This past weekend, Paden and I decided to get away, to celebrate his birthday and take a break from Moldova. We traveled just two hours, across the border into Romania. Iasi, Romania is only two hours (including a border crossing stop) from Balti, Moldova, but it’s SO different.
We had an amazing weekend, celebrating Paden’s birthday and seeing all that Iasi has to offer – including connecting with the Jewish community there, enjoying Starbucks everyday and getting to do a little, much needed shopping.
After we returned from the trip, we wrote up a review of our trip for use by others in the Peace Corps Moldova community, which is below, if any of you are considering traveling to Iasi, Romania.
So you are looking to take a break from Peace Corps Moldova, well look no further. Just thirty minutes across the Moldovan/Romanian border lays the city of Iasi. The fourth largest city in Romanian the city contains many the amenities and attractions all PCVs dream off. What follows is a recommendation for a weekend getaway.
Depart from the Balti City Gara (if you need a place to stay in Balti contact one of the PCVs in Balti, we keep an open door policy). Buses depart at 7:30am and 8:45am; tickets should be purchased at the casa and cost approximately 100mdl. It will take about 2:30 hours to reach Iasi, including border crossing (You will need your passport, residency card, and you should be prepared for people to ask you to hold cigarettes or alcohol for them as there are limits). The gara in Iasi is about a 10 minute walk to the center of the city.
For return buses from Iasi to Batli at 2:30pm and 4:30pm every day, they also run from Iasi to Chisinau. Tickets for these busses can be purchased from the drivers 30 minutes before the bus departs.
Places to see:
· Palas Mall: located in the center of the city, the Palas Mall complex is beautiful and is directly behind the Casa de Cultura (which is currently under construction).
· Mănăstirea Golia: Pay the 6 Lei to go up in the tower. The tour is cool and great views on top.
· Church of the Three Hierarchs: This was beautiful
· University Ion Cuza: Amazing Campus, (makes you wonder yet again, what is Moldova doing wrong?) and a beautiful library. Sadly the library is only open weekday mornings and you need to register in advance to arrive.
· Culture Palace: Beautiful. Literally a palace. Currently under construction.
Places to eat:
· Vivo: Mid-priced, great atmosphere, average service. Food was great and very American with a twist. If you’re missing burgers, go here. But make sure to make a reservation, as they’re pretty busy on weekend evenings.
Note: This place is a bit hard to find, its down what looks like a residential street and off the main road.
· Uniera Hotel: The restaurant on the top floor has an amazing views of the city, but the cocktails are AWFUL (seriously worst mojito of my life) and it’s a little scump. Stop in for dessert and tea.
· Food Court: Skip the Indian, it will disappoint you. The Chinese is great, everything food court Chinese should be.
· Pizza Hut: They have one and its everything you remember from America. The pizzas are American as can be (yes, THAT greasy) but everything else on the menu leaves something to be desired.
· Subway: They have one, it’s a bit pricey, but its great.
· Starbucks: There are several. Enjoy grabbing your favorite complex drink (don’t worry they speak English) and go sit outside and enjoy the view of the center of Palas complex, out to the gazebos, carousel and Culture Palace.
· Grocery Store: Reeses, Doritos, Hot Sauce, Curry, Sour Skittles, Hummus… need I continue? All reasonably priced.
Places to stay:
We stayed at the Hotel Select, which was amazing. It was about $70 a night, but worth every penny for amazing service, comfortable beds, english tv, breakfast and location.