Saturday, October 10, 2009

Report on the train ride to Chisinau, Moldova

Sorry I haven't been able to post in a few days.  I haven't had internet access for long enough to get on the blog.

We caught the Bucharest-Chisinau train on Wednesday night at 8pm.  We found our first class sleeper car.  It was the last car on the train and our compartment was the last compartment on the car.  Our compartment was about 5 feet wide and about 6 and a half feet deep.  There was a padded bench seat on each side of the car with a little table between.  The padded seats were the beds, very narrow.  The conductor came to bring clean sheets.  Oh, I forgot to mention that our compartment was right next to the toilet.  The toilet empties directly onto the tracks.  Sometimes we got the odor of the fuel, sometimes the cigarette smell from the next compartment and sometimes the toilet.

Now the fun part:  imagine Saturday morning TV cartoons.  Now picture a train with the last car flying from side to side and bouncing up and down.  That was us.  At times, I was sure I was going to hit the ceiling and other times I thought I'd be tossed onto the floor.

We reached the Romanian border around 3a.m. and were there for an uneventful hour.  We started again and reached the Moldovan border where first they stamped our passports and then the customs person came to see if we had anything to declare.  They weren't at all interested in my luggage and I didn't have to open it.  Florin had some sex-education/HIV prevention booklets and the rather dour woman looked extensively through each booklet.  Florin offered her a copy but she firmly declined.

We arrived in Chisinau about 8:45 so the 200 mile trip only took twelve and three-quarters hour.  Our friends, Leah and Nataly met us and we went to our apartment to settle in.  Then we went out for a very expensive breakfast.

I'm learning a new currency.  The Moldovan Lei (Lei is the same name the Romanians use for their currency).
One US dollar is about 11 Moldovan Lei.  The bills come in various colors and are smaller than the US dollar.

After a nap and a shower, we walked downtown.  The city appears old and somewhat run down.  There are some interesting churches and other buildings.  The National Cathedral is in the middle of a park.  I'll try to get a photo of it.  Florin took me to the place where the bus of LGBT Pride marchers was attached and almost overturned last year.  Then we went to a really nice restaurant.  I had borscht for the first time in my life and found it delicious.  For my entree I had Moroccan chicken over rice pilaf.  Florin had a potato-leek soup and a veal stew that was served in a very hot covered pot right out of the oven.  The smell was amazing.  After dinner we walked across the street to have coffee and sinfully rich dessert at another place.  I had my usual capuchino and a cake called Torta Mozart - lots of cream and chocolate.  I was so caught up in my dessert, I just don't remember what Florin got.  After that, we walked the 20 minutes back to the apartment and crashed.  That's our Thursday.


  1. Wow, the train car sounds more like second class than first class. I've yet to ride on a train. Your description of the car bouncing around and around was very funny; I can picture it. What is borscht? It's a good thing you had a 20minute walk to walk off that sinful dessert you had!

  2. I cracked up with the image of the cartoon train and the last car swinging in the breeze. How funny!! I'm not sure that I would've made it for the entire 12+ hours with the motion and odors. You're a strong man!! And you still have to return!! Love....

  3. Happy Birthday!!!
    Miss you and Love you