The airport reminds me very much the old terminal of Riga but with a touch of Soviet times, all the processes are fast and I get all the stamps very quickly - here I come! Taxi to the city center costs 6 eur but don't dream of an air conditioner. I really love the prices here.
After a ride of 30 min the Chisineau gates appear - weird constructions of block houses, probably were very famous in Soviet times. Just next a field of red poppies. Beautiful. Chisineau seems to be big, reminds a bit of Minsk with large boulevards but it does have a charm. When looking up info about Moldova, could not find any reasonable sites, so almost no pre-research was done which is not very typical for me.
Soon it's clear that the biggest beauty of the city is parks - they are big, green, with many fountains, banks to sit everywhere, even the newspaper stands! And people do read them! Little ice cream stands are everywhere and the business runs well - +33 degrees.
Next stop - a shopping mall. Oh, what a flash back to the Soviet times just the offer is much larger :-). Just next there is a big market place where you can find everything, even condoms just next to cakes and heaps of cherries.
Next stop - Armenian graveyard. Yes, yes, why not? It's calm, beautiful. Locals have their picnic there (it's common). We admire some booked spaces already now - they look impressive already now...
I had heard about wine from Moldova already long time ago but did not believe they could be that good. It's the French the specialists, right? No way, wine was excellent! The winery is a 30 min ride from the capital, they have the longest underground wine cellar in Europe - 120 km. The underground looks like a small city - there are even street names! The winery is managed by the Moldavian state. We are told that Putin himself has been celebrating his birthday here.
After the degustation of superb wines we see that our fellow visitors are getting happier and happier. The degustation takes place 40 m under the sea level and in specially arranged rooms, some of which are open only for official visits. While in the beginning everybody is super polite and spits the wine out in the buckets, somehow a bit later nobody is doing that anymore and the group has reach a very high level of happiness :-) I also fall in love with their potato pies - locals say that they are not very good but for me they are delicious!
Just when the degustation is over the guide calls aside my sister and gives a small bag - it's an arrangement to bring out some bottles! One for the guide and one for us - ok deal!
My favorite Cricova wine was for 6 eur a bottle and was on the top shelves in the shop - what a bargain!
It's time to get out of the city and see the real Moldova in the country side. So how do they live there? They work in the fields to remove the weeds, work to collect hay, use horses. Not a single tractor, all done by hands...
Starij Orhei is a very charming place, the tourist busses haven't arrived yet and it's so beautiful around - cows, river, calmness and it's hot. First we visit a small monastery, head and shoulders have to be covered, then we visit the caves where monks were living before. An old man who looks like Dumbledore from Harry Potter sells candles.
Just after Starij Orhei and after a super tasty lunch we want to see something more, why not the man-made beach in Vadul lui voda (I'm fascinated by the name of this place). It looks just like Jurmala - a sea resort next to Riga. Everybody looks happy, cows on one side, water sports on the other, a cabriolet parked just next to the river... beer, girls, laughter. Ok, not bad.
When coming back, our driver is so taken by telling stories that ignores the speed limit and here comes the police... a small bribe and we are off :-)
It's the time for local elections in Moldova, lots of red posters with communistic slogans but local people don't believe the old fairy tale anymore, many have left the country and many are leaving.
Wow, the food there. Amazing! very simple but amazing! Shashlik, mamaliga (porridge), ice cream with cherries (just like in childhood), pancakes - plachintas - with cheese and potatoes and wine, wine, wine... And the cakes! Don't count the calories...