These are two of the seven maps I’ve uploaded to the ‘Where we are‘ page, which should give you a better idea of where we are, from Romania’s place in Europe to the coordinates of the village. Now you have no excuse for not finding us…
I’ve updated the books page on this site with two new entries on the non-fiction page and an interloping entry on the fiction page. If you’re coming to Transylvania, or have been here, and want to read more, here are some cracking books to buy or borrow. Here’s the non-fiction page to start with.
Our nearest city is Brasov – the most beautiful city in Romania, in my opinion. Medieval bastions, cobbled streets, elegant 18th and 19th century civic buildings and houses, stunning churches, parks and gardens, public squares, and the citadel. All set against the green darkness of Mount Tâmpa and the surrounding forest and hills.
Here are some things to do in your day out Brasov, before coming home to Magura for your delicious countryside dinner.
After a week of solid rain and several weeks of wet, cold weather that has kept the peonies (bujor) in their buds and kept the daffodils out in bloom, we had a glorious weekend of warm, sunny, balmy late Spring gloriousness.
Perfect for a picnic on Sunday…
But this morning, after a beautiful start, the storm has closed in. Thunder is circling the house, the cats are hiding under the sofa, sheep are huddled by the barn door, and chickens have retreated to their shed. But it’s still warm, so the growing seedlings in my veg patch and the newly planted trees around the garden are lapping it all up and putting on new growth like it was going out of fashion.
The latest of my finds, The Romanian Furrow is Donald Hall’s delightful tale of life and work among peasant families in Transylvania. Written in 1933, at about the same that Patrick Leigh-Fermor was tramping amongst the castles and manor houses of the Carpathians, Hall was working in the fields alongside his hosts, living a thousand-year-old tradition of the seasons and the cycle of natural life. The book deserves to be better known – and is not entirely an echo of a forgotten tradition: even in Magura much of the seasonal cycle still rules families and village life. Attitudes and values remain much the same as they were 83 years ago. The perfect read for travellers who might be Transylvania-bound. Read more…
I’ve now loaded up a few links to videos about Magura and the surrounding area. Some of them are images of the village with no voiceover, some are mini-documentaries in Romanian, and there are a couple of American-voiced Dracula-based vids. If you make or find any good vids, do please let me know and I’ll be happy to post them here.
One of my favourites is the real-time drive from the edge of Zarnesti up to Magura – the road I take every time I need any shopping, or have to head off to Brasov, Bucharest or further afield. I love this road, but it can be a challenge if you’re not concentrating. If you’re thinking of hiring a car for your Magura visit, I’d get a high-wheel based 4×4…
What’s your favourite image here?
In March, we have the chance to learn from a master in photographic technique and artistry, with the Magura landscapes to inspire us. The workshop with Mihai Moiceanu will not only give us beautiful days of exploring the wild spaces and places around Magura, but to learn how to capture and exploit the limitless potential of imagery through the lens and then on the computer. Don’t miss it – only a small group – not many places available. I hope to be part of the group… so see you there?
Shannon May and Isobel Shaw-Pritchard were my latest volunteers, and were here for two weeks working like madwomen on my beautiful new attic, under the eagle eye of master transformer Greg Helm. Favourite spot in Magura: La Ciocolata, the high spot of the social whirl and architectural gem. At the third attempt they managed to achieve an ambition of seeing bears at close quarters – at the bear sanctuary in Zarnesti. Travel well, girls!
Trent Shelton, a passionate traveller who runs a specialist travel agency in Chicago, is our guest writer today. You can see where else he’s been exploring on his own blog, On the Road
The Romania you’ve always dreamed of
As I planned my next destination on my whirlwind trip in Romania, I started talking to a Dutch couple in their early 30s who were staying in the same Bucharest hostel. It was the typical conversation that you have with almost every traveler: “Where are you from?” “How long are you traveling for?” “Where are you going?” “Where have you been?” However, with this last question, both their voices became excited as they described where they just came from. They described it as one of their favorite places they had ever been which, when stated from experienced travelers, is something never to be taken with a grain of salt. They were, of course, talking about Magura…. Read more