June 2013 Archives

Picture of the Day - Rocket Launch

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We spent the day at an amateur rocket launching event near Brothers in central Oregon. The Portland State U team, led by Elsa's son Andrew Greenberg, had the most sophisticated rocket. The launch was a cliffhanger, but it finally happened, and this is what it looked like from about 1/4 mile away. I was shooting at 10 fps, and the rocket was out of the next frame. I estimate that its initial velocity was about 100 m/s and its acceleration about 10 G.

Tubing on the Deschutes River

In Bend, Oregon. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Picture of the Day

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A few days ago I posted a black and white picture of this sculpture/construction in the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota. This time I was struck by the subtle pink coloring, so I relinquished the square b&w format for the occasion. (click to enlarge)

Valley of Roses

A couple of pretty scenes on the grounds of the rose oil distillery in the Valley of Roses in Bulgaria. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Picture of the Day

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Weisman Art Museum. (click to enlarge)

Crafts in Plovdiv

Weaver and ceramic plates in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Picture of the Day

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Ottoman Influences

In the Old City of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Picture of the Day

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Plovdiv Streets

Click photos to enlarge them.

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Picture of the Day

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Arts in Old Plovdiv

The Old City has some nice sculptures of a violinist and a painter, and a museum across the street with interesting paintings of rural Bulgarian life. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Picture of the Day

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(click to enlarge)

Complementary Colors

On the streets of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Picture of the Day

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Minneapolis: View from the Guthrie Theater "endless bridge" toward the Central Avenue Bridge with the approach to the Stone Arch Bridge in the foreground. (click to enlarge)

Roman Ruins in Plovdiv

In the center of the city. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Picture of the Day

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Nils Hasselmo Hall at the University of Minnesota. (click to enlarge)

Bulgarian Winery

From our visit to the Todoroff winery near Plovdiv. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Picture of the Day

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At the Weisman Art Museum. (click to enlarge)

Bulgarian Graduation Festivities

In Plovdiv, outside our hotel. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Picture of the Day

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(click to enlarge)

Rila Monastery in Bulgaria

The Rila Monastery in the mountains south of Sofia is amazingly large, colorful, and highly decorated inside and out. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Where the monks live


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The church


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The frescoes on the walls and ceiling of the outer corridors of the church are especially noteworthy.

Picture of the Day

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(click to enlarge)

Sofia Churches

Two more church scenes from Sofia, Bulgaria. The first is the exterior of the Old Russian Orthodox Church. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Picture of the Day

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Line, shadow, and texture. (click to enlarge)

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia, and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. Click photos to enlarge them.


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The lion is the symbol of Bulgaria.

Picture of the Day

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Active sky over Minneapolis. (click to enlarge)

Morning in Sofia

A couple of images from the beginning of our trip in Bulgaria. The first is the view from our hotel window toward the west in morning light. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Romanian Faces

A few images that seem to belong together, from our just-concluded tour of Romania. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Brassai was one of the pioneering Hungarian photographers, along with Andre Kertesz, who rose to fame - largely in Paris - between the two world wars. This plaque is on a building across the street from the hotel in which we stayed in Brasov (which was then part of Hungary).


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Eduard Popescu, our guide to Jewish sites in Romania, dressed himself in some props at the National Jewish Theater in Bucharest.


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One of a set of sculptures along the Danube waterfront in Tulcea


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Grillwork on a Tulcea Synagogue door, reminiscent of line drawings of Saul Steinberg (a Romanian Jew) in The New Yorker

Romania: 2013-06-15

Today we flew back in early afternoon to Minnesota from Bucharest via Amsterdam. Our hotel in Bucharest was on a side street near the central square. After breakast we took a stroll around the neighborhood, where I concentrated more on architectural details, street scenes, and grafitti than on the more "touristic" scenes of previous occasions (see the blog for June 3, June 4, and June 12). Click photos to enlarge them.


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Romania: 2013-06-14

This morning we took a boat trip through a small part of the Danube Delta near Tulcea. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Danube delta flooded forest


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Russian fishermen's camp

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We went into a lake fringed by trees in which were roosting many cormorants.


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By happy accident one of the cormorants flew low near our boat, so I got a good "bird in flight" picture.


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In the early afternoon we went to the Synagogue in Tulcea, which is under renovation inside and out.


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We then visited the Old Cemetery, to see if we could find any evidence of Elsa's ancestors -- without success.


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Dr. Solomon Faimblat, President of the Tulcea Jewish Community. He is a professor at the local university, where he teaches engineering, mathematics, computer programming, and basketball.


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Dr. Faimblat with our knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide, Eduard Popescu, outside the cemetery.

Romania: 2013-06-13

Yesterday we drove from Bucharest to Galati, a city on the Danube Delta, to begin our investigation of possible records of Elsa's ancestors in this region. We first went to the synagogue in Galati, a large, handsome building that's in the midst of restoration. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Vic and Elsa with Dr. Sorin Blumer, the President of the Jewish Community of Galati: a very impressive person who is a high-level engineer who has worked on off-shore oil and gas projects around the world.


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Transcribing pages of old birth and death records from handwriting to computer


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After getting some potentially useful information from the Synagogue, we drove to the Jewish Cemetery, where we found a ceremony of Heroes Day in process. Here are two soldiers guarding a monument commemorating the Romanian Jewish soldiers who died in WW II.


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We didn't find the gravestone we were looking for (the older areas are virtually jungle) but we did find some interesting things, including this line of gravestones for soldiers killed in 1917 in WW I. Note the helmet on each monument, and the fresh carnation laid on each grave.


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We then drove to the ferry across the Danube to Tulcea, where we will do some more searching tomorrow. This picture is of the ship-handling cranes on the far side of the river.

Romania: 2013-06-12

Very early this morning we flew from Cluj to Bucharest, where we were met by Eduard, who will serve as our guide and driver for a three-day exploration of Danube delta records and cemeteries for information about my wife's distant relatives. We began with a half-day tour of places and people in Bucharest. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Mr. Solomon Siegel, 88 years old, in the Yeshua Tova (Lubavitscher) Synagogue


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Lobby and concert hall of the Atheneum


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Detail of the Holocaust Memorial


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"The Architect", a scholar who has compiled a major book on the Bucharest synagogues, in the Great Synagogue, which hosts a major exhibition on "Memorial of Jewish Martyrs"


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Marcel, the Production Manager at the National Jewish Theater, in a cafe


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The Tailors' Synagogue, which also hosts the Jewish Museum in Bucharest


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Recently restored exterior of the Coral Synagogue. The interior is still under renovation.

Romania: 2013-06-11


On this last day of our Road Scholar tour of Romania, we visited several places around Cluj-Napoca. Click photos to enlarge them.

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The underground salt mine and amusement park at Turda - truly an amazing place.


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Wine tasting and lunch at a family-run pension and vineyard in Rimetea: the vintner and the good white wines he poured.


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Folk art detail from the nice museum in Rimetea


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Our farewell dinner was in the Tamas Bistro in Savadisla, serving authentic local food. Here goulash is being served from a copper pot over an open flame.


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Our charming Assistant Tour Leader, Orsi, sang us a love song for farewell. She was accompanied by a trio featuring a very good violinist whom Orsi had known in music school and hadn't seen since. A nice coincidence to end a very good trip.

Romania: 2013-06-10

This morning we walked around the streets of Cluj-Napoca. There were lots of historic buildings and grafitti, but for this blog I'm concentrating on pictures of people on the street. Click photos to enlarge them.


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In the late afternoon we had a lecture and discussion about contemporary Romania with a young economist and psychologist:

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For dinner we went to a dinner arranged by the Theodidacticos Foundation, where we were warmly welcomed by the Director (who had hosted Elderhostel/Road Scholar meetings for the past 18 years)

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We had lively discussions with a student:

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and a translator:

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Romania: 2013-06-09

Today was a long drive from Bucovina (Gora Humorului) back to Transylvania (Cluj-Napoca). We stopped at a few places along the way. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Perhaps nobody is more responsible for the "popular" image of Transylvania than Bram Stoker, who patterned his fictional Dracula vampire character after Vlad the Impaler. Stoker's statue is on the grounds of Hotel Castle Dracula in Step Tihuta.


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Fireplace and candlestick in the coffee room of the hotel


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Lunch was in Bistrita, where the ostrich is the town symbol


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An attractive synagogue, though used only for special cultural events


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With a Holocaust memorial in a park across the street


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In the afternoon we stopped in Bontida to view the ruins and restoration work on Banffy Castle. Outside the gate was this horse and cart, still a common conveyance in the Romanian countryside.


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Above are four photos of the Banffy Castle complex.


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After dinner in Cluj we took an evening walk through downtown. Above are a couple of photos from the walk.

Romania: 2013-06-08

Today we used Gura Humorului as a base to visit four of the famous painted monasteries of Bucovina - all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Voronet Monastery. The others looked generally like this from afar.


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Our tour leader, Arpad, lecturing in front of a great mural


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Detail: the saved


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Cemetery of the Voronet Monastery


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Two details from the Moldovita Monastery. The first shows cannons at the siege of Constantinople.


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Ukranian kids competing over the sale of Easter eggs


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Horse and wagon passing a farmstead near the Moldovita Monastery


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Two details from the Sucevita Monastery. Note the grafitti on the top one. Some murals at all the monasteries were similarly afflicted.


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Ceramics workshop


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Abandoned Jewish cemetery on our wqy back to Gura Humorului


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A funeral procession crossed our path near the Humorului Monastery. Note the open casket, with the lid carried behind.


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Exterior and interior from the Humorului Monastery. In the latter, the nearer nun is reading a permitted part of the liturgy, while the other one prays.


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Woman in a window, seen on our evening walk

Romania: 2013-06-07

Today was a long bus ride from Brasov in Transylvania to Gula Humorului in the northern (Bucovina) region of Moldava. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Landscape as we began to cross the Carpathian Mountains, which separate the two Romanian states.


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Ornate gate typical of prosperous village homes in this area


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Holy Mary Church in Simileu. Note the milagros on the wall.


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Window washers at the restaurant in Lacu Rosu (Killer Lake) where we stopped for lunch


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We walked through the enormous Bicaz Gorge, between the second and third Carpathian ranges. This photo shows the scale.


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Fast-flowing river along the road through the gorge


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Furry fir trees thickly lining one side of the gorge


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Dinner at our hotel in Gura Humorului was accompanied by a vigorous and skillful folk music and dance performance.


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Romania: 2013-06-06

A day in Brasov and environs. Click photos to enlarge them.


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View from our hotel window on a rainy morning


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A small church in the forest on the way to Bran Castle (the castle of the fictitious Dracula, used in the movie)


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Spires of a tin-roofed church near Bran Castle


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Tourist (or Chicago Sun-Times reporter?) taking a picture with an iPhone from a window of Bran Castle


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Waiting for entry to the castle


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Bearskin rug


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Dark stairway


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Chimneys on mossy roof on a building near the castle


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In the afternoon we explored the heart of old Brasov. This is the fountain in the center of the city square, with historic buildings in the background.


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Statues on the wall of the cathedral


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The exterior of the synogogue that is still in use. It's in an interior courtyard flanked by other buildings.


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Interior of the synagogue


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The old Guild Hall, now City Hall, framed by a narrow old street


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Exterior of the Greek Orthodox church. Like the synagogue, it is in a courtyard and hidden from the street.


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Iconostasis of the Greek Orthodox church


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Old buildings against a forested hillside that bounded the old city


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Street in the old city


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In an old courtyard/alleyway


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View of the top of the old synagogue, no longer in use, from the hill above the old city, with a clock tower in the background. We were unable to access this synagogue from the street.

Romania: 2013-06-05

Sorry for the gap in blog posting. It turns out that the UM spam filter blocks certain Eastern European sites - but not all of them, fortunately.

Today we drove from Bucharest to Brasov - a large, formerly highly industrialized city under Communist rule - with several interesting stops along the way. Click photos to enlarge them.


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The bartender who made us coffee at a morning bus stop.


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Our main destination en route was Peles Castle, the summer residence of the Romanian royal family. This lady was making and selling lace at one of the shops outside the castle grounds.


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A particularly fierce lion guarding the stairs to the castle.


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In the armor collection


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Balcony in the King's library


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Dining room


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At the head of a stairway


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Statues on the terrace overlooking the gardens


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Railing on the walk down from the castle


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Back on the road, an old tile roof in the late afternoon sunlight


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Statue and poster near the door to our hotel


Romania: 2013-06-04

A packed, interesting day in and near downtown Bucharest. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Near the square where the 1989 revolution took place.


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A small, old church nearby, with modern accoutrements


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Palace of Parliament. The next four pictures are of the grandiose inside of this remarkable building - the second largest and the heaviest in the world.


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View from the balcony of the Palace of Parliament down the "Champs Elysee"


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A downtown establishment


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Lunch at Caru Cu Bere, an old-time classic


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A very good string quartet accompanied our lunch.


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Old downtown buildings with strange attachments


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Prayer in an old church


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In the Open Air Village Museum


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Detail of a shingled church in the Open Air Village Museum

Romania: 2013-06-03

This morning we flew from Sofia, Bulgaria to Bucharest, Romania. We'll be in Romania until June 15. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Leaving the airport, I noticed these reflections in the glass wall of the terminal.


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A Stalinesque building which used to be called "The Palace of the Press" and is now called "The Palace of the Free Press".


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For contrast, a humble hut, glorified by grafitti, in Herastrau Park where our hotel is located.


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The park has a fairly large lake, which provides a pleasant venue for walking, biking...


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... and fishing.

Bulgaria: 2013-06-02

Bulgaria: 2013-06-02

Our last day in Bulgaria, starting the morning in Veliko Tarnovo, driving to Tryavna and then to Etara, and then returning to Sofia, from which we'll fly tomorrow morning to Bucharest, Romania.

Click photos to enlarge them.


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Mist on the hills over Veliko Tarnovo


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One of several excellent grafitti in a stairwell near our hotel in Veliko Tarnovo


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Man enjoying morning coffee in Tryavna


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Tryavna has a fine museum that shows the virtuoso woodcarving tradition of the region, while the grounds outside display contemporary art.


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Announcing recent deaths by necrologs


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Large (ca. three story) mosaic at the entrance to the Etara handicraft park


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Characteristic Etara roof of schist that has become covered with moss


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Vigorously falling water powers the traditional machines in Etara.


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Painter of icons


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Wood stored for the winter

Bulgaria: 2013-06-01

A day in and near Veliko Tarnovo, a picturesque hillside town. Click photos to enlarge them.


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Shadow of a chimney on a tile roof in the early morning sun.


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Wall on the hilltop fortress of Tsarevets


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Door of the Church of the Patriarchate on Tsarevets Hill


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Mural inside the Church of the Patriarchate. A self-portrait of the painter is at the extreme left.


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View down to the town from Tsarevets Hill


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The hall in the Museum of the National Revival, where the First Bulgarian Constitution was adopted in 1879.


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Some of our tour group in the beautifully decorated Nativity Church, dating from the 17th-18th centuries


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Dancers preparing for a folk festival


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Billboard and magazine stand in Veliko Tarnovo


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Old women taking an afternoon break


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Spinning thin noodles for baklava-like dessert


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Ceramics vendor on crafts street in Veliko Tarnovo

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