|So now we are off to begin the adventure! We had the morning, until 11:30am, free. Since we've already toured around Bucharest, there wasn't really anything we needed to do so we just had a leisurely morning.
By 11:30, we were all gathered upside the hotel. Dris (drees) had arranged 4 taxis to come and take us to the bus station where we'd be catching a public bus to Tulcea (tool cha). Jef, Margaret and I got in the first taxi and took off. We arrived at the bus station about 15 minutes later but the second taxi had beat us there. The third taxi, with Dris, arrived shortly after that. We waited for the 4th taxi , with Penny, Patty and Guermo, but after about 40 minutes, it hadn't appeared and Dris was getting pretty nervous. He'd ever had that happen before and the time was rapidly approaching for the bus to leave. He tried calling Penny's cell but couldn't reach her and he tried the taxi company but they weren't much help. Finally, we saw them all across the highway, walking and hauling their luggage! The taxi driver had taken them to the wrong station (about 5 km away) even tho he knew which station he was supposed to take them to. He wouldn't go to the correct one and made them get out. Penny knew the name of the one we were at so she tried to flag another taxi but they told her it was too close and they wouldn't drive there. She asked in the other station how to get to ours and they gave her directions, telling her it was a short walk (these people have no conception of walking distances!). Anyway, they headed out walking and kept asking along the way for directions and eventually they found us. Dris was extremely upset about the taxi driver (who had, of course, charged them a max fee that they had to pay to get their luggage). But in the end, we were all together and just in time for the bus to leave. It was a small 20 passenger bus so we took up most of it with a few local people joining us.
The trip to Tulcea took 5 hours. We stopped once long the way at a gas station for. A bathroom ad snack break. It was tight quarters in the bus so it was good to get out. The country scenery was a lot like Kansas---sunflowers, corn and wind turbines.
Tulcea is a town of about 73,000 people. It is important as a Danube delta town and that's why we were there--to spend a day in the delta area.
After we arrived in town, we checked into the hotel, got our keys and dropped our bags. Dris wanted to give us a short orientation walk of the town before it got too dark. Since we really don't have any time to explore the town on our own (our delta trip is a long day), he skipped the museums and shopping and we hiked up to the Independence Monument at the top of the hill in Tulcea.
The monument was erected as homage to the heroic soldiers who fought to free the country from the Ottoman rule between 1877 and 1888. Construction began on 17 October 1879 with King Carol I present. The structure consists of a 22 meters tall obelisk, made of Ravenna granite, with two sculptures on the sides: a bronze soldier on the right and a vulture on the left. Both were forged in Milan. During the First World War, the frontline was pretty much set on the Danube and Tulcea sustained heavy damage. The monument was almost completely destroyed and remained to for years. 1932, it was rebuilt, but without the soldier and the vulture. It was finally restored to its original form in 1977, for the celebration of a century on independence.
There are 123 steps up to the top and yes, we hiked up them and back down!
Then we hiked back to town. Dris had made reservations at a restaurant for those who wanted to go. Dinner is not included on most days so the guide usually makes a reservation at a restaurant, making it easy for people to get dinner if they want. We all decided to go; it was a nice evening so we sat outside. We had traditional Romanian food--Jef had a pork goulash with polenta topped with a fried egg and mici--a meat roll, with mustard. I had a grilled chicken breast with veggie salad (most of which went to Jef!). I shared a bottle of Romanian Sauvignon Blanc with Nyarie and Peggy; it was quite nice! Jef had a Romanian beer.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow we spend the day on the Danube delta.