First Impressions

Categories: Stories

car with groceries

First Impressions of Chisinau from an American Newbie:

Bertie transition from Chicago to Chisinau has been fascinating.  Many aspects of city life are familiar, but here are some of the discoveries that have prompted her to say, “Wow! This really is Eastern Europe!”

  • The language. . .the signs. . . Moldovans are speaking Romanian AND Russian. How can you tell the difference?
  • Street vendors bundled in thick coats and hats; selling fruits, vegetables, household goods and clothing along the sidewalks.
  • Free parking. . . .everywhere and anywhere!
  • Street after street lined with Russian-style cement block apartment buildings.
  • Ornate cathedrals and crosses.
  • Watch where you’re walking; the streets and sidewalks can be very uneven!
  • Clothes are hung outdoors to dry.
  • A horizontal bar stands outside your building—for beating (cleaning) the carpets.
  • Orphan dogs roam the neighborhood.
  • A trolley bus ride for 15 cents.
  • Put on your slippers as you enter the house.
  • Yes, that was a rooster crowing!
  • A mysterious, fan-assisted Celsius oven in the kitchen.
  • So many flavors of hot tea to choose from. . . .grape is the best!
  • Chocolate butter!
  • Ice cream in a bag.
  • American pop music playing in the stores.
  • Water served with “gas” (carbonated).
  • Cold drinks with no ice.
  • Want to buy a notebook or journal?  It’s graph paper instead of ruled lines.
  • The calendar week starts with Monday.
  • Careful!  Don’t trip over the doorway thresholds. . . .they are raised.
  • Things that are unavailable or hard to find:  greeting cards, crock pots, chocolate chips, zip lock bags. . .
  • New Year’s “trick or treaters” at the door—not in costume, but with a poem or recitation to share.
  • Don’t stick your hand in the elevator to keep the door open—it doesn’t work that way!
  • Too snowy for a stroller?  The babies are wrapped up and pulled on sleds.
  • There it is!  Not everything is different.  I just found McDonald’s!




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