Or may have been…true to form, I’m seriously late in my blog update. It’s now January, and we were in Moldova way back in September.
We caught a night bus from Cluj in Romania to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. We arrived early in the morning and after the bus dropped us off in the middle of nowhere and the hostel directions were useless, we weren’t really feeling Moldova. Also it was cold. We checked into our hostel, which was really just an apartment. ‘Retro hostel’ was spray painted at various points along the road to lead us there, but that’s once we found the right way to enter the road, not the opposite way we’d been coming. Inside the hostel was warm and cozy. It even had a bunker that you could sleep in, which was down a ladder. Funnily enough, volunteers from the American Peace Corps were staying there.
So after finally making our way to the hostel I had a quick snooze and we went out exploring. First impressions were quickly changed by a delicious coffee, a large park, and a giant chess board. The divine beef carpaccio that I ate (and Odin’s eggs benedict) certainly sweetened the deal. Dinner that evening was a few cocktails, and some more stupidly cheap dishes. It’s been so long now I don’t remember what I ate, but I remember enjoying it.
The next day we checked out the bustling central market and then had a romantic stroll along the lake watching the sunset. This was followed up by a cocktail and some more amazing food.
We’d decided to catch the night train back to Bucharest and after umming and ahhing over which compartment to get, the two or four person, we’d settled on the four person. Luckily we hadn’t splashed out, as the train was empty except for us and a few old blokes in some other compartments. This actually ended up being the most interesting train we have been on so far. We settled in joyfully to our spacious compartment and ate our dinner and cracked open our first bottle of Moldovan red wine. Sounds nice? It was! I am a big fan of the wine in Moldova. A few hours into the trip we reached the border crossing. How did we know (apart from the passport control guys coming onto the train)? The train was lifted up and the wheels were changed. No joke. I was more than surprised at this, and I thought it was also pretty cool. One thing we’re on the ground, next thing, a few feet up. It took a couple of hours for the wheel change, custom check (whick involved unscrewing some roof and floor pannelings to make sure we weren’t smuggling anything…we weren’t), and what I assume is general rif-raff to all occur. We were back on the road (or tracks, I guess) but a certain someone had misplaced the corkscrew…it was me. That meant no more wine. With not much else to do, and also since it was rather late, we tucked ourselves into our comfortable beds and slept the night away until we awoke in Bucharest.
We went to Moldova on a whim, and I’m glad we did. I know that there’s a whole lot more to see and do there than the quick few days that we visited, but even so, the little taste of it was still satisfying.