Friday, September 26, 2008

Pictures and captions

Budapest - Antinov in Mickey D's Playland

On way to Bucharest - Monastery at Cozia

Jesse requested pictures, but he is a webhead, and I am not. The pics above relate to earlier posts. As the year wears on, perhaps I will become more skilled at illustrating my posts. Till then, I shall try to put the pictures into my words.

Today was Orientation Tour Day. We did a lot of sightseeiing, and got to know each other a bit better. It was a fine tour, professionally conducted by Bucharest tour guide Tudor Vallimarescu. We went to a museum of the Romanian royal family, wherein I learned of Romania's strong connection with Scotland. It seems Queen Marie of Romania was the daugher of the Queen of England, Mary. I will take that no further, for my knowledge of British history is weak. Suffice it to say, the Thistle was in the woodwork, and St. Andrew's Cross on a gold sword handle. St. Andrew is Patron Saint of both Romania and Scotland.

We then visited Ceausescu's monument to himself, the Parliament Building. Built while his people starved, it is grandiose, second only to the Pentagon in volume in an office building. Still incomplete when the dictator died, the people show it with mixed feelings. Without doubt it is impressive in size and elegance of detail, and it is built of polychromatic marble, mostly from Transylvania, while the carpets, drapes, and woodwork are almost all of Romanian source. Still. some Romanians told us of the pain the project caused, as large neighborhoods of Bucharest were torn down, including an old church, in order to build it, and as their economy crumbled all the while, and as the paranoia of Ceausescu led to his calling for more and more oppression.

Lunch was a two-hour affair at a beer garden, where the food was good, but only one beer allowed (on the Fulbright Commission's tab, at least).

Finally, we visited the Mogosoaia Palace, a red brick palace with a long wall around it. Before entering, Mihai said excitedly, "Come see the statue of Lenin!" I didn't know why he was so excited to show us that statue until we got behind the building.

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