Officials demanded their visas -- an absurdity, because Transnistria doesn’t issue visas -- then showed them on a map of Europe where they’d have travel hundreds of miles to if they were turned away. “The guards were waiting for us to ask how to make it possible,” Levine says. The Americans played along and asked how to avoid such delays. Two hundred, came the answer.
“I realized that it was a negotiation because he didn’t say it with conviction,” Levine says. “I knew he wanted us to go across the border; he would get nothing if we didn’t.” They haggled and settled on 50 euros each. The whole thing took 20 minutes. Then they got back on the road and headed to the capital, Tiraspol.
Pick your battles
Being pragmatic is the best advice, but make sure you have a plan in case things go awry. Have the US embassy or consulate number handy in case a policeman’s request is egregious or he is aggressive. It can be a good idea to touch base with the embassy or consulate where you’re visiting to just let them know your plans. Let your friends and family know your itinerary and check in; if your encounter with local law enforcement goes badly you’ll be glad you did.
And before you head out of the country, do double-check the visa thing. You can avoid a lot of headaches and extra expense by making sure your documents are as bulletproof as possible.
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