|Trees, gently undulating, chilly - you could be in Moldova.|
Moldova is a small, picturesque (just don't look at the Soviet style city architecture) state between Romania and the Ukraine - allegedly named after a dog belonging to a Medieval prince. The story goes that the Prince had been hunting and at the end of the day his exhausted hound, Molda, drowned in the river - I must find out what this means. More info at wiki here. Just in case you have to do a pub quiz on this country, it's landlocked.
"Everyone wants out"
I've only met one person from Moldova, Anna, a clever and entertaining student. However she didn't rate her home country highly. To illustrate she said that if I went round a school class in Moldova and asked where the students wanted to live or work no one would say "Moldova".
Maybe that's why although it's slightly larger than Belgium, the population is half that of Belgium - 4.4 million with a zero growth rate.
Love the caves
Among the gently hills there are some ancient cave monasteries, such as Old Orhei - in line for World Heritage status. But even when I log on to a Moldovan site,ads pop up asking if I want to find my own "Moldovan beauty queen". I think this is code for wife. One way to leave I guess. A vast number of people in this area were also slaughtered either because they were Jews by Hitler, or later by Stalin. There's a real sadness to this country's history.
So where can we get that same feel in the UK?
Not the lack of people, but the gently wooded, away from the sea, chalky caves? Bingo - how about a Hertfordshire border town like Royston which boasts a cave dating back to the 14th century? See here. Entry times are very limited, and you can only go into the caves on a guided tour (max 18 people) between Easter and September.
Saturdays, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays: 2.30 to 5 pm.
Wednesdays (August only): 2.30 to 5 pm.
Last admission: 4.30 pm.
Once you are back in the open air look for the undulating woodlands and take a walk, perhaps via a pub. there's plenty of good real ale in Hertfordshire.