This is the third part of a short series from a recent trip to Moldova my friends made from PA. Since many friends and family from home would love the opportunity to do the same, I’m sharing our adventures with you so you can experience it as well. So pack your bags, your coming to Moldova (without leaving home)! Drum bun (have a good road)!
Next stop after a few days in Balti, we go to the capital city of Moldova, Chisinau. Remember when you first arrived to Moldova and your friend made you get on a rutiera for 2 hours to go somewhere else? Well, now you’re back in this city and can actually explore it instead of driving through it.
Your friend takes you to an American BBQ restaurant where you meet one of the owners, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who shares the story of how he and another RPCV and a local friend opened up the restaurant about a year ago. You taste their BBQ and some local micro-brewed beer (or maybe you have a coke) and hear a bit about life as a local business owner in Moldova. You make note to check out Smokehouse’s site: smokehouse.md and to read more about the process they have gone through in opening a business in Moldova without paying bribes: opensource-entrepreneurship.org
One day you meet two more friends of your friend and you all go on a underground tour of Milestii Mici, a Moldovan winery that holds the Guinness World Records as the biggest wine collection in the world. You take lots of photos, explore the underground limestone tunnels lined with ginormous barrels of wine, and savor various flavors of their wine.
Photo opp at the wine fountain before going underground
Mold growing on the cork is a good thing
The food & table setup that went with our fancy wine tasting
Driving through the underground tunnels — note the size of the barrels compared to a large rutiera (like a 15 passenger van)
The walls of all the various types of wine
All together at the entrance of Milestii Mici
Some of the other days you explore the city and discover some fun parks…
Try some new foods, Czech beer, and fun coffee!
Another day you adventure outside of the city to a monastery, Orheiul Vechi. Your friend warns you that we may or may not make it there or back in the way we originally hoped or planned. Plus uncertain that it would be open since it was a holiday. You question your friends ability to be so calm at these moments and wonder how it actually will work out.
Thankfully, it’s open and the public transport to and from this incredibly beautiful place works out on this day. As you explore the beautiful scenery, you notice how serene and peaceful it is even with the drastic drop off reminding you not to get too close to the edge.
Walking down underground into the old monastery
The entrance of the oldest part of the monastery
Beautiful scenery at Orheiul Vechi
The rutiera finally arrived and there were a lot of people waiting with us for it – thankfully it was a little bit larger to fit all of us to go back to Chisinau
Inside the new church
Inside the new church, the words say “Christ has risen” in Romanian
The ledge outside of the old monestery
Overview of Orheiul Vechi
All of us together at Orheiul Vechi
The new monastery part
There is so much to take in when exploring a new place. So many new sights, smells, tastes, and sounds. You try to take it all in so you can share it all with curious friends and family from home.
The art market where people sell handmade items.
The apartment building we stayed in while in Chisinau.
One of the nearby Orthodox churches we stayed near.
After a few days of adventures and explorations in various parts of Moldova it is time to go home. You make your way to the airport and say farewells and see-you-laters in front of the the passport control line.
As you wave goodbye to Moldova from the airplane, you think about all the memorable memories that were made in a brand new place. Now you have a better understanding of where your Peace Corps Volunteer friend calls “home” for now. Poftim!
Photos by: Hannah Ingram
(which are so fun to see since they’re through a new set of eyes and a new perspective! Thanks Hannah!)