Strolling through Chisinau (Moldova) on high heels

October 2nd, 2012

They Said

Being in Moldova was an adventure. I was working as a Journalist at the newspaper Аргументы и факты (Arguments and Facts) located in Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova.  During the preparation of my trip I couldn’t find relevant information about the country. There was almost no Western media coverage of Moldova.

So I arrived with almost no information about the country, and little idea about what I would find in Chisinau. The first days of my stay I was confronted with the completely bizarre situation with people who I could not communicate with. I felt like an alien on another planet. Almost nobody spoke English. My Russian was bad and I didn’t knew how to speak Romanian. In Moldova, 75% of the people speak Romanian. Because of Russian anti-Romanian propaganda people prefer to call it Moldovan. But the first language is Romanian and second Russian.

After a few days I started to get to know the city and used to the mentality of the people. They where very reluctant and passive when it came to communication. Navigation around the city I had a tendency to get lost. Strolling through the city I was surprise how many shades of grey and brown one city can produce. The skyline was penetrated with large grey tower blocks, a marked impact of Soviet times. Large areas of park land that seemed to look harsh, sparse and unkempt. A lot of people use the parks as a meeting point. Especially the young ones. Appearance is very important. They like to dress nicely and stylish. I also noticed the importance of shoes in Moldova. Especially the high heels. Moldova is one of the poorest countries in East Europe and has a large foreign debt and high unemployment. So I could not understand that they rather spend money to buy shoes than a good healthy meal.

I love Autumn in Moldova. It’s the season for weddings. If you walk down the city centre of Chisinau you will see a lot of limousines and bridespair taking pictures in parks and in front of the famous statue of Stefan cel Mare. As a Journalist I was curious to know how they could afford their wedding as a lot of people in Moldova are living beneath their income. I discovered that most of the people who are getting married is taking a loan from the bank or looking for people like friends and family who can sponsor their wedding. For a lot of this people is getting married the most important event in their life.

As I was getting to adjust to the life in Moldova, the bad roads, the grumpy people it was sometimes impossible to stay calm. Especially when I was trying to get a trolleybus or maxi taxi. Drivers in Chisinau are really crazy and reckless. I stopped counting how many times I almost got hit by a car. The trolleybusses had become part of my daily routine. It brought me everywhere. And it was cheap and easy. I really had a great time working for the newspaper. For me it was like discovering Moldova differently. Because I was travelling around the country as a Journalist I could come closer to the local people, hear their story and write about it.

Moldova may be the poorest country in East Europe, but it had intrigued, fascinated and confused me. I have travelled a lot but Chisinau is the only city I had ever been where the streetlights are turned off at 10 P.M.

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2 responses to “Strolling through Chisinau (Moldova) on high heels

  1. Well this is a very accurate depiction of my country, especially when you allude to the fact that people seem to live beyond their means. The way one looks and what one possesses ( house; indoor decoration/design; phones, jewelry; car; the car’s color (that became a fashion too and I’m not even joking – in 2012 the color white for cars was the big deal that year… people started buying white cars because it was the fashion there!!!) seems to be primordial to people who are influenced by ‘European fashions’…
    This is, however, not always the case as the majority of people have relatively low or nonexistent incomes. To survive most people rely on the remittances sent by the family living abroad… a contribution that is far from negligible as remittances make up more than a quarter of Moldova’s GDP…

    The only thing I’m not so sure about is the time the streetlights are turned off at night… It’s true that not every street is properly lightened (talking about big cities here, Chisinau being the one I’m actually referring to) yet, I seem to recall (the last time I’ve been there was 1 and a half years ago) that these (or the ones next to the main boulevards and avenues) were on…
    Can’t say with much certainty though…

    Anyway if you would like to experience absolute darkness you should spend the night in virtually any Moldovan village… You can rarely find a streetlight (or one that works)! Perfect for observing stars am I right?!
    Apart from being a country were ‘superficial values’ are adopted and being highly corrupt (I mean, they still don’t know where the last year’s billion is to be found!) there are still some positive aspects to it… I love going for a walk in Chisinau in summer time, walking around villages and (although this is considered negative to those living there) go back to the ”same Moldova” from where I once left – because some things did not change – which sometimes is a pity yet, there’s something strangely nostalgic about it…

    Point being, I am really glad I read this post as FINALLY, a non-moldovan tourist goes there and writes something about it (although it was not you personal initiative (I suppose), you still did go there…)!

  2. It was a pleasure reading your article about my country and it’s capital city. I’m a local, but this doesn’t make me feel too comfortable with the public transport too. I’m using the trolley buses as well cause I hate the maxi taxis. 🙂 a good thing about trolley buses, like you said, they take you where ever you need and it’s pretty fun riding them. I can understand how hard it was for you to communicate with people the first days, Usually the students speak English in Chisinau, but there aren’t many unfortunately. But at least you will have some nice memories in your life. I hope we will get more nice visitors like you. Have a beautiful day and greetings from Moldova!

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