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Your favorite expat finds a new home ... and it’s not back in Pennsylvania: Ed O'Connor

Posted 6/19/19

Almost two years later and once again I find myself in Eastern Europe — specifically, Chisinau, the capitol of Moldova. For my devotees who have been following my travels, wanderings, antics …

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Your favorite expat finds a new home ... and it’s not back in Pennsylvania: Ed O'Connor

The Triumphal arch is a monument situated in Central Chisinau.
The Triumphal arch is a monument situated in Central Chisinau.
Posted

Almost two years later and once again I find myself in Eastern Europe — specifically, Chisinau, the capitol of Moldova. For my devotees who have been following my travels, wanderings, antics and musings — Olga and I were married here in 2005 and returned for a vacation in the autumn of 2017.

Olga was raised and educated in Chisinau. This is where she received her university degree in civil engineering, having specialized in structural engineering.

It is interesting and says much about the USA that with 25 years’ experience of designing hotels, buildings that would withstand earthquakes of 8.5 on the Richter scale and subterranean facilities, the best employment Olga could find in the US of A was a minimum wage job with no benefits.

The American Dream? I guess the problem was that she immigrated legally.

To get the most economical airfare, we took a multi-day, multi-stop route.

For you geography buffs: We departed Cuenca, Ecuador, at 1 a.m. May 13 for the 3.5-hour taxi ride over the Andes Mountains to the Guayaquil, Ecuador Airport. From there we flew to Bogota, Colombia (not to be confused with Columbia, Pennsylvania).

After a 10-hour layover, it was an 11.5-hour flight to Munich, Germany. There was probably more space and comfort in Pennsylvania’s electric chair than the aircraft seats. Now I know how a corkscrew feels.

In Munich, we had to stay overnight. We booked lodging at the Holiday Inn Express, which was the most expensive room in which I have ever stayed and was advertised as having Wi-Fi. However, we never had it for one minute … actually, one second.

Disgruntled and thirsty, we trekked to the hotel bar and experienced the highest priced adult beverages we have ever imbibed. Two wines (half glasses at best) and two draft beers set me back 28 Euros ($31.50). Dinner was $$$$$. So glad to have left Deutschland.

The next day we winged our way from Munich to Kiev in the Ukraine. The last leg of the journey took us from Kiev to our destination, Chisinau. We arrived at 8:50 p.m. May 15 — 2.5 days of fun, frolic and frivolity. Keep in mind that there is an eight-hour time difference between the East Coast and here.

At the Chisinau International Airport, we exchanged U.S. dollars for the local currency, the Moldavian lei. Next, we got a SIM card for my six-year-old $30 dumb phone. Now to find a taxi that would transport the two of us, seven pieces of luggage and two computers to the Airbnb that we had booked online.

The taxi driver we scored was a real treat. He was kind of a cross between the Grinch and a pit viper with PMS. Unfortunately, he had no idea of the address where we were going. After numerous phone calls to our host, our cab driver, Mr. Chuckles, finally located the building. And they say there is no God.

We dragged our luggage onto the elevator and up six floors to our temporary lodging. At this point we were both more tired than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.

We unpacked, then collapsed around 5:30 a.m. It was a long and tiring trip.

Arising six hours later, we were desperately in need of wine, cheese and sweets. Locating the nearest dispensary of said products and more, we stocked up on groceries and returned to our new digs. The rest of the day was spent rehydrating, refreshing, relaxing, rejuvenating and recovering. Oh, the two bottles of vino we found cost a total of $2.22.

Food and drink prices here are very low. A few examples: After sampling numerous libations, our favorite wine was a $2.40 bottle of Cricova Cabernet Sauvignon.

We got a carton of milk and a loaf of bread for 40 cents total … real bread. Two slices weighed about the same as a loaf of that white, chemical-filled concoction you call bread. A pound of strawberries was 45 cents, and a pound of mushrooms was 35 cents. 

Another example: We have been going to the big (and I mean BIG market) where you can find just about anything. We bought a pound of walnuts, a pound of cashews, a pound of Swiss cheese, a pound of onions, a pound of strawberries, a pound of cherries, green onions, dill, avocados and kilos (2.2 pounds for the metrically challenged) of potatoes and cucumbers.

We spent $15.60.

Conversely, the price to eat at a restaurant is very high. The cheapest place we have found so far is around $10 for the two of us.

Public transportation: A trolley bus ride is 11 cents.

We attended two cultural performances: a piano concert along with the National Chamber Orchestra and the Mozart opera “The Marriage of Figaro.” We purchased the next to highest priced tickets for $5.50 each. At both works we were five rows from the stage.

We have been extremely busy doing things that must be done before we can start to enjoy ourselves. Government offices, lawyers and apartment hunting have been consuming the bulk of our time.

For being the poorest country in Europe, I was amazed at the difference in the increased amount of traffic in Chisinau since 2017. As before, the German cars are the most prevalent — BMWs, Mercedes Benzes, Audis, Porsches and Volkswagens abound.

Moldova has four seasons like Pennsylvania. It has been very warm here with the temperatures being in the mid-80s. I did something that I hadn’t done in a decade — bought a pair of shorts.

Do not fret. I am keeping abreast of the latest U.S. and Pennsylvania news. I always relish a good laugh.

I have been enjoying the libtard roster of the 2020 anti-American presidential hopefuls. I haven’t seen that many clowns since I was at a Ringling Brothers Circus.

I consistently called the “City of Brotherly Love”, Filthydelphia. It seems I was correct. Of the 15 dirtiest cities in the United States, Philadelphia was rated No. 5 according to the website cheatsheet.com.

Be sure to subscribe or renew your subscription to the Press & Journal. You do not want to not miss one action-packed column from yours truly.

From your travelin’ buddy on a budget ... Eddy O

Ed O’Connor, a former resident of Middletown and Lower Swatara Township, is an expatriate now living in Chisinau, Moldova.