Another pleasant flight across the Atlantic and with a thump we are shrouded in fog as our Boeing 767 makes an early morning landing in Munich, Germany.
A few hours later the fog still remains as I am again airborne for a one hour and forty minute flight this time en-route to Chisinau, Moldova. My journey to Chisinau started a few years ago when my interest was peaked by a colleague into visiting Transnistria an almost unknown neighbor and one time foe of Moldova.
Arriving in Chisinau, although the weather outside under an overcast gray sky is frigid, a friendly smile along with a warm welcome from an Immigration Officer makes me glad that I am here to pursue my interest and satisfy my curiosity.
Although Chisinau Airport is rather small compared to many other capital city airports as I leave the Customs I am somewhat surprised by the openness and the amount of activity in the arrival area. At the information booth I find out about transportation to the city center after turning down numerous offers for a taxi.
At a favorable exchange rate of about 17 to 1, I now have the 3 leu that I need to take Bus No. 165 into the city. Although Bus No.165 is more of a mini-van than a bus I can live with this sense it is costing me about 20 cents instead of 20 Euro to get to my hotel.
A cold gray veil still hangs over the city with less than fashionable Soviet era mostly square buildings decorating the landscape.
Despite their looks many of these buildings have stood the test of time and I have a feeling will continue to do so.
Interestingly, from pictures on the internet I recognize some of the buildings and exit the bus just pass Cosmos Hotel where I had considered staying for the night.
At Ayasofya Turkish Cafe I have a delicious feast for lunch finished off with a cup of hot and soothing black tea all for less than US$8.
A fifteen minute walk to Ismail 88 and after a checking in process which included surrendering my passport since I did not have a local phone contact, I am shown to my apartment for the night. A large bedroom and all the necessities I need for the night is not a bad deal for $24.
Relaxed and with another layer of clothing to combat the falling temperatures I set out for a stroll around the city towards the Arca de Triumf.
Electronic Casinos and Electronic Stores with flashing lights including multiple cellphone companies seem to be abundant along the main street. Also on Stefan cel Mare are many of Chisinau government building and a concert hall where the works of Mozart will be performed.
In all of the busy night time activity of the street a few older gentleman still find solace in a tradition I think has gone on here for years, check mate.