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Published: November 10th 2013
I got the overnight bus from Simferopol to Chisinau and crossed the border at about 3am. We didn't even have to get off the bus. The roads in Ukraine are pretty bad, and the ones in Moldova are little better, but the no man's land between was completely potholed and it took us a longer to weave our way safely between the two stations than to complete the checks. When we got into Moldova the roads became much smoother and it didn't take us too long to get to the capital.
When I arrive at the hostel it as locked. I rang the bell and one of the other gests came but couldn't get the door open. In the end I climbed in the kitchen window as two girls heading to Transnistria (the breakaway state that claims independence. If I had had another day I would gone across for the day as well).
Moldova is not the most popular country in Europe to take holidays. There is very little to do and see in the capital, especially out of season when everything is closed. But I took a walk around the centre, through the parks and markets, and spent
the afternoon chatting with some of the others in the hostel and we planned to go out to another city a little further north that had monasteries and vineyards.
We took the public minibus to Orhei (about 45km north of Chisinau) and walked down the main street before heading getting a cuppa and asking for directions from the lady running the café. We got a taxi out to the monasteries.
First was Curchi, a monastery just outside of Orhei. There were several churches and I think a restaurant (admittedly my Romanian is limited). The churches were beautiful, as usual, and decorated in a similar manner to the Russian ones. There were priests mulling about with hoovers (spring cleaning?) and a few other visitors, most of whom were there to pray.
The second was Orheiul Veichi, 'Old Orhei'. A little further out and a bit more remote, old Orhei's monastery is on top of a ridge above a small village and a group of farms. we walked along the top of the ridge with our taxi driver who, through the medium of mime and basic Russian, told us all about the battles that happened round there. The locals
fought the Ottomans at this ridge with stones. they slept in holes dug into the rock face. The main church is dug into the stone. Unfortunately, and I can't really complain about it, there was a funeral taking place at the time we were there and so we couldn't go inside.
We next headed up to the Winery just above Orhei called Chateau Vartely. We had a quick bite to eat, I had mamaliguta (polenta) with sheep cheese, sour cream and a mini omelette. We had a speedy tour of the winery (as we had arrived unannounced and between two organised tours) but the woman tried to get us round everything and spoke very quickly about all the things they had. Everything smelled like alcohol and cowsheds. We even got to taste two of their wines, one red one white. The red one definitely tasted red and the white tasted like wine too... Yeah, I don't often have wine. It tasted nice. I'd drink it again.
I went to the central bus station to get the bus across the border to Iasi, Romania. I was told there I had to go to the south bus station, two taxis
later (the first broke down) I got to the bus station and ten minutes later I was on the bus that would get me to my next destination in less than four hours; the shortest travel time so far.
Tot: 2.842s; Tpl: 0.043s; cc: 9; qc: 62; dbt: 0.0473s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb