Tuesday, September 22, 2009

PRINCE CHARLES: "TRANSYLVANIA IS IN MY BLOOD"

" Transylvania is in my blood. I have family connections here and that's why I am very interested in this region - that's what Prince Charles of Great Britain said during one of his visits to Romania (according hellomagazine.com). Some people try to find a connection between Vlad The Impeller , known as Dracula, and one of Prince Charles' ancestors in order to explain the vivid interest of HRH in Romania, especially in Transylvania. The Prince not only visited constantly Romania for the last 20 years, but also bought 2 proprieties there, in the 12th century Saxon village, Viscri, a UNESCO World heritage site. He is also involved in some projects, being the patron of the Mihai Eminescu Trust and the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism. "They work to restore the cultural heritage, economy and nature of Transylvania's Saxon villages and their surroundings. In addition to restoring some 180 medieval houses and several churches, the charity has supported traditional rural technologies, such as the construction of wood-fired kilns for handmade bricks and tiles and organic farming" as daylimail.co.uk explained.
The truth is Prince Charles believes that Romania's villages are among the country's most valuable assets, HRH being a well known ecologist sympathiser and even he uses to work in his own organic garden. He likes the simplicity and the naturalness of life in these villages, where people live off the land, growing food, knitting clothes and weaving carpets. He also eats with great pleasure Romanian traditional food.
And to reveal the real connection of Prince Charles with Romania, nobody should fabricate strange legends or stories, but just search in historical facts - Marie of Edinburgh who was Queen of Romania ( and spouse of king Ferdinand of Romania) was born on 29 October 1875 at Eastwell Park in Kent as the eldest daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia. Her father was the second eldest son of Queen Victoria of England and Prince Albert of Saxa -Coburg-Gotha. She married Prince Ferdinand of Romania on 10 January 1893 and became a queen in 1914, but due to world war I she and her husband were crowned only in 1922. During the war she volunteered as a Red Cross nurse to help sick and wounded and wrote a book, "My country" to raise funds for the Red Cross. When the war ended she helped the Romanians diplomats travelling to France, where they tried to secure the Romanian inhabited territories uniting all Romanian speakers in a single state. Her arrival was an international media sensation and she argued passionately that the Western powers should honour their debt to Romania ( which had suffered a casualty rate proportionately far greater than Britain, France or USA). After the death of her husband she remained in Romania, writing books and her memories, "The Story of My Life". She died at Peles Castle on 18 July 1938 and was buried next to her husband in the Monastery of Curtea de Arges. In accordance with her will, her heart was kept in a cloister at the Balchik Palace which she had built. In 1940 when Balchik was returned to Bulgaria, her heart was transferred to Bran Castle which was her home for few years. There can be found some of her personal objects, some others, including her crown, are guested at Maryhill in Washington State (USA). The information about Mary of Edinburgh , Queen of Romania were collected from Wikipedia Britannica.
Queen Maria's husband, Ferdinand of Romania was born in Sigmaringen in southwestern Germany on 24 August 1865 as the son of Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Infanta Antonia of Portugal and died in 1927. In conclusion, the Romanian and British royal families are related through Queen Victoria. This connection and Prince Charles' interest and love for nature and the preserving of traditions brought him in Romania, a charming land, but mostly unknown for many others.
More information and pictures about Prince Charles' visits in Romania can be found here:
http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/newsandgallery/focus/the_prince_of_wales_s_properties_in_romania_1484339285.html

Thursday, September 17, 2009

GIBRALTAR, A PLACE TO DISCOVER

Everybody heard about the Strait of Gibraltar which is parting Europe from Africa, many visited Gibraltar coming from all over the world, but only few know its history, legends and hidden places.
Gibraltar is a small country, but with a big heart and every Gibraltarian living in other part of the world is missing its charm, because maybe you can't live here for long, but for sure you can't live without it for ever.
Located in the south-western extremity of Europe, with a territory which covers 6 843 square kilometres and approx. 30 000 inhabitants, Gibraltar is considered as one of the most prosperous and stable place in the world.
Named after a Berber general, Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the first incursion into Iberia in 711, its name changed in time from Gibraltaric to Gibraltar. Gibraltarians use to call their beloved country Gib or The Rock.
Nowadays there are around 12 nationalities living here, among them one can count the Moroccan, Indian, English, Jewish, Maltese, German, Spanish, Genoese communities, and there are few more; it is remarkable that all these people belonging to different communities, religions, having different habits and languages, actually live in peace together in a very friendly way, respecting and helping each other. In fact, this is one of the main characteristics of Gibraltar : the friendly atmosphere.
Tourists use to come here, mostly by cruise ships (huge ones) for one day shopping trip on the Main Street, attracted by the tax-free products they can buy, and to see the only wild monkeys from Europe which are living on the Upper Rock. There they can visit also the Moorish Castle built in XII century, the Great Siege open-air museum, St. Michael's Cave and other interesting historical vestiges.There is no time for more, even Gibraltar means more, much more.
As soon as you come here, you can't miss to notice the luxuriant vegetation, beautiful flowers, huge palm-trees, etc; that's because Gibraltar is blessed with a subtropical climate, meaning hot summers and mild winters and the exotic plants have found here an ideal home;it is known that on The Rock there are over 500 different species of flowering plants. To see just a little part of them, a nice place to visit is Alameda Gardens, which is an amazing botanical garden, especially in March when the most beautiful flowers are in full blossom. Built on approx. 8 hectares of land starting with 1815 on a "desert of red sand" used as a raw material in constructions (part of this area was used as vegetable gardens and cemeteries during the numerous sieges), nowadays Alameda Gardens is a oasis of peace, fresh air and beauty, being laid out in a natural jungle way.
Last week, on 10th of September, the Gibraltarians celebrated their national day. As you know, Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity, under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. Later, on 10th of September 1967 was held Gibraltar's first sovereignty referendum at which the citizens of Gibraltar were asked to choose between Spanish and British sovereignty; the answer was overwhelming in favour of continuance of British sovereignty and that day is celebrated now as the National Day. For years now, on that date, the most enthusiastic crowd dressed in red and white, the national colours, goes on streets enjoying the traditional food, live music, joking and dancing, cheering and chatting.
Usually the fun starts around midday with a political rally, followed by a short speech held by the Mayor of Gibraltar. Then, there are released 30 000 red and white balloons , one for each Gibraltarian.This is also the signal for the beginning of the party which continues all day long ended up late in the night with beautiful fire-works.
Proud of their country, Gibraltarians know to work, live and party together.



NOTE: The text was written and sent by me to a bilingual magazine "Literary Contemporary Horizon" in order to be published, being asked by them to write something about Gibraltar.

Monday, September 14, 2009

GIBRALTAR - NATIONAL DAY ( 3 ) - 10th OF SEPTEMBER 2009

Our national day in Gibraltar started at midday in Casemates Square where a political rally was being held. But because none of us is interested too much in what politicians have to say we aimed to Mc Intosh Square, crossing Main Street. There, on Main Street, I took all those funny photos I posted before, representing people dressed in Victorian clothes, with their kids and their pets dressed also in red and white outfits, keeping them company.
Around 13.00 o' clock the Mayor of Gibraltar read her speech, not longer than 10 minutes, then she ordered the 30 000 balloons (one for every Gibraltarian) to be released. Everybody cheered, it was a general enthusiasm I've never seen elsewhere.
In the main squares there were organized stands with traditional food, like calentita, tortilla de patatas and spinach pie and the funds raised will be used to help children in need. The local Police representatives and St. John's Ambulance were present too.
Following the crowd, after the last balloon disappeared in the sky, we went back, behind Casemates Square, at El Cottage where EastSide Blues Band has organized a great music live show. They invited to play first "The Rizing" a rock band, that conquered the audience with their well known and very appreciated repertoir. The restaurant was full of people enjoying Mediterranean food, beer and wine, as long as the music played. Next to play came a classical guitarist, Keith Vinnicombe who delighted the crowd with lovely harmonies. He was followed by Neal Higgings and Andrew Pons, playing Irish music and, finally, the blues band EastSide Blues Band, the host of the event. Later a very young and talented band , ForwardSlash performed. After half an hour break, East Side Blues Band come back and played again, being the most photographed band at that night.Because it was Francis birthday too, the owner of El Cottage, we had a double party, with nice food and plenty of beer. I was happy to greet some old friends of mine, from Romania, I haven't seen for over 20 years. Being in a holiday to Estepona, they came to see how Gibraltarians spend their national day. They ate, for the first time in their life, paella con mariscos and gallo, a pork stew cooked in wine; they liked very much the atmosphere of the celebration, the joy that Gibraltarians experience at this event.

The party continued in the night ending up with beautiful fire works. Next day everybody had to go to work, but the memory of a great day will last through time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

GIBRALTAR - THE NATIONAL DAY ( 2 )

Gibraltar's National Day commemorates the 1967 referendum when the people of Gibraltar voted to reject Spanish sovereignty or association by a massive majority. The day is a public holiday, during which most Gibraltarians like to dress up in the national colours of red and white. They releases 30 000 red and white balloons representing the people of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar is a popular stop for cruise ships and attracts daily visitors from resorts located in Spain as well as British tourists and many residents from the southern coast of Spain.

Gibraltar is listed as the 5th top list of the most prosperous and stable worldwide and the highest ranked British territory.

Gibraltar is one of the most densely populated territory in the world, with approximately 4 290 inhabitants per square kilometre.

The head of State is Queen Elizabeth II who is represented by the Governor of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.


Sources:
- Information: Wikipedia
- Pictures: Me.

Friday, September 11, 2009