Moldova slopes toward the Black Sea, its soil fed by the waters of 3000 rivers. Green hills, lakes and mineral springs fill its landscape. Rich earth and warm summers nurture the vineyards from which Moldava creates its famous wines. One can tour Cricova, a massive subterranean wine realm, whose 120 km of roads link cellars holding over a million bottles of rare vintage.
Moldova’s economy is the poorest in Europe. 80% of its people live in poverty. As such, it guards its treasures well - one must make reservations to be admitted to Moldova’s officially sanctioned wine tours. The capital, Chisinau, lies on the River Byk. Here one can visit the Fine Arts Museum, the Pushkin House, and the Chekhov Theater. Overlooking the Raut Rivier, Orheiul Vechi is a haunting 13th century monastery carved from a remote limestone cliff. Although independent since 1991, the surly Russian bear still growls over Moldova’s northeast shoulder. Russia has, at times, cut off Moldova’s energy, doubled its price of natural gas and banned the import of Moldovan wine and farm products, which are the foundation of Moldova’s economy. But this has not crippled the Moldavian culture. Its folk art and music live on, in a country that looks to a brighter future.