Three days are sufficient to get a taste of Moldova. Or perhaps, I got lucky to have been visiting on the weekends they celebrated Chisinau 581st birthday and Tiraspol 225th birthday. So I had a total immersion on one day.
Here is what I did in about two days:
1. Half a day exploring the centre of Chisinau and Valea Morilor Lake. I stopped by at the Cathedral of Nativity around 5.30pm and I was blessed to witness an on-going prayer with a choir rendering a comforting melody. I ended the evening exploring a supermarket nearby like a locals (I found my favorite fruit! Read about it here!).
2. My host was kind enough to arrange a visit an ancient cave monastery in Orhei Valley and wine tasting at refurbished Castel Mimi. The ancient monastery was built inside a cave on a cliff over the Raut river. There was an old monk praying when we arrived. We also explored a room with many rock alcoves. It seemed the priests used to sleep in there. There is something about Christian Orthodox monasteries and churches. I am always amazed of its beauty.
My favourite Orthodox holy site is Kiev’s Lavra Monastery. And after exploring, the ancient monastery, we visited the new church. It was nice, but not impressive.
To end the lovely, cold day, my host took me to Castel Mimi, a recently refurbished and modernized vineyard with a long history. The best find there was the Russian wine tanks in a room marked as secret cellars. Moldova used to supply wine all over the USSR. We were also served lavished dinner after the vineyard tour. The food were more impressive than the wine, unfortunately.
3. One cannot go to Moldova without visiting the Moldovian Transnitrian Republic, which intends to separate from Moldova and supports Russia. Read about my experience on a separate post.
4. I ended my visit eating BBQ like locals and watched the Chisinau celebration concert. I enjoyed the traditional music very much. My favourite part is the performance by Advahov Brothers Orchestra and Alex Calancea Band. It was a blend of the old and the new.
It is a perfect symbolism of the young generation in Chisinau that I observed. They are ready for the modern future and capitalism, and yet they still appreciate their traditions. Watching them dance the local traditional dance is an experience I would not forget, and I regretted not joining them at all.
My experience in Moldova was short and sweet, but memorable.