I’ve traveled quite a bit and seen many strange places, but the strangest place I’ve ever been has got to be Transnistria.

Technically, Transnistria doesn’t exist. It’s not a real country. But it’s got its own currency, passports, and border security. It’s a leftover from the old Soviet Union, a breakaway communist state that refused to accept that the USSR had collapsed and decided to carry on its legacy.

Now, it’s a Russian-backed autonomous republic with a communist system of government, and traveling there felt like stepping back in time and wandering the streets of Leningrad or Minsk when the Soviet Union was still a global power. The most surprising thing about Transnistria? It was clean, well-maintained, and the entire capital city had free WiFi. Not bad for a fake country.

The first picture is a statue of Lenin in front of the parliament building (note the Russian flag in the background). The second picture is a traditional soviet cantina, the third picture is a workers mural on the side of an abandoned factory, and the fourth was taken in the basement of an Orthodox monastery that we visited, where we got to try some monk-brewed wine.