Cathedral Park, Chisinau

A Random Day In The Life Of A Permanent Nomad

Derek Moldova 33 Comments

Cathedral Park, Chisinau
In an attempt to give you an idea of what a day in the life of a permanent nomad can be like, I figured I would pick a random date from this month and tell you exactly what happened during that particular day.

I’ll just close my eyes right now and say the first number that comes into my head….

Hmm…the number I thought of was 1,249,393, and at least on planet Earth, August doesn’t have that many days. Let me change tactics. Forget about a random number, I’m just going to write about my first day in Moldova instead, which was this past Monday.

After all, it’s still a random travel day…

The Day Begins

My first day in Moldova, which happened to be the 20th of August, began when my overnight bus from Bucharest arrived in the capital city, Chisinau, at around 6:00am. And since I had never been to Chisinau before, or to Moldova for that matter, I did what came naturally. For some reason that involved hopping out of my bus seat, running up to the front of the bus and asking the driver to drop me off on the side of a road instead of waiting until we reached the bus station. I didn’t recognize the road of course but I just had a feeling that the corner of Strada Stefan cel Mare and Strada Vasile Alecsandri, would be the perfect place to start my Moldovan adventure.

And so, with the street practically empty, and no clue which way to turn, I started walking, enjoying the soft early morning light and trying not to look too lost.

After a couple of blocks, I found a security officer in front of a government building and I asked him for directions to Strada Pushkin, a main street that I knew was close to my hostel. However, because I knew that my hostel would not have a bed ready at such an early hour, I decided to take a seat on a bench inside of Cathedral Park instead, right in front of the Cathedral for which the park is named, and with a nice view of the Great Assembly Square across the street.

Half-asleep, I managed to sit on that bench for an hour, nodding off a couple of times in between unsuccessful attempts to try and balance a small tree branch on my head. And once the time hit 7:30am, I picked up my backpack and wandered down the road to my hostel, which turned out to be located in a transformed apartment on the first floor of an old Communist apartment block.

I checked into the hostel and threw down my stuff, but the owner quickly made it clear that a bed wouldn’t be ready until the 1pm check-in time and so, despite my increasing exhaustion, I went back outside and walked around the city some more.

Great Assembly Square, Chisinau

A Very Long Morning

For three hours I walked along Pushkin Street, along Bucharest Street and around the Valea Morilor Lake, passing monuments and massive buildings as I crisscrossed the city center. I even wandered over to the Central Market as well but unfortunately, during these few hours, I wasn’t fully present at all as my body was in desperate need of some sleep after the sleepless night on the bus. And just as I finished with the market, I started to get a headache too, which made me even more interested in getting to sleep as soon as I possibly could.

Returning to the hostel at 11am, the girl working there would still not give me a bed, even though everyone was awake and there were plenty of empty beds. She told me that the owner gets very upset if she allows people to get a bed before 1pm. So, with my head pounding, and my head also shaking in disbelief, I just fell back into a chair in the common room and quickly fell asleep.

Then, miraculously, at 12.30pm, the girl at the hostel woke me up and informed me that I could now go to a room, which is exactly what I did and I ended up sleeping for three straight hours. Hoping that this would cure me of my headache, I was more than disappointed to find that my headache had worsened by the time I woke up and even after a cool shower, it still didn’t improve.

But despite the pain, I got dressed and forced myself to go back outside, this time on a mission to find a Pharmacy, a mission that luckily, only took me ten minutes to complete. And not only did I purchase some medicine, but I also had a nice twenty minute conversation with the Pharmacist who was very curious as to why I had chosen to visit her country.

Building in Chisinau

The Day Improves

After taking two pills, I continued down the street and upon reaching the next corner, I noticed a cafe on the other side of the road. It was called Tucano Coffee and I decided to go inside, where I ordered a mint mocha latte and took a seat in the air-conditioned room. And then I just stared into space for about an hour, sipping my coffee and waiting for the headache to disappear.

Eventually, I was back to normal and with stomach growling, I set off to find a restaurant that my friend Anil (FoxNomad.com) had recommended from his visit to Chisinau a few months ago. A short walk through the very pleasant Stefan cel Mare Central Park, and a few minutes along Stefan cel Mare Street and there I was, sitting at a table inside of La Placinte, reading through the extensive menu of traditional Moldovan cuisine.

Not soon enough, the food began to arrive…first the mixed salad, then the chicken soup, then the eggplant dip with bread and finally, the clatitie cu pui si ciuperci, which happens to be a pancake stuffed with chicken and mushrooms and which also happens to be one of the best Eastern European culinary creations I’ve found so far.

Meal at La Placinte, Chisinau

More than delighted with the dishes I chose, I ate, I drank a beer and I smiled with joy at turning my exhaustion- and headache-filled morning and afternoon into a most wonderful evening and a solid start to my Moldova visit.

After my meal, and after a quick chat with the waitress who also wanted to know why I had decided to spend time in Chisinau, I walked back to the hostel, a walk which involved an encounter with an elderly man carrying an old wooden fishing rod who stopped me on the street and asked me something in Russian. When I told him, in Moldovan (which is very similar to the Romanian language), that I didn’t speak Russian, he started apologizing in English, repeating “Sorry, excuse me” over and over again. And then he just walked away.

The Night Begins

At 8:30pm I arrived at the hostel again, but only thirty minutes later I was heading back out one more time. I had started talking with a Belgian and a Slovenian guy in the common room (luckily, most of the travelers in the hostel were not on their laptops) and the three of us decided to go have some beers. Off we went to a German beer garden where we had a few pints of local Moldovan beer and we then walked over to a club that was located underground.

However, the club was empty on this Monday night and even though the Belgian guy had some local friends that showed up – a group of four people that included a Romanian hip-hop artist who spoke English as if he was straight from an American rap video – I preferred to be above ground in the fresh air and so I soon left.

And after one final wander around the city center, just to enjoy the quiet evening atmosphere for a few more minutes, I returned to the hostel, where I spoke with the staff member on duty for fifteen minutes before climbing into bed at 1am.

That was how I spent my first day in Chisinau, Moldova.


How does the above sound to you? Keep in mind, this is not every day, just a random day!

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Comments 33

  1. Cat

    Really love this very real and honest look at what a day in the life of a perpetual traveler looks like. Thanks for sharing! Would love to see this as a series.

  2. RunAwayHippie

    Nice post earl! its nice to hear what you do on an everyday basis type of thing rather then just the normal posts! keep up these posts-very interesting 🙂 the pictures are also veryy nice!

  3. Michelle

    Hello!
    Unrelated to this bloggpost, but I just wanted to ask you to write about your trip to Norway. I live in Bergen, Norway, and it is always interesting to hear what people from other parts of the world think about our country!
    Michelle

    1. Earl

      Hey Michelle – I’m sure I’ll get around to writing about Norway soon enough…but I can tell you that seeing the fjords was one of the highlights of my 12 years of travel 🙂

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  5. Mike

    Hi Earl!

    I’ve got one question for you. How do you handle your valuables/tech stuff when you travel?

    My fiance and I, influenced by you and other bloggers, decided to travel for quite a bit beginning from next year. Since we’ll be working remotely, we’ll take with us 2 laptops, 2 cell phones, chargers, 2 kindles and both a DSLR and a video camera (talk about tech addiction:) ). I’m wondering how to manage it so we won’t get robbed on the next day and on the other hand I won’t spend my journey of a lifetime on watching whether my valuables are safe. Will be gratefull for a peace of advice!

    1. Earl

      Hey Mike – I really don’t do anything special with my valuables. I simply keep them all together in my day pack whenever I’ve traveling between destinations and then, I just leave it all in my hotel/guesthouse room whenever I’m out exploring during the day. And I’ve never had any issues or had anything stolen in my 12+ years of travel. In the end, the world is much safer than we imagine and you probably have a greater chance of having your stuff stolen at home than you do overseas!

  6. Lillian

    Earl, I get such vicarious pleasure from your posts–especially this one. I remember my elderly father saying he always wanted to sail around the world, but now would rather read about it. I’m getting to the age where creature comforts matter more to me, so I can enjoy your travel delights without the discomforts. Thanks!

    1. Earl

      Hey Lillian – I’m happy to hear that you’re enjoying the posts! And I can understand wanting more comforts at certain stages of life…even for me, there is no way I could backpack around in the same manner I did in my earlier years of travel (ie sleeping in disgusting rooms that only cost $1 per night). Those days are over!

  7. Leif

    Sounds about right. Haha, just stared into space for an hour. Moldova is a strange place isn’t it. I can’t remember if I suggested it already, but you oughtta check out the peace corps and hang with those kids. They often know of cool stuff to do.

    1. Earl

      Hey Leif – Thanks for the recommendation and I wish I read it before I left Moldova. I did meet a bunch of peace corps volunteers when I was in Berat, Albania last month and they did have some good suggestions of things to do around town as well.

  8. Travis

    Hi Earl,
    Great post, I have a vested interest in “day in the life” style travel posts and it was neat to see you do one. Do you actually keep a daily journal or did you just write this from memory? I wonder if people would enjoy a seamless chronicling of events from a nomadic lifestyle. Would that cause them to lose interest over time or would an objective portrayal of daily nomadic life inspire the reader and even make them feel more of a connection to the experience?
    Trav

    1. Earl

      Hey Travis – Ever since I’ve started this blog, I always write down a few things on my laptop each day just so that I don’t forget the details. This helps me remember what I did in general and it also comes in handy in case I decide to write a post about it. As for a chronicling of events from a nomadic lifestyle, there’s only one way to find out…I have a feeling that could be quite interesting.

  9. Sarah Somewhere

    Nice! I felt your exhaustion after that bus ride, but enjoyed all the interactions with local people and travelers you had that day! I’m also pretty impressed you didn’t lose your shit about not being able to go to bed!!!! Cool style of post, hopefully more to come 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Sarah – If I didn’t have a major headache, I would probably have been more upset. But I couldn’t even think straight at that point and just wanted to rest. With that said, this hostel won’t be getting any positive reviews from me!

  10. Bama

    I’m glad you went to Moldova because as you’ve been living in Romania since the last couple of months, it sounds so natural to visit Moldova as it is at Romania’s doorstep. The best thing is not many bloggers have made their way to Moldova, so taking a peek at this country through your photos is really interesting.

    1. Earl

      Hey Bama – There will be some more posts about Moldova to come as it was very interesting and like you said, not too many people visit this country!

  11. Steve C

    Hey Random Earl, it’s equally Random Steve. Random days on the road are what it’s all about. Future long term travelers still in the planning mode should know that this is the norm. Every day can’t be another day in Disneyland! Unless you consider the whole world to be Disneyland every day!

    Also, your search for a pharmacy kinda reminded me why my pack may be heaver then yours. I’ve always traveled with a “little” combo: first aid kit / medicine cabinet (a couple pounds or so). Maybe it’s part of that “Over Planning” thing. I’ve always liked to be prepared for whatever ails me, like an aspirin when I get a headache, or malaria pills, or antibiotic cream for scrapes, or ………. I know, it’s endless and you can’t be prepared for everything.

    However, you were definitely more prepared by obtaining travel insurance than I’ve ever been. I’ve always just relied on the local medical facilities and they’ve come through every time, at quite a reasonable cost. From pink eye, to boils, to being stabbed in an attempted robbery, I’ve always managed to keep on going (knock on wood).

    1. Earl

      Hey Steve – Traveling with a first-aid kit is probably a good idea and something I should invest it at some point 🙂 Everything I’ve ever needed has always been readily available in every country but it would be much easier to have that stuff in my backpack, ready to be used if needed.

      And I think that local medical facilities usually do come through but I just want to be prepared in case something happens that requires some serious medical attention, which, even in the developing world, can often cost a fortune!

  12. Wong Kae Chee

    Hi Earl,
    You had an ordinary yet extraordinary day. Headache and sleep deprivation didn’t dampen your spirits. I admire your posivitivity. Wish your more lovely days with lovely people.

  13. Priyank

    Hi Earl,
    Recently, a young intern asked me this question when I was interviewing her. My response obviously was nowhere as interesting. 😉 btw, I worked briefly in a hostel years ago and recently bumped into an ex coworker. He was also lamenting the proliferation of laptop frenzied travellers in hostels; that would make hostels boring because these places are often designed around a central socialisation room.
    cheers, Priyank

  14. Idun

    I agree with Bethaney, random day posts like these are really interesting, as it gives a more realistic view of the live of a long-term traveler, compared to if it’s only wild stories about things happening.

  15. Tom

    Hi Earl, recently I’ve been planning a trip around parts of Europe, which begins 4th of September, using a site called WorkAway, I’m trying to make this trip last as long as possible, as well as using WorkAway I plan to stay in hostels along the way.

    I was searching for a travel blog a few weeks ago and I found yours, since then I’ve read a lot of the posts & articles and have been thinking deeply about the nomadic lifestyle. I choose to travel at this time because I don’t want to waste my life working a traditional 9 – 5 when there is a whole world out there that can teach me so much and reading your posts confirmed to me that I had made the right choice.

    I have been thinking a lot about blogging in the future to maintain the traveling lifestyle and I am now fascinated with the idea. I plan on keeping a journal for this trip to help develop my writing skills and have also been thinking about trying to write and submit a few articles to magazines, but my main goal for now is to enjoy this trip and embarrass every opportunity I find along the way.

    I also want to say thank you, this blog has helped and inspired me massively.

  16. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family

    That meal sounds fantastic! What did it cost you?

    I find these “a day in the life…” posts super interesting. It’s all well and good reading posts on wild and exotic stories but these little life adventures are what makes travel for me.

  17. Hannah

    Sounds like a good day to me. Great insight into the normal day-to-day. I think this highlights one of your other post about how it is about the people you meet along the way. Meeting a random Russian man just adds to the adventure in my opinion! Great post!

  18. Karen C

    As I was reading, I thought maybe you had the headache because, not only tired, you didn’t mention eating anything. I liked the truthfulness of it. Waiting to get a bed, wandering around sleepily. Then the happy ending of a bed, coffee and a good meal.

  19. Jérémy

    Looks pretty much like everyday I spend everytime I travel. Basically, trying to survive : find places to sleep, eat, and drink beers with friends / travellers / local people. The usual stuff 🙂

    Cheers from Sweden !

  20. Colleen

    Loved the random slice of life in the day of a travel blogger. It was interesting, authentic and a nice window into the reality of traveling as a lifestyle. Not every single day on the road is Angkor Wat, the Taj Mahal or a glorious day on the beaches of Croatia. Sometimes the most important event is a bed, a couple aspirin, a meal and a walk. All good stuff.

  21. Larry

    Thanks so much for posting this, the picture of the cathedral and bell tower in Chisinau caught my attention right away and brought back many fond memories. I’ve been to Moldova three different times and loved it. If you get a chance to roam around the country many places in the countryside are beautiful and interesting as well.

  22. Laura

    Great post Earl! I don’t normally comment on blog posts but this is pretty much exactly the kind of post I’ve wanted to read for a long time!

    Perhaps every once in a while you could pick a random day and write about it? Helps give dreamers like me a glimpse into the reality of permanent travel 🙂

    All the best,

    Laura

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