Travelling to Moldova.
Today I’m going to reach a country where I’ve never been before: Moldova. To reach its capital Chișinău from Iași there are two options: catching the only train leaving at 3:00 AM or taking one of the many buses during the day. I’m sure that due to the not friendly scheduling of the train you wouldn’t be surprised if I’m here in a local bus reaching the main station of Iași to take bus leaving at 09:00 or next one, half hour later. Bus scheduled at 09:00 is a bit late so I’m able to catch it. Border is not so far, we reach it after 30 minutes and custom procedures are quite straightforward. The bus is actually a minivan but it is almost empty. There are much more passengers boarding along the road after the border. There is absolutely nothing interesting to see outside. The day is also quite cloudy. I just can say that landscape is similar to Romania. I have imagined to see some more clear evidence of the poverty this country since is considered the poorest in Europe. Arrived in town I ask the driver to leave me in the city centre to make shorter my walk or the bus ride to the guest house I’ve booked. I’m pretty relaxed. I have the time to take local money, the Moldovan Lei, from an ATM and then to get a coffee from a mini truck in the street. I notice that local buses are frequent so, after some study I identify the one that can lead me close to my destination. Tickets are bought on board from the ‘conductor’ as in Albania. The guest house is nice and clean with an incredibly fast wifi and the hosts are very friendly, even if they speak only little english. I’ve been offered coffee, biscuits and chocolate as a welcome. Afterward I don’t wait too much before getting out and go to see how is Moldovan Capital.
Centre of Chișinău isn’t so small as someone could imagine. Even if the weather is becoming cloudier and cloudier I prefer to walk from the guesthouse to downtown in order to start to get familiar with this place. I pass by the circus and I verify that unfortunately there are shows only on Sunday. There also a football field with a strange monument to the ball. Once in the centre I walk on the pedestrian street, Strada Eugen Doga, with some restaurant that could be good for the evening. At the end there is a park. It is called the Cathedral park and not surprisingly it hosts Chișinău’s Cathedral. Bad weather doesn’t allow to appreciate properly the park and the Cathedral. The “Cathedral of Christ’s Nativity” was built in 1830. It stands exactly in the middle of the park and has a separate bell tower just in front of it. The ensemble is interesting. South-West the park there is a small arc-de-triomphe facing the government house and the Bulevardul Ștefan cel Mare. Local hero Ștefan cel Mare statue is standing at the entrance of park named after him that is close to the one with the Cathedral. Chișinău is quite different from what I expected. Some nice shop, clean streets, decent cafes and in general a mixed Romanian-Russian atmosphere. If most of mindsets I had are being erased by the experience, one is going to survive, Chișinău is not full of touristic sights so basically I’ve seen already most of what was available so, taking into account that it also started to rain, I have to switch to “museum mode”. I was interested in Natural History one, hosting some dinosaur’s bone but is closed on Monday so I switch to the Archeology and History Museum. Outside there is an helicopter, who knows why. More interesting are the anthropomorphic steles thousands of years old. Beside the permanent collections the museum also hosts a temporary exhibition of watches and clocks and another one of weapons. Permanent collection is about country’s history and is located on the upper floor. It contains a lot of coins and findings mostly from Orheiul Vechi, a place that I would like to visit tomorrow. When I finish the visit it is still raining. I greet the Lupoaica Romei (the wolf of Rome) standing in front of the museum. A symbol that not only in Romania but also here in Moldova is used to emphasise Latin ancestry.
Dinner in the centre.
After some rest in the guesthouse I get out for the dinner and for just three Moldovan Lei, about 15 Eurocents, I go downtown by bus. There are several beer houses along Strada Eugen Doga. I choose one that has table outside because finally it stopped raining and the temperature is not so cold. I’m going to eat meat again, because actually there are not so many alternatives in the local menus. At least I’m changing the kind of meat, switching from pork to veal. Centre is not so lively but maybe is just because today is Monday. However some people can be seen until late or, better to say, until the time I go back home, ready for tomorrow’s excursion to Orheiul Vechi.
Below you can find a gallery with pics of the two days in Moldova.