Recent Posts

Online Development Classes with Role Models

Online Development Classes with Role Models

Lockdown conditions are affecting so many aspects of our daily lives and, frankly, staying at home and homeschooling two kids has been challenging in the last two months. My older daughter Letitia does her homework and gets out for a daily walk or a bike […]

Essential Tips for Visiting Peles Castle

Essential Tips for Visiting Peles Castle

Peles Castle is, without a doubt, a jewel  among Romanian attractions. It is consistently ranked as one of the top  places  in Romania. Peles Castle is a mesmerizing, beautiful place, where each room has been worked on by the best craftsmen at the time. You […]

Escape to the Country in Bucharest: Village Museum

Escape to the Country in Bucharest: Village Museum

If you are visiting Bucharest and want to learn about traditional culture in Romania, I recommend going to “Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum. The museum has a great collection of buildings, lovingly restored and rebuilt on site from all over Romania,  with a time span of nearly 300 years.

The museum is easily reachable from the city centre, as we hopped on the metro until Aviatorilor  station.  From there it was about 15-20 mins walk through the park or on the main road to reach one of the museum entrances.

The place is very big, so half a day would only be enough to go through some parts of the museum. If you want to see everything, you probably need to dedicate  a whole day to it. Once it gets warmer , the museum puts a whole host of activities for children and adults.  You would be able to experience traditional Romanian culture through performances , arts and crafts. 

I have visited museum with my daughter and we loved our day out. The sun was shining, it was warm and we were able to combine a lovely day outside with learning about Romanian culture and traditions. Some of the houses were closed, but we were still able to peek through the windows or look at the displays.

The displays are very detailed. it is possible to see what rooms look like  inside and  there is also plenty of explanations on who would have lived in such a house and what they would do for a living. All displays are in English, which made exploring a breeze.

The rooms that we managed to see, made us  think that people in the past did not have even half of the things that we have now. And they still managed to get by.

Old interiors and traditional way of life were  certainly a great reminder of enjoying simpler things in life. I was also fascinated by village churches, which were decorated and painted by local craftsmen and  unknown artists. Even though there were no grandeur or gold leaf decorations, which so often makes us go “wow” in well-known places of worship, there was still a lot to appreciate and admire. 

The museum collection includes  houses, windmills, churches, tools, and farming equipment. There is a lot to see, but if you need a break there is a restaurant inside one of the original houses, a small playground and a terrace. Alternatively,  you can bring your own picnic, as there are plenty of benches and seating places.

There is also a great shop where you can buy traditional Romanian souvenirs or materials about the museum. I bought a guidebook about the museum to remind me of all the houses that I have seen. 

The visit to the museum feels like a mini trip to Romanian countryside, however you do not need to to travel far. We absolutely loved our visit, as the place was tranquil and we could  not believe we were in the middle of busy Bucharest. 

If you have time and the weather is nice, do try and visit “Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum, as it offers a great opportunity to step back in time and learn more about Romania’s past. 

Disclaimer: Our visit was hosted by the museum, but all opinions are my own. 

Hiking in Romania with Kids

Hiking in Romania with Kids

Do you take your kids on hiking trips? I started slowly introducing little hiking adventures when we go on holiday, especially if a local landscape can offer good views.  For my son Luca it is still not possible to walk for long periods of time, […]

Must-do Experience in Bucharest: Ferestroika

Must-do Experience in Bucharest: Ferestroika

Time is passing and with time we are losing certain practices, experiences and things we used to enjoy. Would not it be great to go into a time machine to see how people used to live in the past and experience their way of life? […]

Day Trip to Brasov and Bran Castle with Visit Transilvania Travel

Day Trip to Brasov and Bran Castle with Visit Transilvania Travel

Second part of our trip to Romania was based around the town of Sinaia.  This winter I wanted to introduce my daughter to skiing. The location of Sinaia is great, as it is only 1.5 hours on the train from Bucharest and the town itself has a few sites, if you don’t want to go skiing every day. 

One of the days we planned to go to the city of Brasov, which can be combined with a  visit to Bran Castle as it is not very far. Our tour was organised by Visit Transilvania Travel and Nicu helpfully showed us the sights.

Visit Transilvania Travel organises a variety of tours , you can choose from a day option or an extended tour over a few days. They are conveniently located in the centre of Brasov, if you are staying in the area or everything can be arranged in advance via email.

Our day started from a short drive to Bran Castle and an extensive introduction to Romanian history from Nicu. Nicu,  being an excellent story teller himself, also leads a course for local guides, passing on his wisdom and knowledge acquired over the years. He has been taking tours all over Romania for many years together with his colleagues from Visit Transilvania Travel .  There is no risk that you will end up with a guide, who only brings you to places.  Then you book your trip with Visit Transilvania Travel, you will be exposed to a lot of knowledge from a guide , who knows Romanian history as the back of their hand. 

I enjoyed learning all about the history of Romania, starting with tribes, feaudal fights and about Vlad the Impaler himself. Nicu was very clear that there was no connection between the fictional character of Dracula and the Bran Castle. In fact, writer Bram Stoker, who invented Dracula as a character, have never even been to Romania in his lifetime.  Yet thematic development of the exhibition related to torture devices and a fictional character of Dracula in the Bran Castle,  over the years has created the industry around the castle, which now feeds the tourist trade. 

My advice is to come to the castle as early as possible, that way you would be able to avoid the crowds. We came there around 10am and it was not very busy yet, but I imagine that in the summer months earlier arrival would be even better. Bran castle is open from 9am. 

Inside the castle you will have an opportunity to see some interior rooms, but they are not particularly interesting. The main drawing point is a variety of  torture devices used in throughout the human history. Some of the devices have very graphic pictures next to them, showing how the device was used.  I felt slightly horrified at the whole range of things used to torture people. It is quite frightening what a human mind is capable of.  

I loved the galleries circling the castle on upper floors as we had brilliant views of the surrounding countryside as well as a bird’s eye view of the inner courtyard. 

Nicu also shared with us that Bran Castle was used as a summer residence for the Royal Family of Romania and Queen Marie  used to spend considerable amount of time here. She asked for her heart to be buried in Bulgaria, but it was later brought to a church, which had a  similar design to the church in Bulgaria, where the heart was originally located. Consequently, the heart was brough to National History Museum in Bucharest and found its final resting place at Pelisor Castle,  near the town of Sinaia. You can still see the small church from one of the terraces in the Bran Castle. 

Kids would love exploring the hidden staircase, small alleyways and stairs in the castle. Around the castle grounds there is plenty of room for running or walking and there is a lovely lake with a cafe in the summer months. 

Our next stop was a charming town of Brasov, where we first had traditional lunch. This was our free time and Nicu recommended a great local place with lots of Romanian dishes to try. 

After lunch we met up with Nicu again and he took us on a walking tour around Brasov. We saw Black Church, it is currently being cleaned and quickly becoming very white. The name came after the church burned in the 17th centtury and as the walls were covered with soot, the people of Brasov started calling it Black Church , so the name has remained. Inside the church we loved hearing about German community, the order that people would be seated in the church and how the church was built.

We walked to the main square, went to the narrowest street in Europe and listened to silence in some cute courtyards. As with all touristy places, do not hesitate to step off the main squares and main streets. You will find quieter streets, with small cafes, no queues and lots of space and quirky places to explore for yourself. 

On the way back to Sinaia we stopped off and saw the local goodies. There was plenty of fruit syrups, honey, jams and home made cheese. Nicu was translating and we happily chatted about different things that a local lady was selling and how they can be used.  We even had a little taste of the pine syrup, which apparently is great for the throat and general immunity.

The time has come for us to say goodbye to Nicu.  We had a wonderful day, exploring Romanian history and two iconic places. I would not hesitate to recommend Visit Transilvania Travel. If you are planning to go to Romania, have a look at their website, as there is so much inspiration in the types of tours that they offer. When I asked Nicu what was his favourite area in Romania, he suggested Painted Monasteries. I think this will be where I will be heading next. 

Disclaimer: We were hosted by Visit Transilvania Travel, but all opinions are my own. 

8 Must Visit Places on Bucharest Walking Tour

8 Must Visit Places on Bucharest Walking Tour

I love walkable cities. Walking is the best way to get underneath the skin of a megapolis and get to know local culture. Bucharest City Centre is pleasantly walkable and as a bonus, it is  peppered with lots of small coffee shops. If you get […]

5 Tips For Choosing a City Break Hotel and Where to Stay in Bucharest

5 Tips For Choosing a City Break Hotel and Where to Stay in Bucharest

I have been on so many city  breaks, I lost count. City breaks are easy to organise: you literally  need to book a flight and a hotel, and you are free to roam once you arrive. When I am exploring a new city, there are […]

British Leeks: Great Recipe for Colder Months

British Leeks: Great Recipe for Colder Months

When I buy leeks in the supermarket, I usually cook potato and leek soup. However, this winter I am challenging myself in trying different recipes with vegetables to expand my cooking range. 

On the 1st of March, United Kingdom celebrates St David’ s Day. St David is a patron Saint of Wales and two national emblems are  daffodils and leeks. To mark this day, let’s try and cook something which would keep us warm in chilly March weather.

 

I am going to cook Lamb Rump with Root Vegetable Mash and Cheesy Leeks  from British Leeks website. The recipe is not complicated and the dish is great combination of cheesy, sweet and meaty flavours. 

 

Firstly, I cooked the mash, for which you will need

1 x small swede
1 x carrot
1 sweet potato
½ tsp salt

I cleaned all vegetables, cut them in cubes and boiled in water for 25 minutes until tender. When I mashed the vegetables and added some butter for an extra smoothness. 

Next step is to prepare the leeks and  for this you will need: 

1tsp butter
½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp plain flour
1 x leek
100g of cheese 
200ml milk
½ tsp Dijon mustard

I sweated leeks in a pan with butter and oil for about 10 minutes, then I added flour and poured milk into a pan. Lastly, I added grated cheese and a touch of mustard. The leeks turned into a tasty, creamy paste with mustard giving a flavourful kick to the whole dish.

Before you start cooking the lamb, I recommend that you prepare the herb crust, so it is ready to go once your lamb is nicely browned on the pan.  For the crust you will need:

2 slices of sourdough bread
Small bunch of parsley
1 garlic clove
1 tsp lemon zest
Small bunch of mint
2 tbsps olive oil

You will need to whizz sourdough in a blender until crumbed, grate in zest of lemon, garlic, chopped parsley and mint and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. 

Once your herb crust is ready, brown the lamb on the pan, so that the fat becomes slightly crispy. Be careful not to burn the meat at this point. Once done, place your lamb pieces on the tray, spread some mustard on top of them and then follow on with the her crust. This will go in the oven for 12-15 minutes to fully cook and become crispy on the outside. 

The end result was moreish and soul-warming dish. Creamy, savoury leeks were a great accompaniment to sweet vegetables mash.  Lamb was meaty, full of flavour and the crust gave us a crispy taste sensation with a slight zing from mint and lemon. 

If you want to try more recipes with leeks, please head to the British Leeks website and happy cooking! Do let me know what you managed to create!

Cooking Fajitas with Spice Pioneers

Cooking Fajitas with Spice Pioneers

We love trying new foods while travelling! I believe it is the best way to introduce variety of dishes  to kids and expand their food horizons. When we are home, I try  cooking different meals, for example from the countries that we visited in the […]