HAVE A KVAS !
When in Moldova....
Across Chisinau you will see the little Kvas stands selling this very interesting drink. Kvas (looks like KBAC in Russian and often spelled CVAS here) is a most Eastern European drink. Essentially it is fermented bread that has a low alcohol content of about .5 to 1.5%. It is made from stale rye bread, sugar, yeast, water and raisins. Dark rye bread is used for a darker version and some variants are flavoured with herbs, mint or fruits like strawberries. For just over half of a US Dollar you can get a full litre of this classic drink.
Kvas is an ancient Slavic drink that derives its name from the old Ukrainian language and means simply ‘sour drink’. Because it is high in vitamins B and C it has always been held up as a health drink. In fact it can stave off Scurvy. In Soviet times it was a cheap, popular drink that was cheap to mass produce. It is widely drunk across the former Soviet Union, Baltic States, here in Moldova and Poland.
So how does it taste? Well, personally I don’t rate it. It tastes kind of bland and slightly sour. I would recommend some of the flavored Kvas varieties available from the larger Kvas stalls. They also served it chilled which makes it taste better.
Please be careful where you buy Kvas in Chisinau! Unsafe vendors have actually sold Kvas tainted with coliform bacteria. You should look for vendors who have cash registers. This indicates they pay tax, are inspected and legal.
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No Visa required for Moldova anymore.
British travellers NO longer need a visa for Moldova. There is no Moldovan Embassy in the UK but you can obtain a visa at the Moldovan Embassy in Brussels, Avenue Emile Max 175, 140 Brussels, (tel: +32 2 732 9659; fax: +32 2 732 9660) or at other Moldovan Embassies. A single entry visa costs $40 US Dollars valid for up to 30 days stay in Moldova. You can obtain a single entry visa at Chisinau airport and at major road crossings with Romania for $60 US Dollars. Visitors arriving by train need to obtain a visa before travelling.
“Що такое ето квас?” (What is this kvas) I asked the lady. She looked at me so strange and answered very serious: “Juice!” Hmm, strange juice it was but of course I tried it and it was not bad especially for the hot weather. But to be honest next time I’ll take water. It’s made of wheat and local people are crazy about it.
Oh and it's very very cheap. This little cup was about 0.10 EUR
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Ready for the first school day
The first school day in Moldova starts on 01.09 so it’s normal around 20-25 of August all the students and their parents to start the preparation. It’s a simple decision to visit The Cathedral Park where during that time are open a lot of stands for school supplies – notebooks, pencils, clothes, everything from 1-st to last grade students. Noticing that it was full with people I think it must not have been expensive.
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No Visa Requirements for U.S. and E.U. Citizens
Citizens of the U.S. and E.U. nations no longer need a visa to enter Moldova. It is a simple matter of presenting your passport at the airport, or to the customs officials if you enter by train or car.
Moldova remains a 'passport' country, and you are required to have your passport in your possession at all times.
General Money Tips
The most widely accepted currency (except for the local currency, Lei) is the US Dollar. We recommend that you carry some US Dollars cash. The Dollar notes should be in perfect condition or they may not be accepted. It is not always easy to exchange Sterling for the local currency. Credit cards are not widely accepted in Moldova, though Lei can be obtained from a number of ATM machines in Chisinau.
When the weather is hot (and believe me, it can get hot in Chisinau), many people drink Kvas, which is actually some sort of a Russina soda drink. It is very tasty and can be bought from old ladies selling it on the streets.
Do not talk about your money on the street.
Do not take out a lot of money in public places. There are eyes everywhere. Try to keep it concealed. I was being folowed by a strange man after I exchanged a big amount of money in a local bank. And there wasn't even anybody near me at that moment.
Congradulate the Birthday Person in a big way!
Hey! If someone invites you to partake in a birthday celebration... TAKE THE CHANCE! It is really cool how the culture of Moldova celebrates birthdays. It usually involves drinking, a cake (fruit, cake and icing), and some dancing. You should bring a gift that represents your relationship to the person... or a drink if they are drinkers... Be alert to WHO THEY ARE and not what you think would be nice. You ARE the foreigner.
Both Romanian and Russian are...
Both Romanian and Russian are spoken here. And there seems to be a split in the culture on this. Don't insert yourself in their cultural differences. That said, both Russian and Romanian people were outstandingly nice. I enjoyed getting to know so many people.