Constanta and Bucharest, Romania

     Our last day of sailing was on the Danube-Black Sea Canal. It is a 40 mile canal and work was begun on it in 1949 and not completed until 1987. During the 1950’s the canal was the site of many labor camps in communist Romania and, at any given times, had tens of thousands of political prisoners working on the excavation (estimates are that one million imprisoned Romanians worked on the canal). The primary reason for building the canal was to allow for circumvention of the Danube Delta, which is difficult for ships to navigate.
     We sailed throught the lock system in the canal and then docked at the port of Constanta, on the Black Sea. Constanta, named after the Emperor Constantine, is the oldest continually inhabited city in Romania and rumor has it that Jason and the Argonauts landed here after finding the Golden Fleece. Constanta has recently gained in popularity as a seaside holiday destination as people are currently not traveling to the Ukraine.
     Our first stop in port was the Orthodox Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, also functioning as a monastery. It is a pretty building architecturally and also has some interesting frescoes. Otherwise, not a terrifically fascinating story here. It was a parish church, then a cathedral, back to just a church at one point and then again became a cathedral in 1975 and has remained this way as the seat of the bishop for the Tomis Archdiocese.
Thought this window was gorgeous
The architectural details were cool and every “interior” surface was covered with frescoes, even this outdoor portico has artwork under the arches
Closer view of the frescoes
The frescoes on the exterior walls in the entryway. Look at the bottom, the next photo is a close up. This doesn’t look remotely like artwork that I would connect with a church
This is the close view of the artwork on the lower half of the walls in the portico area. I like it but it doesn’t reconcile as church art for me and seems very out of character from the rest of this church which has the standard religious artwork.
Detail on the door
The interior art is more typical of religious artwork. The brilliant white halos around the heads of the saints crack me up. They appear to glow in the photo as they are so much lighter than the rest of the painting.
The light from the windows messed this one up but you get an idea of how ornate the interior of this cathedral is. And…another screaming white halo
This was the front courtyard of the church. It is in some disrepair but I thought it was lovely. I can only imagine what it looked like in full glory.
Our guide, Ivan, doing his thing. We looked like the dorkiest group of tourists on the planet with these receiver units hanging off of us. I stuffed mine into my purse so only the wire and earpiece was visible, but, as I walked around with a group who all had them around their necks, I’m pretty sure I looked just as bad!

If you aren’t interested in doors and windows, skip the next few. I found myself, again, drawn to these archictectural features and this city has some beautiful and unique ones. A bit the worse for wear but it just makes them more interesting to me.

I can’t sort out if this area has a function or if its simply in disrepair
     The following photos are of the Casino Constanta. Inaugurated in 1910, it was a vacation destination for wealthy travelers. During the Second World War, it operated as a hospital and then was a restaurant during the post war communist regime. It became too expensive to maintain and was closed in 1990. It is a stunning, Art Nouveau building right on the Black Sea. It is unfortunate that it sits empty and decaying. I was dying to see the interior. If it is anything like the exterior, I am sure it is incredible! My photos don’t do it justice. I was too close and there were a ton of people out walking so I didn’t take shots of the entire building because I didn’t like all the people in them.
This window is breathtaking! 
Even the railings were ornate and gorgeous
These windows look out directly onto the Black Sea. Such a shame that we couldn’t go inside
     The next photos are essentially the view fromthe casino of the Black Sea. It was a beautiful sunny day but foggy on the horizon. It makes the tankers out there look eery. Some interesting facts about the Black Sea: over 90% of the deeper Black Sea volume is anoxic (no oxygen) water. This is due to the fact that the deep waters don’t mix with the upper layers that receive oxygen from the atmosphere. Because of this, algae and other things (gets too technical for me at this point) don’t live down there which means that shipwrecks and other organic materials are incredibly well preserved. Additionally, the water level varies greatly so at times the Black Sea is connected to the oceans of the world but at other times it is a basin that operates independently of the world ocean system.
Check out the tankers in the mist
This is the aquarium, I just liked the relief carving


Don’t remember what this sculpture is for, lost mariners or something I think, but I liked it. Lady is a random


There are multiple buildings in Constanta that were started and never finished. Some due to financial difficulties, other to legal and permitting problems

Ok, fair warning, these next photos aren’t very exciting. But, it was a cool thing to visit. They are taken in the Roman Mosiac Edifice in Constanta. It was discovered in 1959 and determined to have been built in the 4th century and continued growing into the 6th. At one point it was the largest building of its kind in the entire Roman Empire. It was a place to trade and store goods on the waterfront. The mosiac hall was were merchants and officials would meet. It has not been well maintained but parts of the floor are still in remarkably good shape.

It was Orthodox Easter so decorated eggs were on the table


I like this graffitti


This is a silly photo but this dessert was a work of art. It is a meringue beehive with a marzipan bee on top


More graffitti that interested me


The beach in Constanta. Apparently people take seaside holidays here…

This is the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest. It is a mind boggling building! Straight out of wikipedia: The Palace is the world’s largest civilian building with an administrative function[3] and the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon in the United States.[3] It is also the most expensive administrative building and heaviest building.[3]

It was built under Ceausesçu and wiped out a large part of the center of the city.  You can’t begin to imagine the size of it. It is connected to another huge building by underground tunnels that trucks can drive through.  It has a portico in front that people can stand on to address the public. Apparently Michael Jackson came and said “hello Budapest” from there. How embarrassing!

This is the Memorial of Rebirth. It was built to commemorate the struggles and victims of the Romanian Revolution in 1989 which overthrew communism. It is located in the square in which Ceauseçu was publicly overthrown. 

These photos are of the lake in Herăstrău Park. It is a large park with a path all the way around the lake. There were beautiful flowers and plantings and many people were walking and biking on the path the day that I visited. It was surrounded by restaurants with outdoor patios. 

Funny story, my parents and I had already parted ways so I went out in Bucharest by myself. I visited this park and wanted to have a glass of wine and talk to strangers. I walked into an attractive restaurant but saw no one at the bar or on the patio. As I was leaving the hostess asked if she could help me. I explained that I was looking to chat with people over a glass of wine and that so I would go look for a more populated venue. A man was just walking out the door and overheard me. He said he was looking for the same thing and would I join him for a drink? We began to chat and he said he left Romania many ago and hadn’t been back. He finally came back for a visit with his mother. He asked where I lived and I said KSA and then asked where he lived and he said he spent the last year in South Florida. I said where in SoFlo and he said he was surprised that I didn’t guess Miami and that I must know the area. I replied that I did and asked again where in SoFlo. When he told me Stewart, I laughed out loud.  What are the chances that I meet a Romanian man, back in Romania for the first time in years, who resides in the town over from where I call home in the states? The world is very small. These moments are the ones that make traveling so special to me. I love to make connections with people, of all walks of life and cultures. I want to read every page of the fascinating book that is our world. 

These boats are restaurants
This is the patio where I had a glass of wine

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