Experience the luxury of simplicity!
Immerse yourself in a forgotten world that you probably believe has ceased to exist in today’s Europe.
Attracted by this landscape unblemished by modern agriculture and boasting a sustainable rural life Prince Charles has bought two properties in Transylvania: one in Zalanpatak and one in Viscri.
Is accessible only along a bumpy road. Bounded in the south and east by the Carpathian Mountains, it is fertile territory, full of virgin forests, pristine meadows and abundant flora, fauna and wildlife (it is one of the few spots in Eu- rope where it is possible to see bears in the wild).
Prince Charles owns a guesthouse here. Set on a raised wooden platform, it is spa- cious, warm and welcoming. In the court- yard there are buildings containing further bedrooms (five in total) and a main house with drawing/dining room and kitchen. There is a barn and a small alcove with benches and tables. The setting is extraor- dinarily picturesque and calming.
This is a place where you are transported both geographically and temporally – to another place and time. Never mind the digital revolution, in Zalanpatak it feels as though the industrial revolution has yet to happen.
The property in Viscri is much simpler than the one at Zalanpatak. It has three bed- rooms, a downstairs living/cooking area and a large garden.
There is solid Teutonic craftsmanship, an original wood-burning stove and a number of inscriptions in Gothic script – including one saluting the German dead of the First World War.
For the Prince of Wales, the region repre- sented a dream come true: a living exam- ple of the possibility of a more harmonious relationship between man and nature; a community that, rather than destroying its traditions in the race to modernity, seemed to have preserved and adapted them.
Prince Charles’s partner in this great Tran- sylvanian venture is Count Tibor Kalnoky who has an “authentic heritage” guest- house, a beautifully restored collection of buildings in the village of Miclosoara , 20 miles east of Zalanpatak.
Guests dine together in a scene reminiscent of a page from a 19th century novel.
From Viscri, the drive to Miclosoara in the late afternoon sun involves passing through Transylvanian landscapes almost transcendental in their beauty and streets filled with cows walking unaccompanied to- wards the homes of their owners. It is like something out of India.
The main rooms of Count Kalnoky’s guest- house here are arranged around a quiet courtyard containing a well.
All the guesthouses have been care- fully restored in order to preserve their original Transylvanian charm and char- acter.
Every location has areas where guests can meet, read or play games and also have their meals. Impressive drawing- and din- ing rooms with large fireplaces are to be found at Miklósvár and Zalánpatak. There are arbours with benches and tables in all gardens.
At Miklósvár there is a wine cellar, with its massive oak beams, stoves and central fireplace, dates from the 17th century. Lo- cal wines in high wooden racks line the walls. Meals are eaten by candlelight.
The guestrooms are furnished exclusively with antique Transylvanian furniture, in- cluding most of the textiles. All rooms have double beds with specially manufactured mattresses of pure wool and duvet covers. In order to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity, the rooms do not have tel- evision or radio; instead, you will find plenty of interesting books on the shelves.
Food is produced locally as as possible. Every location has its own vegetable garden and orchard. Milk, yoghurt and cheeses come from the village’s cows and sheep, and the honey from local bee-hives. Trout is raised locally. It can be provided also food for vegetarians or other special dietary requests.
One of the most impressive of the Transylvanian old Saxon villages and is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The forti- fied church on top of the hill dates back to 1230, the fortified walls were added in 1525 and an assortment of towers in the 15th, 17th and 18th centuries.
The Castle and the Gorge
Bram Stoker immortalised Transylvania in his book ‘Drac- ula’, but he never actually visited the region. Castle Bran, which has become synony- mous with Count Dracula, towers dramati- cally on a crag overlooking the village. After visiting Bran Castle we are driving up to the Zarnesti Gorges right into the Southern Car- pathians to have our picnic lunch and take an afternoon walk between the rocks.
One of the seven major Saxon towns dating back to the 13th century and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is also the alleged birthplace of Vlad Tepes, “The Impaler”.
The old town or citadel dominates the newer quarters from a rocky massif. Dur- ing this tour you will visit the Citadel, the Clock Tower and climb the Scholar’s Stairs to reach the newly restored Church on the Hill and the atmospheric Saxon cemetery.
Every little detail in our guest- houses is handmade and homemade. To- day you have opportunity to visit our crafts- men who are supplying us with wonderful products.
They are welcoming us in their own work- shop, where we are going to see how the leather works are made, we visit the work- shop of the tinsmith, the bee keeper gar- den, the blacksmith and you can learn how to make ginger bread in Transylvanian style. In the end of the day right after the cows are coming home from the meadow, you will have possibility to milk a caw to rich your breakfast on the next day morning.
The Land of the Szeklers
the eastern Carpathians is the traditional home of the Székely, a people closely related to the Magyars who speak a distinctive Hungar- ian accent and cherish a special histori- cal identity. During this excursion you will meet a family of woodcarvers and furniture painters who have been handing down their profession from father to son since the 1500s (oldest in Europe), see the totem poles in Füle’s graveyard and visiting a still in function watermill
Today you will get a close feel- ing of how the rural gypsy populations live in Transylvania. You will visit their colourful quarters in the surrounding villages and be told in depth about their background and mentality.
During the day we are making a compari- son between the afflicted reality and the successful way of integration.
This eye-opening excursion might seem a little surprising and disconcerting to some, yet it might let you discover aspects of a different way of living.
After sunset our guide is taking you out to a round walk until the for- est and back to the village. Before dinner you may see a large scale of wild animals, listen the hooting of the owls and take an opportunity to see bears
The Volcanic Lake
After breakfast, we will drive through spectacular mountainous scenery to reach the summit of Mount Cso- mad. Here you will discover St. Ann’s lake, the only intact volcanic lake in Europe. A small chapel is situated close to the lake. Hike through the valley & forest – Today, you will explore the beautiful landscape around Miklósvár in the company of our wildlife guide. You will be taken by car through the top of the spectacular Ajta Val- ley, from where you will walk back to the village, having picnic on the way.
with a horse and cart you will be taken to the higher pastures to meet the shepherds and their flock of sheep. The guide will explain the shepherd’s lifestyle, as well as the methods used to protect their livestock from predators. You will also see them milking and making cheese. Returning to the lower pastures, you will have a picnic and explore the beautiful wild flower meadows before returning home to Miklósvár.
All these things are appreciated by the people simply seeking the get-away-from- it-all, step-back-in-time serenity of the place.
This is indeed a very special holiday expe- rience. One could grow rather fond of it.