Expat Life: Seeing Things

by Miss Footloose

What’s fun about expat life is seeing things. The little, ordinary things that are not ordinary to you, or that for some reason catch your foreign eye. I lived in Moldova for a couple of years, a small country in Eastern Europe. It is an easy, friendly place to live for an expat. It’s safe and it’s nice, be it not terribly exotic. But there are things to see, fun things, and amusing things. So here a few pictures of what caught my attention and made me smile:

Tasting room in Moldova

You want this for your dining room?

Now this is a fabulous room! No, it’s not a spaceship. It’s a wine tasting room deep underground at the Cricova winery. The decor hails from Soviet times. The wine cellar is enormous, 120 km (75 m) of roads in a former limestone quarry.


They made me look fat!

Just walking around town one day I came across these skinny things:

Moldova street scene

I have no idea who these girls were, or what they were doing, or had been doing. I’m only hoping it didn’t involve bending over in these dresses.


Street art with a smile

Don’t let it be said the Moldovans are a serious lot and have no sense of humor.

Chisinau tip

For the record, these public garbage containers (tips as you Brits call them) are emptied regularly and I’ve rarely seen an overflowing one.


Good taste is the worst vice ever invented. – Edith Sitwell

Soon after we arrived in Moldova we went on the hunt for furniture. We visited many shops. Here’s one of them. And no, this is not the furniture we bought. I love looking at furniture in foreign countries. It’s a cultural experience.

Chisinau furniture shop

Since we’re on the subject of furniture, I’d like to show you a picture of the bedroom in our furnished apartment, the one we moved into after our expat house became uninhabitable because of Noah’s Flood.

Furniture in Moldova

It was the first time I slept between satin sheets!


Let’s (not) sweat

Here a sign I happened to walk past one evening. My British friend actually pointed it out to me, so I whipped out my camera:

Romantic Sauna in Moldova

Just in case you’re wondering: This was a perfectly safe street in a nice neighborhood. Not sure how safe the Sauna Romantica would be.


Open your eyes to foreign fish

I love markets of all sorts, and never fail to admire beautiful vegetables and colorful fruit, but here’s a picture of a stall I must have walked by countless times without really seeing it. Until one day I did.

Chisinau market dried fish

Dried and smoked fish is for sale everywhere, in supermarkets as well as in open markets like this one. In the supermarkets they are available whole as well as neatly sliced and packaged and are quite delicious as hors d’oeuvres.


No, I wasn’t driving

I want to close here with a glass of wine, or rather ten of them. I was sitting in front of them, and quite loved all the colors. Sipping them wasn’t bad either. To think that that very afternoon at lunch time I had tasted and sipped 7 varieties of brandy in Transnistria.

Purcari wines

This was taken at the Purcari winery. Moldova has a wine culture and has fabulous wineries which are great fun to visit. Wine tastings, of course, are a fun thing to do in Moldova.

So there you have it.

(Note: I posted this tale a few years ago but thought it had lost none of its entertainment value.)

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What interesting or funky things have you seen in your travels? Things that intrigued you, made you laugh or gasp in horror?

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There was a lot in the Dominican Republic that made me laugh but seeing how much the motorcycle guys could fit on their motos was always a blast.


I could go for those wine cellars , just give me a corkscrew , and a VERY comfy chair. Those girls with the suitcases, maybe they are part of that TV show where the open the suitcases and you see the amount of money you just lost. forgot the name of the show.

Travel Finland Blog

Tou caught some great shots here
It is amazing what these photo`s say of the local community
I think a psychologist would have a field day with some of these


I walked by the Sauna Romantica graffiti just the other day! I loved it! hehe. I can’t wait to see the Cricova winery. it looks great! i have been to Melistii Mici and loved it, although I felt a bit odd about being totally drunk in the middle of the day during a tour!
loving ur blog and wishing we had met,

i love that room in the winery. there was a similar room in a bar in kazan in 1994 – it must have been a soviet thing to decorate in that way. i remember dragging my russian girlfriends to that bar and they were all shocked and would never have gone there on their own. i remember we giggled a lot. the theme in kazan was more cavelike than maritime, but the effect was very similar. it’s so nice to read a positive expat post. i’ve spent a bit of time on some bitter expat blogs recently (in my own… Read more »

Emily McGee

Oh my goodness, so many hilarious photos here. I’d say my faves are the Sauna Romantica (because there is ABSOLUTELY nothing romantic about that bunker-esque place), and the crazy bedroom in your furnished apartment. Good thing you write romance novels, right? You can use that bedroom in one of your scenes! 😉

Meiko Lucas

Wow! I have certainly heard about Maldova, but have not been able to plan a trip there. We had planned a trip to the other eastern European countries last week. and some western Asian neighboring countries, but because of the disturbances in the Muslim countries, we have called the trip off.. Whenever I plan my next trip will surely visit Maldova, especially the Wine tasting ‘spaceship’ room! it surely looks something unique!


Miss Footloose you always make me look at things from a different perspective. Once expats have lived in the same country for awhile, all those fascinating things which first caught our eye, we no longer notice
Makes me want to walk around Geneva with camera to capture all those everyday sights that I am overlooking now that I’ve lived her for 15 years.

Chubby Chatterbox

Fun pictures. Did you enjoy sleeping in satin sheets? I find them cold and the blankets and pillows slide off the bed at night. Don’t care for them very much.


Ethan Zinho

Dried salted cod is very common in Portugal (called Bacalhau) as well as here in Brazil, although it is quite expensive. Here they rehydrate it and put it in empanadas or pastries as well as other dishes. It is honestly pretty tasty. Loved hearing about some of these quirks of Moldova. It is one of those countries that I’ve heard the name before but I know nothing about it and would not have known where to pinpoint it on a map before reading your blog and looking it up on google maps. You’ve certainly made it sound like an interesting… Read more »

How fantastic is that wine cellar?? It would be a pleasure to drink the rainbow array of wine in such a place …

Australia is really the home of the weird and downright bizarre – I claim Cane Toad racing as proof of that!!

It is usually the smells that assault our family when we travel, before we get to the sights. So it was with the market in Zanzibar that reeked of fish and had my daughter walking around with one hand pinching her nose the entire time, and so it was with the camels when visiting the pyramids in Egypt. One of the unusual sights I vividly remember from first moving here was the guy in the township of Alexandra, sitting in the middle of the sidewalk in open air with his sewing machine, offering alterations. I always feel slightly guilty taking… Read more »


Have you noticed the people sitting around on Stefan cel Mare with scales? You can weigh yourself for one lei. At first I kept walking by the same lady day after day, and thought she was trying to sell the scale. I felt so sorry for her after seeing her sit there for over a week and actually considered buying it from her…until I later realized that people are not trying out if the scale works but are paying to check their weight. Maybe you could post some pictures and write about this phenomenon in Chisinau. 🙂 and the bar/cafe… Read more »


You opened this post with noticing the ordinary. Isn’t this the key to keeping life fun as well as interesting? Making the ordinary extraordinary? In that respect, expats do have an advantage as this idea pops up and bonks you on the nose. Fabulous post.

Are the wines in Moldova exported? I’d love to taste one at my local Trader Joe’s. I have to say, the older I get, the more I realize how many beautiful young women there are all over the world. Thanks Miss Footloose for the different photos. Not sure I like the furniture though.

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