What did you do this Saturday? I got to accompany a 9th grade class and their teacher on a trip from Cahul (in the far south of Moldova) to the Fortress of Soroca (in the far north). Along the way we visited several other interesting places and saw a lot of the gorgeous Moldovan countryside.
The adventure began at 5:00 AM sharp, when the bus pulled out of Cahul. Although it was dark, cold and drizzling rain, the bus was full of excitement. Kids had brought blankets and pillows. Someone passed the bus driver a flash drive full of music, and everyone settled in for a long ride.
A couple of hours later we stopped for a “five minute” restroom break. Then the students discovered that they could buy coffees to go. They bought so many cups of cappuccino, latte, etc. that the employee had to refill the machine twice! After a few more hours of travel we stopped to eat some of the food we had packed. Everyone shared what they had brought, and there was a holiday atmosphere and lots of kidding around. Finally, around noon, we reached Soroca Fortress, on the bank of the Nistru River. (Click the pictures & check out the captions)
In the town of Soroca, we visited the so-called “Gypsy Hill” famous for its Roma residents and their distinctive architecture (see here for more information)
Next we headed out into the countryside to the village of Cosăuți and its monastery. We didn’t enter the monastery itself, since none of the girls had on skirts, and most had nothing to cover their head with, but we did walk around the grounds and visit a springhouse (I think?) with gorgeous metalwork on the roof. (Click for captions)
Next up on the itinerary was the Lumânarea Recunoştinţei or Thanksgiving Candle monument, which sits on a hill overlooking the Nistru River. Looking out over the river from the base of the monument (after climbing 657 steps!), there are gorgeous views into Ukraine. The monument was erected in 2004, and is a remembrance of all the anonymous heroes of Moldova, who have helped to preserve its traditions. Shaped like a candle, it is lit up at night and can be seen far to the north and south. (Click for captions)
Back on the bus, we spent quite some time travelling south before stopping for another packed meal. I learned that the Moldovan countryside is truly beautiful, and that even though I don’t speak any Russian at all, I can mostly understand what’s going on in Russian-language movies (I think I saw four, total, in the course of the day). One final stop was at a small zoo, on the outskirts of Chișinau, the capital. At this point it was raining and starting to get dark, but that didn’t dim the students’ enthusiasm. (click for captions)
Finally we climbed back on the bus to enjoy more Russian movies on the way home. We arrived back in Cahul about 9:45 PM, tired but happy from a long, full, very interesting day!