Thursday, April 18, 2013-Travel Day
Left Comox at 11.00 and flew to Calgary. From Calgary we had agreat flight to Amsterdam. All connections were good, so we arrived at Henri Coanda Airport , Bucharest at 4PM on Friday.
Friday, April 19, Day 1
Our bags came through quickly and soon we were on the Viking bus en route to the Radisson Blu, a five star hotel in the centre of downtown Bucharest. We got in at 6PM, freshened up and had dinner with our eye-lids drooping in our gravy. We called Don and Lynore our friends and let them know we had arrived, then hit the sack.
Saturday, April 20, Day 2
We selected and ate from a wonderful breakfast buffet at the hotel. The bus took us at 9AM to a very interesting historic folk village. The buildings had been brought from various parts of Romania and re-assembled in this city park. It was reminiscent of Black Creek Village in Toronto or St. Fagan’s folk museum in Cardiff,Wales.
From the village, we traveled to the Palace of the Parliament, an astounding building. In size, it is second only in area to the Pentagon. It is the third largest building by volume in the world. This building, or rather a microscopic part of it, now houses the Romanian parliament. It was originally commissioned by Nicolae Ceaușescu to suit his ego and to be his palace. He had this building started even as he was starving his people to pay for it. However, he didn’t get to use it as he was executed first.
From the palace, we were taken to see the Church of The Patriarch, a wonderful old church which survived the communist regime.
It had been a full day, and we were dog-tired as we were taken to the ship at 4pm. We had a fine dinner on board with Don and Lynore and other friends we’d made, and were off to bed.
Sunday, April 21, Day 3
Today came as a real shock. Overnight, we’d moved up river to Ruse, in Bulgaria. We were up at 7AM, showered and in to breakfast with Don and Lynore at 7.30 for our tour bus was leaving at 8.30 for a full day out.
The bus left fairly promptly and 2 1/2 hours later we had a coffee and bathroom break at Veliko Tarnovo, a city in a valley farther inland. From there it was on to see the town of Arbanasi and the Church of The Nativity. This wonderful old church dated back to the 1500’s and was full of iconic wall paintings depicting scenes from the life of Christ, biblical stories and images of the saints. In all, there were over 3600 on display and our guide did a marvellous job of showing most of them to us. It was a fascinating stop. We moved on to a local hotel for lunch in Arbabanasi and were entertained by local dancers and musicians in traditional clothing, as we ate. it was a very pleasant experience.
From the little we’ve seen of Romania and Bulgaria, both are battling their ways from communism to democracy. Both have a long way to go, but it was especially sad to see the plight of the Bulgarian people in many of the villages we passed today.
The bus took us back to Veliko Tarnovo for some shopping, but Cynthia and I stayed put in the lounge of a local hotel while others went to see the wares of the locals. The drive back to the ship, which had moved up-river to Nikopol, took two and a half hours and we fought all the way to stay awake. Dinner was served just after 7PM and we enjoyed the company of Don and Lynore, along with Jim and Diane, a couple from San Francisco.
(Folks, I am trying to upload ALL pics taken to my on-line site at Google. When it is complete, I’ll include a link, Goodbye for now and God bless.)