Into Moldova

Chisinau Travel Blog

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The village of Oreiul Vechi, Moldova

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.

The village of Oreiul Vechi, Moldova
We were warned by Jason not to ditch the EuroVision Song contest in Moldova, as their 5th place in 2004 was one of their proudest moments. How the mighty have fallen. In 2001 they elected the Communist Party back in, and the President (who was reelected in 2005) wants to get Moldova into the EU. The President is reasonably popular, but is no Stefan cel Mare.



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”.

The 13th century cave monasteries at Oreiul Vechi
It is the poorest country in Europe, earning on average $150/month. 40% of the population is below absolute poverty ($4/day). The country is 33 800 km2 and landlocked. It is very flat, with the highest point being 430m and the lowest point being -10m. 80% of the country is covered by the fertile black soil, which is seven times more productive than Russian soils, and twice as productive as the highly fertile Ukrainian soils. The climate is also perfect for growing, with nearly 300 sunny days a year. This allows Moldova to mostly export agricultural goods, tobacco, wine, fruit, nuts and vegetables. Moldova is famous for its wine, and has 170 000 hectares planted with vineyards. The wine is stored in long caverns below the ground, where the climate is a steady 12-14 degrees with 85-90% humidity. Yuri Gagarin visited Moldova and spent two days in the wine cellars, after which he said “I’m more sorry to be leaving the wine cellars of Moldova than I was to leave space”.
Dinner at Oreiul Vechi, Moldova
Natalia said “as for how Moldova looks in the different seasons... if I compare nature to a woman, whether she is dressed or naked she is marvelous”.


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.

tvillingmarit says:
Nice blog Adrian
Posted on: Jul 27, 2008
sylviandavid says:
what a lovely blog.... I enjoyed seeing it through your eyes.... thanks so much!
Posted on: Jun 26, 2008
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The village of Oreiul Vechi, Moldo…
The village of Oreiul Vechi, Mold…
The village of Oreiul Vechi, Moldo…
The village of Oreiul Vechi, Mold…
The 13th century cave monasteries …
The 13th century cave monasteries…
Dinner at Oreiul Vechi, Moldova
Dinner at Oreiul Vechi, Moldova
The village of Oreiul Vechi, Moldo…
The village of Oreiul Vechi, Mold…
The 13th century cave monasteries …
The 13th century cave monasteries…
The village of Oreiul Vechi, Moldo…
The village of Oreiul Vechi, Mold…
Dinner at Oreiul Vechi, Moldova
Dinner at Oreiul Vechi, Moldova
Chisinau
photo by: Biedjee