A friend of mine and fellow Fulbrighter is teaching English in the southern Moldovan city of Chaul. She’s been to Comrat at least three times since we both arrived in Moldova at the beginning of September and I had yet to repay the favor. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in visiting Cahul, quite the opposite actually, I’ve been looking forward to going since I got here but something just kept coming up. So last week I finally made my way about 1 and a half hours south by bus (only if you go through Svetli I learned the hard way) to the city of Cahul.
Cahul has a completely different feel than Comrat and this became apparent to me about half way through the ride when the landscape changed dramatically. Gone was the treeless barren presence of the Budjak steppe I’ve become so accustomed to in Gagauzia and in its place were big sweeping hills and valleys almost entirely covered by vineyards. These vineyards are primarily owned by Cricova Wine Company who, according to Wikipedia, own the worlds 2nd largest wine cellar complete with 75 miles of underground roads. The city itself has a completely different feel than Comrat. Make no mistake about it, Cahul is a Moldovan city whereas Comrat is a Gagauzian city. In Cahul you hear and see a lot more Moldovan/Romanian, something which is almost nonexistent in Comrat with the exception of official government signage and documents. Cahul also seems to be a bit poorer than Comrat. One local friend from Gagauzia attributes this to the political autonomy in Gagauzia. He argues that this political autonomy allows the government of Gagauzia (aka my drinking buddy the Bashkan and his entourage) to attract foreign investment without the
interference involvement of the government in Chisinau.
I spent a few hours walking around the city and seeing the sites (a tour that included a Soviet-era sanatorium and the view of Romania off in the distance) before heading back to Comrat in the evening.
Here are some pictures I took: