All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Robert Kennedy

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Touring the countryside

Isn't it funny that when you vacation somewhere, you're always interested in 'the local' experience and when you live somewhere you tend to forget to do the 'touristy' things? 
Such is the case. My dear friend Lindsay set up a few tours to two of the Moldova touristy destinations this past weekend. She had a guest speaker on domestic violence visiting and decided to show her some of the Moldovan countryside. Lindsay ropes me in to doing these things and usually drags me kicking and screaming, but as usual, it was wonderful.
On Saturday she scheduled a tour to the winery for Milestii Mici wine. (Meel-esti-meech). It is the longest underground wine cellar in the world, according to Guinness Book of World Records. So Lindsay, visiting guest, Karen, and a van full of some volunteers drove out to the winery. We spent a few hours there, even ran into the U.S. Ambassador on a similar tour. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon.


Outside the winery.

There was a wedding party taking photos. These are the brides shoes. I shit you not.

Me and my friend, Rachael. One of the few gals my age here. (I want her to marry my brother, Bob)

All of us. Bill, Karen, Zach, Me, Lindsay, Kitson, Chris, Kerry, Brittany, Ashley and Rachael.
On Sunday, Lindsay scheduled a tour to the Orhei Vechi (or-hey veck) monastery. Now, I had been there during training in the summer of 2011 so I wasn't too interested in going. But as usual, Lindsay talked me into going. Even my roommate, Holly, took a bus in the morning to join us. I was glad I did. (Shut up, Lindsay)
What I didn't know was that they hired a tour guide and we got to ride through Chisinau and the countryside with the history being explained to us by a local. I was pleasantly surprised and learned a lot about Moldova. The tour guide was a sweet girl, Natalya who had nothing but pride for her country.

The welcome sign into Chisinau. Yes, 1436...things are a tad older over here.

Me and Lindsay

A game for children to put a thin rope around their waist and crawl up the giant hill of the ravine into a window. It truly was horrifying.

Looking down into the monastery.

It's officially cherry season here.

Table settings for a traditional Moldovan Masa for a wedding reception.
When we left the monastery, we went to a local pension where an elderly Moldovan lady provided us with cooking lessons for traditional Moldovan cuisine and then we had a Masa and ate all the food we made. We sat at a table in her garden at the bottom of the ravine, it was completely breathtaking. One of the best days I have had in Moldova.

Making local treat. Dough rolled flat. Filling is brinza (local cheese, like feta), dill, leeks, garlic and egg.

Doamna Liuba shows us how it's done.

Finished product after being fried in oil (of course). 

Me, giving it a try.

Finished sarmale. Grape leaves stuffed with rice, peppers, onions, carrots, pork and garlic.

Karen enjoys some fresh mint tea after the meal.
It is a magical place. They are trying to incorporate a bike-sharing project to give tours. Please visit the link and contribute if you can. These are good people and are preserving the natural wonders of this country.

Less than 40 days to go. Starting to get weird now...

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