“Why on Earth would you want to go there?” For much the same reasons that our guest was excited about the possibility of visiting Transnistria, our Moldovan friends greeted the news of our proposed Tiraspol trip with genuine bafflement.
Posts tagged ‘politics’
After visiting us in Nairobi, a friend jokingly suggested that we should print concert-style t-shirts featuring the places we have served as a memento for those of our friends and family members who visit us at every one of our postings. In Kenya, we had hosted visitors nearly every month. Moldova, though easier to reach from the United States, has proved a much quieter assignment, and the potential pool of t-shirt recipients has dwindled from several dozen to just two for now. In addition to S’s mom, thus far only our friend Cam has visited us in both Nairobi and Chisinau.
Ever since watching Banksy’s documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, we’ve tried to keep our eyes peeled for some of the pioneer urban artists whose surreptitious stencils, tags, and paste-ups add vibrancy to sometimes drab city neighborhoods. We still have not come upon any of Space Invader’s tile work or the once ubiquitous Obey posters — the brainchild of Shepard Fairey, who prior to creating the Obama Hope design dedicated himself to plastering innumerable city walls the world over with posters of André the Giant. Though the names of the artists who have applied their skills to Lisbon’s walls are less well known, the city is the most graffiti-friendly metropolis we have ever visited, and some of the artwork is nothing short of brilliant.
Sprawled across both banks of the Bosphorus, with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, Istanbul can be overwhelming. On our first visit, we took in most of the must-see sights. We visited the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia and both the Topkapi and Dolmabahce palaces. We strolled around the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market, visited the underground Basilica Cisterns, and took a trip up the Bosphorus to the Princes Islands. With all that, we barely scratched the surface of all that Istanbul has to offer.
After two weeks on the coast, we headed inland to Plitvice National Park for our last bit of sightseeing in Croatia. The park, which extends over almost 300 square kilometers, encompasses sixteen lakes that form a vast natural staircase, cascading one into another in a myriad waterfalls. What’s more, algae in the lakes make their waters unbelievably limpid at the same time that minerals tint the surface various shades of blue and green.
With exciting tourist possibilities – the opportunity to see a pack of wild dogs polish off an impala or to watch elephants at the watering hole while hanging out with the safari camp’s pet kudu – we had a veritable parade of visitors when we lived in Kenya. Far fewer people appear to be tempted by Moldova’s wineries and pastoral idyll, but we are hoping that Munchkin’s cuteness lures at least a few friends and family to visit us in Chisinau. Thus far, we have had just one visitor – S’s mom, who helped her make the daunting trip from one little-known place in northern Maine to another in Eastern Europe.