We traveled so much with our son and all of us enjoy it a lot. So it is nice to remember the first road trip and the first night in a hotel we had together. It was more than 2 years ago in Transylvania, at Haller Castle.
Having a baby changes your life completely, but does not change who you are and what makes you happy. So you can imagine how the traveller within us felt after being stuck at home for a few months! We took our last pre-baby trip 2-3 months before the baby was due. After that, air-travel was not recommended and longer car drives were not comfortable. With a tiny baby at home, I was completely overwhelmed with all the new feelings and emotions. Everything around me was completely changed and I can hardly remember how the first month went by.
But, between diapers, sleepless nights and breastfeeding sessions, I wanted to properly celebrate Eric’s second month anniversary. Actually, we had a double event, as it was Andrei’s birthday too – the perfect time for the baby’s first road trip and night in a hotel. But of course it needed to be a surprise! It was tough, as I had to please one picky guy who made great birthday surprises to me in the past. Luckily, I found just the place for that – Haller Castle, a 200 hundred year old baroque castle not very far from Cluj.
The count mansion in Ogra was first time established in the XVII century, but now there is only the wine-cellar that still resembles part of it. The main building that is in place today was built in XVIII-XIX centuries, in late-baroque style. With a tempestuous history, the building was the residence of the local noble family for many years, a cultural and economical centre. This was it’s most glorious period, as it became less important by the beginning of the XXth century. After the world wars, during the communist regime, the castle was the home for various local government functions and it was highly neglected, partly destroyed. The rightful owners got back their property in the ‘90s, but it regained its glamour only a few years ago. Recently purchased by two sisters living in the area, they transformed the ruin into the first old mansion that functions as a hotel & restaurant in this region.
From Haller Castle entrance gate, we were impressed by the parkway guarded by trees and the large garden with plenty of space to relax in the sun. The castle is quite simple on the outside, but the interiors keep the old original style. From the heavy decorated doors to the wood parquet scrambling under our feet and the massive furniture with detailed carvings, everything was designed to remind us of the forgotten times. The hosts made every effort to maintain the aristocratic atmosphere.
The restoration is a very successful example, praised even by the Romanian Architects Association. The whole setup is completed by an old piano, antique paintings and photos, books and personal objects that belonged to Haller family. As we went upstairs to our room, I could imagine sumptuous parties that were held there and ladies with silk and velvet gowns, ample crinoline dresses or bustles walking around and chatting discretely. At Haller Castle, we really felt like traveling through time, only the modern days comfort reminding us of the present.
The restaurant confirmed again our feeling of visiting a very rich noble family. From the delicious food to the sophisticated platings, large selection of wines and the elegance of the service, everything was just perfect.
Adding a modern flavour to the location, the new owners of the Castle built a small spa on one side of the garden. Here, we could enjoy a salt bath or relax in the hot jacuzzi, while Eric was peacefully sleeping on a sun bed next to us. Andrei took the second part of his birthday present, a relaxing massage session. He considered it one of the best he ever had – not sure if it was due to the skill of the masseur, or the total disconnect from the real life this place gave us. Anyway, I was happy my surprise was a success!
Thinking of how many gorgeous old mansions we have in Transylvania and their deep state of ruin, I just wish we have more courageous businessmen with the vision to transform them into touristic gems. There are enough sterile buildings with no emotions, cheap duplicates of what is fashionable in other places. We should focus more energy on what we already have, on our history and stories hidden in magnificent architecture. We would all benefit if centuries old buildings would be brought back to life!
You can find more information about Haller Castle and book your stay here.
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This was our first trip with little Eric, so photography was not at all a priority back then! Some of the photos here do not belong to us and were taken from Haller Castle social media accounts.