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The Eastern European country of Moldova has only been independent since 1991, with its modern history spent as part of Romania within Soviet Russia. Culturally, Moldova leans heavily towards Romania, although the eastern Transnistria region is Russian influenced and is pushing for independence. Despite the recent Soviet rule, Moldova is an attractive and charming country with its green hills, mineral springs, and lakes.
Moldova’s capital - Chisinau - has a reputation as one of the greenest cities in Europe. While there, visit its tree-lined streets, parks, open-air markets and check out the National History Museum of Moldova, which gives a very detailed recap of Moldovian history. There are also many cathedrals in town, including the Chisinau Cathedral, the main church of the Orthodox faith in Moldova.
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Travel Tips from people who've been to Moldova
Forget the city itself, unless you are a fan of Soviet architecture of the 70s and 80s. Take a trip to one of wine cellars - like Milesti Mici, a few kilometers from the capital. Ten of kilometers of underground corridors, where wine is stored, and unforgettable tasting experience.
Well, quite honestly, if you`ll enter Chisinau for the first time you`ll probably think the town is an ugly dump. And you are right. Chisinau on the first sight is not pretty. One should not go to Chisinau for sightseeing sake but on the contrary to meet people. Which is very easy in Chisinau. People are very open and friendly (sometimes a little bit to friendly) and very interested in meeting non-moldovans. Chisinau has a lot of clubs but a lack of music diversity and definitly NO alternative scene on the open. All the clubs play pretty much the same, which is mainly electro music. What is a bit annoying is that people take dress codes or face control very serious. So if you want to go out make sure you dont look like like you would like if you would go out when you are back home. Even if you dont like it, try to put a bit fancy on you. But on the other hand if the bouncer doesn`t like your face you will not get in anyways. There are tons of bars and clubs all over Chisinau so it is quite easy to stumble upon one. Chisinau has also a great food choice. Moldovan food is very tasty and rich in flavour and Moldovans are very proud of their cuisine (and their wine, which is one of the tastiest I tried) so to find local Moldovan food in Chisinau is very easy. La Placinta is a food chain and you can find it`s restaurants without a big hastle since they have several places around Chisinau and everyone knows it. La Taifas is an other great choice. It is located very central on Bucuresti Street and has amazingly tasty food, moldovan life music and a very nice atmosphere. It is just a little pricy but everything you pay for there it`s worth it. Personally I have a favourite place but you will not find in no Lonely Planet or on no web site. Not even locals know about this place (which makes me a little proud since I am a foreigner). It is a small and seedy wine bar not far from the central bus station and I dont think it even has a name. The food they serve is amazingly cheap and really good and the wine they serve is one of the best I had the chance to drink. And you have an unique atmosphere of old, drunk men sitting together, talking and you have an idea of how moldovan village life is like. Despite of Chisinau not being pretty it has undeniably some pretty spots. The main street in Chisinau (Stefan cel Mare boulevard) has a really nice atmosphere with cafe`s and lined up trees and there are a bunch of parks all over the place. Chisinau has also a lot of trees so the best time to visit would be definitly in summer or autumn when the whole town is green (or golden, depends on what season you go). Chisinau is generally very safe. Beware of your pockets though since pickpocketing can be a bit of a problem. Also if you are gay you will not find Chisinau very gay friendly. Unfortunatly a lot of people can get quite homophobic. That is, you still have a chance to enjoy slight gay nightlife. There is a gay club called Casanova. Also there are several events for gays but again because of Chisinau`s extreme homophobia these events are really underground and it is difficult to get hold of them. Single woman travellers beware...moldovan men can get quite annoying and once you got the attention of one (or a group of them) man they wont give up so easy since they have a hard time to understand the meaning of a no. Hotels are a little pricey but there is a hostel in Chisinau, which I heard, is not to bad. Exchanging or getting money is not much of a problem. ATM`s and exchange places are all over Chisinau.
Notwithstanding their difficult socioeconomic situation, Moldovans always try to dress conservatively and well, whether in formal or sports clothes. Thus, it is appreciated if foreigners dress similarly.
Moldovan women, usually, do not shake hands and, in either a business or a social setting, a nod of the head is acceptable when greeting or meeting a woman, or women. By the same token when a man greets a male acquaintance, with a handshake, it would be impolite not to shake the hand of all the males in the group as well.
In a wine producing country such as Moldova it has traditionally been considered impolite not to drink the entire glass of wine if the host/hostess offers a toast. Since many toasts are typically offered throughout a social or business dinner, the requirement of this custom has tended to be altered for westerners who might choose not to drink alcohol as a matter of principle, health or religion. Moldovans are not so surprised, therefore, and do not seem to be offended to see a glass of water or juice raised instead for the toast.
In Moldova shoes that are worn out of doors are removed when entering a home or apartment. Moldovans normally wear slippers for indoor use. If a foreigner is invited as a guest, he/she may want to carry a heavy pair of knit socks or slippers to wear indoors in place of his/her outdoor shoes.
It is customary in Moldova for the person celebrating his/her birthday to provide an array of food and drink for the work place and at home. It is also customary, when invited to a home, to take flowers or a small gift.
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