Yesterday I wrote about my experience as a volunteer in Moldova in my diary. So if you want to know what a week of volunteering on a community development program in Moldova is like, read all about it here. I highly recommend Moldova both as a destination for your next volunteer project, but also as a destination for a future holiday.
So, if the country is that great, how come we never read about it in travel magazines or hear much about it in general?
So here’s my guess. Lack of marketing. Just like our tour guide at the award-winning prestigious Purcari Winery said; “The only difference between wine from Bordeaux and wine from our winery is marketing”.
Moldova was like a blank canvas to me, and I was ready to start painting a picture. My own picture, without any ideas or outside influences.
Let’s talk about wine, shall we? Moldova has a well-established wine industry, and was in 2009 the twenty-second largest wine producing country in the world. In fact, 67 million bottles of wine are exported annually. A lot of the Moldovan wineries offer tours and wine tastings, and I got to visit one that offers all of that – and more. How about a night in one of Purcari Winery‘s luxury suites? Or a romantic dinner in their restaurant?
Purcari Winery dates back to 1827 and still has their original wine cellars. If you want to relax in the sun before or after the wine tour, what place could possibly be better than here? You might even see a black swan there (not captured in the photo, though).
While in Moldova, you should also visit Chisinau, the capital city. If you’re interested in handmade jewelry and macrame handbags, then check out the Chisinau Souvenir Bazaar. I didn’t take any pictures there, but I can assure you, you’ll love it. I bought a black macrame bag there, and now I can’t go anywhere without it. I love it.
Are there any nice parks in Chisinau?
Yes! I didn’t have time to visit more than two of them, as I was only in Chisinau on a day trip. But the parks I did visit were both lovely. First we visited Stefan cel Mare Central Park.
This is a memorial of Monarch Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great) who ruled Moldova between 1457 and 1504.
The other park we visited was the lovely Parcul Dendrariu. A popular spot for wedding photography, couples photography and any other kind of photography where you want a gorgeous backdrop.
On my last day in Moldova, I left Moldova without technically leaving Moldova. I think it depends who you ask. Let me explain.
I crossed the border from Moldova to Transnistria and stayed in Transnistria for a couple of hours. Maybe not even two hours. But just enough time to look around, buy a fridge magnet and return to Moldova.
Wait…. Doesn’t Moldova border to Ukraine and Romania, and nothing else?
Officially, yes. Transnistria is actually right there on the border between Moldova and Ukraine but is not recognized as its own country, and is only partially recognized as its own state – within Moldovan territory. They have their own currency, their own president, their own flag – and they speak Russian, not Romanian (Moldova).
Before visiting Transnistria, I was told to be careful with what I do, as there’s military soldiers everywhere. But as it turned out, the soldiers were all friendly and were smiling and helping us with directions. They are there to protect the citizens and make them feel safe. In other words, as long as you don’t break the law, you’re fine. I was also told it’s illegal to take pictures of any official buildings. Because of that, I was too scared to photograph anything at all, and ended up taking only one photo in Transnistria. Not even a good one. But at least I have one now. A photo taken from a bridge, of people sunbathing, swimming and having fun (although you can’t really see the people that well).
The parks, the bazaar, the wineries – they are all good reasons to visit Moldova. But the main reason why I now love Moldova as much as I do, is because of the people. They are some of the friendliest and most hospitable people I’ve ever met. My host family, the local community – even strangers on the streets.
An old lady said to me in Romanian (and a Romanian speaker translated for me): “We are happy to see tourists here. Next time, bring your family and your friends. You are all welcome in Moldova”.