Atlantis Alumni

Monday, September 30, 2019

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Best Friends

Our Postmistress Betty and Katie-dog share a special few moments several times a week.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Delightful Late Summer At The Beach

Now that the hurricane has passed, it's time to enjoy the beautiful pre-autumnal days of late summer on Fire Island.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dracula's Castle, Transylvania, Sinaia, And Peles Castle

For our final day of touring this trip on Thursday we ventured high into the mountainous areas north of Bucharest. Located several hours away by bus on crowded inadequate roads are two major attractions: Peles Castle, and Bran Castle, also known as Dracula's Castle. From Wiki: "Peleș Castle is a Neo-Renaissance castle in the Carpathian Mountains, near Sinaia, in Prahova County, Romania, on an existing medieval route linking Transylvania and Wallachia, built between 1873 and 1914. Its inauguration was held in 1883. It was constructed for King Carol I. Bran Castle, situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Brașov, is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress is situated on the Transylvanian side of the historical border with Wallachia." Bran Castle is associated with the myth of Count Dracula, the fictional creature created by author Bram Stoker, even though Stoker himself never visited Romania. More informtion on the Dracula myth is here. The scenery in the area of both castles is stunning. They are very different experiences; 19th century Peles Castle is very ornate, lavishly furnished but too dark to photograph inside. Bran Castle, built in Medieval times, is more simply furnished but situated beautifully with fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. We enjoyed seeing both but it was an exhausting 13 hour day and hitting the pillow felt great after a late dinner at Vatra, one of Bucharest's nicer authentic Romanian restaurants. Friday We begin our long voyage home with flights to Philadelphia connecting through Montreal. This has been a remarkable trip indeed! - Jim

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sightseeing In Bucharest

Here are some views of Bucharest from the balcony of our hotel room on the 18th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel in Bucharest. On Wednesday our morning bus tour began with an hour-long visit to the Parliament, built as a Presidential Palace by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena. Vast sections of the 19th century city were torn down to accommodate the second largest building in the world, only eclipsed by the USA's Pentagon. Three billion dollars were spent to construct the opulent, overblown, eclectic "palace," which the megalomaniac rulers never occupied. They were shot at the end of the Communist era in 1989, as justice for their cruelty and cupidity. A walking tour of the Old Town followed. Many large public buildings were built in the late 19th century during the benevolent era of King Carol I, who ruled until 1914. These Beaux Arts-style structures, often designed by French architects, gave rise to the city being called the "Paris of the East." Some older, small and exquisite 18th century Orthodox churches also survive. For lunch we had more authentic Romanian dishes at Caru cu Bere, which a guide had earlier called the most famous restaurant in the city. Jim and I shared a table for two outside, and we ordered Romanian carp with polenta. But the interior of this 1879 restaurant, with its fanciful oak wood carved decorations resembles a room from one of "mad King Ludvig" of Bavaria's ornate castles. After lunch we visited the National Museum of Art, which contains a small but interesting collection of European Paintings including three El Greco works and a nice portrait of the famous castrato singer Faranelli. - Dan

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Constanta On The Black Sea

We left our riverboat Tuesday morning and boarded motor coaches for our trip to Constanta. This ancient town had many remnants of its former glory as an important ancient Roman city; the famed poet Ovid was exiled and died there. A walking tour took us past museums, churches and mosques. Nearby, we had a fine buffet luncheon at Mamaia, a Black Sea resort. Then, after a three hour drive our 130 Brand-G travelers arrived in Bucharest, Romania's imposing capital city. It was surprising to see tall buildings once again. We had a delicious dinner at Aubergine restaurant in the Old Town before retiring for the evening at the grand Intercontinental Hotel. - Dan