Chisinau Travel Blog› entry 6 of 15 › view all entries
This morning we drove to Moldova. The border crossing was quicker than we expected, only 1 ½ hours, which we spent having a trivia quiz (while the border guards exclaimed at seeing an Australian passport from Lydia). Then a long drive across Moldova, allowing Lydia to practice her growing number of Ukrainian phrases, which (considering they are from a 1980 phrase book) are useful for asking about the labour productivity of collective farms, but less useful about asking directions to an internet cafe.
Once we got to Moldova our guide was Natalia. She was very charming “I think you will be very happy to be here, people compare it to a piece of paradise, a country of fairy tails and romance”, yet also modest “they say there are seven wonders of the world, and there are also some nice things in Moldova”. She started by introducing us to Moldova:
Moldova was once a major empire, but was consistently cut down by the Rus, Huns, Mongols and Turks.
There are 4.4 million Moldovans, but 1.5 million are youths working overseas (mostly Spain, Portugal and Italy, the country has massive unemployment after all the heavy industry closed down with independence in 1991). The people are 65% Moldovan,14% Ukrainian, 13% Russian, 4% Gagauz, 2% Bulgarian, 2% Jewish and 2% others (mostly Belorussians, Poles and Roma) and are often called the “friendliest people in Europe”.
In the evening we drove out into the country and visited the 13th century cave monasteries at Oreiul Vechi, carved into the cliffs. We then had dinner at a farmhouse in the village (which was great) and watched the daughters sing and dance.