Constanta is Europe’s 4th largest port as well as Romania’s oldest city. The nearby Danube Delta has been recognized as a world heritage site by Unesco. For our time ashore we did an excursion to Bucharest, the capital of Romania. Romania was described by the tour guide as plains, hills and mountains. The plains extend from the Black Sea coast inland to around Bucharest, after which it starts to get hilly. Much further inland in the area of Transylvania you encounter the mountains. Half way between Constanta and Bucharest you can see the five domed towers of the Cernavoda Nuclear Facility, a Candu Reactor plant built by Canadians along the Danube River.
Bucharest is sometimes called the ‘Little Paris of the East’ because of the French influence with the architecture, the tree-lined boulevard similar to Paris’ Champs-Elysees and there is even an Arch of Triumph. There is a definite contrast of architectural styles between the 19th century buildings and the drab, gray blocks put up during the Russian occupation.
The ‘House of the People’ was meant to be the seat of the communist regime in Bucharest, but was never completely finished before Romania embraced democracy. Rather than destroy the symbol of Russian Communism it was finished to become the Palace of Parliament. The palace is the world’s second largest civil-administraive structure after the U.S. Pentagon. It is built entirely with materials and products from Romania, including marble, cherry and walnut paneling, crystal chandeliers, and hand-woven tapestries, carpets and draperies.
We had lunch in a very crowded restaurant, even though it was after 2pm, in a beer hall bistro in one of the old buildings in downtown Bucharest. We were entertained by dancers in period costume and also live music provided by a duo on violin and keyboard. The luncheon special was Hungarian Goulash.
After that it was back on the bus and the three hour drive back to Constanta where the Constellation was waiting for us.