Exotic Air Moldova and an afternoon in Chisinau

Hello dear readers,

some time ago I was browsing again flights to Moscow and like often before Air Moldova showed up again as one of the cheapest options. I already took them on the Frankfurt-Chisinau-Moscow Domodedovo route three times before and in my opinion they are a well run small airline. Currently their fleet consists of two A320s, one A319 and three Embraer 190.

This time the interesting fact was, that the flight which would connect immediately within 30mins to the flight from Frankfurt was already sold out, so that left me with a 7 hours transit in Chisinau. Well I have never been to the city, nor knew a lot about it, so I quickly bought that ticket and decided to visit the centre of Chisinau!

The flight from Frankfurt was packed, as it seems to be the case most of the time with usually a mix of passengers to Chisinau and people who transfer to Moscow.

Interesting was that the plane was parked on the new apron opposite of the runways and terminals, so the bus ride was quite scenic.

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Boarding was quickly finished and the lovely crew did their safety demonstration and after we were already off to Moldova.

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The flight time was a standard 2 hours on this route and service started right after the seatbelt sign has been switched off.

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Since the last time I flew with Air Moldova they changed their sandwich offering and now you get a rather big Baguette type sandwich, which was very tasty and hit the spot nicely. After the sandwich and drink run, which also included local Moldovian wine (very tasty!), the crew came around again with coffee and tea.

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After that some gazing out of the window and before I knew the captain already announced the descent into Chisinau airport, where we landed around 20mins later on time.

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Chisinau airport only has bus gates, so down to the apron, which is a nice opportunity for photos.

Also nice to see, that the captains of the flights handed out flowers to all female crews as a small gift for the 1st of May. Well done guys!

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The terminal in Chisinau was renovated last year and is now a very nice facility.

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I was among the first at passport control and was stamped into the country within seconds: Welcome to Moldova!

First thing in the country was to get some of the local currency MDL (Moldovian Lei) as well as a local SIM card from a shop in the airport. The SIM card needed to be set up so I called the operator and an agent helped me in excellent english, something you would not find in every country, so again thumbs up.

From the airport to the city there are basically three option how to get there. The first is the taxi, which will cost between 50 and 80 LEI, and then there is an express bus every 40mins, which costs 3 LEI or around 20 cents and a mashrutka mini bus every 10mins. I took the last option. The ride into town took around 25mins to Ismail Street right in the centre of Chisinau. Worth noting is also that it seems I was the only tourist, as I didn’t see any other foreigners in the bus, streets etc, which made the visit refreshingly un touristy.

My first goal was to see the Arcul de Triumf, the local Arc, similar to the Paris one, but a smaller size. To get there I simply needed to walk up Bulevardul Stefan cel Mare si Sfint.

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On the way I passed a local theatre, governmental buildings and smaller shops. Mobile phones are overly popular in Moldova, as every second shop was associated to Mobile phones.

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Right next to the Arcul was the Chisinau Duathlon hold with some celebrations around it, so I watched it for a bit and maybe saw the next Moldovian champion, who knows.

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After my walk up there I got a bit hungry and found a restaurant with a nice outdoor terrace right on Bulevardul Stefan cel Mari si Sfint.

The pizza and home made lemonade there were very tasty, as well as the cake and coffee. All together at less than 10EUR it was also a bargain.

After lunch I took a walk to the former Hotel National, which is now sitting in a pretty bad state, but still has some shabby chic charm. Not far from the Hotel was a big local supermarket, so I bought there some cake and souvenirs to take with me.

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Unfortunately now it was already time to walk back to Ismail Street to catch the Mashrutka back to the airport, where I arrived after around 30mins.

As there were two flights to Moscow this evening (Air Moldova 175 and the special on-off Air Moldova 1175, there was a bit of mix up, as many people queued for the wrong counter). In the end it was still rather quick and I got my boarding pass for the flight 1175.

Immigration and security were a breeze again and I was airside within minutes, where I spent my last MDL on some local wine and jam.

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Boarding was called quite early and I was among the first to board out Embraer. Soon after boarding was already completed and the flight was nicely empty, where as the regular 175 was completely filled up. I chose seat 3A and I was the only in the first 7 rows, so a lot of space to spread out.

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The crew on this flight was again very friendly and the service consisted again of a sandwich and drinks, which was completely fine for the evening service.

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After a holding pattern south of Moscow we touched down on time in Domodedovo and another pleasant flight on Air Moldova came to an end.

Conclusion:

Air Moldova might be a small carrier, but their service is great and the crew are very friendly. I can only recommend flying with them if you need to go to Moldova or connect to another destination.

Chisinau might be a bit run down city with typical post-soviet style, but it was nice to spend there an afternoon and see all the local sights. Very interesting place!

Thanks for reading!

Questions and comments are welcome.

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