Dinner in Uzbekistan???Monday, September 26, 2011 - part 2
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We'd love to hear from you! Next on the itinerary: Mozartfest in Bath, England
After our delicious lunch in that lovely garden setting, we're ready to explore Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Our guide begins the tour at a gleaming white Russian Orthodox monastery (the monastery designation is the same for either men or women in this religious tradition) on the edge of town, St. Teodor Tiron. Before Communism it was a large community, now there are only 6 nuns remaining.
As in many churches in the former Soviet republics, the precious icons and relics were removed and hidden in people's homes during Communist times.
Also as in other churches we've seen, the luminarias, places to light candles, are outside to avoid damage to the interior frescoes. Victoria had told us previously about the division of candles, and on these newer luminarias we can see clearly, the one on the right marked sanitate (candles/prayers for health) and the one of the left morti (for the dead).
Don't have a scarf? Borrow one from the stash on the door and come on in.
The interior style of the Russian Orthodox churches is different from the Romanian Orthodox we've seen this week. I notice more silver and gold in the icons, with faces peering gravely through the gilt.
The main street is named in honor of Moldova's hero-king, Stefan cel Mare, who ruled in the late 1400's and is lauded to this day for strengthening Moldova and holding her strong against Ottoman invasion.
The prominent statue fronts a welcoming park, in which wifi is free and easily accessed - bench after bench is filled with web-surfers.
A different hotel every night - not our usual mode of travel! We're covering so much ground on the tour that Cultural Romtour has us spending just one night in each location. Tonight we're at the Best Western Hotel Flowers, a newly built hotel with super spacious rooms, free wifi, and sparkling bathrooms. After checking in we explore Chisinau a bit on our own.
Although we didn't take any photos, we looked around a remarkable- to- us department store, blue-smocked attendants at the top and bottom of the rickety escalators. We've never seen anything like this - multiple booths, like in an antique consignment bazaar, selling the same thing. A dozen or so selling women's coats, a score selling ladies shoes, and on through the whole gamut - household items, materials and trims, furniture, and family clothing - with not much variety that I could discern. Down the street are more current chain stores, but this is certainly a throw -back to the way things were under Soviet rule.
I'm not sure how far away Uzbekistan is - too far for dinner, I'm sure - but Victoria has planned a unique meal at Caravan, an Uzbeki restaurant, for us tonight. We sit on carpets and cushions, leaning back on plump pillows, in a curtained alcove.
It's a pleasure to enjoy the delicious contrast to the Romanian meals we've had for the last few days. The food has been good, but each meal has been very similar to the one before. This is quite different - a veal salad, a choice of lamb or veal pilaf with fresh pomegranate seeds, sesame bread, lamb riblets, grilled vegetables and some quite good Moldovan wine - this area is where the good wines come from.
The atmosphere is exotic - even in the bathroom!
Tea is served with flaky pastries for dessert, and our smiling waiter shows us the proper way to serve tea in Uzbekistan. Pouring from on high, he fills a shapely bowl, then hands it to me with hand over his heart, signifying care for his guest - what a lovely tradition!