We arrived in Bucharest Romania after our stopover in Rome. This story begins a few weeks later with a visit to Constanta on the Black Sea (Marea Neagră RO, Чёрное мо́рe RU). In four weeks we traveled a crescent by train and by bus back to the Black Sea. The city headings in this post link to their Wikipedia Entries. There were so many amazing and unique experiences. The best I can do is to provide a few things that I found wonderful and a few photos to capture the taste of the adventure.
Constanta founded 2600 years ago. The roman poet, Ovid was exiled here by emperor Augutus.
We arrived an hour late into Bucharest. After other delays on the metro subway, we were home after four hours. Our daily outings were among the old, the communist, and the new. Last year, I read Olivia Manning’s Balkan Trilogy. As it deals with the expatriate experience in Bucharest during the outbreak of World War II, reading the descriptions again made a strong impact.
Brasov marks the border between the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church. The city center has a strong German atmosphere. Invited by Hungarian Kings, German colonists called the Transylvanian Saxons came to the city in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Less than an hour bus ride from Brasov, this castle was the favorite of the Dowager Queen Marie of Romania. She was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria. More importantly, she held ideas about equality and helping others way ahead of her time.
I booked tickets for the seven hour bus ride online. We waited in the petrol kiosk (gas station) wondering whether this really was the spot and how much delay there might be. The minibus arrived and knew about our reservation, very smoothly. In Iasi, we encountered the Romanian poet and journalist, Mihai Eminescu, again. We had gone by his villa in Bucharest. He reflected his times and the Nationalism of the age. Time to reread Hannah Arendt.
We took a taxi to the Iasi bus depot. An unmarked van had a paper in the window for Chisinau. We bought tickets from the driver. Did I mention it was a bumpy ride? Did I tell you that my iPhone walking app registered 12 km just from bouncing in the back. Pushkin was exiled in Chisinau instead of Siberia. Works he conceived here became the classics defining Russian Literature. He also could get himself into trouble supporting the Greek revolutionaries and wandering around with Gypsies. We toured his house and talked with a high school student, Alexander, who helped translating.
Pushkin was exiled here too, along with many others. We arrived after a six and a half hour bus ride. Isaac Babel called Odessa the “Star of Exile.” It is also famous for the Potemkin Staircase featured in Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. For me, it was the fulfillment of a dream I had 45 years ago: the port, the people, the music, the beach, the sun.
The Final Swim, the Route and the Danube flowing into the Black Sea