Cruise with Mona on the Blue Danube: Romania and Bulgaria

Our itinerary from Bucharest to Vienna, sailing along the Danube River for thirteen days.

We flew from New York to Bucharest, capital of Romania for a two-week cruise along the Danube River on Avalon Waterways River Cruises, but first we spent two days in Bucharest. On our first evening, we walked through the wide avenues of the city center and discovered the new place on our own.

The massive statue, cast in bronze, represents Carol I of Romania, the first King of Romania and founder of the Romanian Dynasty. During his reign, Romania conquered its independence from the Ottoman Empire, in 1877, in the course the Russo-Turkish War, known in Romania as the War of Independence.
Posing in the downtown area for a first picture in Bucharest.
Created in bronze in honor of the former Romanian politician, Iuliu Maniu, who served three terms as prime minister of Romania. The statue is located in Revolution Square in central Bucharest.
Kretzulescu Church is an Orthodox Church built
between 1720 – 1722. It is located on Calea Victoriei, at one of the corners of Revolution Square,
next to the former Royal Palace.
We were lucky to attend a wedding while visiting the old church. I was impressed by the elegance of the guests.
The Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall in the center of Bucharest and a landmark of the Romanian capital city.

On Day 2, our first morning in Bucharest, Avalon Cruises took us on a tour of the city and a visit of the impressive Parliament Building. The former Royal Palace now houses the National Art Museum.

Parliament Building is the world second-largest
government building after the Pentagon.
The Royal Palace Square was the scene of riots in 1989 which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. I took this picture from the balcony of the Parliament Building.
Inside the Parliament Building,
the grand marble staircase
Inside the Parliament Building, one of the formal rooms

 

In the afternoon a short moto coach ride took us to Oltenita where our cruise vessel was docked. Before dinner the crew welcomed us with a reception and then we sailed to Silistra, a port city in Bulgaria. By the way, the blue Danube is far from blue, more like dark greenish black. We were told you see it blue only when you’re young and in love.

On Day 3, after breakfast, we travelled by bus to Varna, a naval base and sea resort on the Black Sea.

Varna is one of Bulgaria’s most popular destinations. While just over 335,000 people call the city home, during the summertime, its pristine Black Sea beaches fill up with over 1 million people, drawn to the sunny weather and fun nightlife.

It was a gorgeous day. Many sunbathers were topless. By the way, the Black Sea was blue, not black, rough with whitecaps and strong currents.

A most enjoyable lunch on the Pirate ship.

We had lunch on a pirate ship in the Black Sea.

The Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral in Varna: we didn’t visit.
Lunch with the pirates!

On Day 4, we continued our bus trip to Veliko-Tarnovo. Often referred as the “City of the Tsars“, Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famously known as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists with its unique architecture.

The Patriarchal Cathedral on top of the Tsarevets Hill
Standing at a café on top of a hill.

The old part of the town is situated on three hills, rising amidst the meanders of the Yantra. The city was a natural fortress with ancient stone houses clinging to the steep stones. Tsarevets Hill is home of the Royal Fortress, palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchate, the Patriarchal Cathedral, and also a number of administrative and residential edifices surrounded by thick walls.

Entering the gate to the fortress
The Royal Fortress
A view of the city from the top of the hill.
A view of the fortress from the top of the hill.

We spent Day 5 on the ship sailing through the Iron Gates–A story for another day.

(The Danube cruise blog will be continued on October 1st)

May I offer you my newly released book FAMILY PLANS, (Love Plans Series, book 7) just released on August 25. It’s on sale at 99 cents for a few days.

The plane crash devastated two families and revealed painful secrets. Can a brighter future arise from those ashes at Christmas time?

Family Plans on Amazon

 

Left inconsolable by his wife’s death in a plane crash, Tim Kent dedicates himself to his daughter, Brianna. He allows her to get closer to her best friend Debbie whose father died in the same plane crash. When Tim meets Erin Perkins, Debbie’s mother, he’s impressed by the beautiful, young woman struggling to raise six children on her own while working at an exhausting job. He does his best to help her. Attraction develops between them. While Brianna practically lives with her friend Debbie and shares Erin’s motherly attention, Tim acts as a surrogate father for the six fatherless children. But the sorrowful plane crash that brought them together threatens to separate them when shocking secrets are revealed.

 

New Year, Fresh Start, New Resolutions

Have you noticed how hard it is to get used to a new year? At least for me it’s always a challenge for the first couple of months when I have to fill in the date. Thinking back of my childhood, it’s hard to imagine I’m in 2020. I mean, back then, that was the future! In one of my favorite movies, Back to the Future, Steven Spielberg had imagined a much more evolved 21st century. According to him, by now we should all travel in space cars, have voice-command appliances, and eradicate most illnesses. Wasn’t he an optimist, back in ’86 when he made the first movie?

While we’re working on technologies that will eventually make all of these things possible, everything is moving slowly. And although we can definitely survive without flying cars and smart refrigerators, our quality of life depends on our health.

When we’re healthy we are unaware of how important this is. It’s only when we’re confronted with illness—or worse, death—that we start appreciating what truly matters in life. I’ve had such a terrible revelation right after Christmas, when I learned that a high school mate of mine died of cancer at the age of thirty-three. The news was shocking for all of us who knew him. We all hoped and prayed for a miracle until the last minute, but in vain. I can only shudder when I think of his poor wife and six-year-old-son, who have to deal with so much grief. I was touched by how many people jumped in to help them, morally and financially. It’s probably not that much of a comfort, but seeing this proof of kindness reassured me there’s still hope for humanity.

It’s a bitter irony that I have just finished a book where the hero is a researcher and fights to cure cancer. Although the book is a fictional suspense romance, a lot of the medical facts are true. With medicine advancing fast, I pray this terrible disease will soon be eradicated forever and stop being a constant threat to us and those we love.

In International Affairs: LONDON, Dr. Gerard Leon develops not one, but two cures for cancer, with the help of Linda, a beautiful and wealthy Italian artist. If in life we’re not guaranteed a happy ever after, one of the things we can do is look for it in books…

She has the money; he has the brains. In their quest to cure others, can they also heal each other?

Gerard Leon is a physician and researcher. Linda Coriola is an artist and philanthropist. After losing loved ones to this silent killer, they both fight cancer in their own way—her with money, him with scientific breakthroughs.
Neither expected to fall in love, but when they do, it’s hard, fast, and mind-blowing.
But they have a common enemy who will stop at nothing to see them fail. Can they give into their feelings, stay focused on their goal, and live to fight another day?

International Affairs: LONDON is the first book in a new series of suspense romance novels, International Romance Collection. I hope you will love these stories as much as I enjoy writing them!
If this isn’t in your New Year’s resolutions list, remember: stay healthy. When it comes to most illnesses your body will give you signs so you can do something before it’s too late–don’t ignore them! It doesn’t matter that you’ll keep your job, or get that promotion, or keep that relationship, or do whatever you want to do if you won’t live long enough to enjoy them. We can find love, build fortunes, make dreams come true, but the one thing we can’t buy is our health. It’s the most precious thing we can have. Take care of yourselves above all else. ❤

Here’s a photo of me on Christmas Day. I had the best time of my life during the holidays because hubby took two weeks off work, so we spent every minute together. We didn’t go to any parties or fancy events, we just enjoyed our time together cooking, watching TV, staying at home, shopping or just walking the streets and goofing around. 🙂