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Aug 6, 2003 11:33 AM

Off the Beaten Track: Moldova

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OK, chowhounds with knowledge of eastern europe, I need your assistance:

My mom is planning one of her intrepid solo trips--this time to the obscure republic of Moldova and the (self-declared) Transdniester Republic to visit my grandfather's birthplace (Kamenka). Moldova borders Romania, Bulgaria and the Ukraine. It is land-locked, however it is not far from the Black Sea. We need information about getting to Transdniestria (perhaps it is easier to get there from the Ukraine than the Moldovan capital itself). Also, will she be able to get around without a second language (my mom is fluent in Yiddish, but that won't help there anymore)? She is pretty adventurous--she went to her mother's town, Brest, in White Russia on her own a few years ago. That trip was extremely successful.

In the chowhound vein maybe she can check out a winery or two. What are the best wines to buy there these days? I also googled a fascinating description of how they have a technique of using wine as medicine in that region. There are no spas with "waters" as far as I can tell (unlike Romania next door), however,perhaps there is a vinotherapy, or oenotherapy spa somewhere in Moldova someone has tried?

Lastly, what would be the best city for her to use as a jumping-off point? Naturally, we are thinking Bucharest and Odessa, but what about Budapest or Prague?

Ok, that about covers it. Any comments from people who have traveled this obscure region (or neighboring Romania and Ukraine) would be extremely appreciated. Please address food, wine and general comments in your post. Any logistical and hotel advice you might have would be appreciated of course, however it might be best if you emailed me that sort of information. (perstephatyahoodotcom)

Thanks everyone,

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  1. S, While I haven't been there I am fascinated by Moldova becuase my grandparents came from Moldova when it was Bessarabia. From everything I've read, the way to go is from Bucharest. There have been some articles lately in the oversea press, I think the Sydney Morning Herald. and possible or The Telegraph of London. When I get home I'll try and track down those leads for you. Also, Tony Hawks(?) just put out a Travelogue ttitles "Playing The Moldovans @ Tennis". I'll also have to check the authors name. From what I heard TransD makes Moldova look good. As for Yiddish, (der Mamme Loschen), only some of the old folks speak it but it does help you to understand a little German. That might help. Good luck.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ivan Stoler

      Yeah, TransD sounds a little weird, although I am optimistic that things may have cooled down since the civil war was like ten years ago. Someone told me that French actually might be spoken to some extent in Moldova. Oy, a republic inside a republic which used to be inside another's like a giant geographic madrushka. I will check out those sources. Most helpful. Thank you. S

      1. re: epicure-us

        The times of London had an article on the Wine country of Moldova on 7/27/03. Try Good luck!

    2. I would love an update if anyone has been there recently (or is going soon!). I'll be in Moldova from ~July 15-25th and plan to spend a couple of days in Transnistria.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jetgirly


        Most dining choices in Chisinau were pretty upscale (in terms of quality and presentation more than price). I assume this is because those who can afford to eat out have relatively high expectations. I ate at a few restaurants with a more "international" feel: Cactus, Robin Pub , 7 Fridays (in Tiraspol), Seasons (at MallDova) and a few other random ones in the center. Beautifully-presented food, tons of fresh fruit and vegetables, dirt cheap (for a Canadian). As a vegetarian I was limited to more international dishes, but most restaurants had meaty dishes typical to the region as well. Most meaty stuff looked identical to what you'd see on a Romanian menu. I don't recall seeing many hole-in-the-wall type places. In Tiraspol I picked up some Kvint cognac from the factory for less than two euros, but with zero prior knowledge of cognac and zero current knowledge of cognac, I thought it was pretty nasty and gave away all but one bottle. Menus often had English translations (saw a few with French translations instead/too) and most servers spoke decent English. There are lots of well-stocked small supermarkets (much better than Romania) and some decent "hypermarkets" as well, so self-catering would be easy (same for stocking up for bus/car trips).

        1. re: Jetgirly

          Jetgirly, I just responded to you on another Moldova thread. I was in Moldova a long time ago, June '99. The first place we ate at was Cactus, out on the deck. We also toured the Criocova winery. And as I mentioned in the other thread, my father is mentioned in Tony Hawks book, "Playing the Moldovans at Tennis". There are only four restaruants that I remember by name, Cactus, Green Hill, The Barracuda and El Paso. MallDova had not yet been built when we were there.

          1. re: Jetgirly

            Here are some blogs to check out


            In the past 4 years I've been to Odessa & Romania. From Odessa you could hire a car farily easily, from Romania you could rent a car, but rent the cheapest car you can get, otherwise you wont be able to go to Moldova as the agencies wont rent expensive cars for that trip for fear of theft.