Have you started planning your summer vacation already? Will it be Spain, Brazil or Thailand? How about Eastern Europe? According to Lonely Planet, Moldova is the #1 off the beaten track destination from Europe. To confirm this, we decided to asked a foreigner, because who can be better at telling us about the country, if not an expat? They usually have a different perspective than the locals, since they dive in the culture of their host country.
Mark is from Ireland, he works in the IT sector, and has been living in Moldova for the past 6 months. He likes Moldova due to great sunny weather, “Belfast definitely doesn’t get enough sun” he laughs. He also enjoys the friendliness of the locals, the large variety of food and the diversified night life of the capital. “It caters for everyone, indie or posh type of clubs, karaoke or live concerts, night city quests or beer pong in some underground bar, you name it. “
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Moldovans take pride in their national traditions, cultural uniqueness and ethno folkloric values. There are multiple festivals dedicated to ethno music (Gustar), traditional folk clothing (Ia Mania), national language, food themed festivals and many more. “I’m really looking forward to the National Wine day in October, I heard it’s a lot of good wine and delicious traditional food all around“mentions Mark.
In May, a quite unique event is the festival “Mai Dulce”, which translates as “The Sweetest”. It’s the festival of desserts and sweet traditions from Moldova. Certainly, kids are the main target audience for this event, but it can be really fun and tasty for an adult as well, especially for a sweet tooth.
Even though Moldova is a small country, it has a huge mix of cultures, nationalities, customs and cuisines. There is a significant difference even between the northern and southern part of the country, which explains the richness and diversity of the food and traditions.
“Of course I started with a tasting of the local desserts. Choosing was a tough decision – they all look so good and appetizing! I went for the more traditional recipes, since cupcakes and cheesecakes you can find almost anywhere. A popular local desert is Guguță’s hat (Cușma lui Guguță), a pyramid shaped cheery cake, with cream and chocolate. Also, they have a lot of pastries with fruit jams and sugar icing. The jam can be apple, strawberry, plum, or as exotic as rose petals and quince. For drinks I took kompot, a homemade clear juice, obtained by cooking fruit in a large volume of water. It’s very refreshing and natural.”
“Since the aim of the festival was to teleport all its guests into childhood, I dived right into all the fun. The foosball table was a pleasant surprise, as well as the giant slingshot. And I must admit, with all the kids around you get a great charge of energy.”
An unusual and refreshing souvenir brought back from Moldova could be a ceramic vessel, used for wine or decoration. Since pottery has been a widespread hobby here for many centuries, it’s a great representation of the local culture, and makes a great gift. You can even make the gift by yourself, there are numerous classes and workshops on pottery for those who enjoy DIY activities.
“It didn’t take me long to decide what I want to make out of the clay. I’m Irish, it had to be a four leaf clover for good luck!” Mark laughs. A personal touch – IRFU, since he’s a big fan of the Irish rugby union.
“Since I was already in the artsy, fun mode – why not get a caricature? Surprisingly, I’ve never got one before. These drawings are always unexpected and amusing. I’m glad the artist got my hair right” he smiles.
“This was just one festival, and I look forward to more. There’s definitely a lot that needs to be explored and experienced in Moldova – I’m up for the challenge! “
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