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Moldova Classic Tour 8 days 11-18 August 2018

Moldova Classic Tour 8 days 11-18 August 2018

In 1940 after the Ribbentrop Molotov pact, Bessarabia was taken away for the last time. After the collapse of Soviet Union a new country was born from the ashes of the Old Soviet Empire. During this trip you will visit a 25 years old country in which the most important assets are... the WINE and the COMMUNISM, which is still living through an independent Republic of Transnistria. You will explore the most picturesque sites of our sunny country and have the most unique experiences meeting local families and learning about our daily life and traditions.

Day 1: arrival Chisinau

You’ll meet your local guide and driver at the airport. After check-in we start our walking city tour of Chisinau including: the Organ Hall, the City Hall, the Nativity Cathedral, the Bell Tower and Arch of Triumph, the Government building, Steven the Great and Saint’ Park with the Moldovan Classics Alley and bust of A. Pushkin, Statue of Steven the Great and Saint, the Parliament building, the National Opera, the Presidential Palace etc. Dinner in a local restaurant specialized in traditional Moldovan cuisine and tour program preview. Accommodation 4 or 5* Hotel.

Day 2: Gagauzia – Manuc Manor from Hincesti.
Today we drive to Comrat, the capital of the smallest Autonomy in the world - Gagauzia. In order to understand who the “gagauz” are we shall pay a visit to the Museum of History and Ethnography from Besalma village. There we will learn about the history, culture and daily life of the Gagauz from ancient times to the modern days. After enjoying a mini concert of Gagauz songs and dances, we head to Copceac to visit the last working “colhoz” from Moldova - a type of run by state farm. Here we will have a traditional Gagauz lunch, and experience the old communist life. The “Victory” collective farm was founded in 1947 and now is the leader in producing and exporting fruits and vegetables in the southern area of Moldova. It is the only surviving collective farm after the collapse of USSR. Return to Chisinau and on the way stop in Hincesti at Manuc Manor.  The mansion itself - a true French-style castle, with a winter garden, guard towers and a park - was built in the second half of the XIX century by Alexander Bernardazzi, Moldova’s most famous architect and for several decades has been owned by the Mirzoian family, Manuc-Bey's descendants. Just for record, Manuc – Bey was the one to intermediate the ceding of Bessarabia to the Tzarist Empire in 1812, therefore we can call him one of the parents of today Republic of Moldova. Same accommodation.

Day 3: Cooking Moldovan dishes in Calarasi area.
Want to learn how to cook Moldovan traditional food? Today is your lucky day!!!  At "Casa Parinteasca" Craft Centre from Palanca village, you will get to know not only the Moldovan traditional costumes and ethnographic customs, but you will also learn how to cook the best known Moldavian dish – “sarmale”. The group will be split in 2 teams: one will make sauer cabbage rolls filled with rice and meat. The second team will do the same, but rolls of grape leaves. After we prepare everything, the lady of the house will put them in the oven for 3 hours at least, meanwhile we will visit the Honey Museum from Raciula, learn about the life of bees, taste different kind of honey and other honey products. Later we visit several families who produce different kind of liquors, one family who produces different kind of cheeses, and the third – producing different products made from the apples of their own orchard -red, yellow, sweet, aromatic, fizzy, fresh, baked or preserved, in cakes or tarts, juice or jam - we find here all kinds of apples, this being the house’s specialty.

Coming back to”Casa Parinteasca” Museum we will enjoy a very special lunch, trying also the “sarmale” we have made. Traditional dishes will be served with the best local wine, while the organic herbal tea, accompanied by quince jam will surprise you with its amazing taste. After lunch we might visit 1-2 monasteries from the region, and continue to Chisinau , free dinner and same accommodation.


Day 4: Cricova – Pocrovca - Soroca.
Today you will visit Cricova winery, which is a real underground wine city with wide streets, warehouses, tasting rooms. The total length of its galleries is 120 km. The constant annual temperature of +12C and 82-95 % humidity are perfect conditions for aging quality wine there. Cricova is also well known for brilliant sparkling-wines produced by the classic French technology. Excursion and wine- tasting. On the way to Soroca we will meet the old believers in the village of Pocrovca. This Russian community lives quite isolated, trying to keep their traditions alive. They came about 200 years ago, settled down here and since then, they form a quite prosperous village. Here we will have lunch to a family, discuss about Old Russian traditions and taste several original dishes. For desert, we will get the highlight taste of the day, their homemade raspberry jam, unique in the world.  Arrival in Soroca town and accommodation in 3* Hotel.      

Day 5: Soroca – Japca and Cunicea Monastery - Lalova.
After breakfast, we start exploring Soroca town, known for its sizable Roma minority. You will visit the fortress which is a unique monument of defensive architecture of Europe. Then we’ll drive to the Roma’ district of Soroca famous by its “Posh” palaces, where you will have a possibility to meet a Roma family and talk to them. Afternoon we will stop and visit the Cunicea monastery – the only old believers monastery in Moldova, and we will end this beautiful day having a tea and cake at Japca monastery together with the abbot nun. Japca is an impressive monastery and it’s famous for being the only convent to be allowed to function during the Soviet era. Arrival in the village of Lalova and accommodation in a very special guesthouse, where we will try homemade traditional food, wine and strong spirits.

Day 6: Chateau Vartely – Curchi Monastery – Old Orhei Museum Complex.
After breakfast let’s stop at Chateau Vartely, one of Moldova’s newest wineries. Vartely produces a range of fine wines that have obtained a considerable amount of appreciators all over the world. Next visit – Curchi Monastery, a real pearl of our religious life. Here you’ll visit some churches, and among them - the “Virgin’s Assumption” Cathedral, built by the drawings of genius architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Finally we will get to Orheiul Vechi (Old Orhei) Open air Museum Complex, which is “arguably Moldova’s most fantastic sight”. Here you’ll see an Orthodox cave monastery called “St. Maria Dormata” expanded and modified inside the cliffs by the monks over the centuries ago and preserved in a functional state. You’ll have excursion about this fascinating complex and then have lunch with folk program in the house of a local family. Accommodation in Butuceni village.

Day 7: Transnistria - Noul Neamt Monastery – Et Cetera Winery.
Today we shall do a Treasure Hunt – but because we are going to Transnistria, off course, the main treasure will be the Lenin Statues that they inherited from the Soviet time. We will drive through Dubassari, Grigoriopol and other villages, where you will be amazed about the communist monuments still to be seen everywhere. Transnistria - is a breakaway territory within the internationally recognized borders of Moldova, but still retains the look of a Communist state and it’s called “the last remaining Stalinist dictatorship in Europe”. City tour of Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria and visit the Museum of Bender Tragedy dedicated to the bloody conflict from 1992, at the time of the Soviet Union's collapse. For lunch, let’s go to the Noul Neamt Monastery, quite an experience. A local monk will guide us around, showing the monastery library, give us wine from the Monastery Cellars and explain us how religion survives in the Last Soviet Frontier of Europe.

In the evening we shall arrive to Et Cetera Winery, where we will get also accommodated. The winery was built in 2009 and at the moment it is surrounded by 50 ha of vineyards, giving a picturesque view to the visitors. Etcetera is one of the best wineries in Moldova, if not the best one, as in 2016 they won second price at Decanter World Wine Awards with their Chardonnay. Traditional dinner and wine tasting.

Day 8: Mimi Wine Castle and departure home or… Experience Odessa Option

After breakfast, we head back to Chisinau, but not before making a stop at Castle Mimi, which is currently listed among the most beautiful architectural masterpieces in the world of wine. The story of the castle begins in 1893 when Constantin Mimi, the last governor of Bessarabia, planted the first grape vines on the place that would become legend over the years. The area of Codru, where the winery is placed, has a unique microclimate and a very good terroir, as a result having intense and aromatic wines. Excursion, wine tasting and lunch in the castle. Arrival in Chisinau, free time and departure home.

Day 9 – Et Cetera - Odessa.

Spend an unforgettable day discovering Odessa city from Ukraine. From Et Cetera winery to Odessa are 70km, and the border is quite easy to be crossed by cars, so it will be a pity not to do it. Upon arrival - Full Guided Sightseeing Odessa Tour. Odessa is acknowledged Ukrainian intersection point of diverse cultures, languages and trades. You will be able to witness masterpieces of architecture, such as famous Opera and Ballet theatre, designed by Viennese architects, Potiomkin Stairs, Primorskiy boulevard, the One-wall building. You will also enjoy the view of Sea Port Terminal, get acquainted with Odessa Port’s history, its present life and prospects from the upside, and see the Monument to Duke De Richelieu - the founder of Odessa, Catherine the Great empress-the founder of Odessa etc. Leave home from Odessa in the evening or spend one more day in this amazing city.