Showing posts with label Moldova. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Moldova. Show all posts

Friday, 19 July 2013

Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic or Приднестрóвская Молдáвская Респýблика

Today we visited a country that doesn't exist. It is not recognized by most countries in the world as an independent country, even though it has been 20 years since they fought about it. Transnistria has it's own capital,  border control, money, government, etc. We got to meet with a local that showed us around and gave us a real insight on Transnistrian life. We also bought a bottle of their own cognac made in the only Kvint factory in the world for 27 Transnistrian Rouble (about 3 CAD). We visited the main sights of the city in a few hours and came back with the minibus to Chisinau. 

The minibuses to go and back were really crowded, and the drivers don't seem to care about the lines on the road. They will drive on it, pass when they feel like it, but surprisingly, we didn't see any accidents on the way. We read about Transnistria before deciding to go, and we weren't too sure on what to expect, especially at the border. For example, Wikitravel gives a number to call in case of corrupt officers, so we were a bit worried on the way there. Turns out, it was really easy. We filed out the little piece of paper, handed it to the Moldovan officer with our passports. She then looked at it for a few minutes while entering our info on the computer and gave us back the paper with our passports. We were now officially outside Moldova. We walked to the next building, and gave our paper to the Transnistrian officer who looked at it along with our passports and gave us the second half of the stamped paper back. On the way out, same process, but even easier as the officer actually spoke English.  He looked at our documents and we moved on to the Moldovan border where the officer left with our passports for a few minutes in order to add some info on the computer. 

It was an interresting day where we learned about the Soviet time and about life in Transnistria. It is actually a pretty quiet place, where even crossing the roads seemed safer than Chisinau.

Kvint Factory 
Tiraspol City Hall
Disney store with fake castle on the bottom floor of a Soviet looking apartment building
KBAC, or Kvass is a traditional Russian drink made of fermented black or regular rye bread
Transdniestria, Founded to Live! 
Suvorov Monument
Soldier statue in memory of the war of 1990-1992

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Milestii Mici, Moldova

Milesti Mici is a winery in Moldova. We were told it is the biggest one in Europe, producing over 1 million bottles a year. It is built in an old limestone mine which they used to make blocks to build the surrounding cities. The mine has 250 km of tunnels, which 120 km are now used for the winery. They make and store all their wines underground. We saw bottles as old as 1979. They also own a lot of land outside Chisinau, in Milestii Mici to grow the grape vines. We did a visit of the underground tunnels with a rented car, as they don't provide transportation for the tour. We also did a wine tasting of 3 different kind of wines they make. We really enjoyed the tour and the tasting of course, even if the planning was a little hard as information in Moldova is hard to get. Speaking Russian or Romanian in this country would have helped a lot, but we got around with gesturing.


Orheiul Vechi, Moldova

While we were staying in Chisinau, We planned a few day trips in Moldova. We visited Orhei Vechi, a monastery built on a cliff by a river. The view was really nice and it is in a very remote and quiet location. After an hour of minibus to get there, we walked up to the monastery on the small gravel path. We were the only visitors there at the time. The church is still used for the 3 small surrounding villages. There was also a cave monastery which was dug out in the 13th century. There was apparently monks living there, sleeping on bedrocks, decades at a time.

The Monastery

Inside the church
The church courtyard
The view

Going to the Caves
Where the monks used to sleep

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Chisinau (Кишинёв), Moldova

After getting up in Brasov, Romania, we walked to the train station and had to wait 2 hours for the next train. It is really hard to get the information right the first time in Romania. Customer service is terrible and they are not telling you everything you need to know. You have to know how to ask the right questions to get all the information. So, 2 hours later, we took a train to Ploiesti. We then found some food and caught the night train to Chisinau, Moldova. The journey was around 12 hours. The border for Moldova is a good 3 hours process as you have to "leave" Romania, then "enter" Moldova. After all the border controls, they changed the wheels of the train wagons as Moldova uses Russian standard for the tracks. That consist of moving around all the wagons to different areas, lifting them up in the air to change the wheel assembly and reattaching all the wagons together. We got to Moldova almost on time at around 9 in the morning. Moldova's country side is beautiful and we planned a few day trips that will follow in the next posts. As for the city itself, it is a capital that has a lot of energy and not that many tourists so it was great. They also have nice parks and one of them offer free wifi so we saw lots of locals relaxing there with their phones and laptops.

Public flea market. A lot of old stuff laid out on blankets in a parking, on the walkways and on a whole street by the train station. It is possible to find anything there; from the old rusted tools to a new or old pair of shoes. Really special place.
Inside of the train station
The night train cabin
Wheel changeover process at the border
A road 20 mins from the capital. Did we miss a turn?
Driving 5 or 6 cars wide in the capital without lines makes it an adventure to rent a car
The bus "station"