Day 12 - Saturday, October 19, 2013 - Disembark ms River Splendor; Motor to Bucharest; City Tour; Visit People's Palace; View Patriarchical and Greek Church; Farewell Dinner
Our last day on the ship was a bit rushed. The crew was extremely focused on getting the ship ready for the next passengers who will be coming in this afternoon. They do not have much turn-around time.
Our bags had to be out at 7:00 and after an early breakfast we took a few shots of the sunrise over the ship and river. The temperature was 51° and the humidity was 87%.
The luggage was on a truck and heading to Bucharest as we said goodbye to the crew and turned in our headsets and room keys in exchange for our passports. We got on the Yellow bus with Marion again.
It was a two hour drive to Bucharest, the capital of Romania. We had a restroom stop at 10:45 at the InterContinental Hotel where we saw our bags in the lobby waiting for our return.
We got back on the bus and with our local city guide, Bogdan, we toured the city which has been the capital since 1859. Our first stop was at the National Art Gallery, once one of the three royal palaces of the city.
The Secret Police Headquarters with its glass windowed top and ancient stone foundation was impressive, but “in the day” people shook in their boots as they passed it! There is an obelisk dedicated to all of the 1060 people who lost their lives in the Uprising of 1989 that began on this corner of the intersection.
Bogdan gave us about 30 minutes to walk around the monuments and statues – a very impressive city. It felt good to stretch our legs. There were many reminders of the wars, the earthquakes, and the revolutions against the Ottomans and then the Communists.
As we drove through the old villas and residential districts we could just see the horse and carriages taking the wealthy to tea! The streets are well laid out with wide tree-lined parks and green spaces.
At 12:15 we had lunch at Taverna Sârbului, a large traditional eating hall, where we had a salad, flat bread, a large piece of breaded meat, rice, and a dessert of cream, cake, and berries.
As we were leaving the restaurant, the new group of passengers for the River Splendor came in. We talked to a few of them and told them they would have a treat waiting for them when the got on the river and headed north to Budapest.
Continuing our tour after lunch, we stopped at the Arc de Triomphe for photos. Today being Saturday, families were out biking and roller skating and enjoying a perfect fall day.
Our next stop was the Military Academy, an imposing structure. Right beside it was a farmers market and Bogdan allowed us time to browse though the colorful and delicious produce. Honey is a very popular product and we saw many tempting jars of the flavored sweet.
Marion, our driver was kind enough to stop in Constitution Square so we could take photos of the Parliament Building of Romania. Bogdan had arranged for our tour of the People’s Palace for 3:30.
When we got there we had to go through a security check and surrender our passports for a visitor’s badge. Vic paid $10 for a camera permit in order to take photos inside the palace.
Now the home of the Parliament and the governmental offices, it is the largest building in Europe and the second largest in the world. Built from 1984-1989 as the residence and government center under the Nicolae Ceausescu, deposed in 1989; it was beyond elegant to the point of being opulent!
Our tour with Irina as our guide lasted about one hour. We went from room to room, one conference center to the next, all the time marveling at the carpets, tapestries, and curtains all made especially for the president and his wife.
The president never lived to preside over the palace so the building was never finished as a palace or residence. Now a government building, there is no real furniture, as the large rooms serve only as conference rooms and the meeting halls of parliament.
We left the People’s Palace at 4:40 and arrived back to the hotel at 5:15 after a brief drive-by of the Patriarchal Church and Greek Church. We were happy to see our luggage in the room waiting for us.
Gennie went to the lobby, the only place to get internet, to send a brief note to our son. The ship’s internet was turned off this morning not allowing us to communicate or check our mail. What did we ever do without e-mail?
The farewell dinner was at 6:00 so we had to hustle to get to the dining room. We thanked Bogdan for his excellent service and had dinner with our new friends from Maryland, Bill and Elizabeth.
Our wake up call comes at 2:55 so we went back to the room to shower and get ready for our flight home tomorrow. The next message you receive will be from Colorado when we write of our safe arrival back to Monument Hill.
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner InterContinental Hotel Bucharest
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