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Jacob & Phil's bike
Stop in Moldova
Jacob and Phil have visited Moldova in September, 2005 making a short stop on their bike trip starting in Helsinki Finland and continuing south through the Baltic and former Soviet counties of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania. Jacob and Phil has wrote about this trip on their webpages. I cut just the passages about Moldova and present it here for you.
"And then came Moldova! Because the desired border crossing was reportedly under water, I made the decision to go through one further east. What I didn’t know was that I was actually going to be entering Transdniestr, the self - declared republic called by some "the world’s last surviving communist bastions". And oh the love! When asked at the border where exactly I would go, I produced my maps and showed them a general winding path along the east side of the Dniestr River then making my way west to what the rest of the world knows as Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, and continuing on to Romania. At this he used what would be the only English word in an hour of negative ‘talk’ - "No!" He held up two fingers and expressed that there were two Moldovas and which ONE would I be going to and there was the issue of money and on and on. Finally in disgust and many attempts at turning me away (I can be quite annoying also as my brother and sisters can attest to), he told me to leave. I took that as an "ok" and without an entrance stamp, hopped on the bike and continued on down the deep gorge that lead to this unofficial country.
What a trip back through time descending past this old village with horse drawn carts, rough stone houses all surrounded by the steep walls around me. Finally the river came into view which is the dividing line between this Moldova and that Moldova. More trouble trying to cross the well patrolled bridge, on both sides, and I was finally in the official country of Moldova! The sun had long ago set at this point and I was left in a place with no street lights or any other light for that matter. I found this amusing and decided to take out the camera to make a short ‘scary’ movie. Bad move. From nowhere a man rushes me, I drop the camera as he makes contact with me and then as I went for the camera he ran away? As soon as I’ve thrown the now busted camera into my front bike box (1/10 sec), the guy is coming again! I take off on bike and barely out pace him and I hear him grunt loudly a meter behind me.
I keep going with no idea of where the road is and 15 minutes later I’m quite sure there isn’t a road. I saw a little light a short distance back so I go there to see if I can find someone and maybe find two trees to put my hammock up in (yes I’m desperate at this point). The light is coming from behind a big gate so I peak my head inside. ‘Hello, hellooo’. At this a dog at my feet that was sleeping lunged at my leg and grabbed hold. It wasn’t until his chain pulling one way and me leaping the other, was I able to get it off. This left my leg torn and bleeding profusely as the owner came to see what was the commotion. I was finding it hard to stand on my leg but managed to hobble to my bike and get a pen and paper to try to draw out my need for two of his trees. Looking at my leg and then at me, he shook his head, put his arm around me and motioned me inside. He yelled out to his boy who ran over to the dog and pinned it to the fence. A few minutes later with a little crowd around me from the families inside, a girl came and told me in English that a doctor was on the way! What a miracle, for sure the only one in this village and perhaps much further away who could speak English and living here!
The local "doctor" cleaned and dressed my wound obviously with no concern of blood born pathogens as my blood covered her hands. What a shock for me who would have had two pairs of latex gloves on at this point. After this I was invited to share dinner with the family and then shown where I’d sleep - right in-between the others. This had been a long day that I wouldn’t be able to remember from pictures, but perhaps a new scar!
Early the next morning I was woken by the doctor who was redressing my leg and as the sun came up, found myself riding along the steepest, roughest gravel roads yet. What the roads lacked, the scenery made up for with incredible vista views of sunflowers and vineyards that seemed to roll on forever. I knew I was in the country as I counted the passing traffic; 2 cars, 3 tractors and 5 horse drawn carts! Oh, and then there was the fruit trees, they were everywhere and I couldn’t stop eating. After a day of this kind of riding I was almost sad when I made it back to a normal road with a smooth surface and high speed traffic.
After what had felt like a long time I made it to a big city again, Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Time to do some repairs to my bike that had suffered some major breaks in the last week of secondary and thirdary roads! Going to the only youth hostel there, a lady who had opened her own apartment up to visiting foreigners, I found out that I had just missed Phil the day before! He was still in Moldova and Marisha (apartment owner), was able to call him because he was at her friend’s place. Incredible!
Soon we had plans to meet again in Bucharest Romania, but with Phil hooking a ride that night, I would have to catch a train the following night. I was a bit disappointed at the idea of taking a train, but liked the idea of hooking up with Phil before the end of his trip. Sharing a homemade dinner with an English speaking Moldavian lady with a Danish husband on the train in a sleeper car (I was told I’d be sitting), I felt as if I’d seen enough of Moldova by bike and my disappointment quickly left! "
Read the full story about Jacob's trip on his webpage
with a copy to
t.katya [at] mail [dot] ru
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