Taking off in Toronto, Canada. Photo taken April 28th.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Where are they going next? Cabri Regional Park, Saskatchewan, Canada. Arrive April 29th.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Orheiul Vechi Cave Monastery in Moldova

For our first full day in Moldova, we had been trying to get in to see one of the two largest wine cellars in the world. Both, are located right here in tiny Moldova! But, you need a reservation, and they were all booked up so there was nothing available for the last minute. We made reservation for 11:00am this morning, so you'll hear about that in tomorrow's blog post.

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.

Orheiul Vechi.

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.

Look up!

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!!

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14 comments:

  1. The inside of the church is impressive and the cave monastery so interesting. You guys are sure finding some unique things to see and do! I'm thinking many of your amazing photos could be used for tourism in the areas you've visited!

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    1. Yes, it was very impressive but it almost seemed too perfect with the renovations that they have done. It seems that all the Orthodox churches are totally painted with murals inside so that all the walls and ceilings are covered with these paintings.

      In a way, we are hoping that they will be used for tourism just from people finding our blog and then deciding to visit here after seeing the pictures and reading our words. :-)

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  2. Well, hats off to you guys for touring anywhere in the winter months. Had a guided tour of Prague once in February, man that was bitter!
    Not sure I would have even ventured out onto that ledge at the monastery. Gotta love the internet!

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    1. Thanks Bob, from now on I think we are going to try to stay a little further south at this time of year. This is a little cooler than what it should be for this time of year and for the most part the weather really hasn't been too bad. Only a few days where it was really cold and snowy, it definitely helps if there is no wind. Today is looking a little better.

      I think I might have been a little more nervous out there if I had seen that there wasn't really much rock under that ledge! Notice that I stuck close to the wall rather than the edge. ;-)

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  3. Both the monasteries are amazing. I am now caught up on all your posts and thank you for the wonderful tour of Romania and now Moldova.

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    1. This whole area is amazing is so many ways. Looking forward to showing you and our other readers more of Moldova.

      You should enjoy the posts about the wineries that we will visit. And, you would love the wine here!

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  4. What a great day! Awesome pictures of beautiful places. The food looks good too. Looking forward to tomorrow's wine cellar!

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    1. Thank you Peter! I am sure you and Shelagh will love the post about the winery.

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  5. Very interesting day! Can not wait to hear about the wine cellar! Keep warm!

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    1. The wine cellar was very interesting, Kevin is working on the post right now. Today looks like a better day weatherwise, fingers crossed!

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  6. Most of my friends, even those who travel some, probably couldn't find Moldova on a map. So, I hoped you didn't mind that I shared a couple of the pics on my FB page along with a link to your blog. I'm amazed at the beauty you're finding. Just sorry the weather isn't all that great... looks sort of like a Vancouver winter weather day.

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    1. By all means Carol, share away, that is what the blog is all about! :-)

      The weather could certainly be better but we are Canadians and are dealing well with it. ;-)

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  7. Read in the paper that weather in Poland has been abnormally cold for the past month. Guess that is what you are encountering!

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    1. Yes, it is colder than normal here as well but we are dealing well with it and won't let it stop us from enjoying our time here.

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