500,000 bottles of sparkling wine mature in this section of the underground cellars at Cricova Winery just north of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 3, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Now, this is a civilized way to buy wine!

It was 11:00am by the time we got out the door yesterday morning. It takes a long time to sort the photos of our activities and post the blog. I guess we have to stop doing so much stuff. We are kind of due for a relax day, but I don't see that happening any time soon...there is too much to see and do!

Our couchsurfing host Valentina was going into town, so we went along with her and she dropped us off at one of the entrances to the citadel here in central Alba Iulia.

We are staying at a house in the village of Oarda de Sus, about 8 kms (5 miles) from the center of town.

Where we are staying right now.

The city of Alba Iulia (pop 65,000) has a very interesting history, and of course that's why we are here!

Originally it was a capital of the Roman Empire dating back 2,000 years ago to 105 AD. Fast forward a thousand years and it was the center of the Catholic Diocese of Transylvania and the Catholic Cathedral was built here. 

Six hundred years later, Alba Iulia became an important military site and it was decided to built a huge citadel to resist Ottoman invasions.

Ruth, overlooking the walls.

And so, between 1715 and 1738, 10,000 serfs labored to build the huge structure. There were three layers of fortification, six gates, and a system of drawbridges and tunnels. Once it was built, a garrison of 10,000 soldiers lived here.

After World War I, the citadel was used by 100,000 people to celebrate the union that became present day Romania. And between 1918 and 1922, the present day Romanian Orthodox Cathedral was built on the site. King Ferdinand and Queen Maria were crowned here.

Huge thick walls and a drawbridge.

We don't understand how they made soooo many bricks! There would be millions of them.



Anca, Ruth, and Andreea in the Alba Iulia tourist office located in the citadel.

We always make an effort to stop in the local tourist office. They are a wealth of information, and provided us with maps and lots of information. Thanks to Anca and Andreea for their help!

Between two of the fortifications is now a roadway that circles the interior.
It is 3 kms (1.8 miles) long. How did they make that many bricks for the huge walls??


One of the lower entrance gates, looking back at the business area.

Most areas have been beautifully restored over the last 10 years.

The upper entrance gate to the citadel.

The drawbridge.

There are a lot of these statues throughout the compound.

Excavation has uncovered a lot of Roman artifacts. Even a street and foundations of buildings from 2,000 years ago. 

An artist depiction based on the findings.

We went into the big Roman Catholic Cathedral...

Built between 1247 and 1291.

How did they build this back then? Amazing...

The organ has 2,209 pipes, and was built in 1877.

These two crypts are dated 1442 and 1458.

We  wandered around outside for an hour or so and then decided to visit the Romanian National Museum of the Union...a history and archaeological museum containing many of the Roman artifacts found on site.

Roman statue from 2,000 years ago!

The museum was not bad, but we can only look at so many broken pieces of pottery!

Next up was the Roman Orthodox Cathedral. The entrance way and grounds are spectacular, as is the building itself...

The entrance gate to the Orthodox Cathedral.



Built between 1918 and 1922.

We were allowed inside, but it was difficult to get a decent photo of the interior, so I took a video for you...


It was after 3:00pm by now, and we were going to take the public bus back to Oarda de Sus. So we walked from the citadel to the train station where the main bus depot is. We bought four tickets at 2.5 lei ($0.80 CAD, $0.60 USD) each. We would each use one, and then save two for another day.

The schedule said our bus was to leave at 4:17pm, so we went into a nearby grocery store and bought some supplies. As we were shopping, we saw a neat setup for buying wine! You take an empty 1 liter plastic bottle, put it under the spout, and fill it up with your choice of red, white or rose...

Ruth, concentrating so she doesn't spill a drop!

One liter of wine for 4.89 lei ($1.60 CAD, $1.20 USD). Now this is a civilized way to buy wine!

Not sure on the agenda for today, but it's 10:00am already again!

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If you're a fan of Crocs, today is a good day to buy some...


And in Canada...for Columbo fans out there...




33 comments:

  1. WOW! What an interesting trip! LOVED all of it - spectacular, with beauty of all its own! Video was GORGEOUS! Don't think you could have planned it any better. Great places to stay, with even greater folks! How was the wine? Great price too! Thanks again for sharing!

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    1. Thank you Pat! Yes, there is just about everything that someone could ask for here. Wonderful architecture, amazing history, lovely people and delicious food, oh and good cheap wine. :-) The wine was actually quite good, especially for the price.

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  2. Such a fun day , and sure is a great way to buy wine.

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    1. Canada could learn a thing or two about selling wine! :-)

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  3. I love that citadel. So much history.
    When ever we see a building built long ago, I always think that same thing...How in the heck did they build this? I can't image how bad the workers' backs felt.
    Good thing we don't have that way of buying wine in the USA. We would have waaaaay more winos than Italy...hehe

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    1. It was wonderful, more than what we were expecting when actually saw it, it is huge and beautiful. Alba Iulia is suppose to be the largest citadel in Romania and we believe it.

      We always think that when we see buildings so old and then compare it to the history in Canada or the United States, we may have old history but not old buildings like this, they truly are amazing to see.

      This is actually the first city that we have seen wine sold like this since being in Romania. We aren't sure but we think this is a wine region here that could possibly be the reason for selling it like this. You can also buy the wine in bottles. Surprisingly enough the wine tastes very good and neither of us ended up with headaches. ;-)

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  4. I've heard you can buy wine like that in some places in Greece - I agree, I would love it if I could buy wine here like that. Wow, didn't realize Romania had so many neat citadels and ancient history. Will have to put it on my Country list

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    1. We haven't been to Greece so we can't concur with that but we have friends that have been to France and they have said you can buy it there like this as well. I, personally love this idea! :-)

      So glad to hear that you are putting Romania on you list of countries to visit. Personally, I would recommend coming here rather than Western Europe but then we haven't really spent time in Western Europe but from our point of view, there are less tourists, better prices and just as much history and gorgeous buildings as you would find there, oh and beautiful scenery.

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  5. I bought wine in Australia the same way and the even corked it for me. Cost 2.00 per litre.

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    1. Happy to hear that, we will have to remember that whenever we head to Australia! :-)

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  6. Wow you both are experiencing a trip of a lifetime. Look forward to your posts each day! How long are you staying in Romania?

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    1. Thank you Brigitte. We are spending a total of 4 weeks in Romania and 2 weeks in the Republic of Moldova.

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  7. Why are these towns not on the "travel radar" much? We LOVE architecture and had never seen advertising for this area. We're glad someone is showing us the sights!

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    1. That is something that we haven't figured out yet, they certainly should be! I think it is mostly because many tourists stick the the tried and true and are more nervous of what they consider to be the "unknown" and many tourists that do come to Romania tend to spend they time in the Brasov area only. We want to show people that there is a lot more out there and that these other smaller places should be taken note of and visited.

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  8. My hometown, so glad that you enjoyed it :D

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    1. We haven't finished with Alba Iulia yet! But yes, we are enjoying the city and the surrounding area.

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  9. That is a lot of very intersting history that you can actually see and touch! I also like that wine place:)

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    1. The citadel is amazing! We didn't realize how far back it time that it went.

      Believe it or not but that "wine place" is just a small grocery store.

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  10. Thank you Kevin & Ruth for this beautiful article about my hometown !

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed it Claudiu. We are enjoying our time here and plan on exploring more of the area around Alba Iulia as well.

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  11. Would love to have heard someone playing that organ!

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    1. I think out of all the times we have seen organs in churches and cathedrals we have never heard one being played.

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  12. Amazing, and love the photo you chose for today's header. I also love how you explain the history of the area...my favorite subject has always been history. I am always amazed at the Romans and how their handiwork still exists today. What a great deal on wine!!

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    1. Yep, that is a gorgeous photo! We are also amazed at how time has stood the test with some of the buildings and artifacts that have been found. Many have needed work to restore part of them but still so much was intact.

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  13. I am sooo enjoying your new adventures. When I think of how far back their history goes especially compared to ours - it is just mind boggling.

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    1. Thanks Jim and Sandie! It boggles our minds too!

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  14. Wonderful photos, especially the Orthodox Cathedral. Love reading about, and photos of, the town's history, especially since there's lots of it. You guys looked chilled out there, tho. :-)

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    1. Thank you Nickie and Jimmy! The town of Alba Iulia considers themselves as the other capital of Romania because of the history in this town.

      The weather has been unseasonably cold for this time of year but this particular day was quite pleasant because there was no wind. The weekend is shaping up to be fantastic weatherwise, I hope they are right about that!

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  15. Great photos! I look forward to receiving them each day. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Frank! Happy to hear you are enjoying our adventures and our photos.

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  16. Hello - from the past! Just started thinking about blogging and blog buddies the last couple of days and had to check you adventurers out. I'm not surprised to find your on yet another wonderful adventure in Europe. You go, guys! I just returned to Antigua from 10 weeks in the US having my second (and very successful) knee replacement - now I have two bionic knees and am pain free for the first time in years! Will get back into following you on your adventures and a mighty big HELLO and Hug!

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    1. Hello yourself Mary-Pat, good to hear from you! Nice to hear that your knee replacement went well and you are back on your feet and back in Antigua. I am sure you enjoyed your time with family though while you were in the US.

      We are enjoying our adventures here in Romania and despite the cooler (cold sometimes) weather we are seeing some beautiful places and all the history that goes along with the country.

      Take care of yourself and hope to hear from you again in the near future. One day we will come and visit you in Antigua. :-)

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