Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bulgaria and the Black Sea

Today Varna is the largest city on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast and is the main port for both naval and commercial shipping.

The sea was a beautiful deep greenish blue but so cold.
The Black Sea ows its name to the low level of salinity that encourages the growth of micro-algae and darkens the deep blue of the water.

Topless was the norm.

It was fun to stroll through the streets and parks that boast many statues. I couldn't read the Slavic letters and the Bulgarian language, so I just admired the scenery.

The city’s structure resembles an amphitheatre as it follows the curves of the Bay of Varna. It is surrounded by gardens, vineyards and groves.

Varna’s origins go back to almost five millennia. The modern city is both a shipyard and port for incoming freighters and the navy, and a riviera town visited by tourists of every nationality.
Cathedral of the Assumption built around1880,
with golden domes, stained glasses and modern wall-paintings

It’s a cosmopolitan place and a nice one to scroll through: Baroque, turn-of-the-century and contemporary architecture pleasantly blended with shady promenades and a handsome seaside garden.

A venus with a strange pose in the middle of a park.

Near the port of Varna, the oldest gold treasure in the world (dated from 4,500 BC) was found In 1972; an ancient necropolis with 280 tombs and 3,010 golden objects were found weighing over 6 kg altogether. According to experts it is the oldest processed gold ever found in Europe.

The museum where we admired a large collection of gold coins discovered in or near the Black Sea.
During occupation by Turkish forces in the last decades of the 14th century, Varna preserved its significance as a port and trade center. As Bulgaria fell under the Ottoman yoke, the only bearers of the Bulgarian cultural tradition remained within the folklore, the people’s festivities, and the church paintings.

The brothers who liberated Varna from the Turkish domination in 1878

We stopped at a pirate ship for lunch and enjoyed a gorgeous view of the Black Sea.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with passion.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Romania, the vampires' country

Cruising along the blue Danube that was brownish green.
Apparently you can see it blue only when you are in love.
We flew to Bucharest three weeks ago to start a cruise along the Danube River. Our ship looked more like a renovated barge than an ocean cruise liner.

King Carol I of Romania who liberated the country from the Ottoman Empire in 1878
Bucharest, capital of Romania—the vampires' country— was first mentioned in documents as early as 1459. Since then it has gone through a variety of changes, becoming the state capital of Romania in 1862 and steadily consolidating its position as the centre of the Romanian mass media, culture and arts. 
This statue represents the collapse of the communist regime.
Bucharest's eclectic architecture is a mix of historical, Communist-era and modern.

A Russian Orthodox church from 1500
In the period between the two World Wars, the city's elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of Little Paris.

Although many buildings and districts in the historic centre were damaged or destroyed by war, earthquakes and Nicolae Ceaușescu's program of systematization, many survived. In recent years, the city has been experiencing an economic and cultural boom.

The Parliament built by Ceaușescu and finished after his death has never been used.
According to July 1, 2010 official estimates, Bucharest has a population of 2.15 million people.

Some say that Transylvania sits on one of Earth's strongest magnetic fields and its people have extra-sensory perception. Vampires are believed to hang around crossroads on St. George's Day, April 23, and the eve of St. Andrew, November 29. The area is also home to Bram Stoker's Dracula, and it's easy to get caught up in the tale while driving along winding roads through dense, dark, ancient forests and over mountain passes.

The newly published Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies: Compendium Monstrum allows readers to get acquainted with the attractions of the Romanian region of Transylvania from a 19th-century perspective.

I highly recommend THE WOLF'S TORMENT by Stephanie Burkhart. This paranormal fantasy is set in Romania and Bulgaria. I read it while visiting these two countries and highly enjoyed the plot and fabulous characters.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Airport security

I travel a lot and have to go to the airport two hours in advance to pass security check. Open the laptop, take off jackets, shoes, belts, watches, any jewelries, and stand legs apart in front of an x-ray machine. What next??

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 11, 2001: 911

Yesterday was a day of remembrance and prayers. In my family, it was a day to give thanks to God for sparing my uncle and my cousin—his nephew.

On September 11, 2001, my cousin Alex, a twenty-five years old accountant was cursing himself for staying up late the night before, ignoring his alarm while still dozing and missing his train from Long Island to Manhattan. His Mom had just arrived the night before and the whole family was celebrating her visit with a special dinner.

Alex took the next train and worried during the whole trip about what his boss would say. It was his first job after graduating with an MBA, a nice position as accountant in a firm on the 18th floor of the World Trade Center.

The train stopped for 20 minutes at the previous station and then zoomed without stopping for the next four stations. Alex and the passengers couldn’t understand why. They were told to evacuate the train and walk. While walking toward the World Trade Center, Alex saw the smoke and fumes darkening the sky. People were running in all directions. Someone told him about the attack. He tried to walk away, toward his home. From 9:30 am to 5 pm he roamed in the streets, not knowing how to find transportation and reach home. By 4 pm he finally found someone who agreed to let him use a cellular phone and he called home.

His mother had seen the attack on TV and collapsed thinking her son dead. The whole family gathered around her, supporting and comforting her with words of hope, as she screamed, prayed, cried for hours, until she heard my cousin’s voice on the phone.

That same day, my uncle, a VP in a contracting firm was meeting with important clients in the company’s office on the 80th floor of the World Trade Center. A man in his sixties, he often had health problems.

While driving at 8:30 on the Expressway, he felt sick and had to stop at a fast food restaurant to use the restroom. At 8:45 he called the office, talked to the administrative assistant and to the owner’s son and informed them that he would be fifteen minutes late for the meeting with the clients. A moment later, he raced on the highway. But at 9:15, his wife called him and said to make a U-turn. His office was no more. Later he learned that his boss’s son, a young man in his early thirties, ran down the 80 floors, but their administrative assistant and the old client waited for the elevator and never made it.

Yesterday was a sad day for many. We will never forget 911.
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