Soroca: the Gypsy capital of Moldova

Soroca, a town on the Dniestr river, is famous for its Roma (Gypsy) district and is called “the Gypsy capital of Moldova”. Of course while visiting this town we couldn’t miss its well-known district. It made a strange impression on us. Big, expensive, gorgeous buildings, very bad destroyed streets, poor looking people… The strangest thing there is that most of the buildings are still under construction, but nobody finishes the construction. It seems that they are abandoned and nobody takes care of them. Though some of these “castles” are inhabited.

 

 

 

View on Soroca from the Gypsy hill

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Bălţi or Belts – our first stop in Moldova

I continue to write about our Ukraine-Moldova trip.

After our nice time in Chernovtsi we took a bus from there to Bălţi – the third largest city in Moldova that is actually just a small town.  We had some troubles at the border because a Ukrainian customs officer didn’t know what to do with a foreigner with Ukrainian visa (i.e. my fiancé). But he let us go to Moldova even without asking to pay anything. In few hours we arrived in Bălţi. By the way it is pronounced as “Belts”. Our host – a German girl working for the Bosch foundation was supposed to meet us at the bus station, but when we arrived nobody was there. We didn’t have any Moldovan money, we couldn’t call her from our Ukrainian numbers and we didn’t know what to do. The bus station looked like very scary, with some suspicious characters and without any cash machine or exchange office. Thankfully after some time the German girl came for us and took us to her place.

Katja turned out a very nice couchsurfer – an attentive host, who shared her meal with us and gave a whole room at our disposal. Interesting fact is that we contacted a lot of couchsurfers  all over Moldova but almost only foreigners living in this country wrote us back. One local couple in Chisinau invited us but we already agreed with a German guy to stay at his place.  Moldovan people are not used to host travelers I guess.

The next morning we made a city tour with Katja. Balti is a small town with a lot of Soviet style buildings, odd painted monuments, some beautiful churches, a big central street with a lot of flowers and a small lake nearby. At the main square stands a monument to Ştefan cel Mare. I think it’s the only one important figure in Moldova, because his monuments are everywhere, main streets are named after him and he is drawn on all paper currencies.

 

We went to Katja’s working place, Alecu Russo State University of Bălţi. She teaches German there. We walked a bit trough the territory of the university and then she organized us a kind of excursion to a library. I was impressed by that library because I didn’t expect that in such a small university of such a small town there will be a big modern library with all the computer facilities. They even have there the UNO and NATO informational centers, museum and they organize different exhibitions at the library. I really liked it there.

 

After visiting the library we had lunch at a university canteen, had again a small walk through the town, bought some postcards and stamps and went to the bus station. Our stay in Bălţi was over and we took a bus to Soroca.

Photos from Bălţi

Holidays in Moldova and Ukraine

In September 2011 I and my fiancé decided to make some small trip abroad. The problem was that there are not so many countries where we both can go without visa and we needed some cheap variant of travelling. We couldn’t go neither to Russia nor to EU countries. So we decided to go to Moldova. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about this trip coz I already have stayed in Tiraspol for two weeks one year before and knew at least one part of this country: Transnistria. And in general, what can be interesting in Moldova, this country of sunflowers and grapes?? But now I must say that even there we found a lot of fascinating places, and we couldn’t manage to see everything in this tiny country.

On the way to Moldova and back we also have visited some cities in Ukraine. And actually it was the best part of the trip :)

We left Kharkov on the 1st and came back on 17th of September. We visited 12 cities (towns, villages…): Khmelnitskiy, Chernovtsy, Balti, Soroca, Orhey and Orheiul Vechi, Chisinau, Tiraspol, Bendery, Comrat, Izmail, Belgorod-Dnestrovskiy, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk. Ok, in the last one we just changed the trains so it should not be counted as a visited city :) Little by little I will write here about all these places.

Our travel map:

Everywhere beside Comrat we stayed at couchsurfers’ places so we got to know a lot of interesting people. Though all of them (beside Ukrainian girl in Chernovtsy) were foreigners living in Moldova and not Moldovans. It seems like the real Moldovans don’t trust couchsurfing… So we met some local people only accidently (somewhere in the transport usually) and didn’t get to know them very well.

People in Moldova speak Moldavian dialect of Romanian language. Also we heard some of them speaking Russian and Ukrainian, and of course they all know Russian. In Transnistria and Gagauzia people speak mostly Russian. It’s actually striking that in such a tiny country there are two autonomic republics: one of them officially is not autonomic but practically is an independent country and another has a unique status in the world.

It is not true that there is nothing to see in Moldova. There are a lot. And it was interesting to experience all these good and bad moments in this bunch-of-grape-shaped country.