This place is, indeed, a story.
We have been driving from Bucharest for more than four hours. The weekend traffic, the general unrest, plus traveling by night which is not our favorite thing to do. We were going to Covasna county, in beautiful Romania, more exactly to Valea Zalanului where His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales owns a natural retreat, nestled amongst meadows and hills. We haven’t heard many details about the location even if we knew how popular the Romanian places touched by His Royal Highness became.
In the middle of the darkness we finally found ourselves on an unpaved road which led to a dense forest. Driving like this for another 30 minutes made us think we might had missed the road. But in the end we managed to see, immediately after ”Valea Zalanului” sign, a beautiful, imposing wooden gate and our host trying to find his way in the darkness, holding a lamp.
Welcome… We have no wifi or phone network here
”Welcome”, he said. ”We have no wifi or phone network here.”
After hundreds of thoughts about the chances of survival one weekend without signal, network, phones, laptops and jobs, we started to feel more relaxed after we entered the dining room, built now in the old stables, also the living room of the property and the common space to share. Actually the dinner itself was to share, as we stayed at the same table with tourists from Wales, Australia, England and Netherlands, nice people seeking the beauty of Transylvania, riding horses in the area, telling beautiful stories about our country. So it begun. A place like magic, with no noise or signal, exactly what we really needed those days, without even realising.
A place that keeps the Transylvanian authenticity
This amazing property, which was owned before by Kalnoky family, kept its Transylvanian authenticity by having been carefully restored with traditional methods and materials. The guest rooms are furnished with antique Transylvanian furniture, including textiles. There are seven double rooms in three heritage cottages, each with its own terrace. Perfect place to drink your coffee in the morning. The fourth building we mentioned had a large wonderful fire place. Outside we found benches and tables, deck chairs, hammocks and a breakfast barn.
The Prince’s Cottage was magical, including the Prince’s Room, the Butler’s Room and Aunt Ida’s Room, all with the same beautiful terrace from where we could really see time standing still. Probably the most special room is the one used by H.R.H when visiting this remote area. Simple room, but comfortable, with a magic that takes you back in time.
Disconnecting, our favorite thing to do
The thing we probably most loved about this place was disconnecting. We found our peace and tranquility in the deck-chairs, falling asleep with a beautiful October sun on our faces, reading books, taking pictures or not doing anything at all. The nature walks, the horse ride around the village and inside the amazing forest, the visits to local craftsmen. Bicycles were also available and between May and September ”al fresco” dinners can be organised in the surrounding hills. During summer, there is the possibility of having a refreshing dip in the mineral water pool and in winter you can have horse-drawn sleigh rides with bells, blankets and mulled wine. Can you ask for more?
The food is simple but so good and tasty. Besides the fact that meals are shared between guests, which is beautiful and unique nowadays, food is prepared by the local people, with simple, local ingredients. Menus are set for every day of the week, so no à la carte. Definitely not a gourmet destination, but the food cooked here takes you back in your childhood times. Try the local brandy, the vegetable soups, the oven veal and the traditional cooked rice. And then enjoy your red wine in front of the fire.
There is magic everywhere between these Transylvanian hills; all the colours, all the sceneries: high pastures to be discovered, amazing meadows where you can see in the middle of June the most beautiful wild flowers in Europe. Also the less used tracks in the forests, where deer can be seen. You may be lucky but only if you wake up early. You can also discover the old village, with just 120 inhabitants, visit the two chapels and the old fire shed, the volcanic gas exhaust, the mineral water bath. All the activities include a picnic stop for lunch.
It was all, indeed a story. The travelers from all around the world, the simple but still royal spirit, the October light, the meadows, the autumn colours, the stillness, the stories inside the story, the ”no need for more”.
Zalán Valley with its unique landscape in Europe, is still reflecting the beautiful, strong, harmonious interaction and link between man and nature.
We should all travel, from time to time, to a land that time forgot. Get lost. Look at the sky more. Disconnect. Because there are so many ways in which, in fact, we come back to ourselves doing all these.
Prince of Wales Guesthouse, Valea Zălanului, house no. 1, Covasna County
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