A Travellerspoint blog

April 2019

Ruse, Bulgaria

Ivanovo Chuch


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Ruse, Bulgaria, or Pyce in the Cyrillic alphabet, is just across the Danube from our embarkation port of Giurgiu, Romania. Right away, we can see the differences, especially in the signage, going from the Latin alphabet to the Cyrillic.

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For this first of two stops in Bulgaria, we’ve opted for the “active” shore excursion, hiking up to the rock church of Ivanovo and nearby monastery. It was not as steep or difficult a hike as advertised, in our opinion, but some of the steps were quite steep. The frescoes were quite well preserved and this is one of Bulgaria’s UNESCO sites. Note the “hidden Mickey”, for all you Disney fans ???? and the Last Supper, painted long before Da Vinci’s version.
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Legend has it that the saint associated with this monastery accidentally steps on a nest of eggs, killing the birds. As penance, he walked for three years with no shoe on that foot, as you can see from this statue.
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Our excursion ended with a short walk around Ruse, which we found to be very pretty and clean. Our guide said they didn’t call it clean because it was dusty (likely moreso in the summer), but we meant clean, as in with little or no litter. I was a bit put off by our Guide’s frequent disparaging remarks towards the Gypsy population.
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We learned that Bulgaria was one of two countries (Denmark being the other) that protected their Jewish population during the holocaust.

We’ve been happily meeting our fellow cruisers - mostly Brits, a large group from Louisiana + assorted Americans, a few Aussies and some fellow Canadians. A very good group.

I had a bit of a mishap at dinner, choking on a bit of beef, and had a table mate Heimlich me just enough to dislodge it so I could breath and swallow. That was a bit frightening, but no harm done. I think Steve is going to take some first aid training though ????

Posted by Deb Godley 21:53 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (0)

Embarkation

The last of Bucharest and Emerald Star


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Buffet dinner last night at the Radissom Blu, which was included in the cruise package.

Calling the bar “blah” seems like a bad plan.
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The included tour of the Spring Palance was a nice surprise, with lots of mosaics, which I really like.

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After a bit more touring, we stopped for lunch in old town. We’d hoped to sample a few more local beers at Craft si Draft, but, alas it was still closed for Easter.

After an hour and a half bus ride, we arrived at Giurgiu to embark on our ship. The internet is really slow, so no more pics tonight. We’ve sailed across the Danube to Russe, Bulgaria and will be touring from Rousse tomorrow. We’ve signed up for “active” shore excursions the next two days.

Posted by Deb Godley 10:47 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (0)

Street “art” and parks and eclairs!

Wandering the neighbourhood


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Dana, our illustrious tour guide recommended an interesting walk heading northish from our home base. But first... the best eclairs ever! At French Revolution bakery, that’s what they do - eclairs of all flavours.
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Some of the flavours pictured include: Black Forest, mascarpone and raspberry, mango, mille-feuille, exotic fruits, citron chocolate, chocolate cherries, milk chocolate with nuts

The mango one was our favourite - really excellent mango flavour.

The next stop was the street art at Strada Pictor Arthur Verona - vandals or artists - you decide, including if you look closely, the ubiquitous Aeol, with the stray dogs.

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A couple of beautiful little parks - unfortunately, without the fountain working.
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Kids play the same games all over the world.
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A memorial to victims of communism.
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As I walk by...
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Walking along Strada Dumbrava Rosie, we liked these buildings showing the new and the old, side by side
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And reminded of the learnings from our first tour, the glass porch cover shows the French influence and the three windows represent the trinity.
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Here’s an office building with a window that could be mine - see how they have their project mapped out with sticky notes. 😀
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And of course, we finished off with dinner at the Shift Pub
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Here’s a pic from Steve: taken in Sanaia on Thursday, in the men’s room at the restaurant. Beer kegs have been cut in half, with one half turned into urinals, while the other half are the sinks.
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Posted by Deb Godley 09:25 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

Mostly Beer

Private Beer Tour


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Lazy morning and another beautiful day. The temperature has climbed every day, with yesterday’s high at “feels like” 28. Very nice.

Steve watched hockey all morning, having avoided hearing scores of the previous day’s playoff games. Then we set out to see the beautiful Atheneum theatre and surroundings. Unfortunately, the other sites we’d planned on (in particular, a local handicrafts store) were closed for the orthodox Easter Good Friday.

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We had an ok meal at Boema 33 - I had mixed grill and Steve, pork tenderloin. The meat was good, but I should have asked if the veggies were fresh when I ordered steamed veg, discovering they were from frozen and totally mush. Yuck. The dessert we had at Paul’s later was good, though.

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At 6:30 we met up with Dana again from Urban Adventures, who was accompanied by Misha (sp?) and found that we were once again on a private tour because no one else had booked, perhaps due to Easter. This tour was all about craft beer, plus some additional info about Bucharest.

We stopped three times and tried different beer at each stop, including some lovely dark beer for me 😀
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Along the way we saw the understated Holocaust memorial.
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A refreshing, if not a little tipsy, walk home and were back late and ready for sleep. Dana’s emailed some site suggestions for tomorrow.

Posted by Deb Godley 00:48 Archived in Romania Comments (1)

Peles and Pelisor and the kindness of strangers

Day trip to Sanaia


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Beautiful sunny day. Sanaia is an easy day trip from Bucharest Gara de Nord, a typical stop on the way to the more popular and Dracula-touristy Brasov. We were here to see the two castles - Peles and Pelisor - and the monastery. We had no trouble buying our tickets at the train station, deciding to try 1st class for the assigned seating, (which turned out to be the most uncomfortable seats).

We took a small tourist train up the hill to the castles and found it an easy walk down afterwards. My only complaint about the train was that we waited 15 minutes or so, but it felt like hours to me as the waiting area had loud piped-in children singing (I said it was the same song 20 times or so, but Steve tells me the songs were all different). Drove me nuts.

The exteriors of the castles (Pelisor, which means small castle is the smaller one) show a clear German influence.
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As expected, the interiors were ornate, ostentatious and full of beautiful things that I’m glad I don’t have to dust.
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Two of the secret passage doors
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And an impressive weapon collection
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We had hearty German fare for lunch
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The route back to the train station passed the monastery, where I enjoyed the lovely mosaics.
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Back at the station, we learned the ticket machine was broken (it seemed that you might be able to buy tickets but they wouldn’t print, so not much good. Anyway, we’d had to pay cash for entrance to the castles and it turned out our extra cash was back in Bucharest in Steve’s backpack, so we checked with information and were assured we could buy the tickets on the train with our credit card. We had that confirmed by the train employee on the platform, so we boarded the train and found second class seats (much more comfortable, it turns out).

Of course, as you have likely surmised, we found that there was no POS credit card machine on this train (probably available on the other trains we are told, but this was a “regular” train, so no such luck). Not having enough money, it didn’t help to say we were told we could at the station, and now we were well Away from the station.

Happily, a young couple nearby offered us 20 Lei to cover our shortfall and we paid for our tickets (20 lei = $6.50). Alexandra and Stefan were so kind and, of course we more than repaid them at the ATM upon arrival at Gara de Nord. They tried to refuse the extra, but we convinced them to have a meal on us.

They asked us “why Romania?” as if no one ever comes here. Well, I for one, recommend it. Our dollar goes so far - typically $25-$30 for dinner for 2 with a beer each. The people have all been very nice and we’ve enjoyed the sights of Bucharest. Our week is almost up - embarking on our cruise on Sunday.

Posted by Deb Godley 00:22 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

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