Tour of Bulgarian museums in March 2010

Thursday, March 25: Across the Danube and back

We wake up, nervously. Today we will see the Danube! And, at least as exciting: we will cross the border between Bulgaria and Romania, thus entering totally unknown territory. We think we know a little bit about Bulgarian cultural identities, but what about Romania? What will await us?

Well, for a start: mist. This must be the vicinity to the Danube that dips Silistra into mist all over. We hardly see a thing as we drive carefully to the Danube ferry.

And then, all of a sudden, all happens very quickly. We pass a border crossing, forget to buy a vignette for the Romanian roads and get in line to enter the ferry. Five minutes and the ferry arrives and carefully we drive onto it. Oops, we forgot to buy a ticket, Matthias is off to get one after he has crammed the car on the small ferry so that the ferrymen are happy. One more truck, a tight parking space, finally everything is stowed correctly, and we cast off.

For a long time we follow the Bulgarian shore, the Danube is clouded in mist. Around us people talk in Romanian and Bulgarian. The crossing takes around 15 minutes, we leave the ferry - and there we are. Romania!

View from the Danube ferry.

Cǎlǎraşi, our first stop, is only 10 kilometres away and a textbook example of a planned city. All streets run in right angles, we find the museum right away. We are greeted by Dr. Valentin Parnic and Dragomira Boeva Kančeva (who knows that we would ever say that, but thank God: she speaks Bulgarian!). They show us the exhibition, among the finds are objects from Sultana, Mariuţa, Chirnogi and Borduşani. After that we get to see even more anthropomorphic figurines (among them a CIII figurine from Satu Nou) and lots of Coslogeni vessels from locations along the Danube.

Like everywhere we buy lots of books, try (in fute) to buy a vignette at the post office (no, they sell them only to Romanians there), finally get one at a gas station and head on to Giurgiu. The road is winding along the Danube, through small villages, lo and behold, it is in great state, not a single dupka. The villages are neat, we would like to stop every other mile to take pictures of the village signs because they represent famous locations for archaeological excavations: Cascioarele, Pietrele, Spanţov, Cuneşti, Olteniţa.

But no can do, we have a date at Giurgiu, the museum closes around 5! We get there at 4 und meet Raluca Kogalniceanu. She welcomes us very friendly and shows us the exhibition - unfortunately, the Sultana lovers are in New York at present - and, afterwards and after a beer, around 80 anthropomorphic figurines; Valeska’s head is swimming. Loaded with books, good wishes and our heads full of impressions, we finally leave Giurgiu and drive back to Ruse across the Friendship Bridge.

Back in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian side of the bridge between Giurgiu and Ruse.

Back in Bulgaria! We realized that we don’t understand the least bit spoken Romanian, all our Bulgarian, Russian or German doesn’t help, but fortunately many people speak French or English. Great colleagues and fantastic finds! A project in Romania would be great as well :-)

March 26: Involuntary vacation >