On Cruising the River Danube: Part 4 of 4

This is the last installment about the cruise we took on the Danube River this past summer. It was a fabulous trip. Besides recommending it, we look forward to our next river cruise (whenever and wherever it may be).

When moving downriver from Germany, changes in socio-economics in easily seen. Especially in Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. However, these countries also offer many wonderful sights to visit. This part travel from Belogradchik to Bucharest

 

Belogradchik, Bulgaria

Located atop the foothills of the Balkan Mountains, Belogradchik is a small town with two unexpected sites: interesting natural rock formations (Belogradchik Rocks) and an ancient fortress built within the rocks (Belogradchik Fortress).

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Cetate, Romania

Describing our several hours in Cetate is difficult. Listening to the poet who was a dissident during Romania’s Communist era was enlightening. To me, the part of Cetate that we saw felt like a commune – but it isn’t. They grow many of their own crops, nurture their own livestock, make wine from their organic groups, and promote their own art. Here’s Cetate’s website.

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Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

We spent the day on a bus trip into Bulgaria from Rousse. As the City of the Tsars, Veliko Tarnovo is home to castle of Bugarian kings. After lunch, we hiked up to the castle for wonderful views of the city and surrounding region.

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Arbanassi, Bulgaria

Located above Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanassi is a village with an old church that has unique frescos. Because photography was not permitted inside the Church of the Nativity of Christ, click here for a link to Google Images search result.

 

Bucharest, Romania

After disembarking the ship in Oltenita, Bucharest is about a 90-minute bus ride. As Romania’s capital and largest city, Bucharest is busy. To me, it’s a big city without much to offer. Sure their is the second largest Parliament building in the world, the Avenue of the Fountains, old palace, and a vibrant Old Town sector, but our highlight was the food tour we took in the evening through a local neighborhood.

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Hope you enjoyed the 4-post trip down the River Danube. I don’t know if I’ll return to Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania, but I’m very glad that I got there at least once.

Previous Posts

Part 1 (Prague to Linz)
Part 2 (Melk to Budapest)
Part 3 (Budapest to Iron Gates Gorge)

On Cruising the River Danube: Part 3 of 4

 Please excuse the interruption, but a beach walk will return next week. 

………..

Because we cruised 75-80% of the Danube, parts 3 and 4 of this series features the lower Danube -downriver from Budapest  through Hungary to Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. This portion of the river is less travelled by river cruisers.

 

Budapest, Hungary

As I mentioned in the previous post, Budapest was our halfway point. We hiked the top of a hill on the Buda side for an awesome view of the city. Visited the nearby Cave Church. The view of Budapest at night is spectacular, and a must-do for visitors.

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Pecs, Hungary

Located about a 40 minute bus ride from our dock in Mochas, Pecs (PAY-ch) is Hungary’s fifth largest city. It’s early Christian necropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the location of interesting archeological excavations.

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Belgrade, Serbia

I recall Belgrade as the capital of Yugoslavia. Although not dominated by the Soviet Union, Marshall Tito had a different view of Communism – so Yugoslavia remained an arm-length from the USSR. Belgrade pleasantly surprised me.

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Donji Milanovac, Serbia

This small town served as a base for the 20-minute bus ride to an archeological site (Lepenski Vir) dating back to 6000 BCE. That’s old! Thought is that the culture worshipped the mountain. Before docking in the town, the ship passed the museum. The actual site is now well below the water level.

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Iron Gates Gorge

The Iron Gates is a spectacular natural beauty separating Romania and Serbia. From the time we entered the region at 7 AM, there’s no better view than from the ship’s top deck. For me, this region served as one of my top highlights of the trip.

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Previous Posts

  • Part 1 (Prague to Linz)
  • Part 2 (Melk to Budapest)

On Tidbits of a Conflict

Embed from Getty Images

 

As part of the old Austria-Hungary (which lost WW1), Yugoslavia (“Land of the Southern Slavs”) formed in 1918 as a union of multiple republics. After WW2, Communism came to Yugoslavia. During his 30+ year resign, Josip Tito held the republics together. In the years following his death in 1980, the union began to crumble.

In 1984, the world learned about Sarajevo, the host of the 1984 Winter Olympics. From 1992 to 1996, a bombing siege destroyed many of the Olympic facilities. It was during this time, we watched the news to hear unfamiliar names and places.

Most of us probably knew little about names like Milan Martić and Slobodan Milošević and places as Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, and more. Besides, we probably didn’t know enough to understand what happening.

The conflict in the mid-1990s is known by a variety of names – most depending on one’s perspective – The Croatian War of Independence, the Homeland War, the Greater-Serbian Aggression, the Patriotic War, the War in Croatia, the Conflict in Yugoslavia, and I’m confidence there are more.

A conflict involving Communism and democracy – centralization and decentralization – nationalism and ethnicity – Christians and Muslims – the battle for power and control.

A five-year battle involving over 20,000 killed from battle and genocide, 500,000 refugees, 200,000 displacements, 180,000 housing units destroyed, severely damaged infrastructure, and a crippled economy.

The tour took a side-trip into a small town that where we could see some physical effects remaining today – bombed buildings (some being restored, others not). Houses with numerous bullet holes while their neighbors were bullet free. A small park with military equipment.

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From what we’ve seen and heard from others Croatia is a beautiful country and a wonderful place to visit. Yet, our relatively recent memory reminds us of a time that wasn’t that long ago.