On Saturday, we woke up mid-morning, which is to say too fucking early, and I felt about as well as one does the day after drinking many glasses of wine and cognac the night before, which is to say like ass. Coffee and breakfast were required.
We went back to Coffee Molka, but it was shuttered until noon. As we wandered around, looking for somewhere else to go, we experienced an irritating shortage of places able to caffeinate and feed us. I guess Moldovans like sleeping in on weekends as much as anyone else. Eventually we wandered into what appeared to be the cafe district.
We settled at Robert’s, where yet another delightful server said that she was happy to see us, and once again expressed incredulity that we would voluntarily choose to be in Chisinau. We expressed gratitude for her having us by. You know, nice to be nice. I’m not in NYC, I don’t need to be an asshole. The espresso was good, and the omelette I had was what I needed. I could have hung out there for hours. This is what I’m saying about Europe. All ambition drains right out of me in the most pleasant way.
Brian wanted to see the national (or was it natural?) history museum. It had a comfortable couch downstairs for me to doze on, which, for me, is the hallmark of a good museum, because museums can cure any insomnia I might have. Brian wandered around and seemed to like it.
We then retreated to our hostel for naps. (I fucking love naps.) For dinner we went to a Gagauz restaurant a bit outside of town. The Gagauz are the Turkic people that I think the coffee store owner, Alexander, was telling us about. I’m probably ignorant and getting all of this wrong, but there is only so much my American brain can assimilate.
The server was really the first person we’d encountered who spoke no English at all, which is when I discovered the amazing power of Google Translate — you just speak into your phone, then hand it to your conversant for them to read the translation and respond back into your phone, then you read what the translation of what they said, then repeat. Don’t leave home without it. Eventually, we were brought large plates of tasty grilled meat. We consumed it and drank Moldovan wine, because that’s what you do in Moldova.
The hostel couldn’t accommodate us a third night in the private room, but they suggested their sister hostel, Funky Mamaliga (named after a polenta-like national dish), and they hooked it all up, including transporting our bags, so we did what was easy, and migrated there. It was in another side of the (still fairly small) city, with pretty homes and tree lined streets.
We shot the shit with other fellow travelers from all over the world, including an adorable 19 year old couple, who met while he, the American, was teaching English in Poland to her, the Pole — they fell in love, and are now seeing the world together, because that’s what you fucking do when you’re 19 and you fall in love and you don’t have responsibility and don’t need comfort and your time isn’t that valuable. I felt old. But sort of young, too. If I’d stayed at a hotel I’d only have felt old.
And then we made plans for Sunday, when we would go to…the “country that doesn’t exist.”