Advice from a Real Visitor
Below is some advice from a friend of mine from the USA, who visited Moldova several times and likes it here. I asked him to come up with some thoughts or advice for other people wishing to come here, so he put together this small "user guide". I did not edit the text, so it may be a little difficult to read. Just one comment on my part: wherever Russian is mentioned, it should also be true for Romanian (or Moldovan) language/people. So here it goes!
Here is a few thoughts from a dumb Midwest hay seed about Chisinau, Moldova and the villages in there country.
- Getting off the airplane the first time behind the old iron curtain is just a little bit scary when you are alone. Then if you are like me and have to get your Moldavian visa at Chisinau airport STAY behind the red line, fill out the visitors visa paper available there and wait until your turn comes or else you WILL be yelled at by the immigration officer, that's no fun.
- The taxi drivers normally do not speak any English, so when you get to where you are going to call home for your visit in there country have some one write on a piece of paper in RUSSIAN your address and when you ask a taxi driver to take you back and he doesn't understand you have the piece of paper to show him. Also any other address you go to on a regular visit.
- Most Moldavians I have met and had dealings with are very honest, very friendly and trustworthy people, I have become friends with quite a few of them. One time I got into a cab and told the driver where I wanted to go in my awful Russian witch he could not understand, so he stopped at two hotels and finally found someone who could understand English to translate where I wanted to go into Russian so he could understand, now I have take that exact same ride on many occasions, and he did not charge me anymore than another taxi driver who knew where we were going ( 30 lei, about 2.40 US dollars ).
- When you arrive you have three days to get registered with the local police, if you are staying in a hotel the hotel will register you if not you will have to register your self, I highly suggest you take a native Moldavian with you to get registered. Here is another suggestion take your local police register paper and staple it in to your passport to keep from losing it witch would be some trouble for you if you do not have it. I learned this lesson one bitter cold night when coming thru Transnistria from Ukraine to Chisinau late one evening, when we were stopped there entry point to check our luggage and check passports the first border guard saw my US passport and I think it was the first US passport he had ever seen so he ran my passport down the road approximately 150 yards to another little building and showed to another border guard and he didn't know what he should do with it so he took it across the road to another building and they didn't know any more that the first two border guards did so they took to the largest building and showed it to the fifth and sixth boarded guards witch eventually cleared me to proceed on. In all there running my passport around the Chisinau police registration fell out and disappeared into one of the snow banks, after spending the bettor part off two hours there I went to the big building and ask where it was, they told me that they had never seen it, so the boarded guards just lost it somewhere in the snow at the entrance to Transnistria. SO STAPLE IN YOUR PASSPORT!!!!!!!!!!!!
- If you are lucky enough to be invited to a village in Moldova please go, especially if you are invited to stay overnight there. The villages I have been invited to seam to have no bad cooks, to find a bad cook in Moldova is like looking for hens teeth here, there are no bad cooks there, the villagers are the best of the best at cooking delicious food. Most all of them tell me they have nothing but each other and just make do, by the way most of them make there own wine and it is very good, its easy to get very drunk in front of them, so watch how much you drink, and have a ball with them!
- Bathrooms are just about impossible to find so go before you leave your place of residence, even most restaurant don't have a bathroom, they are just hard to find. When I changed busses in Odessa from a trip from Chisinau to Mykolayiv Ukraine in a large bus terminal I found a men's W/C ( bathroom ) when I walked in there was an old lady sitting there collecting 1 Greena to use it and sell you some toilet paper, so get use to going in front of some old lady, if you can find a W/C. When I was in Chisinau two years ago some friends of mine took me out to eat a very fancy restaurant in the country side where there was a W/C outside, just like our old out houses, no heat or running water, all there was a hole in the cement floor. Another suggestion when you see a McDonalds they all have a public W/C so keep the location of McDonalds in mind when you are wandering around in the city.
- All of us western people have no chance of fitting in like a local person, we can dress in the same colors, wear the same type of shoes and even purchase the same hats but we all stick out like a dead nun in a snow drift, its impossible to just fit in to the locals. I have had a number of my friends tell me that they can just look at a person and tell me they are a Russian, Ukrainian or Romanian even tell from what part of western Europe they come from, how they can do this I haven't a clue but they can, so don't go over and expect to just fit in to the locals.
- Take your passport and local registration when ever you go out, you never know when you will be stopped by the local law and ask to show them your papers. I was shopping on a cold Saturday with a least 500 other people around where I was, two local police officers walked to me thru a crowd of people and ask me to show them my papers, you see what I mean by fitting in, I didn't and never will. Those police officers looked tired cold and the look on there face told me they needed a cup of tea and I am willing to bet that didn't want me to have my papers so I could give them a few lei so they could afford a cup of tea.
- If you are going to Moldova to meet your woman or just to meet some women, I think you will find them to be educated, intelligent, very family oriented and a good cook besides the biggest majority of them are beautiful to, I think you will be very happy you have taken the trip to Moldova.