Soviet Trains are not that bad

I recently took a train from Bucharest to Chișinău, and it was quite the experience. This wasn’t just any train; it was a sleeper train, offering a nostalgic journey back in time. I started my trip on a Saturday evening and arrived in Chișinău on Sunday morning. If you don’t mind a 14-hour trip covering approximately 275 miles and don’t expect modern amenities, you’ll be just fine. The train’s vintage charm was really nostalgic for me, particularly as someone who grew up during the communist era. It felt like a journey back in time and a chance to slow down and appreciate the ride.

The people I met on the train were lovely. One fellow traveller, a lady in her 70s now living in Moldova, shared stories of her life in Russia, Italy, and Romania. Another passenger, a Norwegian student, listened intently to our conversation, which often required my translation skills. We managed to catch 5-6 hours of sleep before saying good bye to each other at Chișinău station.

Chișinău itself feels like a city of two halves. The city centre is clean, not too crowded and charming, with beautifully restored buildings, modern pedestrian streets, coffee shops, and restaurants. I especially loved the areas around the Cathedral, Eugen Doga Street, and Ștefan cel Mare Park. However, once you venture beyond the city centre, it feels like stepping back into the Soviet era. Most people on the streets speak Russian, but they can easily switch to Romanian if you initiate a conversation.

And then there’s the smell: the wonderful aroma of linden trees. I often found myself slowing down to enjoy it or to listen to classical music playing from speakers along the pedestrian streets. Chișinău, I believe, could one day be compared to Paris, Berlin, or Vienna.

During my visit, I enjoyed a coffee, a delicious Snickers éclair, a hearty traditional meal, some ice cream and a lot of walking. After half a day of exploring, it was time to head back to the train station for my journey back to Bucharest. The ride back to Bucharest was very quiet, as my roommates for the night were tired and went to sleep quite early.

Honestly, Chișinău seems like a fantastic place to invest in right now. If Moldova joins the EU and NATO, investments here could potentially double, triple, or even quadruple. There’s a lot of potential here, and I can see it becoming a major hotspot in the future.

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