A number of century-old manor houses and residences, as well as unique hotels that stand out due to their long and interesting history, beautiful architecture, unique/ traditional decorations, modern design, rooms with spectacular view, character and great value are presented in our section dedicated to distinctive, authentic accommodations in Romania.
The narrow-gauge railway and the steam powered locomotives (Mocanita) in Viseu de Sus are one of the most remarkable railway heritage attractions in Romania and in Eastern Europe. It is the only remaining, working narrow gauge forestry railway of many that were constructed -in 1932 - to transport timber from the vast, remote forests of the Carpathian Mountains and their foothills.
Starting from Viseu de Sus - a small logging town in Maramures - the railway climbs the beautiful roadless Vaser valley for 31 miles, deep into the forests of the Maramures mountains to the tiny hamlet of Coman. Today, four steam-powered locomotives (the oldest one was built in 1910) are transporting logs, down, and lumberjacks and visitors up and down the valley.
The train is the only access to settlements up the valley, other than on foot. During the relaxing journey, travelers can enjoy the views of woodland and rushing rivers. After a picnic and / or a walk in the forest while the train is loaded at the terminus travelers will return to Viseu de Sus. On the trip back in the afternoon, the engine driver whistles for brakemen to stop the train - sometimes for passengers, or even to pick mushrooms.
The local people are friendly with fascinating stories to tell. In short, this is a remarkable survival from an earlier age, well worth a visit, and one that will benefit from more tourist traffic in its efforts to survive in this fast modern age (not that speed and modernity have penetrated far into the Maramures region).
The train operates:
May through June: selected weekdays and weekend
July through Mid-September: daily
Mid-September through beginning of November: selected weekdays and weekend
March, April, December, January: selected dates
Schedules and fares: www.cffviseu.ro/content/en/timetable
Tickets can be purchased at Mocanita - Steam Train Station in the Viseu de Sus.
Ticket booth opens at 7:00 am.
Note: Large groups need to reserve tickets in advance (due to limited seating) or book a Charter Train.
Romania is still quite rural and no trip to Romania would be complete without a village experience. A visit to the countryside offers a glimpse into the unspoiled beauty of Romania and her century-old traditions. When you will be staying in a village, not only your host but, the whole community will welcome you.
In many villages in Romania traditional, small-scale farming takes place as it did for centuries. Everything - from making hay for livestock, to collecting eggs from the hens, to milking the cows or goats, to preparing fruit preserves, to making bread, to crushing grapes for the new wine - is still done by hand. And each season offers different opportunities to actively participate in village life.
Village Life, a non-government organization, has created a network of village homes and small-farms which are open to visitors. Your local hosts will be happy to introduce you the many rural experiences Romania has to offer.
Slow-paced villages and gentle, welcoming people may be the words that best describe the Maramures region, situated in northwestern Romania.
Centuries-old traditions are still alive in the rural areas of Maramures.
In late afternoon, old women sit outside their gates coaxing coarse wool onto spindles. Many still favor traditional dress, meaning white frounced blouses, striped woven panels covering full black skirts, headscarves and opinci, a sort of leather ballet slipper from which heavy yarn criss-crosses over thick socks. On Sunday, such dress is practically de rigueur, even for little girls.
Although there are quite a few superstores and shopping malls in Romania's larger cities, people in the countryside still meet regularly to trade livestock, tools, seeds, grains and other agricultural products, as their ancestors did for hundreds of years.
Deals are sealed with a handshake, a sip of home-made plum brandy and cash payments.
Although children will easily find a can of Pepsi, they may be tempted by locally produced sweets such as nicely decorated gingerbread (turta dulce) in various forms and shapes and huge doughnuts (gogosi), made on the spot.
Weekly fairs and produce markets take place in many villages in Maramures. Below is a schedule of such events:
|Day of the week/ frequency||Name of the village||Local information|
|Every Monday||Somcuta Mare, Ulmeni, Arinis||0742 972.120|
|First and second Monday of each month:||Bogdan Voda||0262 330.602|
|Every Tuesday||Rozavlea||0262 330.602|
|Every Friday||Stramtura, Podul Slatioarei||0262 330.602|
|Every Saturday||Botiza||0262 330.602|
Just seven miles south of Bran Castle, Palamari's Cultural Centre re-creates the atmosphere of a traditional rural household and it offers visitors a glimpse into Romania's rural life and culture. This traditional architectural complex - comprising two wooden houses and an Orthodox church brought from Maramures and rebuilt in Transylvania - offers stunning views of the Carpathian Mountains, the nearby terraced hills and the evergreen forests.
Workshops and activities offered at Palmari's include: traditional jewelry making, (painted) eggs decoration, painting on glass, Romanian traditional dances, clay / pottery modeling, nature walks, traditional cooking classes, photography.
Palmari's Cultural Centre
Str. Principala 39 C
Drumul Carului - Moeciu de Jos
Telephone: + 4 0723 656.024
Photographer Manuela Stefan takes us to meet the Hutul horses in the Northern Carpathians in Romania.
I was born and grew up in Romania. I often travel back to visit my family and friends.
Last December was a bit different.
I went home with the intention of finding and photographing some horses roaming free in the Southern Romanian forests.
I was detoured. Prior to my arrival, my dear mother watched a documentary on the Hutul horses from the Northern Carpathians, and she felt the subject might interest me.
I did my research, discovered Lucina Stables and decided to travel to the other end of the country, close to the Ukrainian border.
The adventure exceeded my expectations.
Horses have always been a big part of the Romanian people's lives.
In many areas of the country, men and their four legged partners are intimately connected, and the animals are indispensable in most households.
I mention this while staying faithful to the threads that tie my equine stories and photographs together–– depicting horses' vibrant spirit and reflecting their desire to run free, regardless of their circumstances.
The locals in Bucovina (notheastern Romania) are extremely proud of these horses, which are so relevant to their existence in the area.
Lucina Stables' crew makes sustained efforts to preserve the breed by carefully and selectively working with the blood lines.
Lucina Stables were first opened in the 1850′s by the Austrian Colonel Martin Von Hermman for the equine needs of the Austrian army.
The Hutul horses are still raised there to this day and are known for their exceptional adaptability, strength and agility.
With the exception of the breeding stallions, the horses at Lucina roam free in very large paddocks with creeks flowing through.
They seem to be more aware of their free nature and they are connected with each other in a herd context, while exploring their natural environment.
It is quite refreshing to witness.
I was able to enjoy the company of almost 60 horses, most of which were gestating mares expected to foal this spring.
The energy around the group was simply extraordinary.
During my stay, one mare kept following me around to the point where I could not even take photos as she was beside me all the time.
Before leaving, I went to say goodbye to my four-legged friends.
She came to me, and while I was caressing her face, more of her friends joined and it all turned into a strange, beautiful, emotional procession.
I was overwhelmed and had tears rolling down my face. I did not want to go!
The experience truly brought my artistic vision to a new level. It shifted the way I look at my equine work and is already helping me imagine new adventures.
About the Author and Photographer:
Manuela Stefan is a Toronto based lifestyle and equine photographer with a keen eye for capturing the spirit of the horse in interesting locations worldwide.
Her love for travel and horses has brought her to spectacular locations in France, Romania, Canada and the U.S.
She has exhibited her large format equine images in Toronto and Collingwood, Ontario and Montana.
Since August 1968 when military technician Emil Barnea captured some of the best photos of a flying saucer in the world,
researchers and the public have been fascinated with Hoia-Baciu, a forested area of about 1.2 sq. miles (located 5 miles west of Cluj Napoca),
where alleged varied paranormal phenomena occur frequently.
Once said to stand straight and tall, the trees are even twisted into knots now.
BBC has named Hoia Baciu Woods the “Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania”,
one of the most mysterious places in Europe,
and Travel + Leisure has included it on its list of “World’s Most Haunted Forests”.
Residents of nearby towns claim the forest—which has a circular clearing at the center—is a portal and that those who pass through it may never return. One legend says that a shepherd with 200 sheep went into the woods and never came out again... Visitors also reported unexplained phenomena such as orb lights of different colors and shapes, voices, the feeling of being watched, nausea, migraines, burns, scratches, anxiety and other unusual sensations.
Would you like to experience the feeling of being watched, or maybe to just listen to the legends of one of the world's most haunted forests ... ? Hoia-Baciu Woods, located just five miles west of Cluj Napoca, are a must for those who are chasing thrills, or just looking for a nature walk nature, while in or near Cluj.
For more info or to arrange a tour please contact Hoia Baciu Tours.