Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 5, to Peles Castle and Brasov overnight, first leg to Baia Mare

The Kolping Hotel in Brasov sits on the hillside above the city and will forever be a family story because of the bear who greeted us when we returned from dinner. He'd found a garbage can with a loose lid, and was having fun in the driveway when our car pulled up. It created huge excitement, not only from Christie & Andrei, but Louis, too, who'd never seen a bear close-up and outside a zoo. I had memories of the Great Smoky Mountains when Mom & Dad would cringe at the way people put their little kids next to the roadside bears for photo opportunities.

View from our room

Walking down into the old city

Brasov's famous Black Church got its name from the black appearance after the great fire of 1689. The church was started in 1385 for the German Saxons who settled here early on. Today, it's a German-speaking Lutheran community church. In ancient times, local merchants started bringing back Turkish prayer rugs (Muslim) to decorate their homes and church. It's gorgeous.

old town gate (entrance in the original fortification walls) to Brasov

Old Town Hall at the Central Plaza-Brasov

Ice Cream lunch to celebrate Alina's birthday

Peles Castle near Sinaia

Our first stop on the journey north to eventually reach Baia Mare, Alina's home (12 hours north of Bucharest), was Peles Castle. Really a palace more than a castle, it was built by King Carol I, the first king of a united Romania in the 19th century . It's in a gorgeous mountain setting near Sinaia.

Why do dandelions have these feathery, silky seed pods?

Chuck and Andrei

June 4, 2008 Bucharest

After a relaxing morning of laundry and lunch of leftovers at the Vernon's apt. (after Christie & Andrei had gone to school), we met Alina at her office in the center of the city for a couple of quick museum visits, dinner at a bistro behind the museum/memorial to Enescu (Romania's most famous composer/violinist), then The Barber of Seville at the National Opera House. A terrific day.

Fantastic performance of The Barber of Seville, for 1/10th the price it would be at home

National Opera House

early supper at Bistro Athenu behind the Enescu memorial and before the opera

Enescu (violinist & composer) house/memorial (his wife was rich!)

Athaneum with topiary in front