“Romania 🇷🇴 ~Old Town in Bucharest”

This Was Great!

After we checked out of our hotel this afternoon, and as I had hoped, we were able to meet up with my friend, Ben, who is from Braşov, but now has a job in Bucharest. Before leaving the city, we all met in Old Town this afternoon in a pedestrian only area. It was so nice to visit, while we enjoyed Iced coffee and lemonade.

I met Ben and his twin brother, Joseph back in 2013, when they were in still in High School. Now, they are no longer teenagers, and have gone on to graduate from University and move on with their lives. You will never meet a nicer young man, then Ben. Thanks Ben for taking the time to meet up with us. We sure love your country!

Back in 2013, I met Ben and his twin brother; the youngest of nine total siblings in his family; all boys! Out of all the students on the train that day; the one my girlfriend and I were also riding (the students were all coming home from their school day) Ben was the only one who spoke some English. He did great, back then, and his English has only improved over the years. We managed to share social media accounts and stayed in touch. What fun to see each other after all these years, and this time I could introduce him to my husband.

beniamin.graur https://instagram.com/beniamin.graur?igshid=11ga5ere5rb3a

We enjoyed our time visiting so much, we stayed for quite awhile. We also got to walk around and take a few more photos of Bucharest; which is a beautiful city. We realised, after we got under way to head for the border; back to Bulgaria, we still had Romanian money we could not exchange, because of it being Sunday. So, we are at a border town called Giurgiu; nothing fancy, on the Romanian side of the Danube, and are spending one more night; using up our cash for the hotel and filling up the truck with diesel, and a stop at the grocery store for a few items. We have a little apartment, with good WIFI and A/C

So now, the plan is to focus on crossing the border tomorrow (if all goes well) back in to Bulgaria.

The Cismigiu Hotel. What a lovely stay in Old Town Bucharest!

“Romania 🇷🇴 ~Rock Sculpture of Decebulas near Dubova along the Danube River”

We completed our time in the North and Central Regions of Romania, and this was the day we drove back down South. One more thing to check out along the Danube River, near the Iron Gate, from the Romania side, and then it was back to Bucharest for us, and planning our departure from Romania, to get back into Bulgaria.

This stone face is over 131 feet tall, and overlooks the Danube River on a rocky outcrop near the Iron Gates, which form the border between Romania and Serbia.
This relief is the tallest rock sculpture in Europe and it took ten years; from 1994 to 2004, for a team of 12 sculptors to complete.

Decebal ~ “Decebalus the Brave One” was the last king of Dacia. He was also one of the mightiest rulers of this Ancient Kingdom.
After reuniting fragmented Dacian tribes, he fought three wars against two Roman emperors, before finally succumbing to the power of Rome in 106.
The national identity of modern Romania is still firmly rooted in its ancient Dacian heritage. This monumental stone portrait of Decebal is the brainchild of Iosif Constantin Dragan, a businessman and historian. It’s situated on the Romanian side of Danube, opposite the Tabula Traiana; a memorial to the Roman conquest of Dacia.

The inscription on the statue is, somewhat ironic, though. It is written in Latin, which is the language introduced to Romania by Decebal’s enemies. It reads:
DECEBALUS REX – DRAGAN FECIT,” which translates to “The King Decebalus – Made by Dragan.”

Our Balkan Peninsula road-trip is not complete, yet, as we want to finish exploring Bulgaria, since we had departed from there, after only three nights, on a whim, to go to Romania.

“A Rolling Stone Collects no Moss”

Just for fun, the hearts show how busy we’ve been, since June. Greece is not included with the stops, since there were to many and it coveted the map up!

This area along the Danube River, is quite pretty, and apparently a popular touristy place. There is a beautiful canyon area to drive through, along the River, but we have seen plenty of canyons on this Balkins trip, already. There were many hotels and restaurants along this Danube River area, but nothing was available for the night. We stopped at many, so the locals are still vacationing, at least the ones without children, or very young children, who are not in school, yet. The prices are very steep for this area, for a stay, anyway, so we moved on, after we got our photos. It was still light out, but we had no idea how far we would have to go to find a room! We grabbed a light dinner, and kept driving. This was the closest we came, to having to sleep in the truck! But, at least in this bigger vehicle, we would actually have more room, if it came down to it. At dark, we finally found a hotel that wasn’t closed, along the busy highway. We were traveling North to South on this day, then East towards Bucharest. The hotel was cheap, but clean, and we grabbed it. We were two of only a few people there. No A/C, no food, no WIFI, and only warm showers, but I was so tired after driving for seven hours, I really didn’t care. We slept good, and felt refreshed the next day.

The mighty Danube River, as seen from the Romania side
This canyon drive would be very worthwhile, from the little bit we were one it. It was getting late, and we still had to find a room. We have enjoyed many canyon drives in the Balkans since arriving, months ago.
This is a bridge, where the Canyon drive begins, and it is also where the Stone Face can be seen the best from, when not in a boat
Another interesting thing about the statue is that it has never been completed. What can be seen, today, is just 70% of the original plan, and for some reason work on it has not continued since 2004. But even so, it looks great and very impressive..

I did find some information on why, in part, the work stopped on the sculpture; Dragan died in 2008, so I think that there were many reasons involved, in why the work stopped. I read that it was highly political with various interests at stake.
We walked along a dusty road to get another view of the Sculpture
A stone sign, out on the main road, coming in to the Canyon

Currently, we have just spent the night in Bucharest, at the lovely Cismigeu Hotel in Old Town. We got a special COVID rate, as we are only two of three people in the hotel. $70 a night including breakfast. vs $200. Brakfasts were delivered to our room at our chosen time, since the restaurant is closed (city covid rule). We were told we can stay beyond the check-out time of noon, and we might do that. I am just plain tuckered out from spending so much time at night tying to stay up with all the journaling and pictures. I have zero desire to tour around, as we are filled-up once again, and satisfied with this country visit. There are some beautiful old buildings in this capital city I might want to photograph, but we shall see.

We can’t recommend Romania enough!

Here are some random photos from our drive-day

Oh yeah, we also break for Raspberries being sold, along the roadside!

We will relax for the afternoon, and try to meet up with an acquaintance, then try to get back over the Danube River into Bulgaria. We have no idea how that is going to go, but all we can do is give it a try. We do not have a current covid test, as we did, when we entered the first time, but we do have a rental vehicle we must return to Bulgaria.

There is a lovely Main Street here, a d a large park, but we opted for a back room fir the peacefulness and a good nights sleep!

“Romania 🇷🇴 ~Corvin’s Castle in Hunedoara”

This Medieval Castle was a mighty impressive sight to see, as we came around the corner in the town of Hunedoara!

Our goal was to get to the Castle early enough to beat the crowds, which we did pretty good with. BUT, the sun position in the morning did not offer good lighting for very many shots on the outside of the castle, as we were facing the sun for the pictures at the Castle. Later in the day, the sun would be shining directly on the castle, making the photos much better, but the amount of people would be greater, so either way its a challenge for the photographer.

Corvin’s Castle; Hunyad Castle
is found in Hunedoara, and was built in the 14th century, on a cliff above the Zlasti River. It represents, by its greatness, the most important Gothic- style secular building in Transylvania. 

The beautifully preserved structure features a sumptuous Knights’ Hall, an impressive drawbridge, high buttresses, inner courtyards, a chapel and some 50 rooms; some resplendent with medieval art. The castle is a large and imposing building, with tall and colored roof tiles; showing towers, turrets, windows and balconies, with intricate stone carvings.
This unique castle is representative for the 15th century military architecture in Southeast Europe, and it is a special place which shows the social and financial power of the Corvin family. This most spectacular Castle Corvin was built by the Anjou family on the site of a former Roman camp. The Castle served as a Fortress until the mid-14th century when it became the residence of Transylvania’s voivode, Iancu de Hunedoara (Ioannes Corvinus in Latin, Hunyadi in Hungarian).
Iancu upgraded the Fortress transforming it into a stunning Transylvania Castle.
Though the Castle was built in Gothic-style, it also has Baroque and Renaissance influences.

Regardless, we enjoyed the visit, and did the best we could with photos, and crowds. Mr Terrific picked this stop, because he read it was the best preserved Castle in in all of Romania. What is a fact is: Corvin Castle is the largest medieval Castle in Transylvania, surpassing in size, even the mysterious Bran Castle and the Royal Peles Castle.

We would wander around the Castle, and climb many levels. The furnishings were sparsely laid out, but then again, it is an enormous Castle, which includes a Palace, so filling it up would take many, many relics. It was a great visit, and we enjoyed seeing such a magnificent example of Romanias past, where Kins and Queens lived.

The Corvin Castle Well
The castle’s courtyard features a 100-foot well dug through stone, in the 15th century.
Legend says the well was dug by three Turkish prisoners who were promised freedom when their j ob was done.It took them 15 years and 28 days to reach water.

The legend
The well, typical for Fortresses or Castles in the region of Transylvania, is also a famous execution place where Turkish pisoners were killed. The legend stated that the prisoners were promised freedom after they dug the well and found water.

The legend tale goes like this:
“For ten years the Turkish prisoners dug nearly 80 t0 100 feet through stone, to finally reach water, but instead of being released, they were beheaded.”

BUT, before being executed, it is said that one of the prisoners had carved in stone the
following words;
You have water, but you have no soul.”

These are the facts that have been discovered:
1.One of the prisoners, who was in fact the son of a vizier, carved on one of the stones from inside the wall of the well which he dug, together with two other prisoners.
2. Archaeologists have discovered inscriptions on the inside of the well from Turkish prisoners, Colvin’s Castle grounds

NOTE: The backside of the Colvin’s Castle was under renovations, so it was closed-off to visitors. Since we did not see a well on the grounds we were able to wander,, I looked it up and found this photo. It is not mine, but I always like to offer a visual, to go with the story.
This is now my most favorite door of Europe. Look at this old thing!
FACT: On April 13, 1854 a fire caused by lightning have destroyed all the wooden parts of Corvin castle (the roof, wooden beams, stairs, ceilings and doors) except the five-hundred years old door of the dungeon.

Corvin Castle is split into three large areas: The Knight’s Hall, the Dietei’s Hall, and the circular stairways. Each of these three parts are surrounded by both circular and rectangular towers that were used for both defense, and as a prison. 
The elaborate architecture was designed in a rich gothic-style that accentuates the already impressive structure. The castle was kept in regal condition during Hunyadi’s lifetime, but after he died, the castle fell into swift decline.
It was not until the 17th century that there was more interest in restoring this medieval castle. As the restoration work began, the workers redesigned the castle to reflect what they considered a gothic castle should look like, which explains much of its currently fanciful look.

Corvin Castle Kinght’s Hall
Sala Dietei; The Council Hall
The Castle’s Chapel
Built in a Gothic-style in two stages, the last one being finished during the reign of Iancu de Hunedoara.
The entrance door presents some decorations specific to the Renaissance period and the royal coat of arms of Matei Corvin, that is very different from the one used by Iancu of Hunedoara. The background represents a blue field, and on the front, a raven is represented resting on a branch and holding a golden ring in its beak.
With a Gothic ceiling and a Renaissance-inspired entrance, the interior of the church is built in a completely different style. Some say that it’s like a miniature of the Cathedral from Amiens, in France, where the French kings used to be crowned.
The coat of arms of the Corvin family is a raven with a golden ring in its beak, and this family symbol has a legend. It is said that John Hunyadi was the illegitimate son of King Sigismund of Luxemburg and Hungary, and his mother was Elisabeta, a very beautiful woman from the Hateg region. In order not to dishonor her, the king married Elisabeta to one of his knights, Voicu. Sigismund also gave her a ring, as a gift for the unborn child, which will help him be recognized when he will go to the royal court.
 The legend says that during a trip, the family halted for lunch, but when they were not paying attention, a raven stole the ring, attracted by its sheen. That’s when John Hunyadi took a bow and shot the raven in order to get the ring back. When he heard the tale, the King was deeply impressed, so he decided that the family’s symbol will be a raven with a golden ring in its beak. Moreover, the name of the Corvin family comes from the Latin word “Corvus,” which means “Raven.”
The Bethlen Palace Hallway
The Dungeon Borton
The Torture Bastion

Corvin’s Castle is one in the same, where it is told, Vlad the Impaler; also known as Dracul (commonly known as Dracula; courtesy of Bram Stoker’s novel) was held prisoner for seven years, after being deposed in 1462. It is said his stay in prison resulted in his eventual madness. Rumors state, that while waiting for the council to convene, Vlad Tepes went insane because he was able to hear the screams of those who were sentenced to death and then thrown in the “Pit of Scythes” or in the “Pit of lions,” where there were actually hungry bears and wolves waiting to eat any person thrown in.
The Guillotine