The sights of Constanta,Romania

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June 11th 2013
Published: June 15th 2013
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This morning we woke to a weather condition we haven't experienced so far on the BBA V2,fog.

The view we had up the beach towards Constanta had disappeared completely and there was fog swirling around the hotels around us.Overhead you could glimpse of blue so there was some hope that once the sun got a bit higher in the sky the weather would clear.

After a BBA breakfast we headed down to the main road and waited for a bus.A young woman waiting for the bus confirmed that it would take us to a mall we had passed yesterday although it would leave us with a good walk to the attractions we planned to see in the old town.

The city's main streets are two or three lane boulevards one of the legacies of the French ways of doing things that Romania has embraced.It certainly means traffic moves more efficiently but often you have to wait up to 90sec to get a turn to cross the road as there are so many lanes of traffic turning of going straight ahead to have their turn.One of the other handy features for pedestrians is the clock that counts down the time you have to cross the road before the lights goes red and also counting down until it turns green.The lights for the cars also have the same locks as well easing what ever stress you may have waiting your turn!

We had a map of sorts on the back of a brochure we picked up in the hotel and set off down Boulevarde Tomis(Tomis was the original name of the city founded in 600BC as a Greek colony).The downtown city area is like so many others in Europe where most of the population live close to the centre rather than out in suburbs like in NZ.Its not that there isn't plenty of room to build further out but it is the way cities developed here with people living close to their place of work which actually makes a lot of sense except for one thing.Along with a compact population comes a need for very high density housing and hence the high rise apartment blocks which in the old socialist countries are boring in their design and to look at as well as not being well maintained.Perhaps the maintenance issue in Constanta anyway may be to do with the fact that there was new apartment blocks near the Carrefour shopping centre we went to yesterday and whoever owns the downtown buildings knows that they have a limited life ahead of them and there is no point spending money on them if they are going to be pulled down soon.

We made steady progress enjoying the shade of the trees for although there was still fog out over the sea the temperature in the city was warm.

One thing with boulevards you know they are usually straight and long and this one was no different and eventually our walk came onto the bottom of the map we had and our attractions to visit were all ahead of us.getting there always seems to take longer then coming back especially when you are frequently checking to make sure where you are.We were OK as we passed points on the map that we had indicating we were on track.

Before we reached the old town,after about 45 minutes walking,we came upon a group of cafes and what was titled 'The British Pub'.Now we have been talking about eating beef after consuming more chicken and pork to last us another 10 years and we thought perhaps the pub might do a burger.But no chance it was just a watering hole and we needed food as well as a beer.

We carried on passing several other cafes serving up various ethnic foods but not Romanian which was an interesting aspect.

In the end we noticed a Greek café and our thoughts immediately went to the chance for another delicious gyros and so found a seat and ordered up two of them and a couple of Romanian beers,well you have to have something local.

The old town was undergoing a massive renovation and as we entered the area we wondered whether carrying on would be a good idea given the dug up streets,the dust and the noise of machinery.But we had walked for an hour and it would have been a wasted trip if we didn't gat around those attractions that we could get into despite the mess.

The main square is the home to a museum but we don't do those unless it is world famous and so we moved on to the building that still houses a floor of Roman mosaics from the 4th century AD.They were discovered when there was digging going on for a new building but it was good to see that rather than the new building being constructed a shelter was built over the area still in tact to create shelter for this important find.We did wonder though if all the work going on in the area creating dust hadn't dulled the look of the mosaics which are on what was the floor of the building.

There was also the remain of the Roman baths in the area and what was amazing was that the Romans of the day used to transport water by aqueduct for the baths over 6km from inland.We had seen what remains of the aqueducts while driving into the city yesterday but we couldn't figure out how to get closer and as we were on a road with no stopping places we couldn't take photos.

For once we found a mosque that we were allowed to enter,for a very small fee,and so we went into the mosque built in 1910.The interior architecture was a mix of Byzantine and Romanian and quite unique to the area and unlike others that we had been inside.The mosque also houses a huge carpet a gift from the people of Turkey.

We climbed up the 140 steps of the minaret thinking of the muezzin who does the same climb 5 times every day to call the faithful to prayer.The views despite the lingering fog were excellent and of course they were 360 degrees.We even had an elevated view of the 19th century House with Lions building with the large sculptured lion heads prominent from where we stood.

The fog was thicker in parts than others and over an area where there were cranes on a wharf you could see the top of the cranes but not the wharf below as it was enveloped in the swirling fog.

As we started to head back to the ground we heard footsteps coming up and wondered if the muezzin was coming to make one of his 5 daily calls.No such luck and it was just more tourists putting themselves through the twisting climb.

It was then onto the waterfront where we could get a better idea of what the area is going to look like when the makeover is completed and it will certainly make the area look more attractive.

On the shoreline was the rather grand looking casino building in art nouveau style from the late 1920's.A promenade makes walking along the waterfront that much more enjoyable except today the fog at sea level meant the scenery was invisible.Just along the road a little further was the original lighthouse built in 1860 to honour the Genoese merchants from the 13th century.

We walked back along the boulevard named for the 'revolution' of December 1989 when the socialist rule of Caucescu came to an end.

As we mentioned earlier the return walk often feels quicker than getting there and so it was today and we were soon back at the City Mall for a well earned cappuccino and iced coffee in an outdoor café watching the locals come and go to the mall.

We had walked a fair distance today and by the time we got home at close to 5pm we were ready to put our feet up.And anyway the fog was still covering the beach and it was no point going walking any further as we would not be able to see anything in the distance.

Tomorrow its the Danube Delta at Tulcea and as far east as the BBA V2 just a few minutes further east than Constanta.

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