Moldova Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
February 11th, 2008 – by: nicciwit79
- f.y.i. My brother is Tim, My new sister in law is Natasha. Tim married a Moldovian and the account begins on Saturday starting from Chicago plane trip into Chisinau, Moldova -- It's long!!!! have fun reading it!!!!!!
The Airplane over:
Lufthansa ... is a REALLY nice service... seats however sucked. I don't know how big that plane was but i was not comfortable the entire 8 hours I was on that plane. The seats were set up 2 -aisle- 6-aisle- 2
All 3 times that I was fed, it was all good!.
I had a snack & drink
I had supper (chicken stuff & bread & desert & salad - was good really!)
offered liquor several times (nothing sounded good)
I had breakfast (can't remember but it was good too - they had yogurt I remember that much)
I had lunch (sandwich, chips & a snack)
Watched 2 movies (Night @ the museum & Rocky) - got NO sleep...slipped in & out and was completely uncomfortable. Got up only once to go pee - should have got up more but the person next to me was asleep - she was a very nice German who was flying home and I didn't want to disturb her- :)
No ocean. :( it was nighttime - then the sun came up... and I got to see Cardiff, Wales - Glasgow, England & Bristol, England.
Switched airlines in Frankfurt (which was the most horrible bathroom I could have had! icky!)
Moldova Air fed me too!
I was sooooo stuffed by the time I got off the planes! they served a sandwich & salad & biscuit & fruit dish) it was good. & desert.
Got to Chisinau - which is said Key-shin-aw - (say it together) very easy. Timmy & Natasha met me - her name is Natasha (that's what everyone called her & me) Her dad was really nice! Very funny man! Spoke NO ENGLISH! well he knew a few words, like me in Russian - maybe 5 -.
We drove 2 hours to Balti - which is said Belts - very cool. On the road we saw nothing out of the ordinary - they did have the coolest signs for their villages and towns - they were signs in concrete and and no two signs were the same! Chisinau's sign was awesome! The drive was through rolling hills and the lands were covered with fields of some sort of bean I believe - we passed a lake and I did see some pretty churches and farms... and villages. The towns were set up just like you expect them to be in the movies - nestled into the hills or near the road. We'd pass thru some that reminded me of old towns in America - except all of these stores were open and waiting for travelers to stop.
When we got into town -by the by the only large vehicles they have are large bus vans and buses, nothing like America with our big SUVs - only small cars! - and headed to their Flat (which is an apartment) This Flat they own, just like a house - it's theirs. The government (from what I've figured out & Tim kinda knows) owns the building & sometimes upkeeps it, but the rest is taken care of by the people in the buildings.
Wouldn't you know when we got to the flat - we ate again?! So I had soup that night, it was good, I can't remember what it was, but it was good! :)
MONDAY: we went to the Center of the city of Balti - the Center is where everything large is - most of the shopping is... its a lot like it is here - scattered stores throughout the city. The Bazaar wasn't open that day - cuz it was May day - a holiday for most people. We got to the center and Timmy got sick and not just eh sick, I mean major sick with the chills & all. We went back to her flat after we exchanged some money (which by the way you have to walk a ways to get to the place where the buses start, then get on a bus which is like near a penny for us but 1 lei for them and then when we got to the bus stop we needed, we walked back to the house) and by the time we got home he was running a temp of 102 degrees. (Psycho older brother) -- by the time I was done with that walking (and it wasn't much) I had blisters on my heels from the stupid shoes. so I wasn't happy.
Now their custom for shoes is to take them off before you enter onto the rug (unless the shoes are new).. their reason however is that their floors are covered in rugs - beautiful rugs I thought - to them its like our carpet = sometimes we like it, sometimes we don't like it. :) -- but this is in every house and in some businesses (like the dress shop). hard floors with these rugs covering them. in some rooms they are on the walls too (I thought they were gorgeous - but as Natasha says it makes cleaning day really really long to clean ALL the rugs and the ones on the wall!)
TUESDAY: big brother Tim was still sick and Natasha took me & Olga (her sister) to the dress shop, where she tried on her gown - which by the by is simply stunning!!! --- I took LOTS of pictures with Tim's camera of the wedding & afterwards only b/c his camera was cooler than mine.--- Then I spent the rest of the afternoon watching t.v. with her family - Olga & Tim & her husband Nickolai - whose nickname is kola or Nick.
That night - while sickly Tim was watching t.v. I went with Natasha & Olga to her Babushka's house. it's said bab-ish-ka. I met her father's sisters and their husbands, her Babushka is really sweet - there's a great pic of me and her at the wedding - it's on Tim's camera! - During this time I had Natasha translate - not a lot b/c a lot of it was inside jokes, etc. but what she could she translated for me. :)
There was fish to eat, cold dishes with little meat & corn & cabbage, etc., there was eggplant and cold chicken, sausage and beef. Then came the potatoes - they were the second course of the meal - heaven help me I stuffed myself of the first course without knowing there was a second course! - the third course of the meal was MEAT! - like meatballs! Natasha called this the hot dish! - then came the desert - cake. it was really good - it had nuts in it but it was REALLY good! :D the first one had bananas & pineapple.. yum! Then either tea or coffee and the meal was complete. whew.
During the meal the drink was either seltzer water, juice (cherry) or vino (wine) and two of the men had Vodka. Here's where I confess - they did toasts, mostly unspoken toasts. So we drank from our glasses and since I was given the wine I drank from that - No mom I didn't get drunk, promise! - the last toast, I knew I couldn't drink the wine again - cuz it was Merlot and i wasn't too thrilled with Merlot, so I said, no I'll take the Vodka. They were like in shock and laughed and filled my small shot glass with Vodka and Natasha whispers in my ear - now you have to drink the whole thing - I nod and with a single gulp... I was fanning my mouth! It was STRONG!!! They gave me a lemon and then filled my glass with juice and laughed and laughed. They thought it was funny and I thought it was great! :) Then we returned to sickly Tim and sent him to bed.
WEDNESDAY: Timmy & Natasha had to go to the Hospital so I stayed home with Olga - I slept till 10:00 am. then woke and Olga made me a cup of tea (it's called chai - East of Istanbul) and I met her friend Ura. (don't ask how to spell that one - I didn't know) he looked the part of a Russian Scholar, with square glasses and blonde hair and a sweet smile. He spoke what he could in English - they are taught the language in school, but it's just like us with French & Spanish we don't learn it enough. We went downstairs to play ping pong - which I totally suck at - I let them play competitively, they played with me for the fun of it. I think it boosted their self esteem. :) ha ha! I enjoyed it.
When Timmy & Natasha returned, Natasha went to get her facial and manicure and Timmy & I walked again - this time I pushed the backs of the shoes down, so they were slip ons... now I have blisters on the bottoms of my feet. go fig. We ate Pizza that night from a place called Pizza De Italia.
The pizza they eat doesn't have marinara sauce. It has mayonnaise. It was really odd not having that red sauce taste, but it was REALLY GOOD PIZZA!!!! weird.
THURSDAY: was the wedding. In the morning we had our hair done by Olga (who is going to school to be a beautician). At noon Natasha had to get her make-up done, so Tim & I watched t.v. (Russian television is cool and just like ours. Sports, reality shows, Desperate Housewives...) They have English movies (sometimes American, sometimes Britain) and it is dubbed over in Russian. Sometimes you can even HEAR the English words in the background. I watched Spy Kids with Olga & Nickolai in Russian!! (on Tuesday) Anyway when Natasha returned, I was in my dress that I brought with me and Tim was sent to dress in his suit, I helped Olga dress Natasha in a REALLY GORGEOUS dress (mostly I stood and watched) She had a typical white dress, white gloves, white shoes, and veil.
then I helped Olga decorate the car -- There were two other weddings during that week that I saw the cars decorated the same way --
Natasha's cousin Anastasia arrived with her parents, then the rest of Natasha's family arrived. Lots of talking and Anastasia (PRAISE THE LORD!!!) spoke English well, not as well as Natasha, but she is going to be a journalist, so she is having to learn to speak it better. She translated for me during several parts, when someone would ask me something. Now as the cars were packed, I and Babushka and Anastasia were put in with the photographer (friend of Natasha's who lives in the building as well). We drove to the center where we were entered the building where the two would get married. This is a building just for these types of weddings. It's pretty much a civil wedding instead of the whole church wedding - but it was still pulled off with flair! - It is very fascinating. I was told on Fridays there are usually tons of weddings - we were on an off day! ha ha!
Natasha's family that was there were: 3 pairs of Aunt & Uncles, Sister & Brother in Law, Babushka, 1 Great Aunt & Uncle and 4 cousins as well as a friend of the family.
The lot of us waited while they took pictures in a picture only section --- then we were sent into another area, where they took pictures of the different families with the bride & groom. - traditional wedding pictures of course.
We followed them up the stairs, then followed them into the room where the Wedding march was played! :) The woman who was administering the service came out and did the wedding part. of course it was all in Russian and Natasha translated to Tim. Everyone wanted to prod him when it was his turn to say yes!! ha ha!! :) They signed the certificate, then exchanged rings. Then were given flowers by the many women in the group and kissed on both cheeks - Timmy got kissed by guys!!! ha ha!! We toasted the couple at the end and were given chocolate covered cherries to add to the flavor of the wine. They had pits in them.. that was weird! :)
We took more pictures outside the building, then we went to the Cemetery - as Natasha's mother only died one year before- they went to honor her during this time. it was very nice. After the cemetery - we went to the park where MORE pictures were taken and I learned the words for tree (jediva), dog (sobacka), road (daroga), grass (treva) and sky (neba). and was questioned by Nickolai when I would get married. I laughed and said 2 years. ha ha! who really knows right?! right.
When Tim & Natasha & the photographer returned to our little group (Stac (the groomsman), Anastasia (maid of honor), Olga & Nickolai and me), we all went to the Cafe - they don't have restaurants in Balti - not like in Chisinau- but to us American's we would call it a restaurant.
They had a lounge lizard - who looked like Urkel (with huge glasses that made his eyes enormous!!) and a main piano player - who looked the part of a typical piano musician - and a saxophonist. the instruments were back up to the canned music and it was really interesting!!
When we first arrived, Tim & Natasha went inside and I was outside, learning the word flower (svelti) and standing with Babushka and being spoken to by the aunt & uncle, they were really sweet to include me in their talk. We did what we could in translating without either translator! Anastasia had to go inside, so I was left without. When we walked in -- once again we kissed the bride & groom. I was going to sit with Nickolai & Olga, but was sat at the main table - I think I was added there, which was really nice, since the only two translators were at that table!!
Then came the eating and the drinking, the toasts... first one was done with wine. After that it was COGNAC!!! and Lots of DANCING... to lots of Russian music. Then it was American music, then Russian music. I was forced several times ... okay almost everytime onto the dance floor. It started with Babushka, and from there I was dancing almost every song! so I'm the silly American trying to dance with people who can dance. Timmy danced too! that was a riot! but Natasha kept him in line.
They had competitions and they had a lottery where we got different things, mine was to help with smell and other things - it was a clothespin. Tim got "to make life more interesting" it was a sucker! ha ha! Natasha's dad got a bar of soap "to smell differently"... it was really cute and the competitions were funny!
Then we had another course - then another course - each time it was separated by dancing and toasts! Then the last course - a native Moldovian dish - it was good it was like cabbage leaves boiled with rice, it was really good! Then more dancing and singing - yes I did karaoke and totally BOMBED "I will Always Love You"... Sorry! :( :( :(
Then Natasha sang 2 songs - then we let the music men eat (here was about the time I was flirted with by the musician who taught music I believe he was telling me. :) ) It's okay, I just smiled and nodded, the music was really loud - so I really couldn't hear him.
Then came the cutting of the cake, a slow dance and we were done.
YEA! we went home and took our showers because we had to be awake at 5:30 to get to Chisinau in the morning!
FRIDAY: We took a car from Balti to Chisinau then we walked at least a 2 miles to get to the legalizer (this is a part of the town the buses don't go to), who ended up sending us to the Minister of Justice (a good 12 blocks away) who told us it would be another 2 weeks to legalize the papers. ick. Then we strolled in the capital's park - which was BEAUTIFUL!!!
Then around 2 we went to the U.S. Embassy - which was terrible, b/c it was only open 3 days a week and only for 2 hours for Americans! 2 Hours!!!! They wouldn't answer Tim's questions and I was mad! 1 we were Americans and 2 I had to pee and I wanted to go to an AMERICAN TOILET not a European toilet (which is a hole in the ground where you squat and pee!!!!) So I demanded help and I was sent to the consulate's secretary, who then told me anything we needed, we could email. so I got the email address and we wrote it down. (I still didn't get to pee)
Then we went to Andy's Pizza - this place was made by an American! weird huh?! I got to go to the bathroom and we ate pizza (again no marinara sauce, only mayonnaise!) It was good. There we met Micheal who was Natasha's friend. We all ate then left and strolled past a really pretty church and walked inside, I couldn't however take pictures, my flash didn't work anymore!!! icky. But it was painted so beautifully! It was amazing the artwork that was done!
Then we returned to Balti, where the family returned - the great Aunt & Babushka didn't come b/c we wore them out with the 6 hours of music and food and dancing! :D
The family ate again (leftovers from the wedding) and toasted again (more cognac). to understanding, to Tim & Natasha, to our families (both sides, Tims & Natashas) and Anastasia and I toasted to Love. (she was missing her boyfriend at the time! :) ) I really don't know HOW I managed to eat, but I did and we finished the meal. They left and Anastasia & her parents hugged me and her dad was really funny and hugged me again, being silly! When they left, Tim & Natasha cleaned up the dishes and we took showers and went to bed.
SATURDAY: we traveled to the bazaar - which was AWESOME and so much fun!!! I'm still in shoes with blisters and how I danced on Thursday and walked on Friday I'll never know! We spent most of the morning at the bazaar - then went to Babushka's to wish them farewell (das vi dania) and we went home. We dressed for church, then took the bus to the church.
At church - she's a 7th day adventist - we watched a program (since we went at night) about the end of times - it was an American made series dubbed in Russian. Fascinating. Natasha translated for me, which was funny if you think about it ... it was American translated into Russian being translated back into American to me!! ha ha!!
After church we WALKED to the center of town - maybe several blocks away - we walked to the children's park - which was cool and we rode a ferris wheel (no i didn't get sick!!) then we WALKED home from there - from the Center!!!! It was a good 3 miles at least and I was in heels!!! but I only felt pain a few times, most of the time, we were talking and walking and just enjoying the atmosphere. It was really cool. Once we got home, we took our showers and fell asleep.
SUNDAY: Her dad took us to Chisinau to the airport and I said goodbye to them, then spent a half an hour waiting for the plane, was driven by the bus to the plane (this is a REALLY small airport) so it was funny being driven out to the plane. It was almost time to take off and 4 stupid Americans were late and held up the plane. How I knew they were American?? THEY SMILED! Russians don't smile at people unless they know them! I leaned over and was like American? and he was like yea! I didn't get to ask him much more b/c I obviously wasn't cool enough to be spoken to since I was American as well, so i ignored him and sat back and enjoyed the flight.
We had on that flight a sandwich & fruit dish & cake & chips.
FINALLY! I got to see Frankfurt. It was really cool seeing the different houses below - they looked just like the storybooks and the movies of Germany. We landed and were taken by bus into Frankfurt's airport.
Once there, silly Nicolle didn't see "TRANSIT" she saw "PASSPORT" so I went thru the passport line and got myself stamped. not on purpose on complete accident!!! I walked thru and i walked to the "nothing to declare" and the man's like, go on thru and i walked out of the room and found myself outside and I was like "OH NO!!!! I WASN'T SUPPOSED TO GET OUT OF THE AIRPORT!!!!" so I turned around and followed the signs for departures. I walked to the Lufthansa ticket counter and spoke with the woman "oh no honey, you'll have to go around the corner, you're on United going home" oh great. so I walked around the corner and walked to the United counter. the man in the red suit looked at me and I said "I made a mistake and I'm supposed to connect to a flight and I'm with united" he said "stand in the line" he points to a line that is curved and filled with at least twenty people. "THAT LINE?!" I asked "that line" he says and I was like "holy COW!" so I walked up to the line and spoke with this guy who had taken an excursion thru Germany (cool) he was a doctor's assistant (paid 2 wk vaca - lucky dog) and we talked until he had to go stand in the line within the roped off section.
I --b/c i was alone -- was sent right after him to a girl at the ticket counter who said "oh, you could have gone straight to the terminal, you just show this to the people and they'll let you thru." I wasn't too thrilled, but I followed her instructions and walked to the security line.
When I passed that one and I walked to the B25 area and into another security line (where I was frisked by a female TSA = I was like... I'm being frisked and my underwire is setting off the little sensor!! ha ha!!) Then I walked further and had to go thru ANOTHER security!!! so guess what that day was? ... "let's HEIGHTEN security at all the MAJOR airports" Day. argh. So I stood in line for 15 minutes, got my ticket, went to the bathroom (clean bathroom this time) and went thru the last security point where I wasn't allowed to leave the area unless I gave the lady my ticket and wasn't allowed back in unless I showed her my passport. Needless to say I didn't leave.
Then we boarded and it was a 747!!!!!! IT was HUGE!!!!!! and cool and very comfortable... until the man in front of me decided he needed to sleep and the chair was like inches from my face!!! argh. So then I stared out the window and watched us take off and looked nervously at the wings, praying that those flimsy wings would get me safely home.
Well wouldn't you know right out of Frankfurt there were clouds?! And There were clouds the entire time through the first movie I wasn't interested in (Freedom Writers) then I looked out the window during the middle of the two movies, when they served us lunch - pasta (spinach) & salad & bread & desert. I saw the islands off of Scotland & part of Ireland before the clouds covered the area again!
So I finished and dozed off during the next movie (the pursuit of Happyness) and I looked out the window and GUESS WHAT?!?!! I saw ICEBERGS!!!!!! cool! I was like ICEBERGS!!!! WOW!!!!!! so I watched the ocean (which was big and blue - ha ha! - no seriously it was kind of greenish looking / kind of brown / at parts it was blue but where I was there wasn't much deep blue or dark blue, it was kind of brownish blue the entire time. --- then ... clouds - go fig. so I dozed off again.
In between the next two movies, I looked out the window and saw CANADA!!!! THE FROZEN NORTH!!! and sure as heck it was frozen! Dozens and dozens of frozen lakes and brown brown earth! it was really cool! As we moved lower I saw the lakes begin to unfreeze and you could see the blue starting to form under the white sheet of ice! It was awesome!
Then we flew past Albany (normal American town) thru some town in Pennsylvania - past a reservoir (which held no importance to me) and then the rolling mountains of the Appalachian chain! then thru Suburbia into the Dulles Airport in Washington. No I wasn't in the right part of Washington where I could leave and see a site or two... nope...
Then we landed (our plane dipped 4 times b/c of turbulence and I was freaking as I looked at the wings moving in the wind!! eee!) We had to file down the escalator (which after I got down they stopped so they could better control traffic into the small room) and wouldn't you know it... there were more Americans than non Americans getting into the country.
So I followed the line for 15 minutes to the BP agent (for those of you who don't know that slang its Border Patrol) and I told him where I was for the past week and why I was there. then I went to thru the first check point and into an area to get my luggage. (it has to be rechecked by security before going to the next flight - as if you could suddenly manage to plant a bomb while you were on a plane - sitting in your seat... whatever) so then we went thru another check point and into the Washington Airport - where I sat and talked for 3 hours waiting for my flight to take off.
Wouldn't you know it, I had problems there too!? The man couldn't find my name - and he let 4 standbys in before me - then finally figured out my number was the same as the number on the screen (there were two flight numbers on that airplane) so he let me go onto the plane - then come to find out my bag was too big, so I had to go back up and get a green tag and put it on my bag and bring it back down.
THE HAPPY PART... we made it to St. Louis early (by a half hour!) and I was back in Missouri and glad to be home.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!