Friday, August 22, 2014


We eventually docked at the Bulgarian city of Ruse and departed for the ancient city of Veliko Tarniva, Bulgaria's former capital.  

So much of what I learned in World History and Geography just isn't anymore.  It gets a bit confusing and you can only imagine the upheaval for the citizens of the area with the constant turmoil. 

We stopped for lunch at a typical Bulgarian restaurant for a native dish of Kavarma, sort of chicken stew.  It was quite good.

Our next stop was the village of Arbanassi which was built with extensive fortifications to protect its citizens.  Again, my photos are on my camera!  

I am glad we started our trip in the east and are moving west.  Conditions under communust rule seemed to be harshest the further east that you were.  Things are improving each day in the local cities and villages.  Observing the aftermath of 50 years of this rule and the last 25 years trying to recover makes me wonder how anyone can consider socialism as a viable government.  Our program director for instance is a young married man expecting a baby girl at the end of this month.  He lives with his wife, both employed, in a 600 sq. ft. condo.  They never expect to be able to afford a trip to the USA.

All three directors lived only a short time under the communist rule since they are in their late 20s.  They have no trouble making fun of things from the communist regime such as a restaurant that was supposed to overlook the water but was never finished as shown in this photo taken in Constanza, Romania.

They are quick to point out communist architecture which are the gray concrete boxes.  One such building was constructed four stories high and found to have no plumbing whatsoever.  People had to move in anyway.  Imagine an outhouse for your family four floors down!  Some are in such a state that I incorrectly assumed they were not inhabited.  I was assured many families lived in these ugly buildings.

We traveled on and docked at the city of Viden to visit the Baba Vida fortress.  I learned the Roman garrisons actually made their own bricks, marked with their symbol to build fortifications throughout the early Roman Empire.  It is easy for archeologists to follow a garrison's march through territory as they claimed land for the empire by using these marked building materials.  It has been determined that along the way they discovered round walls withstood cannon fire much better than right angles did as newer construction gave way to this discovery.  A bridge connecting Bulgaria to Romania can be seen in the distance but true to government inefficiency it took one year after its completion for the roads to it to be built so it sat useless for that time.

I will share some photos of life for us on the ship.

Sunrise on the Danube.

A roasted pig at lunch.

Our group at our table for lunch and dinner.

Typical dessert presentation.

The food has been fabulous.  I try things I would never prepare or order at home and so far have not found anything I didn't like.  Some folks ask for "this, but not that" and "can I have" and ask for things not on the menu but I just eat it as listed.  It it one meal out of thousands in my lifetime and I see no reason to make a fuss over one.

Our three program directors in native Bulgarian costumes.  One evening we had a dance company perform for us.  Another night was a dance contest.  You had to guess how many folks would dance to certain songs.  We didn't win but had fun dancing.  I danced once with Ted, once with Steve and we all did the Twist, Chicken Dance and YMCA!

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