Why did I end up in Moldavia and what can you see in its capital Chişinău? Discover more in my first travel blog here.
Air Moldova at Moscow-Domodevo before the flight to Chişinău.
I was looking for reasonable airfares from Moscow to Kiev and Air Moldova had a great deal with slightly more than 100 USD including an 18 hour stop possibility in Chişinău, the Capital of Moldova. I booked that flight and came here with no other expectations than visiting a new country. I didn't know much about Moldova, others than Switzerland played them in World Cup and Euro Qualifiers before and that it was part of the former Soviet Union. I also knew that it is one of the poorest countries in Europe.
The capital Chişinău is Moldova’s political, industrial and cultural center and has a population of 535,000. The climate is similar to other parts of Eastern Europe with warm summers and cool and often windy winters. I visited here in the first half of November. So the weather was around 0c degrees already.
Chişinău isn’t a typical tourist destination and there are not that many sights to see and discover. Yet the town is charming and has more to offer than one would think. The most interesting thing to me however was the Soviet-style architecture which are landmarks everywhere in the city. Half of the main street Stefan cel Mare si Sfant Boulevard seem to be political buildings such as the Parliament, the Presidential House and different Ministries.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ’s Navitiy and the sunday mass.
The mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ’s Navitiy.
Busy and colorful scenes on Sunday morning at the central market.
The Triumphal Arch celebrates Russias’s 19thcentury victory over the Ottoman Empire.
Ştefan cel Mare Central Park was previously known as Pushkin Park. It is the main park in the city and also known as "The Park of the Lovers". The statue of Stephen the Great Monument is at the park entrance. Pictured is the statue of Pushkin.
More road scenes in Chişinău.
Soviet architecture can be found everywhere in Chişinău.
Ciuflea Monastery is a Moldovan Orthodox monastery located in the centre of Chişinău.
Books for sale on the street.
Public transport is quite good in the city. There are also regular bus services to the Airport. Fares are around 2 - 3 MDL. Some taxis run on meter and if not a price has to be negotiated. A ride from the airport to the city is around 100 - 120 MDL.
The Moldovan Leu is the currency of Moldova. 1 EUR equals around 19 MDL. In general Moldova is a very cheap destination in comparison with most other destinations in Europe.
Where did I stay?
I stayed at the Hotel Chişinău which is located between the Railway Station and the center. The advertising in the hotel lobby mentioned that the Hotel was the first in downtown. The place stuck back in that time for sure. There was heating but water wasn’t really warm. But the staff were friendly, and the room was clean. And a free trip back to the past was included as well. I booked the hotel at Booking at a great rate.
The reception area in the hotel.
One of the interesting encounters I had was with Vladimir, the taxi driver on the way back to the airport. His story and what he had to tell was very fascinating. He started with how sad the current political and economical situation of his country actually is. Both his daughters like many other Moldavians live abroad. He was able to travel a bit and in the past he was in the Soviet army, driving trucks loaded with missiles. He was very friendly and his english wasn't good at all. But he was able to communicate with words of many different languages beside Romanian, Moldavian and Russian. I catched words in Italian, German, French and Russian while he was telling me his story. He was very friendly and I'm glad I met him on the way to the airport. What a memorably conversation even though we didn't speak the same language.
A former Tupolev 134 used by Air Moldova and now a static display within walking distance of the Chişinău Airport Terminal.
Did I like it?
Yes, I did. It was a refreshing change and a different experience than the usual visits of other major cities in Europe. The soviet touch made me feel like travelling back in time.
Would I come back here again?
Yes, certainly. I really wanna travel outside of the capital, discover the wine yards and travel to Transnistria. So more to follow.