S: Europe 2010
FC: Europe 2010 Romania Bulgaria Turkey
1: Flight to Turkey
2: Turkey - Bulgaria border. Sure, the rental car agency said we couldn't take the car out of the country... | But that's not gonna stop us! | Yup, the border patrol stopped us all right. Back to Istanbul to try and salvage our trip. | Trip salvaged! No more Black Sea, rather, it's off to Bucharest and Transylvania instead - on the luxurious Tarom Air nonetheless!
3: Bucharest, Romania
4: At left, Bucharest University. Below, some military building. | Nice work on the Internet lines. You'd think they could have raised them a bit higher, perhaps even buried them!
5: Top left, downtown Bucharest. Top right and bottom, Vlad Tepes, a.k.a. Dracula, in the old city.
6: More of downtown Bucharest. And a cool church with onion domes (Bud is a sucker for those).
7: Top left, gardens in the main city park. Bottom left, just another old church. And finally, some stray dogs. Stray dogs seem to be everywhere in this city.
8: Kickin' it on the train on our way to Brasov, the heart and hub of Transylvania. | At left, Bucharest's main train station.
9: Scenic shots through our train window. | Some old cemetery. | Lush green hills and lots of dilapidated buildings. And the train was slooow.
10: Brasov, Romania
11: Main square in Brasov. Started pouring the moment we stepped off the train. | Sitting down for lunch and to get out of the rain.
12: The main drag of restaurants and shops in Brasov. | Had to buy an umbrella!
13: More rain, more obligatory pics of old buildings. Sat on a train for hours to get here and due to the rain we only spent a few hours in the city - mainly just eating lunch and snapping a few shots.
14: Back to Bucharest
15: The People's Palace - the second biggest building in the world and still not fully complete (even though it's almost 30 years old!) | Another testament to the competency of Communists!
16: Inside the People's Palace. | Lots of wasted space.
17: More shots inside the palace. | The curtains above weight two tons!
18: A couple of shots from the balcony of the People's Palace, as well as a side-view shot of the exterior.
19: At left, how they mow lawns in Romania, evidently. | The entire city center is made up of huge Communist-era buildings. Gotta love it!
20: Some fountains down one of the main drags of the city - modeled after the Champs-Elysees in Paris. | According to our guide book there are approximately 200,000 stray dogs roaming the streets of Romania. We definitely saw our fair share of them!
21: One of the main drags in the old part of the city. Needs a little work!
22: Train to Sofia
23: The Russian-made train that we took to Sofia. Built circa who knows when. | Let's just put it this way, the cranny emptied directly onto the tracks.
24: Inside our lavish living quarters for the night. And this is a first class cabin even. | Must have smashed a hundred mosquitoes that night.
25: Sofia, Bulgaria
26: Above the door reads "Republic of Bulgaria - President". So perhaps the president lives or works here... who knows?! | The National Palace of Culture.
27: Former headquarters of the Communist Party. | And some unknown monument.
28: Mystery meat from a street vendor. Only 25 cents and still tasty! | The Farmers' Market
29: Alexander Nevski Cathedral. Sofia's largest religious building. | More onion domes... what else?!
30: Below, the yellow brick road. | At left, some priest during service. | A gypsy horse and cart cruising in traffic. | Above, the "Good Luck" egg.
31: A whole bunch of old stuff... and onion domes.
32: Relaxing at an outdoor cafe - taking in the nightlife. | Found a rather tasty Chinese place.
33: Bus to Rila Monastery
34: On a bus headed to the Rila Monastery. | Looks like they're finally starting to build some freeways around this place.
35: Half way to the Monastery. Stopped for a drink and enjoyed many sights along the way.
36: Finally made it to the Rila Monastery. | Above, just outside the monastery walls. The others taken from inside.
37: Frescoes inside the monastery. | Quite bright and pretty neat.
38: A monk at the monastery, as it's still in use today. | Some fresh mountain water.
39: This tower was built for defense of the monastery in 1335. | It contains some pretty cool artifacts, from armor to pictures and frescoes.
40: A few shots from in and around the defense tower.
41: More frescoes and inside the chapel. | Signs read "No pictures please"... | But of course that didn't stop Bud from taking a couple.
42: Enjoying a very tasty lunch just outside the gates of the monastery. | A view of the cafe that we ate at.
43: We saw tons of storks and stork nests on our way back to Sofia... | And a random statue in the middle of nowhere.
44: Stumbled across some Bulgarian folk dancing. | Gotta love the outfits.
45: Inside Sofia's main train station. | Below, the city jail. | The exterior of the train station.
46: Yeah, those aren't friendly waves! | Lobster at the mall food court? Check. | Some statue in the city's main park. | Saying goodbye to Sofia and to our hotel.
47: Istanbul, Turkey
48: Ruins across the street from our hotel. | Shots from the balcony of our hotel. | The mosque that woke us up at 3:38 a.m. and 5:42 a.m. with call to prayer... every dang morning! | The balcony of our hotel, where we ate breakfast each morning.
49: The sign next to the toilet in our hotel bathroom. One rule definitely meant to be broken! And the apartment our hotel put us up in for one night due to the stench in our original basement room (the one with that sign!)
50: The Column of the Serpent and the Column of Constantine. | The Egyptian Obelisk and the Ahmet III Fountain.
51: The Blue Mosque. | Had to cover up! No exposed knees or shoulders allowed.
52: More of the Blue Mosque. | Named for its brightly colored tiles.
53: A column inside the Blue Mosque. Huge! | At left, just outside the Blue Mosque with the Hagia Sophia behind us.
54: More shots taken of the Blue Mosque. | Not an easy task trying to fit all those minarets in there!
55: The Hagia Sophia, Constantinople's Great Church, later converted to an Ottoman mosque, and now a museum.
56: Just outside the gates of the Topkapi Palace... | The storied residence of the sultans.
57: Entering the Harem inside the Topkapi Palace.
58: More shots inside the Harem. | Lots of rooms, halls, and cool tile work.
59: Shot of the swimming pool inside the Harem. | The Imperial Hall, also inside the Harem.
60: Yet more shots inside the Harem. | The entire Harem was decorated with bright, colorful tiles throughout.
61: Walking along the far wall of the Topkapi Palace.
62: Looking out at the part of Istanbul that lies on the other side of the Bosphorus Strait from the Topkapi Palace.
63: Yet more shots in and around Topkapi Palace. | Caught some traditional Turkish music just outside the gates.
64: Inside the Underground Cistern. A sixth-century subterranean water reservoir built with old Roman columns.
65: A lady we saw making bread... or baklava... or something, as we walked around town.
66: A very tasty mixed-grill lunch. | Complete with head scarves and food delivery.
67: The crazy streets of Istanbul. | It was amazing how crowded with people the streets could become.
68: Outside the Grand Bazaar. | Inside the Grand Bazaar.
69: The Grand Bazaar is the world's oldest shopping mall, with more than 4,000 playfully pushy merchants! | We had to stop and take a break, regroup, and try to figure out how to find our way out of this maze.
70: The streets just outside the Grand Bazaar... | Incredibly packed with people.
71: The Spice Market. Spices, dried fruit, roasted nuts, touristy crap... | All located inside a 350-year-old market hall.
72: The only picture on this page that matters is the one of Bud... | Getting conned into having his Chucks shined. What the?!
73: The Aqueduct of Valens, built in the fourth century. | Bud eating Lahmacun - a favorite. Thin layered minced meat pizza-like food.
74: The Hagia Sophia. | Some really big doors. At right, the main dome in the center of the building.
75: More shots from inside the Hagia Sophia. Including two pictures that show some of the eight 24-foot-wide Islamic medallions that are suspended at the base of each arch. | The Marble Wall.
76: At right, the Miracle Column of St. Gregory. Otherwise known as the Perspiring Column.
77: Our long walk (a.k.a. journey) to Istiklal Street. | Could have taken the stairs, but we opted for the Funicular!
78: Finally made it to Taksim Square, although it took us a while. | Some more big doors!
79: Istiklal Street. Cosmopolitan, pedestrian-only street in the new district. Full of shops, restaurants, and people. | The only Christian church we saw. | Inside the church. | Galata Tower.
80: View of Istanbul from the top of the Galata Tower.
82: Enjoying stuffed mussels purchased from a street vendor. Quite tasty!
83: Istiklal Street at night. | More stuffed mussels!
84: Enjoying some grilled corn on the cob. Tasted like popcorn on the husk! | Live music down a small alley.
85: Just walking the street on our last day in town. | A community drinking fountain... I mean tap, with a community cup.
86: Day cruise on the Bosphorus Strait. | The Bosphorus splits the European side and Asian side of Istanbul.
87: Enjoying the sites on the cruise. | The Bosphorus Bridge. | The Dolmabahce Palace.
88: More shots on the cruise. Thank heavens for the shade! | At right, the Kucuksu - a hunting pavilion of the sultans.
89: Just a scenic shot and the Anatolian Fortress. Built by an Ottoman sultan at the end of the fourteenth century.
90: Riding the tram. | Yet another mosque and a few more minarets. Can't stop taking pictures of them all!
91: McDonald's! Yup, that's right, it starts tasting like Ruth's Chris after 12 days on the road.
92: Enjoying our last dinner. A nice seafood restaurant right on the water. | Oily little anchovies and grilled fish. Yum!
93: Final walk back to our hotel before we head out the next day. | Saying goodbye to Istanbul and Europe!