Family biking in Vadul lui Voda

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Last week we loaded our bikes on the car and headed to the resort area of Vadul lui Voda, “the place to be” in soviet summertime according to the online guide of Explore Moldova.

The signs for the resort area, ‘zona de odihna’, point to the left of the main road just before reaching the town of Vadul lui Voda, half an hour drive to the east of Chisinau. There we started biking along the Dniestr river, eyeing Transnistria on the other side.

We passed some playgrounds, a few caf├ęs and restaurants, who were playing music and grilling meat in the warm spring air. The wide beach was still empty – we looked at the water wondering if people swim here in summer, but a quick Instagram search for #VadulLuiVoda proves that indeed they do!

Then we passed by a series of wooden houses and colourful residential complexes named after big companies or public institutions. Apparently they offer vacation opportunities to staff and their families in good sovietic tradition.

We continued biking just a little while, out of the forest and up to the town of Balabanesti – and then followed the river back. The sights were magnificent along the Dniestr and over the hills and we stopped to chat with some locals enjoying the view from the benches along the river, in our usual mix of Romanian and Russian.

Once back in the resort area, we certainly enjoyed our frigarui (grilled skewers) at one of the restaurants in front of the beach, while the children played.

It was a great excursion for a spring day – I wonder how crowded this gets in summer!

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Crossing the Dniestr: a trip to Tiraspol

20131118-150919.jpgOn Saturday I set foot for my first time in Transnistria, the break-away republic on the East side of the river Dniestr, not recognised by Moldova (or any other country), yet controlling borders, issuing its own currency, having its own anthem etc. – and using Russian as official language.
Once in Tiraspol, first we had to change money, obviously (there are plenty of money exchange booths everywhere). Then we visited a market, a small and crowded orthodox church, the war memorial reminding of the 1992 armed conflict; we had something to eat with the local crowds, checked out the shop of the local brandy producer Kvint, and took a look at the magnificent banks of the river Dniestr. In the city we saw a number of Lenin statues and Sheriff establishments (from the football team shop, to the stadium, to gas stations and supermarkets).
It is a very short drive from Chisinau, and even though I did not think the city was much unlike any other Moldovan city, it feels like I added yet another piece to the puzzle that is understanding Moldova.

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