The plan for today was to get out of Chișinău, go to a town about 30-40 minutes away. I’ve seen everything in the city centre so this is my way to carry on exploring.
At the central bus station none of the place names look familiar, save for one bus which stops at Strășeni, but I’m reluctant to get on because I don’t recognise the final destination. I ask at the ticket desk for Hîncești. The attendant directs me to the South Bus Station, located all the way on the other side of the city. After a futile search for the bus that goes to the South Bus Station I give up and decide to walk to the central train station. I can see on the map that there’s a railway line to Strășeni, that should be easy, right?
At the train station the departures board lists Moscow and Bucharest and Odessa, all far away cities… but no Strășeni. I realise I’ve gotten the wrong train station, the little local service probably leaves from Visterniceni station. I’ve run out of options and it’s almost 11, but then on the way back by chance I see number 192, the bus which goes to the South Bus Station. Delighted, I flag it down and climb onboard, I’m on my way to Hîncești.
I accidentally get off at the stop before the South Bus Station. Apparently what I was actually looking for was the South-West Bus Station. No problem, it’s only another bus ride away. I can travel like this, but I don’t like it because it creates a chain with too many points of failure, and it takes ages.
Eventually I get to the correct station, the correct bus, I’m on my way to Hîncești. Incidentally I’m the only person onboard who bought a ticket at the ticket desk in the station, everyone else just pays the driver. The driver doesn’t even check my ticket, but on the way back it’s the same guy and he insists I pay him the return fare directly. Fine, it makes no difference to me if I pay at the desk or on the bus, but they should at least be consistent. There was a poster at one of the last stops which promised a vote for Chircota was a vote for a ‘less chaotic transport system’. That sounds pretty good to me!
It took a long time getting to Hîncești, and was it worth the journey? What marvels are there in this town? Well, there’s a steep hill, and a big lake. So I walked up the hill and round the lake, and then back to the station to repeat the whole tortuous bus process in reverse.
On the whole the town was more developed than I’d expected. Usually you come out of the capital and you’re greeted by dirt roads and horse-driven carts. There was some of that for sure, but there was also a guitar shop and some nice well-kept suburban houses. I also realise now that I missed the central square, probably should have gone to see that.
I’ve not really learned much from today. When I go to Balti tomorrow I’ll need to use the North Bus Station. Not looking forward to that.