May 4 - 13, 2019

This was a 10-day Andante Travels tour, with most of the group from the UK, and Margaret Grant and myself as usual being the only two from the US.  We saw or visited a lot of great archaeological sites, a number of museums, several churches and other religious sites, etc.

The group stayed in 6 hotels over the 10 days; several were really nice, a couple of others less so (mostly hot rooms, but one had a pool but no lift for those on the 3rd (US 4th) floor.)  One night a couple of the people stayed in an adjacent hotel due to a full hotel, but we still had meals, departures, etc. together.

Most of the photos are geotagged, which means that you can see where each was taken to within a meter or two.  Somehow day 2 didn’t record GPS data, but all of those photos were from a walking tour of Constanta, plus a visit to Mangalia.

As usual, the photos are unedited, and size-reduced for the web.  I’d be happy to send you individual photos, or all of the photos on a disc, if you’d like that.

The itinerary below is based on the final email programme provided by Andante, with comments and corrections added by me in [brackets].  The “Photos” links beside each day number, and the “Day N” links at the top of each page, will show the photos for that day.  I also added a map to each day’s page, showing where photos were taken on that day.  Margaret and I actually left on May 2, had rooms near Heathrow on May 3, and joined the group at Heathrow on May 4.

Day 1

We fly to Bucharest from London and drive to Constanta. [We arrived in late evening, and it’s a 3 hour drive to Constanta, but we did have a midnight meal waiting for us.]

Day 2  Photos
We explore Constanța, the ancient city of Tomis, including some current excavations and the ‘mosaic building’. In the Museum of National History and Archaeology we marvel at the famous “Sculpture Treasury” assumed to represent the cult inventory of a temple. Later, we drive to Mangalia, originally a Greek colony, to visit some of the preserved archaeological remains and the finds from the area in the Callatis Museum. [Probably due to our late arrival, we were surprised to be asked for our passports when we came down for breakfast.  In the afternoon, we visited a hotel with an archaeological site in its basement.]

Day 3  Photos
Today we visit Histria, another ancient Greek colony and the oldest city in the country. We explore the archaeological site, the largest in Romania, including the public buildings, thermal baths, civil basilica, and the remains of a temple. We also visit the Archaeological Museum where the most important artefacts from the area are displayed.

Day 4  Photos
This morning a drive to Adamclisi takes us to the Tropaeum Traiani, the triumphal monument erected in celebration of Trajan’s victory over the Dacians. We then explore the ancient city. In the afternoon we drive to Bucharest. [Andante used to be proud of their picnics, which were always very elaborate.  Today, with no prior notice, there was a picnic, but our picnic silverware was safely in our suitcases.  Also, it was less elaborate than usual, though weather forcing us indoors might have played some role.]

Day 5  Photos
Our first visit is to the National Museum in Bucharest, which holds treasures from all over Romania. Before lunch, we tour the old town, then continue to the Philharmonia Academy followed by a look at the ‘Pharaonic House of the People’ - Romania’s Parliament. We end the day at the Village Museum. [Communication didn’t seem to be the strong suit on this trip.  In late afternoon some people began hearing about an unannounced lecture.  Dinner was originally scheduled for 19:00, then departure was changed to 18:45.]

Day 6  Photos
We drive this morning along the Prahova Valley to Bran Castle, popularly linked with Dracula. We then continue to Brașov, a once Saxon Kronstadt, with many characteristic buildings, such as the ‘Black Church’.

Day 7  Photos
In the morning we see the History Museum in Brașov, before continuing to Sibiu. After lunch, we explore the old town of Sibiu and visit the Brukenthal Palace, home to one of Romania’s largest and oldest museums. [Plans were changed moments after being announced.  Weather caused us to have lunch in Brașov, and the museum was closed so we hiked up to a “fortified church” in Sibiu instead.]

Day 8  Photos
This morning we take a mountain trip in 4x4s to Sarmizegetusa Regia, capital of the Dacian kingdom. Its appearance is unique, including defensive walls, artificial terraces, temples and sanctuaries. End the day at the nearby 1st century Dacian fort of Costeşti, one of the oldest forts in the Orăştie Mountains. [The morning and afternoon events were swapped, with Costeşti  in the morning, and Sarmizegetusa Regia after lunch. After a long climb up a hill, we had to wait to get our tickets.  But it was worth the visit, and huge!]

Day 9  Photos
We spend the morning at Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, colonial capital of the Roman province of Dacia, with amphitheatre, temples, forum and the residence of the province’s financial procurator. This afternoon we visit the 15th century Gothic Hunyad Castle and the church at Desus. [We actually visited a different castle, Corvin’s Castle, and in the morning.  We visited the church around 11:00, but of course being Sunday there was a service underway, followed by a procession to the cemetery during which the church was locked, so we never really got to see the inside frescos.  The archaeological site was in the afternoon.  Dinner was moved to a different floor, and non-buffet, due to a party in the scheduled 11th floor eatery.]

Day 10  Photos
We return to Bucharest, and catch our flight home after lunch.  [To our surprise, we saw another fort (from a bridge) and visited the Cozia monastery on the way back to Bucharest.  There was no group checkin for the flight back to Heathrow even though we had group tickets.  Margaret and I again have rooms for the night near Heathrow, and fly home on the 14th.]

Romania 2019