no coastline. Moldova has no mountains. Moldova does not possess a year-round
pleasant climate. Moldova requires a $60 minimum visa for entry and can't
seem to set up a stable government . Yet, with all of this taken into consideration,
I just can't stop returning to this place! I consider it one of the best
kept secrets on earth, in fact. And, I am not alone.
it that I had almost overlooked that continues to draw me to Moldova?
It could be
the wine that keeps me coming back. After all, much of Moldova is a steppe
to the Carpathian Mountain range, possessing the perfect soil for wine
production. Moldova produces a variety of excellent wines (which sold in
London pubs in Soviet days for about $125 a bottle) that sell for less
than the price of a bottle of Coca Cola in local grocery stores. It is
also home to the world's largest underground wine cellars at "Cricova."
A whole underground world, it's registers in at a whopping 60 square kilometers
in size, with streets named after famous wines and medieval style tasting
rooms. It is a must for any wine connoisseur. So, is the annual Wine Festival
every autumn, organized in conjunction with the Moldovan State, which offers
foreign visitors free visas during the time of the festival.
legend, published here for the first time, is that Hawaiian singer Don
Ho, who came to Moldova to perform a concert, became so tipsy after a sipping
tour of the Cricova facilities earlier in the day that he barely made it
through 3 songs before excusing himself from the stage. From what I hear,
the easy-going Moldovan concert-goers didn't seem to really mind.
It could be
that very easy-going nature of many Moldovans that keeps me coming back.
Their nature is supported by large and frequent concerts that close down
much of the main street and that are of course, totally free. You have
to appreciate a people and a city that despite all the hardships it has
had to face stops traffic regularly to dance the hora and kick back a beer.
That's my kind of place.
It could be
the unspoiled village life and nature found just outside the city. If you've
never been to a real Eastern European village, your missing out on an unforgettable
experience. There are few places on earth where people who don't know you,
will slaughter five animals in honor of your arrival and invite the whole
neighborhood to drink homemade wine and vodka with you. Moldovan villages
are such special places!
In this neck
of the woods, bathrooms are still outhouses, outside lighting has yet to
be invented, and modern farming technology exists only for the lazy.
But, just when
you feel like you could be no further from civilization, you might, like
I, hear the familiar tunes of Britney Spears coming from one of the bedrooms
of a local child!
I'm not really
one for the quiet life though, so maybe this also isn't the main reason
why I love Moldova. I like the night life and fun times. Chisinau is so
hopping that the New York Times devoted a full story to Chisinau's club
scene! A half-million dollar, futuristic super-clubs challenge the finest
clubs of Western Europe and America. A good example of what one looks like
can be seen by watching the Eastern-European club scene in the popular
movie "Euro Trip."
is a stopping point for refugees who have opened up their own clubs
and restaurants, adding an eclectic, cosmopolitan air to the city; this
has helped create an excitingly diverse nightlife.
and having fun can, believe it or not, get pretty tiring. So this too is
not the reason I am so sold on Moldova.
It could be
the gentle air of familiarity found Chisinau that makes me love this place
so much. Chisinau offers all the amenities of a big town - restaurants,
opera, cinema, clubs, and more, all without most of the hassles that big
city life entails. Plus, most everything is an easy walk. And everyone
is out walking. In fact, it's impossible for me to walk in the city for
five minutes and not run into two people that I know, even if I haven't
been in town for a year!
a surprisingly clean city and has recently been renovated in the downtown
area. One could even say its become posh. It is almost unrecognizable from
how it was when I first visited in 2000. While always preserving it's many
layers of rich history, Chisinau is always evolving, always growing, holding
new surprises in store for me each time that I return.
I suspect that
this is also why almost every ex-pat I have met in Chisinau seems to love
it. One ex-pat explained to me that he felt like a member of an elite club.
Part of the 'chosen few' lucky enough to know about the existence of this
But none of
these are the reasons that I just can't stop coming back to Moldova, all
though they certainly add to my enjoyment and appreciation of Europe's
most hidden country.
The real reason
is actually profoundly simple - the wonderfully genuine and sincere nature
of the Moldovan people. Anywhere on earth you will find good people and
bad people. That is a given. Moldova, however, seems to have a disproportionate
number of good people. I mean really good. Not goody-two-shoe-good but
genuine, salt of the earth good. Reliable, trustworthy, friends for life.
It's been said if you can count your true friends on the five fingers of
your hands, you are rich. If that's true, then Moldova stands to make you
a very rich person.
Now, you may
be thinking, that this is simply my personal experience. It could have
happened to me anywhere. It is just happenstance that I met so many wonderful
people in Moldova. Maybe you're right. I can only say that I have traveled
to many countries and met many wonderful people and spoke with many ex-pats
in those countries. Nowhere have I met as many ex-pats who have told me
about how wonderful and open the locals are, and what good friends they've
made in Moldova.
there are less affected by the declining value placed on friendship in
the West. When I asked several hundred young Moldovans what are the five
most important things in your life the most common replies were "My faith,
my family, my friends, love, making a difference in Moldova and the world."
A similar poll in America yielded much more materialistic results from
it's participants. This difference in perspectives affects not only the
individual adherents but the society-at-large in profound ways.
Sure, old traditional
mentalities are not always healthy, and Moldova's growth has been hampered
by less positive mentalities which also unfortunately continue to persist.
The less wonderful side of Moldova though only helps serve as a magnifier
of the wonderful side filled with great people and traditions.
So while the
common accusation of Moldova's being "trapped in the past" may not seem
so good and certainly is far from being a totally true declaration, I can
only say judging from my experience, I like spending some time "trapped
in the past."
asset in the end is not its wine, its clubs, or the layout of its capitol
city. It greatest asset is its people.
They are why
you will love Moldova.
is a true original with a character all its own. It possesses a compelling
otherness that will always stay with you and a people who will capture
your heart. That is why you too, may end up coming to Moldova again and
a great trip from Romania by car or plane and from other European countries
via direct flight. It will definitely add a unique aspect to your vacation
that most other travellers still don't know about. You may even decide
to stay a little while longer like I did. Most ex-pats I meet in Moldova,
in fact, came there for a few weeks, or a few months, a few years ago.
My final advice,
if you come to Moldova is to try to buy an airline ticket that has an open-ended
return. Odds are it will come in handy.
To meet up
with Ex-pats go to the Hash Run that meets every other Sunday http://www.ch3.md
for more information.
For a good
Hills Nistru - With three central locations, Green Hills Nistru
is a Chisinau legend. Go here and a good meal is virtually guaranteed.
The menu is diverse, international, with prices that make this dining experience
a must. Try the chicken goulash, my personal favorite, that comes with
a side of rice for less then $4. Centrally located on Stephan Cel Mare
Boulevard next to the Organ Hall, Mihai Eminescu street (on the same corner),
and on 31 August 1989 street next to the excellent Symposium French restaurant,
which is run by the owners of Green Hills Nistru.
- Missing home? Try the the Turkish-built entertainment and dining experience
that is a true hit. The food combines the best of American, Turkish, and
Moldovan fare in perfect presentation. Sit by the window at night time
and you will see the New York skyline. Work off the calories with a game
of bowling in super-modern alleys, in a country where bowling is considered
"hip" or play a game of billiards or one of the many electronic games housed
in the New York complex. You'll forget that you're more then 7,000 miles
away from the Big Apple in no time! Located next to the Hotel Dedeman across
from ULIM University in the City Center.
A Professional Baseball Game In Europe....
Moldova, of course. The completion of a major baseball stadium near the
city's circus building is due by the end of '05. Games have been going
on since before the fall of Communism - 1987 to be exact.
club, City Club night club, the Circus,the Organ Hall, the Opera House,
Kathmandu African Restaurant, De-Ja-Vu bar, the Cricova Underground wine
cellars tour. Use the contact information below or ask your hotel concierge
for directions and more information.
are changing the face of Moldova and taking the initiative to start-up
community service projects. They are always looking for a good-spirited
volunteer to work with them in whatever way possible.
On Tour To Romania
Due to the
overwhelming number of readers have requested the opportunity to participate
in an opportunity tour of Romania, the author of this article, Kevin Stillmock,
will be arranging a tour starting on May 6th, with several later tours
planned as well. (a possible second tour later in May is under consideration).
The tour will
last 7 days with the option to add days based on individualized personal
requests. Airfare, hotel accommodation, and most meals will be arranged
at special discount for those participating in this tour, with the bulk
of the costs refundable to those who decide to invest in a personal getaway,
second home, or investment property in Romania.
in Romania is now. Prices have already shown sharp increase in many regions
in recent years and months. This trend is expected to continue in the short
term. The word is getting out on Romania and the novelty of investing there
won't last too much longer. Neither will the great bargains and investment
This tour will
be fast-paced and take you to the most promising areas for investment and
residence throughout the Country. You will fly into Bucharest, the capitol
city of Romania, and our base for this tour. You will become well acquainted
with Romania's largest city before journeying to Transylvania, Europe's
soon-to-be new Switzerland, and to Romania's Black Sea Riviera.
are interested in purchasing a home, an apartment, office space, or simply
to make a great investment in real estate in a soon-to-be European Union
superstate, this tour will familiarize you with the opportunity and the
country. Moreover, our specialists will work with you individually to meet
all of your specific needs!
on Romania by Kevin Stillmock see below: