This summer we have been on a quest to discover more of Romania and less of the rest of the world. I would like to share our favorite discoveries in case other parents look for family-friendly destinations which offer more than the norm (bigger space, good food and beautiful landscape). I will start with our favorite of the bunch – even if, I confess, I would have liked to keep this place a secret.
Vama Buzăului is about 50 km from Brașov, or 3 hours from București. It is a gem. A bit at the end of the world (really just a feeling not a reality), next to rolling hills, at the bottom of Ciucaș Mountains, in the vicinity of rich flower meadows, a beautiful sounding water stream and a breathtaking waterfall. I know, there are tons of similar places in Romania – lucky us! But we have rarely seen traditional villages so well taken care of. In other instances, we have found that poverty was romanticized as tradition and used for marketing purposes. Not the case here. While the traditions were alive and visible, what were mostly visible here were properties which the owners were really proud to maintain as beautifully and honorably as possible. We liked seeing that. We also talked with some locals and understood where this pride and work ethic were coming from. A history of not being a cooperative village in the past and a young mayor carrying for its constituents helped maintaining and improving what nature bestowed on this beautiful area. Its history is interesting and more details can be learned here.
We’ve also had the fortune of staying at a beautiful property, recently opened. Another secret we would have liked to keep for ourselves for purely selfish reasons. Pastel Chalet is timeless magic. We had the feeling that time had stood still there but enough modern comforts were let in to make us regret nothing – except that we were not staying longer. Each room of the Chalet is individually decorated in soft or warm colors, has comfortable beds and interesting open showers (no doors) in the bathrooms. Add a generous yard, a playground, board games, ping pong and pool tables, living rooms to congregate with other guests, a restaurant with a great chef, fantastic hosts present at all times, all in the midst of breathtaking scenery, this place does not offer only comfort and beauty, but also the chance to find soul – your own and others.
For a 2-night weekend stay this summer we paid 1140 RON (about 250 euros) for an apartment with 2 rooms and full board (all meals) included for 2 adults and 2 children. For a double room with rolling beds for the children and full board for the entire family, the price would have been 860 RON (about 190 euros). The rooms alone, with no meals, are advertised around 250 RON (about 55 euros) per night. We highly recommend the property and be on the lookout for their special offers, e.g., a summer camp for children and parents at the end of August 2016. The owner is a pleasure to deal with and can be contacted here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What else can one do in the area besides relaxing and taking in the surrounding beauty? Oh well, plenty. We visited the Urlătoarea waterfall on the first day there. Not as famous as the waterfall carrying the same name but located in the Bucegi mountains, we found this waterfall more spectacular and accessible with small children than its counterpart. The rock formations and the slippery surfaces leading to the actual waterfall generated some interesting discussions in our family and offered opportunities for learning. Also the excitement of “walking on water” and the surroundings made a nice backdrop for pictures worth framing. Make sure you do not stop after the first encounter with the waterfall. Keep on going on that road and you will be rewarded with more natural beauty and water falling.
On our second day, we went hiking in the nearby mountains. Other guests, the hosts, a local guide and a horticular engineer accompanied us. We encountered nature at its best and filled our tired lungs with fresh air. At the end of the hike, we were rewarded with the best ever organized picnic. The hosts blew our mind away with the attention to details. Everything from blankets, lounge chairs, long tables, silverware, even complementary decorations were thought of and put together with heart and lots of determination to make us feel relaxed. Of course, the food was the icing on the cake and we all devoured it like hungry lions.
On our last day in the area, we visited the nearby natural preserve for European Bisons – a sanctuary not only for friendly bisons, but also for deers and stags. The children were thrilled and again the opportunity for learning presented itself naturally. Then, we drove for a couple of hours to be amazed by the Muddy Volcanoes – but unfortunately it just rained in the area and we could only admire it from afar. There are other interesting attractions to visit in the area, eg. Prejmer, Hărman, Budila. For more information on the area, one can visit the tourist center in person or here.
We plan to go back often to this area, in the summer as well as during the winter. Now that the secret is out, we will hopefully still find available accommodations and not encounter crowds or people who do not respect nature and honor traditions. If you know of similar places, feel free to share your „secret” family destinations in the comments below or contact Cristina (email@example.com) to write an article about it.
Violeta, the author of this article, is the mother of two creative and active children. Together they like traveling and are always looking for adventure, cultural and educational activities. The motto of their family is „we may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”