If you come from my side of the world (i.e the South Pacific) then you would be forgiven if you needed to look up a map to find out where Romania and Bulgaria were. That's what I did when I found out I was headed for Bucharest, Romania and Sofia, Bulgaria for my latest assignment.
|A map of Southern Europe|
Remodeled in the late 19th century by French and French-trained architects, the city features large neoclassical buildings, fashionable parks, and even its very own Arc de Triomphe on the elegant Soseaua Kiseleff, an avenue longer than the famed Champs-Elysees and home to the city's mansion district.
Bucharest is laden with historical charm - from the streets of the Old City Centre, which are slowly being restored, to the grand architecture of the Royal Palace and the lush green of Cismigiu Park. The city also claims a large number of museums, art galleries, exquisite Orthodox churches and unique architectural sites.
Nicolae Ceausescu's legacy, including the Parliament Palace (formerly called the People's Palace), which at 3.76 million square feet stands as the world's second largest building after the U.S. Pentagon, provides an interesting introduction to the dictator's megalomaniac vision.
|The Arc de Triomphe in Bucharest, Romania|
|The view of Bucharest from my hotel room|
|Downtown Sofia, Bulgaria|
|The Church of St. George, dating back to 4th century|
The Church of St George is an Early Christian red brick rotunda that is considered the oldest building in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. It is situated behind the Sheraton Hotel, amid remains of the ancient town of Serdica.
Built by the Romans in the 4th century CE, it is mainly famous for the 12th-14th century frescoes inside the central dome. Three layers of frescoes have been discovered, the earliest dating back to the 10th century. Magnificent frescoes of 22 prophets over 2 metres tall crown the dome. Painted over during the Ottoman period, when the building was used as a mosque, these frescoes were only uncovered in the 20th century.I head home tomorrow via Frankfurt. I can't wait to be reunited with Maddy and Rach, it's been too long. After a few days rest we intend on hitting the road for a 7-day road trip that will lead us through Philadelphia, NYC, Niagara Falls and Pittsburgh.