Driving and other car-related business

Driving in Chisinau is extremely relaxing when compared to my hometown Rome, and even my previous base Brussels. Traffic is what I would consider sparse, except maybe for rush hours (when anyway you never have to wait for more than a few minutes in line at the worse crossroads). Drivers are mostly kind to each other. They let you change lane or drive out of parking lots with no stress, they stop on pedestrian crossings, they decelerate as soon as the green traffic light starts blinking (which is, before it gets yellow). Unheard of in Italy!
[Keep in mind though – everything is relative. I know people coming from more civilised driving cultures than mine, who would definitely not agree with my optimistic description of the Moldovan driving style. Some says that Russian-times easy-to-get driving licenses give a sense of entitlement to anybody who possesses a car, that makes them feel they can park anywhere. True enough, but they still drive gently, in my opinion].
Something that needs getting used to is the microbuses that stop unexpectedly anywhere there is someone on the sidewalk making a sign. For this reason, most people avoid the right lane. Maybe that’s why most streets in Chisinau are large and one-way – to allow you to drive past the microbuses comfortably.

It gets a bit harder to drive in the countryside, mostly because of the road quality – outside of the main roads, expect huge holes, lack of asphalt and lots of mud if it has been raining.

Not as many people own a car in Moldova as in other European countries, so there is an air of luxury around the most mundane car-related tasks. For example, washing your car – for around 140 MDL (roughly 7-8 euro) you can get your car perfectly clean and shining inside and out thanks to teams of 3-4 people who work for an hour on it while you are invited to sit in the sun, have a coffee and enjoy the free wifi (see the photo I just took while writing this post in the sun).

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Unfortunately I had to deal with quite a lot of car services when I crashed my back window on a pole driving out of a parking lot. Comes out that in Moldova you need to call the police and wait for them to come and record exactly what happened if you want to be reimbursed by your insurance company – even if nobody was injured or, like in my case, nobody else was even involved, or present. So don’t just go home and think you’ll sort it out tomorrow.

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