Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bucharest - Music, food -The Dracula Club



Dracula Club, Bucharest, Romania. Knock knock. Who answers.












Bucharest - Some Night Life

The Dracula Club and Other Vlad sites

1.  The Dracula Club in Bucharest is kitsch, plus good food and good fun - see http://www.travellady.com/Issues/Issue60/dracula.htm ("Dinner At The Count's")

Go to the front door, knock, and a little tiny door at eye level opens up and you will be examined. Closely. Then the little door will close.

Even if the premises are rented for a private party, ask if you can just slip in for a while.  We did that and had a fine time.

2.  For further Vlad sites in Bucharest, including the "Princely Court," Curtea Veche, being excavated, at http://romaniaroadwaysvladtepes.blogspot.com/2006/08/bucharest-princely-court-vlad.html

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Romania. History of conflicts, seldom peace Life at crossroads.

The history of Romania suggests incessant strife among groups seeking survival or dominance: and larger-than-life leaders, voivodes and princes, all set in a stark and often brutal (as were the ages) narrative relief.  An emergent strong impression is the ongoing courage and tragedy of the conquered, the fighting back, the briefly prevailing, only to be beset upon by another group. And always on the bottom: the Roma, old slave class of imported people, and poverty-ridden serfs, especially in Transylvania.  That site is pay-per-view JSTOR, so find it through the library.

To recalibrate from superevents to the more mundane realities that the people have lived through, in all their own variety, read this memoir, history, travelogue: In Europe's Shadow, by Robert D. Kaplan 2016,  review NYT.  The author is a master of the visit-first, write later approach, with the full title including its scope, Europe's Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond. It fills in history that mere timelines cannot, because depth requires a narrative of experience, referencing art, movements. The focus on modern times is missed on many tours.

1.  For a grounding in Romania, why not just look at a historical timeline?  Why turn to narrative? Do a slow, contemplative read because List Timelines are too fond of late starts, offering a shallow impression of the area.
  • Begin at 1600, says the BBC.  There find Phanariot Greeks, Ottomans, Habsburgs, Michael the Brave, areas of Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia, Russian controls and administration, Romania teaming with Russia in the Russo-Turkish War, crushing peasant revolts, King Carol, Romania siding with Germany against Russia, Nicolai Ceaucescu, and then very modern times. That is a crazy quilt without frame.  
  • Try 1919 to 2012 at the BBC again. Same criticism.
  • The other extreme: Try 8000 BCE to date, at http://www.localhistories.org/romaniatime.html. Better, but still just data.
  • Some go so far back as to be dizzying. Find earliest traces in 104,000 BCE, at [104 mil BCE would be million?  apparently not, try mil as thousand, see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mil 
2. Concepts in basic Romanian history

1,1  Empires:  Byzantine, Ottoman, Habsburg, Russian. Yet the language harks back to Roman times, and the Latinate. Large area, periodic hackings to bits. Romania is a different mix from the Balkans ethnically, and economically. When to stop wars; when to intervene.  Ethnocentric populism movements, see Shadow 75.

1.2  Geography:  Carpathian Mountains separate Central from Eastern Europe.  Wallachia is flat -- anyone can invade, Shadow at 81.

1.3  Role of Orthodoxy:  Despite the Latinate roots, it is Orthodoxy that appears to dominate, not the Roman Catholic. And what of the Jews, and the Holocaust. A slaughter. Read Gregor von Rezzori's Memoirs of an Anti-Semite.  See Shadow at p.27, for the chasms between epochs.Shadow at 83 for stresses, Catholic and Orthodox. Holocaust, good and evil coexisting,  Shadow at 118 ff. Architecture:  Shadow at 214, "intimacy with wood", the monastic percussion semantron, or toaca, call to vespers for example, hear and see at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZVFxGCUWjvwZlgHtBBDXfg

1.4  Ongoing impact of Communism in the 1950's and after:  an "indigestible" ethnic nation, see Shadow at 29. At 37 -- Communism uprooted traditions so the result is an unmatched kaleidescope. The need grows for impersonal laws, applicable to all, to avoid the intrigue and corruption that comes with weak institutions.

1.5  Historic Rulers:
  • Mircea the Old, defeated Turks in Wallachia 1395, and again in 1400.  Shadow at 67. See Romanian  DVD at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKRWTJ_TB24
  • Stephen the Great, Stephen III, Moldavia, 1457-1504. a diplomatic ruler, Shadow at 69. Note that, as with western Catholicism, there are right-believers and there are heretics, here Stephen the Great is a Right Believer, see http://orthodoxwiki.org/Stephen_the_Great.  When the views clash, comes war.
    • Moldavia:  torn off by Russia, apparently, see Shadow at 73, but won back after Russia lost the Crimea, all this takes more research
  • Michael the Brave, ruled all 3 principalities, until his assassination in 1601,  Shadow at 71.  Romanian 1971 DVD at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxv6LfcfryA
  • Outsiders:  Metternich
3. Specific places, as bridgeways to current issues
  • Mogosoaia Palace, 1698-1702, near Bucharest.  Shadow at 31. Here we found the toppled statue of Lenin, outside the old kitchens, see post.  The palace blends influences of Turkey and Persia. It was built by the Wallachian Prince Constantin Brancoveanu, a man whose love of architecture blended West and Orient. His tragedy was having to play the Russian czar against the Ottoman sultan, and of course he lost. Beheaded.  Romania's impossible.l choices.
  • Brasov:  Shadow at 183.  Vlad was not there; hyped, privately owned. The city has more to offer, but the castle is pretty, and old.  Just not a Vlad location.
  • Moldova, Moldavia -- ongoing vulnerability, see Shadow at 175. Note the observation that the West offers, theoretically, the rule of law; which Russia does not, but the cultural ties and economic dependency supersedes, see Shadow at 174.  Poland invades under Jon III Sobieski 1691, see Shadow at 195
  •  Sighetu Marmetiei, or Sighet, city where the Cold War prison (now a museum) is nearly next to the locked Jewish cemetery, city of Elie Wiesel, see Shadow at 216
  • Hunedoara -- Hungarian Iancu de Hunedoars, and the castle, Shadow at 221.  His victories held the Turks at bay for some 70

4.  Mega-events then and now

Wars.  The west of Romania, Eurasia, endured for example the 9 years' war, the 30 years' war, the 80 years' war, the 100 years' war, the 16th Century Italian wars, the 17th Century northern wars (Catholic crusading), The 18th Century Spanish succession wars. And more, sacks of cities Voivodes against Turks on their own. see Shadow at 44.

Early peoples:  Scythians, Cimmerians, Getae.  Shadow at 48. Spend time with early warrior cultures, because these spill into Russia, the Middle East, migrate north.

Cumans at 66 (the Basarabs, from whence came Vlad Tepes (see genetic haplogroup analyses of Y chromosome of persons with Basarab claims, at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0041803 that suggests perhaps they were not were Cuman, East Asian, after all). Yet, traditional "nations" groupings fall short, See Shadow at 53. Individuals are short-circuited when immersed in broad groupings. Explore ideas of Latin-Romanian culture, juxtaposed with Orthodox.  Regaining self-respect after immersion especially in Communism-Stalinism is a struggle, Shadow at 56. Crowds, leaving behind individuality: to what end.

Romanians remained or sank back into status of a frontier people, under threat, constantly on the defense.  Overview at Shadow 64ff, and explore varied histories of those now trying to live together including combinations of early settling Mongols, and now Sunni Muslim  Crimean Tatars.

1930's:   Explore intellectuals  -- this takes individual digging

5.  Tethers

Romania is dependent on Russian natural gas for 1/4 of its needs, Shadow at 48. Russian efforts to extend and incorporate Balkans into its pipeline networks are ongoing, keeping Ukraine and Moldova in upset cross-hairs.

Booklist in the nature of a library resource online: To recapture a sense of adventure, sweep, recollections of the author who loves his old paperbacks:
  1. C. R. Boxer 1977, The Portuguese Seaborne Empire 1415-1825; and others at p.xxviii
  2. The Governments of Communist East Europe by H. Gordon Skilling, with particular interest in geographical influences, p.xxiii
  3. 1901, Buddenbrooks, the Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann at p.xxix, review NYT See Shadow at 51 ff.
  4. Lord Jim; and Nostromo, by Joseph Conrad, p 12 -- empathy and objectivity; Romania having to liberate themselves as an extension of that idea, and some hopelessness
  5. Crowds and Power, Eelias Canetti 1960-- crowd as mass who abandon individuality and grasp an "intoxicating collective symbol" -- to "escape loneliness" ? See p.17
  6. No economic or political rest since the 1930's. Toll. P. 19, sources. Con artists survive better than those who play by rules, etc.
  7. Tolstoy, Resurrection, p.21

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Bucharest, Curtea Veche,The Princely Court - Vlad

Court, Vlad III Tepes, Bucharest, Romania













Curtea Veche,  Princely Court.  Another court, in Targoviste which was the center of the rule first, is also called "Princely Court,". Vlad's court location after moving the political center to Bucharest. See http:// www.rotravel.com/romania/sites/tour/old.php.

The area is a combination of ruin and structures, but is in process of reconstruction. Its history is given at library.thinkquest.org/C0125971/media/english/Map/bucu. Excavations are ongoing.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Romania Road Ways Itinerary, Including Vlad III Tepes sites (Vlad the Impaler)

Post dates being put in chronological trip order, with the merger of this Romania Road Ways with the Vlad Tepes sites at Romania Road Ways Vlad Tepes.   Both topics, culture and history and specific Vlad III Tepes are being integrated. Post dates reflect the itinerary, not the dates actually seen. Please be patient with us.

Bucharest*
Snagov* -- Lake, Monastery burial of Vlad issues, 
Complex Astoria -- Communist era resort, with rowboats to alleged Vlad burial,
Sinaia
Brasov and Bran Castle*
Rasnov.
Curtea de Arges.
Poinari Citadel
Transfagarasan Pass
Sibiu
Sighisoara*
Targu Mures
Bistrita*
Piatra Fontanele 
Bucovina
Voronet
Putna
Prislop Pass
Sighetu Marmetei
Moisei
Ieud
Sighetu Marmetei
Iasi
Sapanta
Cluj Napoca
Alba Iulia
Baiu Mare
Hunedoara*
Petrogani
Targu Jiu
Horezu
Calimaneste
Rimnicu Vicea
Targoviste*
Mogosoaia
Bucharest*
......................

* Sites visited, and that have particular reference to Vlad III Tepes.  Those sites, separated at originally at Romania Road Vlad Tepes, are now merged here.

See also Romania Road Ways, included at our hub site for all trips to Europe (and other political and cultural commentary and research), at Europe Road Ways. 

For a fast reference to Vlad topics, see Vlad Tepes, The Historical Dracula, at http://www.donlinke.com/drakula/vlad.htm

More:  Go to the History of Central Europe at http://mysite.du.edu/~etuttle/misc/europe.htm#Mong. Scroll down to the Romania section. This is the most concise but clear and complete accounting we have found so far.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Bucharest, Count Dracula Club, fried rats to eat

The Dracula Club, Bucharest, Romania
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The Dracula Club, Bucharest. Excellent for Halloween. Knock, and a little door in the big door opens and a face peers out. This is a reputable fine food supper club-restaurant, not just a come-on. See http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g294458-d1070292-Reviews-Count_Dracula_Club-Bucharest.html/.  This may not be the place for a romantic proposal, but it served all our other purposes.


Enter and find yourself tightly embraced by the hospitality.


Dan Widing meets Dracula, Count Dracula Club, Bucharest, Romania (on Halloween)
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Enjoy the decor.  People, or parts of people, emerge from the walls.

Enjoy the fried rats - looked like chicken breast with dark pumpernickel breadcrumb coating, pimento puree within, and long tails and whiskers of something, perhaps fried angel hair pasta? See what else is offered, at  http://wwrn.org/articles/6176/?&place=eastern-europe&section=occult

Halloween was dress-up night. Watch for the really good actor who suddenly descends from the ceiling, seeking Mina, Mina, Mina; and grabbing bites where he can.  You may not be studying for an exam on Dracula, but get the overview on Mina at this crib site, http://www.gradesaver.com/dracula/study-guide/section6/

Who else has visited there? Mwah ha ha.  See Dinner At The Count's at http://www.travellady.com/Issues/Issue60/dracula.&gt/   Fitting an unfortunate stereotype, there was a group of American tour guides there at our visit.  They were rude and intolerant, barely tasting the fine buffet prepared.  This was not a friendly group at all. One even said aloud, in the face of a lavish and excellent variety of hot and cold foods, that she never ate local food.  I hope she chooses another career.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bucharest. Current Events. Romania Draft Legislation. Dolphin Personhood. Recognizing Dolphins as Non-Human Persons. Draft Legislation.

What human qualities, if found in a creature not human, shall afford that creature the rights and protections of a human. Remus Cernea, legislator in Romania, the Black Sea area, city of Constanta, has appropriate ideas. He would afford to dolphins the same rights as people. Personhood, so that killing a dolphin, for example, would be subject to a murder analysis.  Would it be reciprocal? For another day.  For now, whether this effort succeeds is not the issue.  The issue is the effect of raising how we exploit creatures to the level of legislative discussion that is more pivotal to the cause of how we coexist with our fellow planet earth residents over time. See http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/02/14/oukoe-uk-romania-dolphins-idUKBREA1D1J920140214/.  For Mr. Cernea's Statement, Remus Cernea, and text of proposed legislation at the Draft Law, http://voxpublica.realitatea.net/politica-societate/draft-law-for-recognizing-dolphins-as-non-human-persons-102731.html

This is news in any nation that eats, uses, keeps animals. Dogs have long been excluded from humanitarian considerations in Romania, for example, even when pets. I recall in Romania the hundreds of stray dogs, all breeds, wandering alone or in packs even in unpopulated areas. Dogs forced loose by laws that forbade residents forced out of their homes for governmental purposes from taking their pets with them.  We reminded ourselves, tempted to pet, to talk softly, to coo, hello puppy, to keep hands in pockets, eyes ahead. Our impression was that Romania did not care, or was not allowed to care, about its animals. See http://www.occupyforanimals.org/romania---on-the-greatest-animal-genocide-in-european-history-government-initiated-anarchy-violations-of-human-rights-and-children-rights.html

1. So what is changing? Thinking. Thinking as to dolphins, if not dogs. Any nation can boast a politician, a lawmaker, with ground-breaking causes, but this cause should be spread.

Romanians are accustomed to Michael the Brave, who in the the tumultuous 16th C ff, managed to unite disparate interests with Polish, Hungarian, Transylvanian groups at each other. No quarter given to those subject to slaughter. He then lost, with betrayals, brutality ensued, Michael returned, prevailed but was assassinated, see Zsigmond Bathori, ,Michael the Brave, and Giorgio Basta article at http://mek.oszk.hu/03400/03407/html/118.html. Scroll down to 1-753.   It is time for Remus the Brave.  Is that so? Or too melodramatic?


For Remus Cernea, imagine the interests that will rally against his vision. May he, as we say, stay strong and perhaps America can follow.

2. Then ask:  On what ground do humans exploit, dominate, use fellow creatures. Because we can?  Because our religion (whose?) translates taking dominion to domination and not leading gently as a god?  See meaning of dominion, from old texts, at Vetting Roots, http://martinlutherstove.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-do-you-do-i-create-tumors.html?q=dominion.  Lead gently, as a god.

3.  Here, Cernea cites the dolphins' high intelligence, relationships within the pod, with other creatures, personality, but all that is only a start.  With equality of right to a life, even if environmentally different, and without ten digits up and down, killing would be subject to the same analyses as murder. The Black Sea rejoices.

Japan is recently in the news for its corralling of dolphins into a killing bay, slaughter of those who cannot escape.  Is it really just a matter of culture, and such deaths not to be reviewed by anyone not of that culture.

4.  How does the draft law look?  This cannot be subject to copyright, so here it is:  Let the Romanian legislature address all issues with clarity and vision. And go to the site and order a T-shirt. http://voxpublica.realitatea.net/politica-societate/draft-law-for-recognizing-dolphins-as-non-human-persons-102731.html



Draft law for recognizing dolphins as non-human persons




Art.1 All species of dolphins enjoy special protection on the territory of Romania, each individual of this species being considered to be a non-human person.

Art. 2 The hereby law defines a non-human person any being that does not belong to the human species, yet posses a developed intelligence, the capacity to form complex social relations, and is the bearer of the following rights:

1. Right to life

2. Right to bodily integrity, and to be free from any acts of cruelty

3. Right to free movement in their own natural environment, not to be captured or hold in captivity with other purposes other than to be offered medical assistance or to be protected from an impending danger.

4. Right to be protected in the own living natural environment, and not to be separated from the group or family he or she belongs.

Art. 3 Any violation of the rights of non-human persons is forbidden and shall be prosecuted with penalties that are equivalent with those stipulated in the Penal Code for violation of similar rights of human persons.

Art. 4 (1) Any current activity involving holding dolphins in captivity and/or using them in various entertaining facilities will cease in no longer than 12 months from the adoption of the hereby law.

(2) During this 12 month period, all dolphins that are considered fit for reintroduction by the specialists will be released into their natural environment populated by the same species.

(3) The dolphins that do not meet criteria for reintroduction in their natural environment will be placed in specialized care for the rest of their lives, and will no longer be used for entertainment purposes on any other purposes that will contravene the status of non-human persons.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Bucharest - Caravanserai

Romania is not a first thought when the old Silk Routes are mentioned.  Still, it was an important stopping point, a gateway into Europe.  Bucharest boasts a fine caravanserai, now offering a restaurant both in the inner courtyard, and in shelter when needed.  The architecture of these structures has remained constant over country boundaries, see AramcoWorld magazine, at http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/201104/.  The large square design, two stories on the outer walls, large usually single gate entry, tall and wide to accommodate loaded camels, a well, areas for a mosque, rooms all around, and accommodations for royal travelers as well as those on pilgrimage.
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These took money and organization to sustain:  unending need for fresh straw, filled ewers of liquids, even wines for the European trader heading east?  There would be a scribe at the entry, recording your identity, your goods, your route, how many livestock.

The idea dates, probably, from the 5th Century BC, although there are references in Middle Eastern tales, such as Gilgamesh, to a traveler finding accommodation, an inn, 3000 BCE.  Inns, rather ramshackle, called "pandochions" accepted all comers as well, and the Good Samaritan of Bible Story, left the wounded traveler at one of those.  Then came a more refined Arabic "funduq".

In Romania today, there are the spaced hostels, pensions, the "cazare" everywhere (see http://www.romaniacazare.com/); and hotelier complexes that recall the huge enterprises of the old days.

 History of Romania's invaders, influences ethnic groups, see http://romaniaandmoldova.com/romania/

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Bucharest - Ghencea Military Cemetery (Ceaucesu); Museum of the Romanian Peasant; Mogosoia Palace (Lenin)

Bucharest
Ghencea Military Cemetery

We save the capital city for the end of the trip. We aim right out of the airport into the great beyond, wherever that is.  Then, we are not rushed on our way back; or, if we are, it is easier to come back to a major city if we can. City traffic upon first landing is not a good introduction to any country.  Get out of it.

Bucharest is a cosmopolitan city, see http://www.escapeartist.com/efam/63/Travel_To_Romania.

1.  Propellers as markers. Romania honors its war dead in unique ways.

For the air force, those who served are buried with a propeller instead of a headstone.

Ghencea Military Cemetery, Propeller Grave Markers, Bucharest, Romania





















The custom of propellers marking graves of pilots is found elsewhere in Romania. For locating well-known graves, go online.  Visit Find A Grave, at http://www.findagrave.com/php/famous.php?page=country&FScountryid=6

2.  Others who died in the political realm are not so revered, at least in public.  See Lenin statue, toppled, Mogosoaia Palace, near Bucharest.  Lenin's statue is discarded behind the kitchens at Mogosoaia Palace outside Bucharest.

At the Communist Exhibition at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant in Bucharest, however, there is a lower level, creep down in search of the Ladies, and find reverential exhibits, complete with altars, for Lenin and the Ceaucescu, and others.

3.  Nicolai Ceaucescu is buried here, but at the civil side of the cemetery.

Grave, Nicolai Ceaucescu, Ghencea Civil Cemetery, Bucharest, Romania



The Ceaucescus are buried separately at the Ghencea Civil Cemetery in Bucharest, but are some aisles apart.

We looked for a long time before finding either grave, and were carefully watched by guards.

I believe the concern was simple vandalism, and we were not hindered in any way as we looked. Nonetheless, we were watched, watched. Guns ready.
We are not used to that. All we wanted was a look, and a picture. Got them. Got out.

There are tributes on the graves. Candles, objects, even a beer bottle.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bucharest area. Current Events: Buzescu and Roma, Tsigani, Gypsies


We found several towns where the Roma arriving for an evening's entertainment, perhaps a casino, as in Sighisoara, were in limousines, in beautiful, lavish clothing.  Here, however, is the first article we found affirming that population's presence elsewhere:  National Geographic, September 2012.  Buzescu is south of Bucharest. We did not get there. Is it instead Buzescu Sidonia, near Pitest; or Buzescu HM, farther south from Pitest.

Of special interest is nomenclature.  We understand that "Gypsy" is often seen as derogatory, with a cultural preference for "Roma" instead.  Yet, both may well be needed for more direct communication with those of us on the outside, who are not familiar with Roma as different from Rome, etc. 

Here, we learn that some Roma in Buzescu, Romania, prefer to be called Gypsies or Tsigani.   

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Lake Snagov. Quiet Resort; Development Pending?.

Vlad Tepes (Vlad III Tepes) Burial, or to what extent, on island in Lake Snagov
 
Lake Snagov, Romania. Dockside view, from Complex Astoria resort.











 Snagov is not only a resort area, but also the lake where Vlad's burial on an island monastery, is located, so they say. Fine estates line parts of the shore. As you are rowed out to the island and the monastery, you will also see Ceaucescu's palace, and isolated rocking boats of fishermen, and so quiet.  Visit fast. Development coming.