Monasteries, Wine, and a Really Chilled Time

Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
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Trip End Dec 16, 2012


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Flag of Moldova  ,
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Back in the early nineties, the 'Iron Curtain' came down, and the USSR was no more. Countries were reformed in Europe as they broke away from Russia. One little known country was Moldova. We didn’t know much about Moldova, but we had visited most of the other European former soviet states, so we thought why not. It turned out that in Moldova we experienced monasteries, lots of wine, and had a really chilled time.

The small country of Moldova lies between Ukraine and Romania. We arrived having limited knowledge and expectations. Soon we were to learn that Moldova is a country with an economic struggle, a country with a corrupt government, a country crumbling at the edges, yet with its people still going about their daily lives without too much of a fuss. We would later find out that what really makes this country great is the people.

Our time in Moldova was based around the capital Chisinau. We were staying in an old soviet style apartment in the centre of the city. As Chisinau is small, therefore it didn’t take long for us to be guided around the city, taking in the main sights of the Cathedral, the parks with free wi-fi, the museum, the produce market, and the famous wine and chocolate shops. Within that first day, we got the impression that we were going to have a chilled time in Moldova.

One thing that lured us to Moldova was its wine. And it was on that first day that we set off. We had an afternoon tour of Milesti Mici Winery. This tour was right up our alley, as we do enjoy a good drop or ten. We entered the winery which in fact has a massive underground maze of a cellar. It is 250km of underground roads, home to the largest wine cellar in the world. As we drove into the wine cellar, we were greeted with massive wine barrels and amazing cellar rooms full of dusty, cobweb covered bottles of wine. Some of the wine dated back to the 70’s. This place was incredible!!!

But of course, all these wines were cellaring wine, and worth a mint. So the chances of us being able to try the delicious aged liquid gold were slim. However, we were taken into the tasting rooms where we were given three table wines to taste. Not only did we taste them, but we had three bottles to polish off, while we enjoyed a delicious Moldovan meal. We were having such an amazing time, and as we left, we were given another 2 bottles each. With the one we purchased at the cellar door, and the wine we already had got in town, our time in Moldova was set to be a wine and chilling time.

After an afternoon of wine, well maybe a little too much wine, the following day was just right for a change of pace. We headed on an excursion to explore the Orthodox monasteries that Moldova is known for. We visited one monastery and saw the monks in action during prayer/singing time. We then ventured out to the Orheil Vechi monastery, better known as the cave monastery. Soon we realised that our time in Moldova was all about monasteries, wine and a chilled time, as we finished the day with a nice lunch, and of course the obligatory wine. The evening followed with a good home cooked meal at our apartment, as we purchased fresh produce from the market. And of course, it all went down with a good slurp of Moldovan wine.

While we were in Moldova we experienced a range of weather. Sunshine, rain, slight snow, and tremendous winds. We had it all! It was on the day that we travelled to Soroca that we experienced the rain. Soroca is Moldova’s home to gypsies. We braved the rain to check out the cloud covered view from the monument on the hill, then quickly checked out the street where the rich gypsy houses are. After that, we headed to the classic Soroca fortress, which unfortunately was closed. The rain finally got the better of us, so we travelled back to Chisinau to chill out in our soviet apartment with, once again, a few ‘drops’ of delicious Moldovan wine.

In Moldova, we did have a chilled out time, but a great time. And once again, thanks to couch surfing, we were able to meet a local couple from Chisinau. Rodica, and her American husband Brian showed us a great time in Chisinau. We dined at a local restaurant, chatted for hours over some cold Moldovan beers, and they even had us over for dinner at their place where we had some incredible traditional Moldovan food, including meat jelly. This Moldovan couple really added to our great time in Moldova.

After only five days in this little known country, we were starting to feel at home. But our travel bug was itching, and it was time to saddle up for our next world adventure. Our final thought about Moldova was it was a little quirky, possibly not the most amazing country in the world, but a place worth exploring. Monasteries, wine and a really chilled time, that was our trip in Moldova.
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Comments

R&B on

Karen, you are a good writer!!!! (psst!!! do not disagree with me now :)
Also, I love your pics, you have a different angle of looking at things. Super!

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