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We took a cruise going east from Budapest, Hungary, to Varna, Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Our boat traveled on
the Danube River through Hungary, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. The river trip covered some 700 km,
starting in the middle of Europe and ending near the Black Sea.
With this cruise, we have completed the entire transit of mainland Europe from the North Sea east to the Black Sea.

For the river cruise heading west from Budapest through Hungary, Austria, and Germany ending at
Amsterdam, the Netherlands click here.
 

Click on any picture to enlarge it.

Detailed Map of the River Cruise

This is a  basic outline of our cruise from Budapest, Hungary sailing east to the Black Sea at Varna, Bulgaria. This cruise is the companion half to our earlier European River cruise from Budapest west to Amsterdam (click here for that portion). With these two segments, we have covered all of Europe East to West: from the North Sea to the Black Sea.

The impressive St Matthias Church and the Fishermen's Bastion complex on the top of the Budapest hills facing a somber war memorial , a sculpture of bronze shoes signifying the shoes left by people tied up, shot, and then dumped into the frozen Danube in WW II. Finally (R) a plaque in Hebrew (there is also one in Hungarian near it) to explain the historical incident. Rough translation: "In memory of the victims who were shot and murdered by men of the Arrow Cross on the bank of the Danube in 1944-1945. May Their Memories Be Blessed".

St Matthias Church and Fishermen's Bastion, Budapest   A sculpture of bronze shoes signifying a WW II atrocity   Plaque Explaining Budapest She Sculpture, one was in Hungarian, the other in Hebrew

Mohacs Border Crossing into Serbia   Mohacs Border Crossing into Serbia

Leaving the EU and stopping at the border crossing Mohacs to enter Serbia. Open 24 hours a day, the immigration and river police entered our ship to check passports and papers.

Novi Sad, our first major stop in Serbia where the currency, language, and alphabet were different. Many street signs showed both Latin and Cyrillic lettering (R)

Novi Sad Serbia Town Center   Novi Sad Serbia Town Center Map   Novi Sad Serbia Town Center Detail

Local Novi Sad Hero Yasha Tomash   Armored Hungarian Fighter Guarding Novi Sad Square

Novi Sad had a few interesting iconic items. One was a statue of a local hero, Yasha Tomash displaying a finger. One has to get close to see which finger it is! Also, guarding the town square is a Hungarian fighter in full armor perched on a central building roof detail. The area had been under Hungarian rule for centuries.

Facade of the house where Einstein lived with his wife in Belgrade.
(R) Doorway to his house.

Einstein House in Belgrade   Doorway to the Einstein House in Belgrade

St Sava, the Largest Orthodox Church in the World   St Sava Icon Detail   St Sava, Under Major Construction

St Sava is reputed to be the largest Orthodox church in the world. If it is not #1, then surely it is one of the largest. While the outside is completed, the inside is a very dark, damp, empty shell (R). Work continued slowly while we were there. St Sava is built on the spot where the saint's remains were burned by the Ottomans in 1595.

The central four icons in the focal point of the St Sava Church were illuminated and almost life-sized. At an altar in a chapel to the left, today's saint was prominent (R). The illuminated icons were glorious in their use of gold and silver.

St Sava Major Icons   St Sava - Icon of the Day

Kalemegdan Fortress Battlement Walls   Kalemegdan Fortress Gateway Detail   Kalemegdan Fortress Wall Niche Detail

Belgrade's principal city landmark is the Kalemegdan Fortress. Here we show some of the battlements (L), gateways (C), and niches cut into the very thick walls (R). The niches show the heavy Turkish influence on the local architecture.

Within the grounds of the Kalemegdan Fortress is the tomb of Damat Ali Pasha who
fell in the battle of Petrovaradin in 1716.

Tomb of Damat Ali Pasha   Tomb Marker at Damat Ali Pasha

Iron Model of the Kalemegdan Fotress   Confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers   Naimah in Lookout Tower at Kalemegdan Fotress

To give one an overview of the massive battlements of Kalemegdan Fotress, there is a small model outlining all of its features (L). (C) a landscape showing the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. Finally, (R) Naimah poses in on of the guard tower lookout nooks on the ramparts of the fortress.

Sailing down the Danube towards the Black Sea, we finally encountered one of the major river features the Iron Gates, a natural narrowing and formerly very dangerous place on the river dividing Europe's Alps in the northwest from the Carpathians in the southeast. It also forms the natural border between Serbia and Romania. (C) is a rock sculpture of King Decebalus, last king of Dacia (circa 87 - 106) who held off the Roman empire for years. (R) is Trajan's Table [Tabula Trajan] (at km 965), set in the year 101 honoring the construction of a Roman road alongside the Danube.

Iron Gates on the Danube   Stone Carving of Dacian King Decebalus   Trajan's Table on the Danube

Entering a Lock on the Danube   Water Shadow Marking How Much We Fall in the Lock

Entering a lock on the Danube. Going East from Budapest to the Black Sea has only two locks but the first is a very steep drop (R).

We re-enter the EU at a border stop at Svishtov (Svistov) Bulgaria.

At the EU Border Stop at Svishtov (Svistov) Bulgaria   At the EU Border Stop at Svishtov (Svistov) Bulgaria

Veliko Tarnovo Ancient Gateway   Veliko Tarnovo Ancient Ramparts   Depiction of the Veliko Tarnovo Complex

Veliko Tarnovo was the ancient capital of Bulgaria. On Tsarevets Hill there is a fortification,  Patriach's Church, and former royal palace. (L) A picture of one of the gates, (C) a preserved battlement, and (R) an outline of the original complex.

The Palace of Parliament was built by the megalomaniac dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu to be his personal residence and to house various government functions. It is a massive building with over 1,100 rooms and is the second largest building on earth (the US Pentagon is #1). Its contents boggle the mind, the rooms are massive, the ceiling near the sky. (L) a photo of the structure, (C) Naimah in front of the building, and (R) Jerry in front of the building.

Palace of Parliament, Bucharest, Romania   Naimah in front of the Palace of Parliament, Bucharest, Romania   Jerrold Patz in front of the Palace of Parliament, Bucharest, Romania

Naimah Stands on the Balcony of the Parliament Building   Custom Carpets for the Massive Palace Rooms   Palace Hallways Seem to go Forever

(L) Naimah stands on the balcony of the Parliament Building, where the dictator never got a chance to stand. A wide, Champs-Élysées  avenue spreads in the background. (C) custom carpets were made for the massive rooms, and (R) hallways seem to go forever.

(L) Jerry standing in a massive auditorium. Most of the room have no furniture. (C) a detail of the ornate wall and ceiling workmanship and (R) a giant, sweeping staircase, one with a mirror-image just opposite it for Mr & Mrs Ceausescu to make simultaneous, but separate entrances. In 1989, both were shot during a popular uprising. They were the last people to be executed in Romania.

Jerry Standing in a Massive Palace Auditorium   Detail of the Palace Ornate Wall and Ceiling Workmanship   One of Several Palace Sweeping Staircases

   Bucharest's Large Arc de Triomphe

Similar to the one in Paris, Bucharest has a large Arc de Triomphe contained in
a traffic circle.

The Sinaia Monastery was built by Prince Mihail Cantacuzino in 1695 and named after the great Sinai Monastery on Mount Sinai. On its grounds are a small chapel that contains incredible frescos.

Frescoes at the Sinaia Monastery   Frescoes at the Sinaia Monastery

Frescoes at theEntryway of Sinaia Monastery   Frescoes at the Sinaia Monastery

The front entrance of the chapel and a dazzling wall fresco at the Sinaia Monastery. This was one of the best artistic encounters we had in Eastern Europe.

Romania was made famous in the West by the legend of Dracula, based loosely on Vlad the Impaler (Vlad III, 15th Century, son of Vlad II Dracul - Knight of  the Order of the Dragon, thus dracul), ruler of Bran Castle (L). A view of the complicated architecture (C) and (R) the wishing well in the interior courtyard.

Bran Castle - Linked to the Legend of Dracula   A View of the Complicated Architecture of Bran Castle   Wishing Well in the Interior Courtyard of Bran Castle

Hidden Stairway within Bran Castle   Garish Advertising for Bran Castle   Complex Design of Bran Castle

Bran Castle has become a major tourist attraction due to its hidden stairways (L), garish advertising, and natural beauty (R). It is the draw for many tourists to central Romania.

One of our ultimate goals - to set foot in the Black Sea. This ended our journey which we started many years ago: To cover Europe by river from the North Sea (Amsterdam) to the Black Sea. Now it is completed.

Ending Our Journey in the Black Sea

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Here is a montage of additional pictures.

Mouse over any picture for a description. Click on any picture to expand it into a larger view.
 

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tourist attraction  Arbanassi church of the nativity arbannassi   arbanasi Arbanasi "nesting storks"    "mile marker 0"  bottle highway art  "manhole cover" "man hole cover" paprika museum  "petrovaradin fortress"
"chain bridge"  "legend of dracula"  2nd largest building