moldovatravel

In Moldova the winter holidays, and especially Christmas, bring all family members, from all parts of the country and abroad, home, to the village. Where the food is thoroughly prepared of the ingredients carefully stored at the cellar, following the ancestral recipes, where the stove is warm and bakes bread rolls, the decorations on the Christmas tree are the same since childhood, and carol-singers go from door to door and get the bread rolls as a treat.

This year, Moldova Travel invites the country guests to enjoy an authentic experience during the winter holidays. To gain the Christmas experience in the Moldovan family, at home, in the village.
This experience can be profited in guesthouses in Moldovan villages, where the hosts themselves live, cook and celebrate, where each guest is treated as a family member and embraced by the atmosphere of specific Moldovan celebration.

Rural guesthouses waiting for the visitors for holidays

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If you don’t have time to visit all of Moldova, but want to get a feel for what life is like in much of the country, try Eco-Resort Butuceni. All of its cottages are made of natural materials. Lucky guests can even sleep on a lijanca — a toasty bed that is an extension of a stove. Be ready for the Butuceni staff to put you to work. You will feed the animals, milk the cow, collect eggs from the henhouse, and perform other tasks that capture the charm of country living.

You can also attend cooking workshops. In one of them you will knead dough and make bread with your own hands. Food at Butuceni is phenomenal, and local music and dance add spice to the menu. If you’re an outdoorsy type, you can climb the Orheiul Vechi rocks. And in the evening you can relax in the guesthouse spa. If you come at Christmas, you can ride a horse-drawn sleigh and listen to traditional carols.

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The Benzin family created the first rural guesthouse in rural Moldova, which they dubbed Casa Din Lunca. In addition to good food, you will find a pool and children’s playground. If you want to do more than just relax, there are bicycle trails near the guesthouse. To top off a great day, try a sunset boat ride on the Raut River.

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The name Vila Roz comes from its owner’s love of roses, which she grew in her garden. Visitors can stay in the resort’s guesthouse or — if they feel like roughing it — in a nearby camping area. Vila Roz’s specialty is croissants with jam — and the staff will teach you how to make them if you want. The resort has bicycles for those who would like to pedal around discovering the Old Orhei. If you come at Easter, the resort offers egg-painting workshops.

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This pension got its name from its location under the most beautiful rock formation in the village. In addition to enjoying traditional food and dance, going on carriage rides, and participating in cooking workshops at Casa De Sub Stanca, you can learn how to knit dolls and hats from corn husks — a traditional craft.

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The Bahmut Club is a good jumping-off point for hiking through the Plaiul Fagului nature reserve. In summer it also offers outdoor movies, jazz evenings and soul-soothing bonfires. A good way to get to the resort from Chisinau is by train. It stops right at Bahmut village.

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The Fata Morgana guesthouse is on the eastern shore of the widest part of the Nistru River. It’s so wide there — more than a kilometer — that locals call the area the seaside. The resort actually does have a beach, complete with wooden chairs and big sun umbrellas. In summer you can ski, jet-ski or fish on the Nistru. So many people walk away with fish that it is considered an angler’s dream. If you need to recharge your batteries, take in the sweeping views of the river from high ground. Or climb rocks or explore the Peştera Femeilor Infidele — the Cave of Unfaithful Women. Another attraction is the Green Waterfall, which is eight meters high and 25 wide. Not only does watching it mesmerize you, but in summer its mist cools you off.

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If you go to Congaz, which the locals have dubbed the largest village in Europe, you must stay at the Gagauz Sofrasi rural guesthouse. Its authentic wooden houses amount to a miniature version of a traditional Gagauzian courtyard. The complex, which can accommodate 20, is built entirely of natural materials. All of the architectural trappings repeat, in the smallest detail, what locals of 100 years ago saw in their homes. These include stoves with lejanca — extensions where you can lie down — plus small wooden windows, hanging rugs, and traditional wool carpets.

Spend the night at Gagauz Sofrasi, enjoying the traditional costumes and dances, savoring Turkish meat dishes such as kavurma, and munching on gozleme bread, pizza-like pide and manga pie.

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La Gura Cuptorului Guesthouse

Valeni village, Cahul district

The La Gura Cuptorului guesthouse is next to the Bread Museum in Valeni and not far from the Prutul de Jos nature reserve and Lake Beleu.

If you stay, you will want to learn about Moldova’s traditional breads. This will include the difference between botcala — spontaneously leavened bread — and yeast-leavened bread. You will also learn how to create hoopoe, or mother-in-law bread, and burnacei, pigeon bread.

Your stay wouldn’t be complete without meeting Lidia Bejenaru, the Grandma of Valeni, who gained international fame as a member of a Moldovan folk ensemble. She charmed millions of Eurovision talent contest watchers with her drum-playing in 2005.

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The owners of Eco Village Valeni will not only provide you with lodging, but also wooden boats you can use to glide across Lake Beleu, one of Eastern Europe’s most pristine bodies of water. In the boats you can float among water lilies so lovely that it looks like they have been painted on the lake’s surface. If you like fishing, try your luck! An amazing sight is flocks of water birds arriving in Lake Beleu, particularly pelicans. The village of Valeni offers delights as well. You can watch traditional carpets being made on sturdy old looms or visit the Bread Museum, which contains dozens of varieties of this Moldovan staple. Another intriguing spot is a wine cellar with a secret chamber where the women of Valeni hid from invading soldiers in both world wars.

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Casa Veche is a more than 100-year-old village house that will give you an idea of how rural Moldovans lived at the turn of the 20th Century. Its owners decided recently to turn it into a bed and breakfast for those looking for a traditional country experience, which can include seeing horse-drawn carts. The food at Casa Veche, which is close to the Dniester River and the Ukrainian border, is all-natural. An interesting story about Palanca village is that an agreement in 2012 that ended a border dispute between Ukraine and Moldova meant that many villagers’ homes were still in Moldova while their farmland suddenly ended up in Ukraine. A new border checkpoint in 2018 has made it easier for the villagers to tend those plots.

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Vila Dora is a country inn with old wooden floors, huge traditional carpets and rustic furnishings near the Dniester River. The food the owners serve is not only authentic Moldovan, but as fresh as can be.  The inn located in an enchanting region, both in terms of nature and spirituality. Two nearby landmarks are the Japca Monastery and Moldova’s largest Jewish cemetery in the village of Vadul-Rascov. Vila Dora is also close to the medieval fortress at Soroca and the 30-meter-tall Candle of Gratitude Monument. The writer Ion Durta came up with the idea of creating a monument to honor those who have made special efforts to preserve Moldovan culture. It was erected in 2004.

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You’re in for a once-in-a-lifetime treat at the Mester Faur, a treehouse inn with thatched roof that you reach by walking up an outdoor staircase. The thatch is a great fit for Cioburciu, whose history dates back 650 years. Around the village is one of Moldova’s loveliest forests. If you love soaking up nature, then a walk through this relaxing woodland is for you. You can also go boating or fishing or tour the Purcari winery.

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The story of the Gandrabur’s family began long time ago. Inspired by the long cherished desire to give a second life to the old household owned by the ancestors, the Gandrabur spouses spend a few years working abroad while pursuing the idea of coming back to Moldova and investing in the restoration of the old family nest and then turning it into a hospitable, beautifully arranged guest house, serving traditional meals and local wine, carefully stored in the 17th century cellar. Welcome to rest in the old garden at Valea Stancii, breathe in deeply the magic air of countryside evenings and enjoy everything what has the name of tradition. Valea Stâncii is for you to discover local traditions, leaving behind your everyday worries and enjoying small, though important things.

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Casa Verde Guesthouse is right in the heart of Orheiul Vechi cliffs, just look for house number nine from the entrance to Trebujeni village. Here you could dive into the surrounding beauty, feeling calm and cozy thanks to the hospitality extended by the hosts as well as by the atmosphere of ancient history. At Casa Verde you could sip your coffee out in the flower garden, on the terrace, and if it happens to be on a holiday – then you will be welcomed to Casa Mare. Moreover, besides tasting and enjoying traditional meals, you could also participate in cooking such.

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Have you set your mind on opening a few days getaway to Orheiul Vechi accompanied by your quadruped? Then you are welcome to stop at La Popas in Butuceni. At the invitation of the hosts of the house, you could enjoy here assorted dishes of traditional cuisine served with young homemade wine.

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When you enter the Karaman House Restaurant, you get the idea you are in a country home built a century ago. And the cooking matches the atmosphere. It consists of traditional Moldovan dishes that are hearty and scrumptious. If you want to learn how to make some, the staff will teach you. To gain an additional feel for local country life, you can help tend gardens. To top off your visit, try a relaxing boat ride on the Dniester River.