After a few months in the warm Caribbeans, we start missing a bit of cold weather to cool off. So we remember one of the last holidays we had in Romania, at Amfiteatrul Transilvania, a true winter fairytale.
We value experiences more than possessions and we want to raise our child in the same spirit. We try not to buy fancy and expensive birthday presents for each other, as we just appreciate them for a few days, before they become routine. Instead, we try to go somewhere nice, visit a new place or to try a new life experience, something that will last in our souls longer than the excitement of wearing a new bracelet for the first time. Of course we are trying to apply the same for our son’s anniversaries. He is getting a lot of toys from grandparents and friends anyway, so try to offer him life experiences, even at his young age.
For Eric’s second birthday, I started the research a few months in advance, as I was dreaming for a long weekend in a fairytale destination, far from the crowds and noise. Since I don’t have relatives in the countryside, I was looking for a place to go back to the old times and traditions. I wanted to remember our own childhood when, in the winter, we were carelessly playing, snow up to our ankles, freezing on the sleigh on the hills outside grandma’s house. And we were lucky to find this perfect place just a few hours drive from Cluj!
Close to Bran Castle, but with no resemblance of the mass tourism that suffocates the area, there is a magical place – Amfiteatrul Transilvania. On a plateau surrounded by Bucegi mountains you can finally find the peace you were looking for! Several houses, hundreds of years old, were carefully restored with a personal twist of the owner. They keep the ancient charm but, in the same time, offer 21th century comfort. Everything is hand made from natural materials. Even part of the bathroom equipments are made of wood, and all the painting is plant-based.
The man who designed Amfiteatrul Transilvania was a true and ambitious visionary. It must have been a tremendous work to be able to make this location accessible to guests, to build and restore everything they have here. His son, Stefan, who was in charge with the Amfiteatru when we got there, was the best host we could dream of. He is attentive to all the small details and keeps a close relation with his guests, but, in the same time, makes sure we have enough privacy. Eric quickly got attached to him and they played hide-and-seek a lot together, which was another indicator that Stefan is a remarkable person.
We got to Amfiteatrul Transilvania on a Friday afternoon, when the sun was already about to hide under the peaks. As the car engine stopped, we could actually hear the silence. Only the wind was whispering between the trees, blowing the fresh snow in puffy clouds. In the night, thousands of stars were shining on the sky, the same way as snow was sparkling under the sunshine during the day. Far-far away, you could barely see the lights from cities or winter resorts, reminding us of the real world we just escaped from.
Eric was thrilled about the place and didn’t even complain about the freezing cold. He never saw that much snow before. Hearing him laughing, with glowing cheeks and sparkles in his eyes, we understood that this is what we all need in order to be happy: simple moments with the dear ones, close to the nature, with no rush or fixed agenda. The whole weekend we just hiked on the hills surrounding the house, sleight on an improvised slope, played with the dogs and went to see the cows and goats at the small farm the owners have there.
After we had enough of the cold weather, we found a warm shelter near the open fireplace built in the middle of the restaurant. Even here, next to a cup of mulled wine, we still enjoyed the outstanding scenery, thanks to the large windows that offer almost 360-degrees panoramic views to the mountains.
We tasted delicious traditional Bessarabian dishes, probably old family recipes from the owner’s great-grandma, an interesting culinary experience to have in the heart of Transylvania. As much as possible, the food is locally grown. They raise animals for meat, milk and dairy products and have a garden with strawberries and a large variety of vegetables during the summer. Lots of these are preserved using traditional recipes, to ensure high quality products throughout the year. We visited the cellars beneath the restaurant and all the jars with colourful and delicious treats looked like the ones mom and grandma are still preparing back home. We also tasted birch water, while we were explained all its long-known medical benefits. Still, we preferred the great choice of Moldavian wines!
Until Sunday we felt so peaceful and relaxed that we could hardly believe we spend just one weekend away from our daily rush. We left the winter wonderland with such a positive vibe in our souls, that we decided we must return some day at Amfiteatrul Transilvania. We want to go there in the summer season as well, to enjoy more of what nature has to offer in the Carpathian’s.
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