Monday, September 7, 2009

Chisinau, Moldova

Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, a former Soviet republic in the southeastern corner of Europe. I was curious as to how life is in this lesser known part of Europe.

My first experience with Chisinau was similar to that in Bucharest--stray dogs. In fact, I almost did not enter CouchSurfer Serghei’s apartment due to several barking dogs in the driveway.

Chisinau contradicts the image of Moldova. Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, but one would never guess so when strolling through the center of Chisinau. There, every street is lined with trees. The main strip, Blvd. Stefan de Mare, is lined with grand neoclassical and Soviet-style buildings, including Government House, Parliament House, Presidential Palace, Opera & Ballet Theatre and its Arc de Triomphe. Luxury cars, such as Mercedes and BMW, are all over the city.

I visited Chisinau on National Language Day, a public holiday to celebrate the Romanian language. A huge stage with performances was set up in front of Government House, across from the Arc de Triomphe and Cathedral Park. Vendors nearby were selling popcorn, crepes, doner kebab and pastries. There were so many people that I felt the entire country was there!

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