September 11th, 2006 – by: nonna
We're on a bus but I'm not too sure where we were going. We are happy about it however.
This is the second internet cafe in Constanta I've tried to download my blog into . . . nobody takes memory sticks so the blog will be slightly delayed untill we reach a larger city. However, Trish, Diz, my husband and I are having a great time. Who knew that Eastern Europe had such an energetic spirit and good food? I think we have been testing both. Monday was spent in Bucharest and in the evening we boarded our ship to travel to the Black Sea port of Constanta.
City tour of Bucharest, including a visit to the People’s Palace: transfer to Oltenita, Romania and board ship - depart 7:00 pm. Welcome briefing onboard.
I didn’t know what to expect here.
Church of Patriarchial Palace in Bucharest
is the heart of what I considered Communist Eastern Europe and I had pictured it in grainy black and white, full of large square cement buildings.
Such buildings are around but even they are better looking than expected.
Romania is recovering from what they call the “Red Plague”. The country came under Russian control after WWII and had a dictator, Nicholae Ceausescu who was overthrown and executed in 1989. Many Romanians were killed in this revolution especially in the capital city of Bucharest. The deprivations they suffered under Ceasescu (including not having enough to eat while the government was building huge civic projects to impress the world) plus the horror of having people fighting in the streets have marked them.
Everyone I talked to welcomed the opportunity to talk about the improvements they have made in 16 short years, and their hope for the future development of their country.
Joining the European Union in January 2007 is a major topic (if a bit unlikely).
We had a short tour of the city and then visited the People’s Palace, now the Parliament. The Romanians seem to have mixed feelings about this building, the second largest in the world and made entirely of Romanian products by Romanian craftsman. They are proud of having produced such a beautiful building (and it is beautiful - a far cry from the Socialist Realism that I’d expected) but disgusted by the waste of effort to produce something not terribly useful. Ceasescu had had it built to glorify his regime and to impress the world. Since ordinary Romanians were not allowed to enter “The People’s Palace”, there was more than a little irony in the name.
Romanian folk muscians
Next we went to an old Eastern Orthodox Church complex called the Patriarchal Palace. All of this occurred before lunch which was in a café in one of the city parks. A local dance and music troupe entertained us.
We took a bus through the countryside to reach the Danube and our boat. There were horse-drawn carts and small trucks sharing the road with us which went thru an area of small farms. There was definitely a caste system where larger traffic made its own rules and tour buses trumped everything else. There is no such thing as a no-passing zone for a bus; everybody gets out of your way.
By now we were all really tired so we had dinner (the food is way too good and is going to create a growth problem I won’t worry about until I get home), toured the ship (lovely) and went to our cabins (very comfortable). By tomorrow morning we’ll be in Constanta, Romania on the Black Sea.