Tag Archives: Moldexpo

Travel Fair

If you haven’t planned your summer vacation yet, how about a trip to Macedonia, Ukraine or Bulgaria?

IMG_3612Not for you? Well, then maybe someplace here in Moldova: to see crafts in Nisporeni, a beautiful mansion in Hîncești or the castle in Soroca?

All of these destinations had booths at a travel fair Champa and I attended on Saturday at the MoldExpo convention center in Chișinău. There was also information about destinations more familiar to American travelers, such as Greece, Israel and Hungary. But most were places you’ve probably never heard of, much less considered visiting.

IMG_3673In other words, it was our kind of travel fair. We went there to gather information for a trip we hope to take at the end of 2017 to Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania. But we were also curious to see what the travel industry looks like in this part of the world. I’ve also been working with several other Peace Corps volunteers on a project to highlight the importance of friendly customer service and online marketing for Moldovan travel destinations.


Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey had some of the biggest exhibits at this weekend’s fair. All are popular among Moldovans who have the means and interest to travel. Moldovan national travel organizations and companies had exhibits, too, as did some of its 37 raions, or districts. There was a small booth for Georgia, where an enthusiastic guy told us about that country’s hiking, food scene and night life in Tbilisi. We also picked up brochures for everything from holidays in Montenegro to the painted monasteries of Bucovina, Romania.

My favorite booth was for the Slovak Republic, where I recognized the man in a casual shirt and blue jeans who was laying out brochures and pouring free beer. It was Robert Kirnág, the Slovak ambassador to Moldova, who I met last month at a ceremony to launch a water project.


I said hello and he thanked me for the the article I wrote about the  project, which his embassy posted on its website. We chatted and posed for the photo you see here of him with Champa, me and our friend Denise, a Peace Corps volunteer from California who is working with me on our tourism project. He also told us more about Slovakia, which we now plan to visit if only because we like its ambassador so much.

Champa’s favorite moment was learning to paint an egg in the traditional style of Romania, which we’re visiting in one week. In my next post, I’ll show you what she created.

Fashion Show

Models strutted, judges scribbled and photographers clicked away on Friday afternoon as Champa and I attended a Moldovan fashion show to cheer for an aspiring designer we know. Ludmila Cotelea-Condrea’s latest collection featured painted blouses and leather skirts, as shown here:

Her husband, Igor, with whom I work at the Consiliul Raional in Ialoveni, watched anxiously from the end of the runway as each model walked before the judges on either side. img_1327(That’s him in the photo.) Beside him was another friend, filming the event. Ludmila remained backstage until her collection, “Autumn Dream,” was finished, then appeared with one of the models to receive a bouquet of flowers and walk the runway to applause.

She was among a series of young designers showing their work at a 4-day Fashion Expo at MoldExpo, Chisinau’s convention center. Just beyond the runway were booths where local companies displayed their dresses, lingerie, handbags and other wares. There were also booths offering sewing machines, design software and other products for the industry, as well as models handing out advertisements.


According to one recent estimate, more than 25,000 people in Moldova are employed in the production of textiles, apparel, footwear and leather goods. Many of them are doing traditional work in villages, but more than 30 Moldovan companies now export to international markets. As I observed previously, small factories are springing up across the country, including one near Champa’s school. USAID and others have been supporting these efforts, as have several Peace Corps volunteers.


Champa and I never expected to attend our first fashion show when we signed up for the Peace Corps. It’s not exactly what we anticipated when we became “not exactly retired.” But we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, admiring anew how local traditions intersect with modern aspirations here.

Ludmila was among the winners of the competition. If anyone reading this post has a connection to Anna Wintour, feel free to tell her that Ludmila speaks English and will be happy to take Anna’s call.