July 2009 -Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine

Black Sea | Night Passage from Romania to Odessa, Ukraine

Black Sea | Night Passage from Romania to Odessa, Ukraine

Ukraine | Black Sea | Odessa | Dolphins greeting us

Ukraine | Black Sea | Odessa | Artemis and Gemini on quay

July 29, 2009

Hi everyone we had a great overnight passage to Odessa. We were motor sailing well over 7 kts so we cut back the rpm's and just sailed for a couple of hours. By night fall the wind died so we put the sails away except for the main. We didn't want to arrive in Odessa before morning. We arrived at the port about 7AM. Customs and Immigration took almost 3 hours but we didn't have to pay any fees. Other cruisers we talked to this summer paid between $250-$300 dollars to check into the Ukraine and then another $200 to check out. Odessa seems to be the only place that charges nothing.

Ukraine | Black Sea | Odessa |Potemkin Stair

Ukraine | Black Sea | Odessa |

Ukraine | Black Sea | Odessa |

Ukraine | Black Sea | Odessa

Ukraine | Black Sea | Odessa | Covered Passage

After a morning nap Al and I climbed the Potemkin Stairs to Primorsky Boulevard built to resemble an English promenade. This tree line promenade is where the locals like to stroll in the early evening and view the Black Sea. Odessa has beautiful gardens and parks. We happened upon the City Park while looking for lunch and it too has a beautiful fountain lovely trees, and beautiful flowers. We had lunch in the rain at Kumanets a restaurant I found in the guide book. I had varenniki (large dumplings like ravioli)considered a Ukrainian national dish. Mine was stuffed with veal and cheese covered in a mushroom sauce. Al still in pursuit of his grandmother's cooking ordered spareribs and cabbage baked in a pot. We had a beautiful summer salad cabbage, parsley, tomato, green beans, cucumber, cauliflower, onion with a mushroom vinaigrette. After lunch we found a travel agent to plan a trip to the Crimea. The trains are booked through Aug. 3 so we are looking into buses or car rental today. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Romania | Danube River | Sulina Arm |Tulcea |Captain Sal behind wheel of Republica

Romania | Danube River | Sulina Arm |Tulcea | The Republica | city docking spot

Romania | Danube River | Sulina Arm |Tulcea | The Republica | Artemis rafted

July 25 - 27, 2009

Hi everyone,

We had an uneventful passage up to Tulcea . It was a bit confusing as to where we were suppose to moor. Finally a man aboard the Republica waved us alongside his ship. It turns out this bar/restaurant is owned by the city and is used to moor visiting boats. He hooked us up with electricity and water. He even assisted Susan with a load of laundry for free. He dressed us up in his Captains uniform for pictures.

Romania | Danube River | Sulina Arm |Tulcea | St. George Church

Romania| Danube River | Sulina Arm | Tulcea | Fraher produce truck Sally's maiden name

We had a nice time walking around Tulcea. Saw a produce truck that had a sign with my maiden name on it Fraher Produce! Al and I got our haircut. This is always an interesting job when you don't speak the language. We sat down to wait our turn. Each of the 3 young men ahead of us got an old fashioned brush cut! I teased Al that this was the only cut they do hear. Of course the kids understood and we all got a chuckle out of it. My cut was just $3 and Al's only $2!!

Today we left for Mile 8 anchorage again down the Danube to spend another day at anchor. We washed the boat down and Al did some touch up painting where our fisherman who helped us off the sandbar scratched up our hull. After we were off he tied alongside and went with us to the barge Gemini was tied to. Unfortunately no one took notice as to what his boat was doing to ours until later.

Black Sea | Romania |Danube River | Sulina | Fuel Dock | Artemis getting fuel for trip to Ukraine

We head back down the Danube for Sulina this morning. We took on fuel and check out of Romania both customs and immigration. Susan and I spent our very last Romanian pennies to buy a sandwich each and an order of fries to split. We're heading out now for Odessa Ukraine about 94 nm so it'll be an overnight. The weather looks good light seas and wind from the N-NE the direction we are heading so hope it stays light or enough NE so we can sail a bit. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Romania | Black Sea | Danube River | Sulina Arm |Maliuc Dock | Artemis rafted to Gemini

July 24, 2009

We had an interesting day on the Danube today. Beautiful blue (parrot looking) birds swooping across the river from tree to tree. Lots of boat traffic. Some of the boats throw off quite a wake. Gemini pulled into the cement quay our destination for the night and we rafted. But the river traffic made this uncomfortable for us both. So after some discussion with some locals we decided to move up a side channel nearby. We were assured it was plenty deep. Well we no sooner made our turn that Artemis came to dead halt. No matter what we tried we couldn't get off the sandbar and we could see a worse situation if we broke loose and landed on the shore nearby. Gemini inlisted a fisherman to try to pull us off. Checking all around Artemis we had over 8ft. We must have hit the only 6 ft spot around. We tried a halyard to haul us over, an anchor to kedge us off and finally a 25hp fisherman came. Solution...pulled us straight back the way we came. Duh...

Romania | Danube River | Sulina Arm |Old Danube anchorage mile marker #8 | Artemis

July 23, 2009

We are spending 3 nights in the Old Danube Mile 8 anchorage. It's so fun to jump into fresh water and cool off! We did wake to a thunder and lightning storm early Sunday morning but it made for a nice morning to sleep in, free from the wild river traffic. We did get the occasional fisherman motoring through but no movement after dark. Gemini had us for a lovely lasagne dinner Sunday night complete with chocolate chip cookies. The cooler weather allowed Susan to use her oven and we were the lucky recipients of her excellent cooking.

Romania | Danube River | Sulina Arm |Old Danube anchorage mile marker #8 | Pelican flight

Romania | Danube River | Sulina Arm |Old Danube anchorage mile marker #8 | Pelicans

July 21, 2009

Hi we left Sulina and headed up the Sulina Arm of the Danube Delta this morning. We only went 8 nm as we wanted to stay in a neat anchorage off the main canal on the Danarea Veche (Old Danube). There are 6 or 7 large white pelicans swimming here. Al and I took the dingy further up the branch to get closer to them and then traveled down another branch for a half an hour. Lots of birds mainly pelicans, pygmy cormorants, herons, and little egrets. We went for a swim but kept a line tied to the boat as there is a slight current in here. It was refreshing to be swimming in fresh water for a change. We even gave Artemis a bath. We plan to grill tonight and then head to Maliuc tomorrow. We'll go about 20 nm tomorrow but with the current it'll take about 5 hours.

Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Romania |Black Sea | Constanta | Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul

Romanaia | Constanta |Museum of National History and Statue of Ovid

Romania |Black Sea | Constanta | Port Tomis

Romania |Black Sea | Constanta | Port Tomis | Gemini rafted to Artemsi

July 20, 2009

Hi everyone, so our adventure continues. We left Mangalia Marina, Romania on Saturday and went to Port Tomis, Constanta Romania for the night June 18. Then yesterday June 19 we left Constanta at 0400 for Sulina, Romania. We had good winds and flat seas most of the day but we had to motor too as we needed to keep our speed up to 6 kts. You can not enter the Sulina Arm of the Danube Delta after dark. Around 1500 we had broadcast of a near gale and possible storms coming. It was hard to believe with the clear skies and 15kts of wind but we kept the engine going and we were motor sailing close to 8kts.

Romania | Black Sea | Danube River | Sulina Arm | town of Sulina and St. Nikolas Church

Romania | Black Sea | Danube River |Sulina Arm | Artemis and Gemini Sulina town quay

We arrived at the canal entrance about 1630 June 19. The water rushing out of the canal at 1 and half kts mixing with the black sea makes a chopping swirling mix a mile off of the canal town quay bucking a current so we tied up to the Sulina town quay around 1800. Tying up was interesting too as Al needed to keep the rpm's up in order to hold the boat in position as we tied off because of the current. Sitting along the quay with the water rushing by the hull reminds us of our anchorages on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Ships and pleasure boat pass by and send up a wake that keeps us moving too. Our plan is to head up the Sulina Arm of the Danube Delta to Tulcea and then on to the Chilia Arm to Izmail, Ukraine to check into the country. We plan to spend a day or two here before heading up the delta. Love and God bless Sally and Al

Romania | Black Sea | Mangalia | Mangalia Marina | Artemis

Wed. July 15-17 2009 It felt good to be back at the boat in Mangalia Marina. We were lazy and didn't get moving until nine! We had the car for one more day so we drove to a large supermarket for supplies and to find a place to do our laundry. After driving around for over an hour following Romanian directions we finally found the laundry. They wanted 130 Euro over $150 for 3 loads of laundry (they charge by the piece)So we decided to wash it by hand and wait for another town to do sheets and towels. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Romania | Transylvania Region| Bucharest |Palace of Parliment

Romania |Transylvania Region| Bucharest |Palace of Parliment |

Romania |Transylvania Region|Bucharest|Palace of Pariament | view from window

July 14, 2009

Hi everyone We woke to lots of news today of the flooding in Brasov, Romania. Once again we were glad to be heading in the direction we were. After our wonderful hotel breakfast we visited the Romanian Peasant Museum and then had a tour of the Palace of Parliament. The Palace is the second largest administrative building in the world. (Pentagon is the first) The interior is lavishly decorated with marble, gold leaf and 4500 chandeliers. It was built by Ceausescu in 1980's and was completed after he and his wife were executed in 1989. (Military execution) This spectacular building was built at the expense of the Romanian people. The situation in Romanian at the time was quite desperate with near economic collapse, and everything in short supply. The people called it the Casa Nebrinuliu "Madman's House" Strikes, riots, and mass demonstrations in Dec. 1989 resulted in Ceausescu's downfall. Today the Palace houses the senate and parliament. Also many of the huge halls are used for international conferences.

We arrived back in Mangalia Marina a dinnertime. Our boats were fine only a short storm had passed through during the week we were gone. We love Romania. It's a beautiful, interesting country and we only saw part of it. Great people and in the tourist areas people speak English so it's easy to get information. Now we plan to rest up and make decisions on where to go next. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Romania |Fagaris Mountains | Transfagarasan Highway|Snow still on top of the Fagaris mountains

Romania|Fagaris Mountains | Transfagarasan Highway|recent storm damage to bridge and homes

Romania | Fagaris Mountains | Transfagarasan Highway|Snake like road

Romania| Fagaris Mountains|TransfagarasanHighway|Covers over road where cascades come down

Romania | Fagaras Mountains| Transfagarasan Highway|Lake Vidraru

July 13

We left Sibiu for Bucharest via the Transfagarasan Highway. This is a spectacular road winding 50 km over the Fagaras mountains through the Red Tower Pass from Transylvania down into Wallachia. The road is closed during the winter and is quite a beautiful ride especially after two days of heavy rain. Hundreds of waterfalls rushed down the mountain and over the road in many places. The bigger falls actually washed away parts of roads and bridges. We were glad we arrived on the road after the road crews had cleared the debris of rocks, mud and trees away. The clouds cleared away by the time we reached the top of the pass so we had excellent views. But it was windy and cold at the top and frequent patches of snow. I hope our camera was able to capture these spectacular views. Once over the mountain we had fewer waterfalls but the road was just as wild. We curved back down into the forests and around Lake Vidraru which is held back by a spectacular dam (165m).

Romania |Transylvania Region Poenari Castle - Vlad III Impaler| Ron and Susan wait at restaurant

Romania |Transylvania Region| Poenari Castle - Vlad III the Impaler| Al and I climbed 1,480 steps

We stopped at a restaurant for a late lunch only to discover we were directly below Poienari Castle. This is the remains of the real "Dracula's Castle" built by Vlad in 1457. After lunch Al and I climbed the 1480 steps (30min hike up) to visit the ruins and see the marvelous views in all directions.

Romania | Transylvania Region|Bucharest | Carul cu Bere Restaurant| Pork Shank for two?

Romania|Transylvania Region|Bucharest| Carul cu Bere Restaurant Musicians in Cellar Dining Room

Romania |Transylvania Region| Bucharest | Carul cu Bere Restaurant| Bar street level

We continued on from Poenari Castle to Bucharest for our second time this trip. Al and I walked into the historic quarter for dinner at Carul cu Bere, a restaurant in a gorgeous historic building. Great décor and high Gothic vaulted ceilings around the bar and main dining room. We had checked this place out when we were in Bucharest last week. We chose to eat in the "cellar" with live music. A Gypsy band was playing: shepherd flute, double bass, violin, accordion and cimbalom. We had the house special a pork shank; oven roasted sauerkraut and rosemary potatoes. The meal was excellent and reminded Al of his grandmother's cooking. We had a liter of wine, beer too and the bill come to about $30. And this was in a swanky historic building in historic quarter of Bucharest!

Romania |Transylvania Region | Biertan Fortified Church and Saxon Village

Romania | Transylvania Region | Biertan Fortified Church and Saxon Village

Romania | Black Sea | Biertan |Fortified Church and Saxon Village

July 12 Today we had a nice buffet breakfast at our hotel in Sighisoara before leaving for Sibiu. Another rainy day but we had raincoats and an umbrella:-) We drove to Biertan an excellent Fortified Church and Saxon Village. This church was surrounded by two and half rings of walls linked by another covered staircase similar to the one in Sighisoara. It was built in 1522 in a Gothic style with stone ribbed vaulting on the ceilings. Someone was playing the beautiful pipe organ throughout our visit. The altarpiece was Viennese style with gorgeous stain glass windows behind. The sacristy door had a locking mechanism with more than 19 locks. There was a room where people contemplating divorce were looked in for two weeks before a decision could be made. The Saxon houses are colorful Baroque style. They are interlocking facing the street on each side with gates to enter.

Romania |Transylvania Region | Sibiu|

Romania |Transylvania Region | Sibiu|

Romania |Transylvania Region| Sibiu

We took an interesting road out of Bierten. We traveled about 10km on a winding uphill dirt road in the rain. It was a relief when we found the tarred road again. Saxon towns are very confusing, as the roads are not parallel and often one way. It took us a half-hour to find our hotel in Sibiu. Sibiu was the chief city of the Transylvania Saxons. It's merchants dominated trade between Transylvania and Wallachia This city has 4 walls around it and the buildings and streets are linked with tunnels and gateways. The old town has beautiful piatas (squares) surrounded by renovated premises of 16th and 17th century merchants. Quite impressive this is definitely a city not a village.

Bulgaria | Transylvania Region | Sighisoara

Bulgaria | | Transylvania Region| Sighisoara | views from Clock Tower

Bulgaria | Transylvania Region|Sighisoara | Covered Staircase

Bulgaria |Transylvania Region | Sighisoara

Bulgaria |Transylvania Region | Sighisoara | one of nine Towers

July 10-11, 2009 Sighisoara a beautiful Medieval- Saxon walled city. One of the oldest towns in Transylvania. Our hotel was inside the walls of the old city. Enjoyed exploring the cobbled streets, beautiful covered Student staircase, nine Towers (Clock, Blacksmith, Rope Making, Butcher, Furrier, Tailer, Shoemaker Tinsmith and Tanner), several churches, Medieval Fortress, Vlad Dracul birthplace home. A special treat was a bridal party parading through town carry breads and drinks. Costumed Medieval characters led the bridal party with music. The Clock Tower had moving characters on the hour.

Romania | Transylvania Region| Peles Castle

Romania | Transylvania Region|Peles Castle

Romania |Transylvania Region |Sinaia Monestary near Peles Castle

Thurs. July 9

We left Bucharest early heading for Peles Castle set in a large park landscaped in English fashion along the River Peles. Absolutely gorgeous grounds. It was built in 1875 for King Carol and Queen Elisabeta. It has 160 rooms richly decorated in ebony, mother of pearl, walnut and leather stuffed solid with antiques and copies of paintings now housed in the Bucharest National Art Museum. This was quite a "jaw hanging" experience. But 45 minutes was enough you can only take in so much...

Romania |Transylvania Region| Brasov | Piata Sfatului | International Folk Dancers and Musicians

Romania | Transylvania Region | Brasov

Romania | Brasov | Piata Sfatului

We visited Sinaia Monastery before heading out for Brasov our stop for the night at Pension Ambient. We hurried off to the Black Church for and organ recital on a pipe organ with over 4000 pipes. Then in the Piata Sfatului (square)we happened upon an international Folk song and Dance Festival. There were dancers/singers from 8 different countries dressed in traditional costumes. We only saw the Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovik, and Hungarian performances. What a fun treat and each group was excellent. We then went to Keller Steak House for an excellent meal. What a great ending to a wonderful day.

Romania | Transylvania Region| Viscri | Viscri Fortified Church