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Cultural tours - Cross-Border Connections: Romania and Bulgaria
 

Brancusi's early works: The Table Of Silence in Targu Jiu

 

 

Mud Vulcanoes in Romania

 

 

 

 

Old oak barrel at the winery in the Urlateanu House - Halewood produces in Romania top wines

 

 

 

Horezu Monastery: Wonderful stone-masonry of the Brancovanian style.

 

Old Bridge in Bulgaria

 

Brancoveanu style South of the Danube: in Arbanassi, Bulgaria

 

Gardens of the Balchic Castle, the preferred castle of Queen Mary of Romania

 

Orthodox Monastery near Veliko Tarnovo

 

Bulgarian Orthodox Monasteries in the area of Veliko Tarnovo

  The present tour shows a less known part of Romania, though equally beautiful. So for instance, the Mud Vulcanoes with their moon-like scenery or Targoviste, the former capital of Valahia, or the monasteries and manor houses of Northern Oltenia. Combined with the most beautiful places of Bulgaria, it results in a really special tour, in its strictest sense.

1st Day: Bucharest
Individual arrival on the International Airport of Bucharest. After the luggage reclaim at the airport, you shall be greeted and met by our guide, who will lead the group throughout the tour. Transfer to the city with a brief sightseeing tour of Bucharest, including the Romanian Patriarchy. Here we shall find out how an originally Bulgarian Saint, Dymitryi (Demetrius) Basarabov, became the Holy Protector of the City of Bucharest. Free tine until dinner. Accommodation in the best hotel in Bucharest (2 overnights).

Programme of the Enescu Festival, taaking place in September 2011.
2nd Day: A nature reserve not far from Bucharest
Today we drive to the Reserve by Buzau, to the moon-like scenery of the Mud Vulcanoes and the Living Fire. Those are rare natural phenomenon, strictly protected, that need natural gas, a certain type of soil, water and some oil. Upon return we are invited for wine tasting of some of Romania’s top wines and for dinner in Urlaţi.
3rd Day: Bucharest – Sinaia
After breakfast, drive to Mogoşoaia, where we shall visit the summer residence of the ruling price, Constantin Brâncoveanu. Combining the Arts of Valahia, Turkey and Venice, we come to the Brâncoveanu-Architecture of Southern Romania's 18th century. Further to Târgovişte, the first Capital City of Valahia. After we visit the Old Court of Târgovişte, we depart for Sinaia. Accommodation and Dinner in the best hotel in Sinaia
4th Day: Sinaia – Bran - Piteşti or Valea Mare-Pravăţ
Sinaia has been the summer residence of the Romanian Kings, and since, it is the most favourite place for spending holidays for many Romanians. Visit the Sinaia Monastery, a 16th century monument of Architecture, built after St. Catherine's Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula, and the Peles Castle by the Peleş Creek, built by the first Romanian King, Charles I of Hohenzollern-Siegmaringen. Once the famous Orient Express used to regularly call here and it still does once a year on its way from Paris to Constantinople. While touring Sinaia, we shall have the opportunity to have a look at the Casino, inspired by the one in Monte Carlo. A brief peek to Transylvania leads us to the Bran Castle, the place inspiring Bram Stoker for his novel. The castle was built in 1377 as a castle of the customs on the trading route between Transylvania and Wallachia, enlarged and restored a few times since then. The connections between this place and Vlad the Impeller, or Dracula, is still under debate. The castle is, despite all these, definitely worth a visit. Back to Valahia, we shall stop by the Memorial on the Mateiaşu peak, where there have been fights during World War One. Further to Valea Mare-Pravăţ. Accommodation and Dinner: Pensiunea Valea Mare.
5th Day: Curtea de Argeş and Poienari. Drăgăşani.
Very close to Piteşti, at Curtea de Argeş, we find the Necropolis of the Royal Family of Romania. Very interesting is the 14th century legend of its construction. Further to Poienari, a citadel, laid on a hill, close to the Făgăraş Mountains. Vlad the Impeller, the Vallahian ruler, should have had here his last retreat during a fight against the Turks. Back to Piteşti, we go further to Drăgăşani, where we are invited for a wine tasting on a princiary domain. Accommodation and dinner: in the best Hotel in Piteşti or Pensiunea Valea Mare.
6th Day: Piteşti – Horezu – Peştera Muierii – Polovragi
During the 18th century, the Western part of Vallahia gets for 30 years under Austrian dominance. Its Northern part, however, houses some really interesting monasteries, that are characterised by their extraordinary stone-masonry. We shall visit today the Monastery of Horezu and the fortresses from Măldăreşti. Further, to Peştera Muierii, the Cave of Women. We shall also visit the Monastery in Polovragi. Accommodation and Dinner: in the best Guesthouse in Polovragi.
7th Day: Polovragi – Târgu Jiu – Hobiţa – Tismana – Porţile de Fier
After breakfast, we leave Polovragi to reach soon Târgu Jiu, where we shall find the early works of Constantin Brancusi (or, as the Romanians spell the name, Brâncuşi). We shall walk all the way down, starting in the Central Park by the Table of Silence, continuing with the Gate of the Kiss, the Road of the Heroes and the Endless Column. Why so few of his works are in Romania today, we shall find out at our next stop, in Hobiţa the birth place of Brancusi. We shall visit further Tismana, one of the nicest monasteries of Northern Oltenia. Accommodation and dinner: in the best hotel/motel in Porţile de Fier or in the area.
8th Day: Porţile de Fier-Vidin-Sofia
Depart Porţile de Fier and passing the border to Bulgaria. The local guide from Bulgaria will be waiting for us in Vidin around mid-day.
      The favourable location at the Danube made Vidin early on a perfect place for setting. Despite of the fortificationa citadel (Bononia), the former town was destroyed every now and then. Sightseeing tour. The most important highlight here, the fortifications at Baba Vida, lies directly at the Danube. Its nucleus, that can be seen today, is built in the 10th century, with some later additions. On our route to Sofia, we shall visit the natural phenomena at Belogradtshishki skali. The more one approaches the place at Belogradtshik, the wilder and stranger the landscape becomes, the first red stones come into sight, which offer a wonderful view. Dinner and accommodation: in a 3-star Hotel.
9th day: Sofia
After breakfast, sightseeing tour of Sofia. The Bulgarian Capital City is one of the oldest cities Europe’s. Among the highlights of the tour shall be the Basilica of the St. Sofia and that gave the name to the city, the “Sveta Nedelja” Church. Close to it, in an inner court of the president’s residence and the “Sheraton” Hotel, there is an old Roman rotunda, that has been transformed in the 4th century into the Christian St. George’s Church. It surprises through its simple, but complete architecture and through the fragments of frescoes of the old. Important is also the Banja Bujuk Mosque. The Archaeological Museum is the oldet museum of the country. We shall visit the Alexander Nevski Cathedral with its golden cupolas, more than 200 icons and frescoes. Possibility of visiting the National History Museum and the Bojana Church, that stands under protection of the world heritage and of UNESCO. Because its mural paintings, it is one of the most important highlights of the Bulgarian Middle Ages. Dinner we shall have in a rustic restaurant. Accommodation: in a 3-star hotel.
10th day: Sofia – Rila Kloster – Plovdiv
After breakfast at the Hotel, we shall depart for the Rila Monastery – the most imposing monastery of Bulgaria, situated in the Rila Mountains. The Monastery has been destroyed several times in history, but it has been rebuilt each time bigger and nicer than previously. The monastery owns important historic documents and old printings and manuscripts, more than 41000 pieces altogether. Further to Plovdiv. Dinner and accommodation: in a 3 star hotel.
11th day: Plovdiv – Batschkovo Kloster – Plovdiv
After breakfast, sight seeing tour. Plovdiv is laid on both banks of the Maritza River, on six hills. The Old City shows us the Constantin and Helen - Church, the Antique (Roman) Theatre, that has been built under Markus Aurelius in the 2nd century all of limestone. Especially worth the while is a visit of the Ethnographic Museum. During the afternoon, we shall visit to the Batschkovo Monastery – the second biggest monastery Bulgaria’s, with wall-paintings from the 11th century. In the evening, we shall be invited for dinner at a Restaurant with Bulgarian cuisine. Accommodation: in a 3-star Hotel.
12th day: Plovdiv – Kazanlak – Etara – Veliko Tarnovo – Arbanassi
After breakfast, we shall depart for Kazanlak – world-wide known for its Rose Valley. Visit of the Thracian graveyard that is under UNESCO protection, because of the Thracian architecture and wall paintings. Visit to the ethnographic museum and tasting of the rose-brandy. Further through the beautiful Shipka – Pass to the ethnographic open-air museum “Etara”, where traditional handicrafts are presented. Further to Veliko Tarnovo and sightseeing tour. The Royal Veliko Tarnovo – once Capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, has been built on three hills. Visiting of the Zarevez Hill, that was a natural and not reachable fortress, where the Palace of the Tsar, the Residence of the Patriarch and many churches have been built. Drive to the Village Museum Arbanassi. Dinner and accommodation: in a 3-star Hotel.
13th day: Arbanassi – Russe – Bucharest
After breakfast, we shall depart for Russe. Further to Bucharest, where we shall visit the Cotroceni Palace, the residence of the Presidents of Romania. Depending on the interest and upon availability, we shall go to the Opera or to a concert.
      Accommodation in the best hotel in Bucharest.
14th day: Departure
After breakfast, free time. Time to say good-bye and transfer to the airport in Bucharest.

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