

Anna Blanch is founder of Goannatree, and a PhD candidate in the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, Scotland. Overland to Oz is a crazy adventure marked with photos and word and inspired by the incredible women in Anna’s family, especially her late grandmother, whom she knew as Nan-Nan.

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  • Olga

    Dear Anna! I’m originally from Moldova. I live in US now. Natalie Lee asked me to write my thoughts about your East European trip. If you can fly from Bucharest to Chisinau and from Chisinau to Moscow it would solve a lot of problems. I would not recommend to cross the border between Romania, Ukraine, Transnistria, Moldova during the night time. Even if you have a visa and all the papers are well prepared you still can have problems as foreigners are a great source to get some money…sorry but it happens a lot. Even when I was travelling between all these country borders every time they are asking for different papers, different documents , in different languages and they want you to pay if you can not present it. If you don’t want to pay they may take you off the train. You don’t want to be in the street in the night time alone with no local skills and no local languages spoken. Be very carefully at the border with Transnistria. It is not recognized republic and there are no legal rules to control what can happen at that border. Keep the little paper they give you entering Transnistria if you lose it you will be asked to pay 150 USD
    If you are travelling with train or maxi-taxi you may have unpleasant company, like drunk people or a group of men who are not “polite”.
    You may have a good luck and all will be just fine. But chances to have difficulties are bigger.
    Find a local trip companion or just fly!
    Good luck!

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