Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leaving Iasi...onto Moldova

While I could have basked in my Romanian fantasy homeland eternally, the truth is that I have to move on. I have a plane to catch in Kiev on August 24...and 8 more days of Eastern Europe to soak in. Last night I contacted Piui, a day-host coach surfer who is a grad student in statistics and IT at one of Iasi's universities. He was quirky and brilliant and lots of fun. We did a walking tour which included several churches, plazas, historical plaques and an amazing hall at the university. Using my American-visitor status as an excuse, he cajoled the night guard to give us a special tour of a rarely seen hall that hosts very special functions. The original Romanian ornateness was being restored with fun stories of how an original painting of a 19th century mayor of Iasi was preserved under a painting of Stalin during Soviet occupation. The most amazing piece (which I wasn't allowed to photograph) was an underground vault where the original constitution of Romania is stored.

This morning I basked in another delicious breakfast--soaking up the life of luxury in my cushy hotel. Every so often I'd shake myself sober, considering that I was truly in Iasi, the actual hometown of my maternal grandparents and no doubt many generations prior. After a walk around town to replenish supplies and snap a couple of more photos, I made my way down to the bus station. Fortunately I allowed myself lots of time in that I began (of course) walking in the wrong direction. I purchased a 30 lei ($10) ticket for the 3 1/2 hour ride to Chisinau, the capital of Moldava. Prior to WWII Moldava was part of Romania and I figured I take a look on my way to the Ukraine.

The border crossing involved several swiping of passports - leaving Romania and then a couple of yards away, entering Moldava. The bus (mini-van) driver was an old hand at the route and we got through completely unscathed. Fortunately I remembered to take Bonine, my motion sickness pill...and all went well. Just arrived at my couch surfer pad in Chisinau. It's like a grungy hippy artist pad...such contrasts! The guy who greeted me only speaks Russian and Romanian...my host Sergei came by a bit later and spoke to me in halting English. I figure I'll devote tomorrow to sight seeing and then get moving on into the Ukraine ... and my first stop Odessa, where I believe my father (as a baby) caught a boat with his mother and older siblings on their life-shifting voyage to America.

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