Weird and Wacky in Chisinau

I’ve been living in Chisinau for almost three months now, and I thought that it would be fun to share some of the interesting venues and events that I’ve been to/attended so far. 

Erudit Café: I was introduced to Erudit Café a month ago by a peace corp volunteer, and I really enjoy its relaxed atmosphere. It is a cozy venue where customers come in and play board games while enjoying a drink. This cafe doubles as a board game shop, and you can buy (or just play) games that come from all over the world. Side note: they also have Cards Against Humanity! 

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Morj at Art Labyrinth

Art Labyrinth: Art Labyrinth is a popular hangout spot with the international volunteers. It is a cultural center which hosts “various events, concerts, exhibitions, classes, workshops, working tea and vegetarian club.” So far at Art Lab I’ve attended an African Dance class, watched two movies (in English with Russian subtitles), been to a fundraiser/swap meet for a local dog shelter, and watched a Ukrainian folk band perform. It’s truly a multipurpose space, and if I am being  honest, it is a place unlike any I’ve ever seen. It also, oddly enough, has a considerable amount of Japanese calligraphy hanging in its various rooms.

International Cat Show: About a month ago I received a phone call from my mentors, asking if I wanted to go to a “cat exhibition” with them. I was curious, and so an hour later off we went. Well, it turns out that a cat exhibition is exactly what it sounds like. Displayed in a large expo hall were award-winning cats from all over the world. From what I could gather from the information sheets, these cats had won prizes in categories judging their breeding. Some of the cats also seemed to be judged on their size. I have never seen cats that big before! Some were even the size of large spaniels!

Earth Hour: Last Saturday I went to the Chisinau Botanical Gardens with another volunteer to celebrate Earth Hour.

Earth Hour is a worldwide grassroots movement uniting people to protect the planet, and is organised by WWF. Engaging a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues, Earth Hour was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide, and the one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.

Besides total darkness (!), we got to see some people from Art Lab performing with fire (blowing fire, juggling, dancing with it…), as well as a military band play Moldovan folk music. In fact, what with the band and their colleagues (who I suspect were required to attend, as everyone was in official uniform), nearly 1/2 of the audience seemed to be some sort of military personnel. The other 1/2 consisted of families with small children, people in their 20s, and a lot of TV reporters. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and at the end we all joined to dance the Moldovan Hora! All in all a good way to promote environmental awareness and spend an hour without electricity.

Brasov, Romania

Hi Everyone!

I’ve done a lot since I last wrote (sorry it’s been so long), and so I’ve decided to split this update into two parts. First up: all about my trip to Brasov, Romania.

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Visiting the Dracula Castle (i.e. Bran)

My Mom came to visit for a week, and we spent three of those days in the Transylvanian region of Romania. There is an overnight bus that goes directly from Chisinau to Brasov, and so while it does take nine hours, the whole trip is relatively straightforward (i.e. cheap). And it was worth any discomfort to end up in this beautiful slice of the world!

Southern Carpathians (potentially - all of the mountains looked the same to me)
Beautiful Romanian Mountain Range
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Sheep! Green Grass! Blue Skies! Spring has truly arrived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brasov is definitely a tourist town, and is full of beautiful architecture and historical monuments. Of particular interest are the Black Church, and the Council Square.

Counsel House
Council House
Black Church (in the background)
Black Church (in the background)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spent the first day walking around Brasov city (and recovering from our long bus ride), and the second day on a tour, which was supposed to give us a kind of “sampler course” of the major sights in the region. It was a lot of fun, and we saw Peles Castle, Bran Castle (Dracula!), and Rasnov Fortress.

Peles Castle

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Fun Facts About Peles Castle: 

1.Peleş Castle was built at the     initiative of King Charles I, to serve as a summer residence.

2. The castle has been open to the public as a national museum since 1953.

3. The tour guides there are super knowledgable, and with your entrance free you get a tour of the lower rooms (there is an extra fee to visit the upper levels).

 

 

 Bran Castle

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Did you know?: Dracula is often confused with Vlad the Impaler. However, Vlad was a  Walachian Prince with a castle, now in ruins, located in the Principality of Wallachia. Therefore, because Bran Castle is the only castle in all of Transylvania that actually fits Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s Castle, it is known throughout the world as Dracula’s Castle. 

 

 

 

Rasnov Fortress/Citadel

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On the last day of our trip, we walked around Brasov again, however this time going up into the hills and hiking/exploring the Brasov sign (which showed how pervasive hollywood and LA are).

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Overall this was a very nice trip, and I find myself to like Romania more and more each time I visit. Of course it helps that I have only visited the very beautiful (and more tourist-y) cities!

Next up: What I’ve been getting up to in Chisinau (and some of the odder events I’ve attended).