I had been to Romania before, and loved it. My cruise planned a stop at Constanta on the Black Sea, and I looked forward to adding the Romanian coastline to my memories.
Perhaps Constanta is in the middle of some drastic renovations. Perhaps I was simply not in the mood to regress to a city overgrown with left-over Soviet-ness. If Romania’s Brasov, in the photo to the left, is the best city in the world, and there may be a good case for that distinction, Constanta would be on a different kind of list.
The Opera House, the first structure we came to on our walk, is a formerly lavish building. I believe it was once loved, but that is a long time past. Our foot tour went figuratively downhill after that. Entire streets, for several blocks in both directions had been torn up, but the atmosphere told me that no one was in a hurry to make the repairs. The ground floors of several unused buildings had nothing but guard dogs inside and fences outside that forbid curiosity if the dogs didn’t. I felt sorry for the several restaurants that looked to be making a valiant effort at good cheer. We were just past the normal tourist season, and maybe the residents had had a very successful one, and were now giving themselves a well-deserved break from the enormous task of catering to passersby. I truly understand how exhausting that must be.
As Stanley and I walked back through town, I paused at the city’s museum, watching a brick crumble from a window sill. He asked if I wanted to go inside and read of the city’s history. I shook my head as another brick fell away from the museum’s exterior wall. We walked back to our ship, away from the cloud of depression that always threatens to surround me in countries of the former soviet union. Did I say walked? Probably, I ran.
Next up: Istanbul, where I have also been before, and which I also loved, making me now very, very nervous.