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.
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.
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.
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!