martes, 19 de abril de 2016

Moldova (III): Orheiul Vechi and last adventures

Once we had seen Chisinau and Transnistria we felt like breathing some fresh air, so we decided to go to Orheiul Vechi (Old Orhei), an old historical complex 60 km from Chisinau. Jorge, a Spanish guy who was in the hostel, decided to join us.

Many houses in Ivancea were like that
Javi called the taxi driver who took him to town they day he arrived and they negotiated a price to go there. Why a taxi and not a bus? Because we are so hip that we wanted to stop at a random village and see rural Moldova. We stopped at a village called, I think, Ivancea, which had around 500 inhabitants according to the taxi driver.

One of the many wells we saw
Even though I know there are much worse places in the world, walking around Ivancea was a humbling experience that made me realize once again how lucky I am and how easy my life is. There was hardly any pavement, and the little that could be seen was in an awful state. Most of the paths were really muddy.

Even the most random villages have nice Orthodox churches
I don’t know this, but I have doubts that there was actually running water there because there were a lot of wells which had very transparent water. Yes, the water was good, I tried it and I’m still alive, my skin is not green and I don’t have three eyes. So my bet is that the water was good. Another option is that they only use the wells when they have a problem with running water; it’s perfectly possible and I don’t really know what’s the answer.

The last surprising thing about Ivancea is its Orthodox church. The view of a village in which most of the houses looked like they could fall down at any moment but the church is so (relatively) magnificent was certainly interesting. By the way, I have the feeling most Orthodox churches I’ve seen are made of cardboard, and that one wasn’t an exception.

The chapel's walls were surprising
As for Orheiul Vechi, there was not a lot to it, but the landscapes were nice and I always enjoy a walk in the countryside. It’s a dead place in winter, so dead the woman from the information office didn’t even have a couple of the most common banknotes to help us change money. We didn’t really see any archaeological remains, but the landscape was very nice: a valley surrounded by a U-shaped river and, right behind it, some hills, on which we walked. We also entered a little underground chapel which a very old couple had decorated very nicely. The chapel had another exit, which led to a narrow ledge and then to a precipice. Yes, the mandatory pictures were taken there.

Javi and me next to the precipice
I don't often take selfies but admit it, this one is cool
The photo doesn't say much, but trust me, this was good
After a nice walk, we ended up in a village called Trebujeni, which is a funny name there’s a village not that far from my hometown called Trebujena. There was a restaurant which only opens in summer, so Javi worked his Russian magic to convince the old woman who was there to work for the three of us. She told us she’d need an hour, which was ok because we didn’t really have any other choice if we wanted to eat hot food. After a little more than an hour, she came to our table with food for approximately four hundred and seventy-one people. Man, it was good. An orgasmic stew, tomatoes, a weird omelette thingy, some kind of fried bread with goat cheese and I don’t even remember what else, but the thing is that we couldn’t finish everything. We tried our best; it was just impolite to not finish the food this woman had cooked for us, but we just couldn’t. She asked for such a ridiculously small amount of money that we gave her a bit more; after all, the difference was bigger for her than for us (here I am, possibly sounding snobbish again).

Abandoned hotel in the main street
After eating, we took a marshrutka back, relaxed, and exchanged out blood for beer in the evening in the company of Alina and a very nice friend of hers, Ana. This proved not to be the best of ideas, as the next day there was a disco party inside our heads. I got better early enough but Javi was a corpse until lunchtime. We went for a couple of short walks to regain consciousness and then Javi, Jorge, Alina, Ana and Aluna, a lovely local we met in the morning, and me went to a nice bar where a guy was delighting everyone’s ears with the way he played jazz with his guitar.

One last pointless story: I bought a Transnistria postcard as a souvenir and, as I was walking back to the hostel with a happy grin on my face, the wind decided to laugh at me and blew the postcard away. It danced away, teasing me in slow motion, until it fell right in the tiny gap between a wall and a bunch of stones used to pave the streets. No way to get it back.

I saw this at the airport: not stereotypical at all
I left at around 2pm the next day, after buying a bottle of Moldovan wine (try any of them if you have the chance) at the airport. It was an amazing trip, I met people I want to keep in touch with and I definitely recommend you to go to Moldova if you want to do something different during your holidays.

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