Our train to Bucharest, Romania being in the evening meant that we had time to explore Chisinau a little bit more before leaving the country.
We decided to visit the National Museum of Archeology and History of Moldova with our new Russian friend, Mikhail, who we had shared a meal with the night before at the hostel. Unfortunately, the museum was unexpectedly closed for the day. We wondered on instead to the National Art Museum of Moldova, where we caught a great exhibit on Moldovan caricature art. The exhibit was in an old school, and the room in which it was housed was so lovely that I paid double my ticket just to take pictures.
It was surprising how good the caricatures were, and what great social commentary they made even years later. They seemed funny even to us, tourists, and it was great to see the ability to criticize, especially from a former Soviet country. I also enjoyed the few collages, made from whatever was available to great success.
Having paid admission to the art museum, we decided to visit the permanent exhibit hall. The first floor was filled with religious icons, while the second floor hosted paintings from throughout Europe. Unfortunately there wasn’t much there to impress.
After the museum, we headed towards Gradina Publica Stefan Cel Mare Si Sfint for a beer in the park. Not wanting to drink beer, I asked Mikhail to get me a coke but instead he brought back a local drink, famous in the region. It was the same colour as cola, but smelled sweeter and foreign. It tasted weird, and it wasn’t my cup of tea. And might as well: the drink was made from fermented bread.
We parted ways with Mikhail and headed back to the hostel to grab our bags and head to the train station. Travis grabbed us a early dinner of shish taouk, the best I’ve ever had (note from the future: title is still standing, even after Turkey).
Our train ride was a lovely one, as we were lucky enough to have our cabin to ourselves. The Moldovan scenery was stunning, with the only downside to the ride were the girls next door singing Justin Beiber songs.
As we arrived at the border with Romania we had a first: our train needed to change wheels to accommodate the Romanian rail being of a different gauge. It was a really cool process, where they separated all of the wagons, lifted them, removed the wheels, installed new ones and lowered the wagons down again. The process took quite some time, but it was fun to see as we sat waiting in our cabin.
Here is a little video of the process, filmed from our cabin window. The soundtrack to the video is the eerily appropriately-titled song Locomotion, by John Coltrane from the album Blue Train.
Then, once the wheels were changed and the wagons lowered, we rode through the border, and at nearly midnight, it was time for bed.