Moldova Discovery


Moldova Discovery

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 6 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Dossier

Most people are unaware that Moldova exists and are unable to locate it on a map. Sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, this tiny country is home to one autonomous region Gagauzia, and one ‘breakaway republic’ Transnistria, making it one of the quirkiest in Europe. With influences ranging from the Ottoman Empire to Romania to Russia, Moldova is a fascinating melange of cultures. On this short trip we explore cave monasteries and vast underground wine cellars – with of course opportunities to sample the excellent local wines – and cross the border into Transnistria to explore its capital Tiraspol, and Bendery with its impressive 16th century fortress. ‘Off the beaten track’ doesn’t even come close to describing this trip.


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●● | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●○ | Wildlife ○○○○○

Tour Pace

Relaxed

Tour Highlights

  • Visit the little known “breakaway republic” of Transnistria.
  • Contrast the vast wine cellars of Cricova with the small family run Et Cetera winery.
  • Enjoy the relaxed capital of Chisinau
  • Discover the autonomous region of Gagauzia.

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary.
Group Size: Maximum of 12
Start Point: Chisinau
End Point: Chisinau
Transport: Minibuses
Countries: Moldova

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.

Day 1 – Chisinau

Arrive in Chisinau where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival you may have the opportunity to explore the city. Overnight at Jolly Alon Hotel or similar.

Chisinau

Chisinau was founded back in the 15th century, as a small monastery village within the province of Moldavia. Falling first to the Ottoman and then the Russian Empire, the city grew over the years and played a major part in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877. Sadly it was bombed extensively during the Second World War and most of the older buildings were destroyed – the city today has been rebuilt on a typical Soviet grid system of streets. It contains one of the highest proportions of green spaces within any major European city, with many parks and lakes within its boundaries.

Day 2 – Chisinau walking tour- Gagauzia- Chisinau (Total travel 236 kms, approx. 4 hours)

After breakfast we embark on a walking tour of the capital, visiting key sites including the Arc de Triomphe, the Cathedral, and the Moldovan Parliament. Continue with a visit to the National Museum of Ethnography, with its collection of archaeological treasures and old Bessarabian carpets. From here we drive to Besalma village, in the autonomous region of Gagauzia, to visit the Gagauzian Museum of History and Ethnology. It contains hundreds of exhibits of artistic and spiritual value assembled over the last two centuries. After lunch in a local restaurant with typical Gagauzian dishes we continue to Comrat, the capital of the region. We will take a tour of the town before returning to Chisinau. Overnight at Jolly Alon Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 3 - Cricova - Orheiul Vechi- Butuceni- Trebujeni (Total travel time 130 kms, approx. 3 hours)  

After breakfast we drive to the vast underground tunnels that house the wine cellars of Cricova, and take a tour by train, with time to enjoy a tasting of some of the wines. There will be the opportunity to buy some souvenir bottles in the on-site shop. We will continue to Orheiul Vechi, an impressive 13th Century cave monastery complex set amidst dramatic scenery, and from there to the traditional village of Butuceni where we will have lunch in a rural pension, which will include Moldovan dishes and home-made wine. After lunch we will visit the village of Trebujeni, where we will be invited into a local home to drink tea with the family, before returning to Chisinau. Overnight at Jolly Alon Hotel or similar. (BL)

Orheiul Vechi

The Orheiul Vechi Monastery complex is carved into a limestone cliff, and dates back to the 13th century, although it has only recently come back into use after being abandoned in the 18th century. It contains a chapel and a sleeping area for monks, and the cliffside is dotted with small caves and places of worship, dug over thousands of years by ancient Dacian tribes. There are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.

Day 4 – Transnistria (110 kms, approx. 2.25 hours)

This morning drive to the border and cross into the breakaway republic of Transnistria. We head to the city of Tighina, or Bendery, where you can explore the 16th century fortress and visit the on- site museum. We will also visit the War Memorial, before continuing onto the capital, Tiraspol. We will have lunch in a Ukrainian restaurant and afterwards embark on a walking tour of Tiraspol, where we will spend the night. Overnight at Russia Hotel or similar. (BL)

Transnistria

Transnistria is a curious entity, a self- declared republic, which is to all intents and purposes a separate state but is unrecognised by other countries. Historically it, like Moldova, formed part of the Soviet Union but unlike Moldova its population is mainly ethnic Russian which is opposed to being incorporated within Moldova. The territory was claimed by Russia following conflict with the Ottoman Empire back in the 18th century, while the rest of Moldova fell under Turkish control, leading to claims in Transnistria that it has never been part of Moldova. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Transnistria declared independence, sparking war with Moldova and although peace reigns now, there is an uneasy relationship. Transnistria has its own parliament, currency and border controls, yet few people have heard of it.

Day 5 – Causeni (or Martha and Maria Monastery) - Et Cetera Winery- Chisinau

This morning we begin our return to Chisinau with a visit to the Martha and Maria Monastery, dating back to the beginning of the 20th Century, built in a fine architectural style. We then move onto the small family winery of Et Cetera established in 2003, where we will be given a tour by the winemaker himself, Alexandru Luchianov, with the opportunity to taste some of his award winning wines. We will enjoy a traditional lunch prepared by the family, before returning to Chisinau, where the afternoon is at leisure. In the evening meet for a farewell dinner at “La Taifas”, a popular Moldovan Restaurant with local music. (BLD)

Day 6 – Chisinau

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)

Tour Inclusions / Exclusions

Inclusions:
All accommodation
Transport throughout
Return airport transfers
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Excluded:
International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks