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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vacation to Romania-Part II

Bucuresti Train Station

Bridge in Bucuresti

Predeal   Romania

Transylvanian Alps

modern station design

stretching my legs in Brasov

BRASOV in white letters on mtn top

moving onto the central plains 

mountain off in the distance

getting closer

Sibiu  Romania

It's Springtime in Sibiu

story book streets

the roof has eyes

Main Square

Primeria and  Catholic Church

Evangelical Church

Romanian Orthodox Church

medieval town wall

checking for cannon balls

Hermannstadt clock

City Council Tower

view from Council Tower

Liar's Bridge

now tell the truth

Ursuline Church

baptism ceremony in Ursuline Church

returning to Bucuresti

Vacation in Romania, Part II  is all about a train trip to Sibiu, Romania.  We took the train from Bucuresti and it takes six hours to arrive in Sibiu.  As we leave the capital, we pass under a modern suspension style bridge.  About an hour out of  Bucuresti, the train begins to climb.  We are entering the Transylvania Alps.  The mountain peaks are awesome and snow capped.  The woodland forests come right down to our train tracks and rushing streams follow us at times.  As we pass through small villages, we can see gardens and houses.  Between towns we see herds of sheep and cows.  About another two hours and we are entering Brasov, a major city of the area.  I get off the train to stretch my legs here and check out what snacks and beverages are available.   Brasov has a lot of apartment buildings and busy streets.  It sits at the foot of a mountain peak and high up on the mountain top we can see the big white letters spelling BRASOV.  There is a trail there that one can walk up to the top.  But our train only stops for twenty minutes, so not enough time for that.  Now we continue through the mountain plains with the green fields running along our way and the mountains off in the distance.  We have turned west and are heading for Sibiu.  Sibiu was named the cultural capital of Romania in 2007 and is recognized as a World Unesco Site.  It has all the charm of a story book town.  It's culture combines many of the elements of Romania's past connection with the Hapsburg Empire and the Germanic influence.  An old name for Sibiu is Hermannstadt and we still find it on a town clock.  There are ruins of a medieval wall which used to surround the whole city.  The town square is a natural draw to all visitors.  It has many beautiful buildings and churches and towers.  One special place is the "liar's bridge" where it is said that if one would tell a lie on this bridge, it would surely fall down.  The City Council Tower is seven stories high and you can climb to the top.  We did.  It gives an excellent view of the old town center.  There are several museums in the city.  We enjoyed the Burkenthal Museum of European Masters.  Burkenthal was a governor of this area back in 1776 and had a pretty nice palace for a residence and he was a conscious collector of art which he left for the enjoyment of the citizens in Sibiu.   Among other enjoyments, the ice cream cones, placinta, and beer were memorable.  Not to overlook the 1 lei "mocachino" from the vending machine.  After two days, we boarded the train back to our starting point, Bucuresti.   

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Vacation to Romania- Part I

Tulip Restaurant in Chisinau

Train Station in Chisinau

Memorial to the Moldovan Deportees

Old and New

Leaving Chisinau

Sylvia and sleeper car Lux

Lover's Park in Bucaresti

a caravan of dog catchers

got to stay in shape

Spring bouquet

the fallen soldier

Izvor Park with Parliament in background

Romanian super slide

Parliament Palace towers above the trees

the River Dambovita runs through the city

Old elegance

New design

art museum

interesting brick work


Monastery Stavropoleos

cobblestone streets

Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler)

Man and the Wheel of Time

Charles DeGaulle

Good Restaurant

another good restaurant

Arch of Triumph (1918)

Museum of Villages

Metro in Bucharesti

dog park

Romanian Athenaeum  (1888)

Mihai Eminescu

Revival Memorial (1989)

Romania is romantic.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Vacation in Romania, Part I.   This part is all about visiting the capital city of Bucuresti.  English speakers like to drop the last "i" off of the name, but we're going to keep it in for flavor.  We began our vacation with a romantic meal in Chisinau at the Tulip Restaurant which is known for its Thai food.  Our mode of travel was the overnight train from Chisinau to Bucuresti which left at 4 pm and arrived in Bucuresti at 6:30 am.  The picture above shows the Chisinau station and the Monument to Moldovan Deportees that was just unveiled this past year.  It is a reminder of a forced relocation of 300,000  Moldovans to Siberia, Azerbajan and other parts of the Russian Soviet Empire in the 1940's.  As you can see from the train schedule, today Moldovans take the train to Moscow and St Petersburg for many reasons including work, school, and visiting relatives.  

All aboard!  We have a private sleeper car.  When we reach the boarder of Romania, Moldovan customs officers come by to check our passports.  The train also has to change its wheels as the track gage between Moldova and Romania is different!  We cross the boarder and now the Romanian customs officers come by to check our passports.  This whole process takes four hours.  It's just after sunrise when we pull into Bucuresti and we can only check our bags at the hotel.  Our rooms will be available later.  So we go for a walk to a beautiful park.  Spring is in the air.  We come across an army of dog catchers who are beginning their day by purging the park of all stray dogs.  There are flowers, statues, and exercise equipment for us to enjoy.  After a coffee and some apple pie, we walk to Izvor Park which is near the Parliament Palace.  The wonderful play structures at the park completely distract me.  But you can see the Parliament in the background.  I've heard its the 2nd largest government building in the world, right after the US Pentagon.

The River Dambovita flows through the downtown area.  There are elegant old buildings and new modern designs all mixed in with each other.  Museums, churches, cobblestone streets.  A monument to Vlad Tepes, know around these parts as Vlad the Impaler.  His reputation has had some influence on the development of the vampire/dracula legend.  A modern sculpture depicts man caught in the wheel of time.  Another statue recollects the French WWII general Charles DeGaulle.  We visited one or two very nice restaurants in Bucuresti.  The Arch of Triumph dates from the end of WW I (1918).  A park near the arch has an outdoor museum that has homesteads from all around the country showing their distinctive types of design.  I've provided several pictures from there for you.  

Bucuresti has a very user friendly Metro system that helped us get all around.  And yes, they even have doggie parks ("spatiu pentru caini").  While in Bucuresti we saw the new movie "Noe" in 3D at one of the big multiplex theaters.  It was in English with Romanian subtitles.  For more serious entertainment, like the filarmonica, you'll want to go to the Romanian Athenaeum which is a beautiful place built in 1888.  In front there is a statute to the great Romanian poet, Mihai Eminescu.  And it is located on Strada Benjamin Franklin.

The National Revival Memorial is a modern sculpture marking the place of the overthrow and capture of the Communist Dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu who ruled Romania from 1965-1989.

The last park we visited in Bucuresti was the Parcul Carol I.  It is the location of the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier and has an honor guard and eternal flame.  

Romania-Part II is going to be about our trip to Sibiu in Romania.  It's a beautiful train trip through the Transylvanian Alps.