Balkan overview |  9/7 Bucharest, Romania  |  9/8 Constanta  |  9/9 Danube  |  9/10 Rousse and Arbanassy, Bulgaria  |  9/11 Danube  |  9/12 Veliko Gradiste and Belgrade  |  9/13 Novi Sad  |  9/14 Vukovar, Osijek  |  9/15 Budapest  |  9/16 Budapest  |  9/17 Bratislava, Slovakia  |  9/18 Prague  |  9/19 Prague  |  9/20 Terezin 
Click at left to hear a Bulgarian Gaida, an instrument like the bagpipe, in a song called Spring Horo played by Peicho Peev
9/9/08 Tuesday, boating on the Danau (Danube)

Ceausescu killed many people in the forced labor camps used to build the canal linking the Black Sea to the Danube. Ceausescu killed anyone (minorities, aristocrats, the religious, intellectuals) that might threaten his rule.

There were “volunteers” who came to build the canal from other prisons and places. We passed Medgidia (a Turkish named town of 55,000 people.) Most of the people here work in the wine industry and the nuclear plant nearby. The first phase of canal building lasted until 1953 (the death of Stalin) and completed the hardest half of the canal. We don't know how many people died because the communists destroyed the records. There were 14 forced labor camps. The work stopped in 1953 when Stalin died, but they needed another excuse, so they accused some of the workers of sabotage and killed them. The 2nd phase of work on the canal started in 1977, Ceausescu had megalomaniac ideas. Romania had a huge earthquake in 1977. The Shah of Iran was in conflict with the British over charges for transport of oil. So Romania got some money from Iran to finance the canal.

In 1970, Romania had the highest living standard in east Europe.
In 1977 the earthquake caused about $5 billion in losses
In 1978 work re-started on the canal
In 1979 the Islamic revolution occurred in Iran, so all cooperation from Iran stopped, but Ceausescu kept going on the canal and bankrupted the country.
By 1983, the living standard had fallen to the worst in Eastern Europe.
Ceausescu conscripted student “volunteers” to help. The canal was finished and inaugurated in 1984.

St. Cyril invented the Cyrillic alphabet to teach the bible to the peoples of this area around 860 AD. The Bible was finally translated in 865. Christianity was adopted in Hungary in 1000. It was adopted in Romania in 1865 (after the Ottoman empire failed.)

Our Captain on the boat is Pavel Boskovich.

Bulgaria was settled in the 7th century. Its capitol is Sofia, with 1.5 million people. They are primarily Slavs, mixed in with Bulghurs, and use the Cyrillic alphabet. The Russians helped them revolt against the Ottoman empire, which they were under for 500 years. In the 1940s they took the side of Germany because Germany promised to help them against the Macedonians. But they and the Danish were the only Axis controlled countries in WW II to save their Jewish population. As a result, Hitler murdered the Bulgarian king.

Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania:
P1000353.JPG P1000354.JPG
Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania:
P1000361.JPG P1000362.JPG
leaving the mouth of the port at Constanta
oddly shaped pyramid structures to strengthen the sea walls at Constanta
P1000366.JPG P1000369.JPG
near Constanta, Romania: safety drill on the SS River Adagio
Romania: sheep and goats along the Danube
Romania: swans along the Danube
along the Danube, Romania:
horse-drawn cart along the Danube, Romania:
previous day
9/8 Constanta
next day
9/10 Rousse, Bulgaria and Arbanassi monastery
Balkans Overview Martha's home page