Instead, we went with our friend Andrei to the Orheiul Vechi Historical Sitenear the village of Trebujeni.
We walked from our apartment to the meeting point...the nearest McDonalds! There are three McDonalds here in Chisinau, and they make a great meeting point because they have parking...and free wifi!
The McDonalds on Dacia St in Chisinau.
Andrei was right there waiting for us. He was our AirBnb host in Sibiu, Romania a couple of weeks ago and just happens to be here visiting Moldova at the same time as us. So he invited us to do some touring with him, and it's convenient that he has his car with him.
A bit of a dreary day here in Moldova...temperature around freezing, with some snow in the forecast.
Here are some random photos from our drive heading out of the city...
An old Russian Lada. It says "Police" on the side, but there are much more modern police cars around, so we're not sure what the story was with this one.
Moldova is a very new country. It was part of the Soviet Union up until 1991 and on August 27th of this year it celebrated it's 25th year of independence as the Republic of Moldova.
There are lots of modern gas station.
There seem to be more gas stations here than in Romania. Also, fuel is much cheaper, with gasoline being about the same price here as it is in Canada.
The snow started.
About halfway to Orheiul Vechi, the snow started and it didn't stop our entire time there.
At Orheiul Vechi, there isn't really a lot to see. The main attraction is the cave monastery which was dug into the side of the mountain in the 15th century. Still used for religious ceremony today.
There's also a church built in 1904.
And, some archaeological diggings that have uncovered evidence that societies have lived in this area for thousands of years.
It's an interesting bit of geographical terrain, where the river snakes its way through the limestone and has carved out the sides of the hills.
Ruth, with our friend Andrei.
Well hello there!
A cross on the hill over the cave monastery.
The entrance to the cave monastery.
Inside the cave monastery.
Inside the cave monastery.
Built into the side of the mountain, the cave monastery has a door that opens to a ledge outside the cave. Gotta be a little bit careful, especially when it's covered with snow!
Ruth and Kevin.
Here's a video I took from the ledge...
We were all feeling a little hungry and we found a nice restaurant open in the village. Andrei and I each had the roast pork, and Ruth had the duck. With cheese and cream and polenta. Nice meal. Total bill for the three of us was 280 Moldovan lei ($18.92 CAD, $14.50 USD).
We had been to an ATM on the way to meet Andrei. We didn't yet have an Moldovan currency and figured we had better get some cash. The machine spit out three 1,000 lei notes...a huge denomination for the locals.
Andrei and Ruth.
Lunch is served!
I went to pay the bill, and they didn't have change for the 1,000 lei note. We all thought this was a bit strange, but that's what it was.
Even stranger, this little restaurant in the middle of nowhere Moldavia accepted credit cards, so I paid with my Visa!
As we left town, we stopped for one more shot of the cave monastery, this time from the outside down below...
That's the ledge we had been standing on.
One more stop along the way...we drove about 20 kms over to the Curchi Monastery. This property has been used for religious purposes since 1775 and there are five churches on the property. The landscaping is really nice, and it's a beautiful place to wander around...even in the snow!
The main church was built in 1872, but during the communist years from 1959 and up until 1995, the entire complex was used as a psychiatric hospital. The main church fell into a state of disrepair and was unused until 2005, but even then it needed a lot of work. In 2006, a large fundraising campaign began, and the church has only recently been renovated and re-opened once again...
It's quite impressive!
The entrance was free, but there was still a guard on duty.
We were the only ones there.
The monastery overlooks this village.
Music while you're working.
Funny thing, but as we were wandering around outside, we could hear loud music in the distance. American music. Turns out these guys were building something and had the music cranked right up. They were listening to Cher, and her Life After Love song. It seemed a little strange at a Monastery out in the countryside of Moldova!
Andrei dropped us off at the McDonalds again in Chisinau and we walked back to the apartment. On the way, we stopped at a fairly big grocery store. Picked up a few things. The potatoes and carrots still had dirt on them. There were big fish lying on ice still alive. Talk about fresh food! We were waiting to hear the cows mooing in the back room...
Today, we're off to see the second biggest wine cellar in the world. It contains somewhere around 1.2 million bottles of wine!!
Twelve Days of Deals starts today at Amazon.com!