Monday, May 24, 2010

The culmination of my trip.....

Arriving in Budapest at night...a really wonderful experience, all of us up on deck, with cameras flashing, Blue Danuby sort of music playing, etc.....
This will be my last blog from the ship. It seems appropriate that I have at last learned to get the heading at the top of all my pictures. This computer is Hungarian, and has been one of the easiest to handle, but it's been a challenge for me to get the blog done. So.....goodbye for now. next post London, assuming the ash cloud lets me in.

The Chain Bridge...

The view from our night

The Parliament building - on the Pest side

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My last day on board.......

How am I going to give up this life of swanning around in luxury????? We are not only brought fresh towels every day, today'sarrived in the shape of a swan!!!!!
Tonight we arrive at Budapest, and tomorrow I am taken to a hotel for 2 nights, and Lucy arrives at the ship, to carry on with Nancie to Amsterdam. We had hoped to be able to get around Budapest together, but it seems we on shore are on a completely different bus and tour.

Faith in the former Eastern Bloc.....

We came across this scene at an Orthodox Church, in Constanta, a Romanian Black Sea port. These young men are all candidates for ordination (despite the fact that some of them looked a bit like spivs to us!!) Our guide, Coco (!) told us that about 60% plus Romanians are Orthodox. Her grandfather had been a priest but was forced, during the Communist era, to choose between going to gaol or taking a factory job. He chose the latter, but a lot of them, such as Petre Tutea, went to gaol.

I have been amazed at the knowledge of some of our guides in relation to faith. The Serbian one, Liliana, carefully explained to us the theological differences between the Catholic and Orthodox faiths - you know, whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from God....... I'm afraid I don't exactly remember the distinction!! Also, the Christians in Belgrade are painstakingly re-building their Cathedral. While we went through, there was beautiful singing from the choir, and Nancie and I both bought a little CD of it.

This is the 'best' room of a Hungarian peasant cottage, painted 100 years ago.

Fantastic horsemanship...

He's holding the reins of 8 horses and standing on the back 2.

Nancie and 2 friends, Judy and MA at the Puszta

There was an accident amongst our party while we were there, and 2 older gentlemen were hurled to the ground when the horses stampeded - one was taken to hospital.

A morning on a Hungarian Puszta horse farm.......

This farm was on the edge of the Great Hungarian Plain

War Tourism, Vukovar, Croatia.22/5/2010

Vukovar was almost completely destroyed by the Yugoslav (mostly Serbian) Army, under Milosevic, in 1991.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beautiful little Novi Sad, in northern Serbia.

The influences here were more Austro-Hungarian than Ottoman

Serbian Dancers, on board ship....

More beautiful orthodox mosaics in Belgrade...


Our guides tended to revere Tito still, remembering fondly things like the strange baton gift ceremonies which he instituted on his birthday every year, when a young person would be chosen to give him a baton. We saw a museum full of them.

Buildings inBelgrade bombed by NATO, 1999

Buildings were bombed during the bombardments over the Kosovo crisis, but no bridges, as the people crowded onto them, knowing that the NATO forces wouldn't want to kill them. We were told this by people in Novi Sad, where all 3 bridges were bombed.

Belgrade, Serbia....

Bulgaria, the poor cousin.....

This sort of Communist era housing is very common in Bulgaria.

SomeBalkan Cities.....

Ceaucescu wanted Bucharest to be more Parisian than Paris, so he made the boulevards wider. But it really does feel as elegant as Paris,if only in the city centre.


Friday, May 21, 2010


Iron Gates

One of the highlights of this tour has been our trip through Iron Gates, where the Danube narrows and passes between the Carpathian Mts which tower above on the Rumanian side, and the Balkan Mts on the Serbian side.

A Priest in a tiny Orthodox Church, right at the narrowest point, blessed us as we sailed past. On the ship, Vangelis' music from the film "1492" was played, very majestically and appropriately.

We had a BBQ on the upper deck, as we passed through - very, very cold.

Our Cabin: 101


Arriving at our ship: Scenic Sapphire

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Arbanassi Church of the Nativity

This was the most wonderful thing we saw in Bulgaria. A beautifully decorated little Church, hidden away in a barn-like building, so that the Ottoman Turks couldn't find them and destroy them.

Ceaucescu's New Palace

You can see the chairs for the AC/DC concert which was on in front of the palace, the night we were in Bucharest, just near our hotel.

We used to see Caeucescu and his wife Elena on this balcony,on the TV news, trying to placate the revolutionary crowds in 1989. Eventually they escaped from this roof into a helicopter, but were caught in a nearby town, and tried and executed by the people.
The very large palace is the one he had built. It was only finished years after his death, at enormous cost, so he never got to appear on the balcony. First to appear there was Michael Jackson, who made the terrible mistake of saying Hello Budapest, instead of Hello Bucharest.
We also saw ads for Paul Anka, whom our young guide, Coco, had never heard of, so nancie and I and a couple of others performed "Diana" for her, in the bus!!!



Me at Bran Castle, Transylvania

Me at Bran Castle

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nancie's Photos

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Patriarch's Church

The singing here - 4 part harmony - was very beautiful. I was last back to the bus - couldn't drag myself away

Patriarch's Church, Bucharest

beautiful interior

Bran Castle

Bran Castle, Transylvania

This was a Crusader fortress, but has been poularised as Dracula's Castle. Apparently the locals knew nothing about Dracula until the Hollywood movie.

Into the Balkans

Special hello to David Nicholas from Bamma, in Rousse, on the Bulgarian/Rumanian border. Sorry I look so scarey!!!!

Nancie and I at Lone Pine

Poignant Headstones -

Some Diggers died at only 17 years old


Me at Anzac Cove

I thought this was going to be Schliemann's Trench. Is it?? Not sure. he discovered the site of ancient Troy by reading his Homer, but he messed it all up a bit when he got there. He had asked his father when a boy where Troy was, and Father said we don't know, which motivated his search.

The base of this wall dates back to Homer's Troy: about 2500BC.

Ancient Troy

This is of course a very modern replica. Scholars now believe it was a war engine, not a wooden horse with Greeks hidden in it.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Troy and Gallıpollı

We are now ın Cannakale on the Dardanelles very near Hellespont. Yesterday we vısıted the archeologıcal sıte of Troy whıch has 10 levels. The oldest from 2960BC. There ıs a huge wooden horse recently recreated there but sadly both our guıde and our hıstorıan threw cold water on the whole Trojan horse story. Nevertheless I am keen to read Homer when I get back plus all my Barbara Nadel books set ın Istanbul now that I know the cıty so well.

If thıs prose sounds breathless ıts because there are no commas on thıs keyboard. Also I canşt do pıctures tonıght. We are ın the provınces here and the computers are antıquated.

Today we went over the Dardanelles agaın on the car ferry - ferıbot- to the Gallıpollı Penınsula. We drove to Anzac Cove Lone Pıne and the sıtes of great Turkısh losses too. I hadnt realızed that Gallıpollı was where Attaturk rose to fame. He came across Turks fleeıng from the Allıes and made them face the enemy agaın even though they had no ammunıtıon. He saıd: Im not askıng you to fıght. Im askıng you to dıe. And they dıd and the Turkısh lınes held. We were all very teary when our Armenıan guıde read out Attaturks beautıful trıbute to the young Allıed men burıed on Turkısh soıl but we laughed too when he talked of theır Mothers boesoms rather than bosoms!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Buyıng Turkısh carpets and kılıms

Clımbıng to the gallery at Haggıa Sophıa

Gold mosaıcs @ Haggıa Sophıa

More Haggıa Sophıa

Haggıa Sophıa

Can you belıeve that thıs Church was buılt ın 531 AD. It ıs ımmense and very beautıful and ıts engıneerıng so clever that ıt was saıd angels held ıt up. It ıs the fırst domed basılıca ever buılt. The Emperor Justınıan swept ın ın hıs grandeur for the fırst Mass, and was heard to mutter that he had bettered Solomon. It was made ınto a Mosque after the Turkısh ınvasıon around 1500. Then Ataturk made ıt ınto a museum ın about 1930. They cleaned off all the whıtewash wıth whıch the Turks had covered the Chrıstıan mosaıcs and found ıt had ın fact meant they were well preserved.

Old Ottoman homes - Yalı


Topkapı Palace

Where the Sultan chılles out from hıs arduous dutıes. There,s somethıng very unlıkeable about those Ottomans, wıth theır eunuchs and murderous hıstory.