It’s been almost a year since I visited Moldova, so I suppose a blog post is in order. My trip to Moldova was a super quick weekend getaway with a super travelista and friend, Katrina. She twisted my arm into going with the promise of miles of underground wine cellars. We arrived in Chișinău around 3 in the morning Saturday morning after a very long evening/night of flying. Katrina is amazing and made all of the travel arrangements–she is a rockstar traveler (enjoying her 100th country as I type this!). I am usually the one making all of the plans, so it was kind of nice to sit back and enjoy the ride. Our hotel picked us up from the airport, and we managed to get in a few hours sleep before an early morning wake-up for our first tour.
The first part of Saturday was spent with a driver and tour guide leading us to Transnistria, the country-that’s-not-really-a-country. The entirety of Moldova is nestled between Romania and the Ukraine. It definitely boasts an Eastern-European vibe and continues to try to find its identity in a Post-Soviet era. Transnistria acts as its own entity, with its own military, money, and school system. To get from Moldova to Transnistria, we indeed had to go through a “border-crossing” guarded by the Russian military.
Our tour guide was incredibly informative, giving us a thorough walking tour of Tiraspol, the main city in Transnistria. We visited a church and market, and strolled through the fairly barren streets. Once we made our rounds, we had to hop back in the car to make it back across the river to Moldova proper to enjoy our afternoon tour of Milestii Mici.
It did not disappoint. As the National Geographic post and their website boast, Milestii Mici contains miles of underground wine storage. Our driver took us underground, where we were then led around on a tour of a fraction of the facility. Moldova is a massive producer of wine, and it shows. We were treated to a wine tasting, complete with the most delicious spread of meats, cheeses, and desserts alongside visitors from all over the world. One of my favorite things about traveling is interacting with people from around the world, especially over good food and wine! We also picked up a few bottles of wine to bring back to the hotel; I think each bottle came out to around 5 US dollars. After having slept a handful of hours the night before and a long day of tours, us old ladies were enjoying a glass of wine in bed around 8:30pm!
Sunday was spent relaxing and wandering around Chișinău. We explored a history museum, meandered the cobblestone streets, and bartered our way through flea markets filled with local art, beautiful matryoshka dolls, handmade lace wares, and other odds and ends.