Take a trip on the Romanian wild side

Newsroom 19/09/2007 | 15:48

the danube delta
With its 1,200 species of trees and plants, the greatest bird fauna on the continent and 100 species of fish, the Danube Delta can qualify as everything you desire in terms of life “far from the madding crowd” and you can enjoy this either at Delta Nature Resort or the Delfinul Complex.
Built just a few years ago on the banks of Lake Samova, the five-star Delta Nature Resort is already on the radar of magazines or newspapers such as Conde Nast Traveller, The Observer, Vogue and The Times, and has been included in the catalogue of the world's luxury hotels.
On top of organizing safaris through the waterways and lakes of the Delta, sport fishing, wine tasting at neighboring vineyards and kayaking lessons, there are also visits to monasteries Saon and Cocos plus archeological visits to Isaccea. After a full day spent in the midst of nature, the traveler can come back to one of the 30 wooden villas of the resort, each of which has a separate living room and a lounge, a bathroom and a veranda with a view. A visit to the swimming pool, Jacuzzi or a massage session can round off a tiring day.
For access from Bucharest to the location and back, the resort offers a car with driver for a fee of EUR 275.
Or, even better, you can take the helicopter. Tariffs generally reach around EUR 200 per person a night. Thus, a full-board package which includes accommodation, local taxes and three meals a day can amount to EUR 230 or EUR 329 per person per night in double or single occupancy in premium villas and EUR 210 or EUR 290 for double or single occupancy in deluxe villas.
The Dolphin Complex in the Danube Delta incorporates the Green Village and the Dolphin Camping. The former comprises one three-star villa and five four-star villas, three bungalows, two luxury restaurants, two lakes, a business center, pool and sauna. Each four-star villa has eight double rooms and two one-room apartments. Guests can go exploring on the canals and the lakes of this region in fast boats, fishing boats or kayaks that they can find at the nautical base. They can go fishing and even take part in prize competitions, take pictures and go bird-watching. In a four-star villa tariffs are EUR 90-97. This include accommodation, breakfast, access to the business center, fitness, sauna, table tennis, badminton and pool.
Renting a kayak, a fishing boat or a bicycle will cost you about EUR 34 a day while a six-hour trip with fast boats which includes a guide and a snack and drinks will be around EUR 80 per person and will require at least five persons.

spa treatment

Probably the most well-known spa in Romania is the Ana Aslan Health Spa, which combines classical procedures with the natural elements of the resort such as salty water, mud with special properties from the Techirghiol Lake and plants with curative effects. The spa offers hydro-therapy halls, massage cabinets and cabinets for facial and body care, a room for individual kinetic therapy and fitness, electro and magneto- therapy, an interior pool with salty water from Techirghiol Lake and Jacuzzi.
You can get these treatments in Hotel Astoria and Hotel Europa in Eforie Nord by opting for one of the various packages on offer. For example, for a relaxation package at Hotel Astoria which includes accommodation for a week in a double room and a relaxation program, the price is EUR 419 until the end of August and EUR 377 until mid-September. For a Wellness package which offers anti-stress treatments at Hotel Europa and accommodation for a week, the cost is EUR 623 until the end of August and EUR 527 until the end of September.

Life in the countryside with red-carpet treatment
If you have ever dreamed of being a count, now you can turn it into reality by getting the aristocratic treatment on the domain of Kalnoky Castle in Miclosoara. The owner of this domain is Count Tibor Kalnoky, descendant of an ancient family which goes back to the Middle Ages. After a 50-year exile during communism, the Kalnoky family returned to Romania and started the restoration of the 15th century castle into a luxurious hotel where guests can taste the pleasures of life in the countryside and the ancient aristocratic flavor. Currently, the castle is still undergoing restoration, but the domain has beautiful looking guesthouses which can accommodate tourists. “Our guesthouses are very appreciated by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. After he stayed here, he asked my wife and me to create similar interiors for his own private property,” said Count Kalnoky.
Guesthouses, which date back to the 1800s, are situated within spacious gardens. They have kept their Transylvanian charm, being furnished with antiques in the Transylvanian Szekler and Saxon style. There is also a sauna and a billiard room. All rooms have double beds with specially manufactured mattresses, no television or radio but plenty of books. Guests will be taken on cultural and history tours, wildlife and nature tours, hiking trails and riding tours. Do not expect paved streets, because this is not what you will find here. The idea is to step back in time and enjoy life in the countryside in luxurious conditions.
Miclosoara is approximately three hours by car from Bucharest. The intercity train from Bucharest to Brasov takes about two and a half hours. For an extra fee, the staff can come and collect you either from Bucharest or Targu Mures Airports or Brasov train station. Since the Count's domain is somewhat isolated, it is probably best to opt for a week long all-inclusive package which includes all tours, full board with wine, entry fees and taxes and restaurant meals, which amounts to EUR 695 per person.

Active rest in the heart of the mountains
In the Fratii Jderi vacation village, located in Valcea county in Lotrului Valley, you can spend a very active vacation in the mountains. The village currently comprises a villa with ten accommodation places, two suspended huts with double beds, two bungalows each with two places and one with two rooms. Access to this location is best made by car from the Ramnicu-Valcea- Sibiu road. If you really have an appetite for open-air activities, this is the right place. But the location is only available for groups of more than eighteen people. For a full weekend, the tariff amounts to EUR 175 per person without VAT and is all-inclusive, comprising accommodation, food and activities. You can choose from a wide range of activities such as rafting, riding, mountain trips, archery, climbing, kayaking, self-defense lessons, soccer in the mud, ZEN gymnastics, mountain biking and all kinds of games and baths in the waterfall.
Talking about vacationing in the middle of the mountains, if you like high altitudes you may also find the Fundata settlement to your liking. It spans over 15 kilometers and is located between the Piatra Craiului and Bucegi Mountains and most appeals to tourists who are passionate about photography, off-road trips and mountain climbing, offering beautiful views.
One of the places you can “lounge in” in Fundata is Casa Bejan, which can accommodate twenty guest in a wide variety of rooms, full-board. It has two terraces with a view to the mountain, two large living rooms, a traditional kitchen and a dining hall.
The villa also has a big yard where children can play and tourists can have barbecues and park. A double room costs EUR 20 a day, a family room amounts to EUR 25 while full board will cost EUR 27. While accommodation and food costs are not on the high side, additional costs will be charged for activities which Casa Bejan can provide. Mountain climbing costs EUR 160 for groups of up to ten people.
Trips, which can take several hours and include visits to tourist sites such as caves, fortresses, monasteries and lakes, will amount to EUR 47 per group but you can do all these by also renting a bike for EUR 12 a day and having a guide which will cost an additional EUR 47.
If you are enjoying a more extended vacation, it would be a good idea to take a longer trip to visit some of the most renowned Romanian castles such as Bran, Peles and Pelisor which are in this region. Additionally, you can go to the Poiana Brasov resort, one of the best- known resorts on Prahova Valley
where you can choose from a range of luxury hotels.

Traditional ways in Bucovina and Maramures
For a visit in the Maramures region, renowned for its natural beauty, there are also plenty of places where you can spend several days and get acquainted with traditional Romanian ways. Casa Iurca de Calinesti, a four-star villa, is just one of them. Sculpted gates and furniture and traditionally woven carpets combine with the traditional music and dances and a menu which showcases traditional Romanian cuisine.
Accommodation is around EUR 50 for a double room and EUR 82 for a two-room apartment. The villa is close to Sapanta, famous for its Merry Cemetery and the Gutai Mountains. The natural reservation Pietrosul Rodnei comprises some of the rarest animals in Romania such as the black goat and the mountain marmot.
If nothing else, it is worth visiting Bucovina, which lies in the northern part of the country, just for the sake of the string of beautifully painted monasteries, most of them erected by famous Romanian rulers. Among them Voronet, Putna, Sucevita, and Humor are the most well-known.
It is rather difficult to find luxury accommodation in these areas, since most are rather isolated from great cities but the best part is that many of these monasteries offer accommodation to tourists.
Prices will be low and of course conditions will be very austere, but for those who want to see what the lifestyle of a hermit is like, living for several days in a monastery can prove an interesting experience.

Otilia Haraga

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