Chisinau has no reason to exist

I know you.

You’re looking to go off the beaten path.  You’re looking for mystery.  Adventure.   You want to discover fascinating unknown places not listed in guidebooks.  You’re a TRAVELLER who sneers at mere tourists.

You thought you’d go to Moldova, because nobody really goes there and that must make it an interesting place.  Right?  You’ll regale your envious friends with tales about your wild times in a place they’ve never heard of.

Before you buy your ticket, take a moment to read about just why nobody ever goes to Moldova.

Chisinau Arch

Triumphal Arch in Chisinau. What Moldova has ever had to feel triumphant about remains a mystery.

You’ve heard of Transnistria, the country that doesn’t exist.

Moldova, the country that Transnistria has seperated from, at least in its own mind, has a similar if slightly different existential problem:  it technically exists but its capital, Chisinau, has no reason to exist. You have no reason to come here, except to take some form of transport to someplace worth going.

Come to Chisinau and treat yourself to spectacular sights like:

Moldovan Sidwalk

Dirt!  And a bonus: broken glass!

  • Dirt!
  • Brutalist architecture!
  • Betting parlors!
  • Orthodox churches!
  • Crumbling buildings!
  • A shiny new mall that’s just as hideous and overpriced as a Western mall, even though Moldova is the poorest country in Europe!
  • Tacky advertising everywhere!
  • Grimy buses coughing out diesel fumes!
  • Filthy cars coughing out exhaust!
  • Trash!

To be fair, people were pretty nice.  A lot nicer than in Romania.  And out in the country there’s some pleasant scenery, though nothing dramatic.  It’s just the overwhelming awareness that there’s nothing special about Moldova and no reason to visit here.  Believe me.  I looked for a reason.  I couldn’t find one.

Moldovan architecture has its own special charm

Oh wait, here’s one:

It’s on the way from Odessa to Romania, if for some reason you want to go to Romania.

cheese pie

At hostel. Moldovan food. Some kind of cheese pie. It was OK.

I stayed at the Chisinau Hostel, a nice modern building, friendly staff, etc. but I absolutely hated the beds.  They are hard plastic-coated mattresses and even the lower bunks have BARS on the sides.  Non-adjustable bars.  They don’t look insurmountable in the pictures, but believe you me, crawling into your bed is quite difficult without bruising yourself.   And then you lie there feeling imprisoned.  When you want to get out, you have to contort yourself like a pole vaulter and you end up bruising yourself all over again.   Just unnecessary, and unfortunate because otherwise the hostel is pretty good and nicer than it looks in the pictures.

baby penguin

At least there’s a poster of a baby penguin to cheer visitors to Chisinau

To get out of Chisinau by bus, you have to cab it to the Southern Bus Station, inconveniently located far from anywhere else and off the public transport routes to be as annoying to tourists as possible.   You’ll have to search for your bus, because no one will tell you where it is.  (Platform 13 is the bus to Brasov, in case you’re going there.)

A bus to Brasov (Romania) costs 190 Moldovan lei, or about $17.


Somewhat nice building in Chisinau