>> Chisinau >> Old Orhei & Capriana
Anybody says what he wants about this city. I celebrated the New Year here. It must have been something…or not. I’ll admit again. I normally take vacation during Christmas and New Year, and this year I didn’t plan anything. Moldova happened to be one of a few countries left where I could make an impulsive trip. You might have a bit of a problem finding your way around because not many people (including young ones) speak English here. A crash courses on Russian before you go. Almost all Moldovans are bilingual in Russian and Moldovan; the latter is similar to Romanian.
Unlike all my previous visit to other capitals, I didn’t explore the city at all. It was cold like hell. My boot was broken exposing my toes and soaking in water. Things I saw happened to be on my bus routes to other cities or on my walk from the city center to the central station. I spent most of the time there visiting the winery at Cojusna, Old Vechi and Capriana monastery and of course spent the New Year eve at an Russian bar called Oxy.
See and Do
(gathered from various guides and online sources)
- The city’s main street, Stefan Cel Mare (Stefan the Great) Boulevard, has changed name numerous times reflecting the political landscape at that time. It was named Moscow street in the 19th century, Alexandrovskaya until 1924 as in Tsar Alexander of Russia and Alexandru cel Bun (after an ancient Moldovan lord) from 1924-1944. In 1931, part of the street was split and named after a king. During the years Moldova belonged to the Soviet Union, the street changed its name to Lenin. A stroll along this street will take you to many popular sights.
-Stefan Cel Mare Monument, Holly gate, botanica park, largest in the city, near the city gate.Orthodox Cathedral, government house, the market at Piata Centrala, near the central bus station.
- Jewish cemetery in Buiucani, largest Jewish cemetery in Europe.
- Parcul (lake) Valea Morilor where you can swim and rent boat to cruise around.
- Parcul Aluneiul – near a former Soviet theme park, with door-less and window-less house, as well as a memorial to the pogroms in Chisinau in the first part of the 20th Century.
- Mile?tii Mici, held the Guinness World Records in 2005 for being the biggest wine collection in the world.
- Visit the national history museum, museum of fine arts, Pushkin museum.
- Buy lots of wine and bring home for yourself or gift. Not as famous as France or Italy, but Moldova is known to produce high-quality wines.
Eat and Drink
- Andy’s Pizza has a variety of cheap menu to choose from (pizzas, soups, chickens, etc.) @ 87 Mateevici Street.
- Veranda buffet style in a spacious, clean, decorated dining hall. Have various dishes of European and local cuisine. If you want to try typical Moldovan food, your best bet for the money is here. Near the central station @ Negruzzi 2 /4.
- Bus and marshrutka (combi bus, shared, routed or maxi taxi) are so cheap here, you might as well spoil yourself and hop on whenever you wish. A single ride costs a quarter of a euro.
- Marshrutka is a common and cheap way to travel to tourist destinations outside Chisinau.
- Well-connected by buses and trains to rest of Europe.
Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, thus Chisinau is a cheaper capital compared to others in Europe. Transportation and accommodation is cheap while shopping is somewhat expensive.
- Hostel: from €8 per bed
- Apartment: from €16 (single)
- Budget hotel: from €35 (single), €29 (double)
- Bus to Suceava, Romania: €12 (213 km / 132 miles)
- Bus to Prague, Czech Republic €60 (1120 km / 695 miles)
- Taxi from the center to South bus station: 40 Lei / €3
- Local bus single ride: 3 lei / € 0.2
- Combi bus/shared taxi to Orhei Vechi (Butuceni village): 22 lei / € 1.5
- Buffet lunch (traditional meal, soup, salad): €3
- Pizza: €3, 4
- Beer: €1, 2
- If you’re looking for a local tour guide in Chisinau, contact Svetlana. The woman knows everything a backpacker needs on his/her visit to this city. She gave me instructions on how to visit Orhei Vechi and Capriana monatery on my own using the local marshrutka. I wasn’t able to get this information online and guidebooks prior to my trip.
Do you know?
Which country is responsible for O-zone’s Dragostea din tei, one of the gayest, most outrageous dance songs ever come out from Europe? Some say it’s from Romania. Well, technically, all the band members are Moldovans from Chisinau.
Americans may have known it through the Numa numa boy
The culprit hit which brought O-zone into the limelight