Tuesday, 7 June 2016


Moldova had long been on my list. It was just a bit difficult and expensive to get to, so when I saw that Wizz Air were now flying there, I booked a trip. Luton isn't exactly the most convenient airport for me, but at least the flight was direct. The flight wasn't very comfortable as the seats were very close together and I'm only  5'11. It made sleeping on it practically impossible despite having arrived at the airport in the early hours of the morning.

On arrival, we had a bit of a nap, then went into the centre. We had a walk around the lake and then when to find something to eat and drink. It was pretty cheap to buy food and drink. Most of the bars also had wifi, as there was no way I was going to pay the outrageous roaming charges on my mobile network.

On our first full day, we decided to visit the breakaway republic of Transistria. We asked reception if they could get us a cab to take us to Bendery Fortress. We were told it was cost 400 leu, which seemed reasonable. They guy arrived and drove us to the border. There he did all the talking, we just handed over our passports and we were given a slip of paper giving us 10 hours in the "country". The emblem above the border post still has the hammer and sickle on it, though I didn't think taking a photo of it was a good idea.

Next it was onto the fortress. We hadn't really arranged how we were going to get back and the driver didn't speak a lot of English, so he just hung around whilst we went round the castle. We paid the entrance fee in Moldovan leu as we didn't have any of the local roubles. This was no problem though we did need the exact money. It was only 100 leu to get in. There's not a huge amount to see, but it is a nice castle which is in the process of being restored.

Then we asked our driver to take us to Tiraspol and once there, we got him to wait for a couple of hours whilst we looked around. There's a big statue of Lenin outside the government building and a big wide road you can imagine them parading tanks up and down.

There are also lots of exchange places, so armed with some local roubles, we had lunch in Andy's Pizza, which is a big chain which is all over Moldova. Then we went for a couple of beers overlooking the river.

Getting back to Chisinau, we asked the driver how much and the whole day was 1100 leu, which between the 3 of us worked out as less than £15 each. So it was a bit of a bargain.

The next day, we went on a winery tour. This needed to be booked in advance. If you'd asked me about Moldovan wine before I went, I would probably have laughed as I'd never heard of it before. It used to only be sold in Russia but they banned the import of it a few years ago.

The Cricova winery is located in the tunnels of an old limestone mine. The constant temperature and humidity in the tunnels allows for very consistent results. The tour was interesting. They drive you round the tunnels in carriages pulled by electric buggies. There's a film and then they show you the very modern bottling process.

At the end, it was time to taste the wine. I felt this was a bit rushed but the wine was good quality. We adjourned to the restaurant for a couple more glasses before getting a cab back into town.

We had our last night out in town and then the next day, it was back on the Wizz Air plane. I had the same seat as the way out. It was definitely the same plane as I recognised the duct tape holding the seat in front together.

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