I long wanted to write about a charming city I have visited twice in 2010 and hope I will get the chance to further explore in the future. I wish I would have not lost all the pictures I have made there, to illustrate all these ideas. It’s amazing, and I don’t know where to start from, maybe this is one of the reasons I have postponed it so much. I must say that these are my subjective impressions and they might not reflect reality, but only the perception of a tourist passing a few days by.

As a Romanian, I was glad to find what I consider as more respect for the culture. That is something I can see almost everywhere:

  • in the central park, there are statues of great authors, which I have not seen cherished in Romania as I have seen there
  • unlike most parts of Romania, the classic architecture has been maintained, and the new façades and buildings have been recently integrated into the urbanistic landscape
  • at the statue of Steven the Great from the central park, there were flowers all the time and people came in the morning and bowed to the statue
  • the respect with which strangers communicate in public transportation

To me, Chişinău seemed more like a city frozen in time. It seemed as like I would have made a trip back in time, to my childhood, and I say that in a very nostalgic way.

This perspective was perfectly integrated with modern technology:

  • THEY HAD SOCKETS IN THE CENTRAL PARK. Not only free ultra-speed wireless, but they also had SOCKETS! You could actually stay all day working on your laptop out in the park
  • The info-kiosk near the park offered you instant access to all the cultural events in the city. You could actually pick up the phone and talk to someone from the Philharmonic, or from the museum, or from any cinemas!
  • The newspaper stands had video commercials on display and ATMs.

From the marketing & PR perspective, it seemed to me something close to Disneyland, compared to Romania

  • all the salespeople were nice and smiling, even if you bought just a winter-fresh mint
  • most of the BTL billboards contained simple & enthusiastic commercials
  • many BTL billboards had patriotic messages
  • on some BTL billboards, I have seen quotes from great thinkers

I was totally impressed with the quality of the pavement and roads (that is, in the city). I went with two couples to the Dneister and I joked about a recently re-done road to one of the colleagues:

– How much do you think this road is gonna hold?

– 10 years.

– 10 years !?, I said

– Yes. Here, in Moldova, we don’t do roads like you, Romanians do. When we have money to build a road, we might as well do it properly, because we know for sure we won’t have any other money for this in 10 years.

Generally speaking, after you pass the customs office between Romania and Moldova, you know you’re in a different country, because of the terrible roads. But those which are re-done, are re-done well. Otherwise, another great advantage was, in my opinion, the large roads from the center of the city, with a walking board on the center and the opposite lanes separate.

Also, public transportation is fast, cheap and reliable. Even the taxi is cheap.

Generally, even though poorer than Romania, the people from Chişinău seemed to me a bit more cheerful, accepting and empathic. They seemed to be more polite, more independent, less talkative and more inclined to enjoy the silence and to listen.

Another place which I loved, and where I consider the civilization is also prominent is the Church. By that, I refer to the Central Metropolitan Church, where I assisted at a mass. The church is in the middle of a park, which has a lot of benches, so that old people can listen to the mass at the outside speakers. The church was well-aired. If you felt the need, you could take a breath outside and return, without disturbing anyone. The people were not crowded, but maintained a respectful distance, leaving others to pray in silence. All the icons were protected by glass. Photographing and filming were forbidden and this rule was respected. Recently canonized saints were painted on the walls. I have seen no beggars.

I appreciated the parks. Although not comparable with the parks in Bucharest, which are excellently taken care of, I have liked the landscapes which can make you feel in the middle of nature, right in the city. There is less concrete and more grass in the parks, then in Bucharest.

I know Chişinău can’t be compared to Luxembourg, but from the point of view of respecting the culture and mixing tradition and technology in a functional, discrete way, this is the city Chişinău reminds me of. And Brussels.

Romania, in the past 25 years has regressed. Moldova, instead, froze in time. Economically, culturally and psychologically. Always, a stagnation is better than an involution.

In the photo: the statue of Stephen the Great at the entry of the park in the center of the city.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, 2012-present

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