Springtime in Gagauzia

«Flower month»

That’s what they call April in the Gagauz language. Today my colleague took me through each month of the year, explaining how literal the names ascribed to them sometimes are in the national tongue of this region.

This month’s name is very appropriate, seeing as spring seems to have literally sprung here overnight. Fields that were last week brown and barren, are now blanketed with a thin but promising sprouting of greenery. Winter clothing is slowly being shed and left behind at home, as people become more trusting of the temperature holding steadily above 10 C outside throughout the day. And the most striking thing about the blossom-laden trees is not their vibrant appearance on every street corner, but the loud buzz that emanates from the colonies of visiting bees flitting between them.

A backstreet in Comrat on a sunny spring afternoon

And with the coming of a new season, comes a new blog!

This site has been created with the intention of showing off a corner of the world many of you may not have heard of before. This is Gagauzia, an autonomous region located in the south of Moldova. It is home to around 130,000 people, most of whom live in rural areas, and most of whom define themselves to be ethnically ‘Gagauz’ — people with a Soviet past, a Turkic-influenced language and an Orthodox Christian faith.

In one of Europe’s least-visited countries, Gagauzia is perhaps one of the least visited regions. But for what it lacks in 5-star hotels and overpriced agency tours, it more than makes up for in terms of hospitality, countryside, food, wine and glimpses of a simpler, rustic, different type of lifestyle. Mainstream tourism it ain’t, so there’s tons here for the more adventurous traveller who likes to both literally and metaphorically go off the beaten track.

Keeping an eye out for storks at Congaz lake

This blog will offer an online record of our favourite destinations in the region, inviting you to come and explore them yourself. It will showcase the people we’ve met, the landscape we’ve taken in, the cuisine we’ve enjoyed and the experiences we’ve stored up for future dinner party anecdotes. We’ll also be sure to make this guide as practical as possible, posting some handy insider tips on how to navigate the region in terms of transport, accommodation, and so on.

And finally, as for the guides — who are we? We are a ragtag group of people, some of whom have called Gagauzia their home all of their lives, some of whom have left and then been drawn back. Some are simply passing through due to work, volunteering or other reasons. All of us have our own corner of Gagauzia to show you.

So stay tuned! The first glass of Gagauzian wine is on us.

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