All photos in this article were taken and belong to Dumitru Brinzan.
In order to better understand and explore your own country and attractions, it is always better to do this in the company of foreign travelers. You might see some things from a different perspective and notice things that would have went unnoticed.
This was the case of the past two days (21/22 Aug 2011) that we have spent on the road with Kevin Richberg, an american traveler on a quest. A quest to “see 30 places in the world suggested to him by a person who cared enough to pop a postcard in the mail”.
During the two days we have visited the following attractions in Moldova, which you will be able to see below:
The day started with an excursion at the world-famous Mileştii Mici Wine Cellars.
In 2007 Mileştii Mici wine cellars were noted in Guinness World Records 2007 Yearbook, for having the largest (2 million) wine collections in the world.
The excursion is done in a car, with occasional stops, so you are driving underground through the wine cellars, which itself is an interesting experience.
Be ready to pay from 300 to 2.000 EUR for just one of the bottles in this photo. Yes, I know.
The Guinness World Records Certificate hangs quietly between the wine racks. Nothing to brag about.
Before entering the wine tasting hall, you see this on the wall. Pretty.
There are a few tasting halls for different group-sizes.
A guestbook lays on the table, as tourists take their time scribbling their names in it.
“To take wine into your mouth is to savor a droplet of the river of human history.”
The excursion and wine-tasting took us about 75 minutes in total, by 11:30 AM we were on our way to the next destination.
This time we haven’t brought the camera with us, as we’ve covered this attraction in a photo report from last week, and you can find it here: Discovering the Old Orhei Historical and Archaeological Complex.
Kevin however was able to shoot a great deal of video footage here, in the rocky monastery and in the caves, so we will update this report after the videos will be processed and published.
We have arrived at the Chateau Vartely Winery in Orhei at about 3:15 PM, so it was not possible to get a tour of the production facilities, so we took a few photos of the territory and went straight to their tasting wine cellar.
The people at Chateau Vartely are so confident in their wine that they even have a special room with great wine from all over the world, for comparison tasting. You don’t have to go to Argentina, Chile or South Africa in order to compare them with any wine produced by Chateau Vartely, which is an excellent idea.
After checking the tasting cellars, we went to their main restaurant and have ordered polenta with pork, goat cheese and sour cream, which is a national Moldavian dish (mămăligă cu tocăniţă din porc, brînză de oi şi smîntînă).
We started our second day much earlier, as we had to cover over 400 km across Moldova, and we even ended up skipping Japca Monastery.
First destination of the day was Ţipova Monastery, which wasn’t very easy to reach. At the moment the road is heavily deteriorated and is expecting some repairs. It took us 25 minutes to drive the last 15 km, which you will have to drive again on the way back.
Ţipova monastery was built into these rocks, with a cross on top of the hill overseeing the Nistru (Dniester) river.
Unfortunately the local monks have decided to alter the natural aspect of the monastery and started patching it up with building blocks and installing windows, which greatly affects the overall feeling of the monastery.
Saharna Monastery isn’t far from Ţipova, but there is no direct road connection between the two, so you have to take a big detour via Rezina town.
Quick advice: DO NOT go to Saharna Monastery via Saharna Noua village, just trust us on this one. Go on the detour via Rezina.
You would have to climb 250-350 steps in order to be able to enjoy this view. According to a legend, in the mini-temple built on this hill you can see the footprint of St. Maria. Some of the stairs are steep, so take some water with you.
Same mistake as in Ţipova Monastery: the monks are interfering with history that is over 500 years old by building around the rocks. The windows don’t have a place near ancient ruins.
Saharna left a much better overall impression than Ţipova did, but that is just me. You don’t have to listen to me.
If you decide to go to Soroca Fortress, there is no reason not to visit the Thanksgiving Candle, which was built in 2004 based on the idea of the classical writer of Moldavian literature, Ion Druta.
It is 29.5 meters tall and you have to walk over 600 steps in order to reach it, as it is built on top of one of the many Soroca hills.
This is the view that you get to enjoy if you manage to climb all the stairs. Totally worth it.
You can capture some beautiful shots from the top of the fortress, the small stone windows and holes can create very original frames around your photos.
The exploration of Soroca Fortress was the end of our trip. We have managed to cover the 3 Moldova postcards that Kevin has received for the 30 Postcards Project, so we were happy with the results we got during these 2 days.
It was an interesting experience for all of us, it was important for us to communicate and understand Kevin’s opinions, what an american would find exciting or not.
We have also seen some of the difficulties that a tourist might face in certain locations, if it was easy to overcome the language barrier or not (it was).
And now it is very important for us to know what you think about this travel report. Do you think that we haven’t covered some aspects of these attractions? Do you think that we have missed something important, or that we were able to capture the beauty of all these destinations? Your comments are highly valued (please comment below).