Constanta, Romania, is the second, and final, Eastern European city that I travelled to for work. As I stayed there for almost two weeks, I managed to see a couple other places in Romania that I will describe in upcoming posts. Constanta is an interesting city with contrasting beauty and decay. One area on Piata Ovidiu is now a pedestrian only street, lined with cafes, pubs and souvenir shops, as well as the Museum of Natural History and Archeology and the Grand Mosque of Constanta. When looking at Google Maps Street View of the area, the image, from 2011 shows it was filled with moving and parked cars and far less pedestrian friendly than it is today.
The Grand Mosque, originally the Carol I Mosque, is over 100 years old and if you climb the 140 steps (yes, I counted) of the very narrow, spiral stairway all the way to the top, you are offered a great 360 degree view of the surrounding area.
Inside the mosque it was elaborately decorated and had beautiful details.
A short walk from this area to the waterfront near the Port of Constanta, is what once was the magnificent Cazino Constanta. In it’s heyday it could easily have been he type of casino you’d find the likes of James Bond in! Originally completed in 1910, it was renovated in 1988. Sadly, while it is considered an historic monument in Romania, it has fallen into an advanced state of disrepair and has been closed for quite some time.
At the North East end of Constanta is the resort area of Mamaia (referred to by some as the “Miami of Eastern Europe”), which is a thin strip of land, about 300 m wide and 8 km long, sandwiched between Lake Siutghiol and the Black Sea. This area has a mix of old, decrepit buildings and brand new construction. It is filled with high end hotels that, for the most part, are only open for about half the year before the area is abandoned until next season. The weeks leading up to the beginning of the tourist season (the first of May) see the beach transform from an almost abandoned, somewhat rundown area, to what could be the busiest resort on the Black Sea.
The Romanian people were very friendly, the food was delicious (if I had a food blog, I’m sure I could find a lot of great things to write about from the region) and my overall experience was quite positive.