Calarasi to Chisinau

Trip Start Jul 09, 2007
Trip End Aug 06, 2007

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Calarasi to Chisinau
Sunday 22 July
Woken up at 7 by local market that my room overlooked. Slept in until 11, went for a number 2, showered with bucket of water ensuring to keep some to flush the toilet. Pushed bike downstairs and got on the road to Chisinau 50k away. Very hot so many stops to take on water. Also got rear tyre blown up at car tyre sellers to much amusement. Arrived in centre doing all the buildings such as the parliament and arc de triumph recommended in book. Couldn't find hostel so went to hotel tourist to find way, security wouldn't let me bring bike into reception, but I'd had enough so played my face and was allowed to take it in. Found hostel with 3 Latvians outside and they were able to translate for me to find out it was full - wouldn't even let me sleep on floor. Owner recommended a hotel nearby but was a little expensive so walked out after no price movement, so back to hostel who then found me a hostel 8k out of town for a good price, so I went back to hotel. Met up with Latvians and Canadian-Hong Kong Germaine who I encouraged to walk the 2k to the beer house. At beer house we sat outside got menus but the Latvians complained about the price so we walked off, with my intention to return at some point. We walked back towards the hostel finding somewhere cheaper with a friendly waitress, trying the Chisinau brewery dark which was not but strong. Slightly sloshed and ended up drinking beer outside hostel with 1 Latvian eventually to bed.

Monday 23 July
Dragged myself out of bed to meet Latvians. Caught trolley then microbus with stool for seat, to what we thought was winery then had to wait as we were early. Yan rolled up and I made a joke about this not been the winery, but then it turned out it wasn't the right one, so we walked 2k to the correct one. This was in a very communist building leading to underground cellars not in limestone but under concrete, through a kind of nuclear blast door. Told how fantastic wines were stored since 1970's in a rapid tour and then to a banquet hall for wine tasting. 2 whites were not to my taste and the reds weren't either. Guide disappeared to take another group round so we proceeded to polish off all the wine, while eating bar food. Joined by other tour 1 Finn and 1 German, down other end of long table so asked them to join us. Finished all their wine as well, so felt a little sloshed as I went to sign visitor book I knocked over my free bottle of wine smashing it on floor. Got some emergency water for the way back from tap but was charcoal colour, but had to drink it on hot walk back to bus stop. Sat on stool next to driver. Went back to hotel for power nap and then met up later 15m late for drink at same bar as previous night. We arranged to go to monastery the next day and then stayed out late drinking with Yan at a bar near hotel tourist.

Tuesday 24 July
Woke up late and hungover, so had a quick shower and ran barefoot as I couldn't run in my sandals, the 1k to the agreed meeting place where Yan was the only one missing. We waited and then decided to go to the bus station but then met Yan coming down the street. Needed some water as it was hot so went to buy some and then tried to find some food, ending up in a meat market faced by a pigs head so we brought some bananas and oranges. Bus was waiting for us so onto it for 1 hour journey. Walked then caught a Lada taxi to monastery. I sat in the front with Yan and other 4 in the back. Every time the driver changed gear I had to move my legs onto Yan even more so in 2nd and 4th. The monastery is set in a beautiful location on a sharp bend in the river that used to have a fort and was fought over by Russians and Ottomans. Walked to the cave were there is a chapel and a partly collapsed ledge where there were fantastic views. People had put coins in the the old fossilised shells as this used to be a sea bed as good luck. One monk on duty collecting cash but I deliberately forgot to pay. Next for a walk around the village museum of old buildings and back to the visitor centre for a look at the history. While we were looking round there was a panic from our guide to get us back to the micro bus route back to Chisnau. All for nothing and me and Jan ended up catching a free lift with a big coach party of local pilgrims (and they were grim) back to a shop where we met up with the others. Caught the micro bus back to town and straight to the beer house micro brewery for food and beer. One by one people left to catch trains etc and I was left with the German who watched while I tried all the beers. Feeling slightly sloshed as we walked back to hotel tourist to meet up with Yan. As we were 15m late Yan had met a Czech guy, Jan who had just arrived and lost his luggage, as a back up so we waited for him and went to a local beer establishment run by the mayor. Jan was drinking like a fish and when that closed we went over the road. Joined by Jutta who had just had a drink with a local contact who was slightly boring. German had problems with locals asking his opinion on Jews so we intervened to get him out of it. Jan left to get some sleep, Jutta left to get some sleep, German left to get his last bus home, but was back as he'd missed it. Offered him a place in my room. Yan then left to get his sleep, so me and the German struggled home and went to sleep. Now I always sleep in the nude and it was hot so no sheet, so it may have been a shock as the German slept fully clothed on top of the bed.

Wednesday 25 July
Woken at 9 by German saying good-bye and then back to sleep. Woke up about 5 most Hungary so went to a restaurant. Saw Jutta with Martin but thought better of interrupting so sat at another table where I ordered a vast amount of food, asked by the waitress are you eating alone. Sent Jutta a text and they joined me to watch me eat excellent quality meal. Jan was passing so he joined us. Jutta and Martin left so we moved to the bar next door and while me and Jan were talking asked by some locals if they could join us. They were all student on summer break from university in Romania. They offered to take us to the superior winery as they know some contacts. Made a few phone calls and it was still closed but we had a really good laugh. Went inside for a wee and found a boy asleep on the seats and was chatted up by a girl who invited me to join them. Went back to the students and told them to join me and was given a bollocking by the girl who said they only wanted me. The students chatted up the attractive girl who was with my girl who then said she was the man player in the gay and lesbian community in Moldova and was bisexual. Jan left. They got some large vodkas in and met a gay guy from Russia living in Transnistria maybe from Bendery asked many questions about the area, and the rest of the night became a blur.  

Thursday 26 July
Woke up next morning at 5pm and felt so bad. All my money had gone, spent a night in recovering watching Tour de France highlights.
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