In Line at SFO
Stara Zagpra is the oldest city in Europe dating back 4000 years--to the time of Abraham!
Gopi is ethnically Roma (Gypsy) and Raina is an ethnic Bulgarian. When they were married two years ago Raina's family would not talk to Gopi. Since the birth of their daughter a year ago they have begun to accept him as a family member.
Dinko (President of the Theological College) & Petia (Academic Dean of the Theological College) Zlatarov
The Roma people (Gypsies) have been discriminated against for about 1000 years. The first Gypsy college graduates in Bulgaria have been in my theology classes over the past three years.
Shashel, in the front is the pastor of a village church in Sliven numbering about 200, about 70 km outside Stara Zagora
The dedication was amazing! Many came from as far as 70 miles away and sat in class for nearly eight hour per day--and wanted more!
There is a rhythm to translating. You need to know how much you can say at once. Also some translators are “expository” translators who take 3x or 4x the amount of time and words to express in the local language what I have said in English. Sometimes I would stand for five minutes waiting. Petia is particularly skilled at the art of translation, unlike some others I have worked with. It is a learned skill to be able to keep a good rythm.
After a grueling week teaching 7 1/2 to eight hours per day class was over. We needed to make a contact in Prague and Dinko and Petia needed to be there for meetings. We had planned for a year to make it a road trip with them through Budapest, Vienna and to Prague. Two days before we left Dinko said “for the price of an extra 3 tanks of fuel, we could go through southern Europe to Italy and then go North through Switzerland, Germany and Austria.” After weighing the options we decided to do it.
Tuesday Morning: First destination Sofia
During the past three years we have seen dramatic changes in the appearance in the country. Dwellings that were gray are now being painted bright colors. Infrastructure, particularly roads are being improved
Dinko had warned us to expect as much as a two and one-half hour wait at the border to get into Serbia. So we were aprehensive as we approached the frontier
Dispite our apprehensions we were through customs in about two and one-half minutes!
Eastern Serbia is very rugged and reminds me of the Sierria Nevadas
Harvest time: old fashioned harvesting by hand
Destination Belgrade. Notice the signs are now in Latin not Cyrillic script
Lots of modern architecture near the motorway, but we still saw a couple of buildings that looked like they were still in a bombed out condidtion from the war in the 90s
We had planned to spend the night in Belgrade, but decided to push on to Zagreb in Croatia. It was another four hours driving.
Pretty much like the USA, but you have to pay for the ketchup!
Vintage Communist era construction... but it was affordable
The park in the central part of the old city Zagreb was magnificent
Renaissance buildings lined the park
It is also Embassy Row
Our first glimpse of our destination: the cathedral. Note the painted false front. We saw this in several cities as these are hung on scaffolding to cover restoration work
Climbing the hill to see the cathedral
The cathedral dominates the skyline
Across from the cathedral
A view from the front of the cathedral
It is so tall you can't get the front in one picture!
The front door. Kay & Dinko at the right
Kay giving perspective on the size of the door
The history of the cathedral goes back to A.D. 1093. Its present form dates from 1242 but has been significantly restored after earthquake damage in 1880. The architecture is meant to give the worshiper a sense of the awsome transcendance of God and to make the worshiper feel small in His presence.
Because most of the medieval population was illiterate, stained glass was used as a medium to communicate the biblical message in graphic form.
We left Zagreb about noon and arrived in Venice around 4:00
No stops at the border. The EU has done away with passport controls within its borders.
We crossed the bridge to get to Venice. Then found a place to park at the top of a six story parking garage. This must be the highest point in Venice. If not, it is close
The first bridge. Over this bridge in the city there are no cars or motorized vehicles.
I was prepared to dislike Venice intensely. Despite its romantic visual appeal I had heard that it was smelly & dirty, and I have a very sensitive nose. I was pleasantly suprised. At least in mid-October it was immaculate and utterly charming. Only once in a while did I get a whiff of any unplesant odor.
The streets are narrow, often little wider than alleyways.
Our first view of St. Mark's Cathedral.
The architecture of St. Mark's is magnificent. Unfortunately we could not get inside. The walk through the city had taken an hour and it had closed for the day just before we got there :-(
Dinko playing with the pigeons in St. Mark's Plaza. During the recent floods this area was under two feet of water!
We really were there!
The Rialto over the Grand Canal
We left Venice about 9:00 p.m. We were exhausted. Kay & I dozed as Dinko drove the 90 miles to Verona. After some hunting we found a hotel a couple of miles from town and got some much needed rest.
Parking in central Verona is nearly impossible. At our hotel we found out about the place that only locals know. It is out of the way and affordable.
Across the Bridge and into the old city.
The bridge dates from medieval times.
A view from the bridge.
The Coliseum in Verona
Narrow medieval streets; modern high priced designer shops
One of many plazas all set for the tourists
Romeo and Juliette are not just a fictional story. They lived in Verona and her family house is a tourist attraction
The entrance to Juliette's house
Juliette's balcony. It is made from an ancient sarcophagus with one side removed
How would you like this kind of clock in your city
One of many small churches throughout the city. The style is Romanesque, it predates the medieval gothic
Romeo's home is about two blocks from Juliette's, but not in good repair. It is not open to the public.
Front of Romeo's home
A trubute to the founder of Modern Italy. Italy has been a unified country only since the late 1800s
Kay insisted that we have lunch at an outdoor restaurant
Pizza= one of the basic food groups!
We left Verona at about 2:00 p.m. for Milan. It is about a two hour drive. After the charm and romance of Verona, Milan was a disappointment to me. I love the history and historic architecture. Milan is a thourougly modern comercial city. It is the fashion capital of Italy, and second only behind Paris in Europe. It is definitely a “see and be seen” environment. The exception to this is the plaza and the Dumo (the cathedral)
More vineyards outside Milan
The architecture is much more ordinary here
Fashion? I think this says it all!
Fashion & Money: I saw a pair of men's loafers for 2200 euros!
Leonardo da Vinci
The cafes had tables facing outward to “see and be seen”
How would you like your shopping center to look like this?
Italians never forget their heritage
The Gallaria--adjacent to the central Plaza
We were here too!
La Scala --The Opera House
After leaving Milan we went north to the Italian Swiss border and stayed the night at the resort town of Como. It took 2 hours to find a reasonably priced hotel!
Driving through the Alps brings new understanding as to why Switzerland was never conquered by an invading army
Churches and Fortresses on the mountainsides in every valley
Flower by the highway
There are no words!
Kay & Dinko sang praises to God for the glory of the magnificence of creation. Petia & I just looked in silent awe.
The Castle in Liechtenstein
From Switzerland we cut across a corner of Austria and into Germany--destination Munich
I had to get a Munich Hard Rock Cafe shirt for my collection
Sights of home two doors down
Typical German Fare
Gothic style Business center near the Cathedral, built in the late 19th century...who knew?
From another angle
The Cathedral of our Lady--it was much plainer than the cathedrals in Croatia or in Italy . Construction was begun in 1468 and finished in 1524 (the early days of the Reformation).
What would Germany be without the accordian?
Leaving Germany for Austria the next morning.
Tunnel through the mountain on which the castle is located. A parking garage has been hewn out of of the granite.
The churches in Salzburg are magnificent.
Baroque style architecture
This was a festival day. In Munich it was just past Oktoberfest time. This is the Salzburg equivalent.
Sculpting with hay.
Christmas in October
Genuine Austrian Brat
The graphic symbols of the various schools of the University
The Czech Republic is in process of becoming fully integrated into the EU. They still use their traditional currency instead of the Euro
Prague is reputed to be the most beautiful city in Europe. It was never bombed in WWII and retains its Medieval and Rennissance splendor.
We stayed at the Seminary, located about 5 miles from downtown
During WWII these buildings were appropriated by the Nazis and served as Hitler's army headquarters during WWII . After the War the Semianary bought the facility and restored it to its Rennissance glory.
Around the Seminary
The Charles Bridge
Jan Hus (John Huss), Martin Luther's theological inspiration who was burned at the stake by the Council of Constance for heresy is a Czech national hero. His legacy included the Hussites, a theological sect that continued and ultimately merged into the Reformation traditions about a century later.
The Clock Tower on the Plaza
The Clock Tower with the astrological clock
The world famous astrological clock in the Clock Tower
I got my Hard Rock in Prague too.
This church is at the entrance to the Charles Bridge. The following pictures are from inside
St George is popular here too.
Entrance to the Charles Bridge
Entrance to the Charles Bridge. The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side. The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700.
Construction on the bridge itself began in 1357. During the night Charles Bridge is a quiet place. But during the day it changes its face into a very busy place, with painters, owners of kiosks and other traders alongside numerous tourists crossing the bridge.
On the Bridge
A view from the bridge
The other side of the river: entrance to the old city
Entrance to the old city Prague
Starbucks is everywhere. . .even in Prague.
Cinnamon Twists. Yum!
Views from the Old City
The Goulash was great!
See the towers of the cathedral behind the presidential palace buildings
Saint Vitus's Cathedral was founded on 21st of November, 1344, the construction was not completed until 1927. Over 600 years in the building. It is the most magnificent and most important chucrh in the country. Unfortunately other buildings nearly abut to it so you can't even get a picture of the front of the building
The Plaza in front of the government complex
On the way up the hill to the Cathedral
Departation point: The Prague airport
A six hour layover. Ugh!