Transylvania – mountain life

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Transylvania – Mountain Life

Transylvania travels. Our Romanian sustainable tourism trip took us high into the Transylvanian mountains. We headed off surfaced roads and into the alpine interior. In a very rural location, we met Triain, a local craftsman, and his Mum and Dad. And his puppy called Bobby.

The air here is pure and clear and the landscape very beautiful. It is a very remote place indeed to live. Triain lives in the hamlet of Badai and his surname is Badau. Here, people are often called after the places they live in. This was a common practice all over the world in times gone by.

Mountain magic

Triain lives here with his parents with no car. The family run a small farm where they make hay the old fashioned way. It is cut by hand and piled into pointed haystacks with poles pushed through the hay to keep it in place. These poles hadn’t been very effective on the night of the storm that week. Nine haystacks had blown down – a serious blow for such a small holding.

Water was supplied from a local spring tumbling into a horse trough. The water everywhere in Romania is fresh and good to drink.

Transylvania – local crafts

Triain is a craftsmen in wood working and uses his own home made wood working tools. He makes real alpine horns from Spruce. He also makes mugs and bottles and churns, all without the use of any mechanical help. Triain has a pedal operated shaving horse, and his tools have all been crafted from whatever he could find. Some are inherited from his father.

Triain at work

We watched him make a perfect graded hollow for the horn from a split wood baton with expert precision. He then tied the  two halves together with twisted hazel strips.

We all had a go at using the shaving horse, and it was a very satisfying thing to do. The alpine horns, made the same way they have always been are Triain’s speciality. He makes small horns, medium horns and large horns.

Do I look like I know what I’m doing?

Alpine horns in Tarnsylvania

Originally alpine horns in Transylvania were used to communicate across the mountains. You could let people know about some event across the valleys, maybe a birth, a death or a gathering by the sound from your horn. I was a bit puzzled that Triain couldn’t actually play his own horns, but we all had a go anyway. They are very difficult to play. Chris, who was an ex trumpet player got an impressive noise from his horn. The rest of us could only get a strangled spluttering sound, which would not have reached anyone with any useful communication whatsoever.

Alpine trio

The hills around the modest farmstead were covered in Bilberry and Ligonberry bushes.

Wild Lingonberry

I remember collecting bilberries as a child with my family, and they were considered a great prize as they made the best pie filling of all.
Triain’s mum, Cornelia, had rustled up an unexpected lunch for us all, in her small kitchen diner and I have to say it was a most memorable meal.

Dinner time!

Mountain meal

Home made corn polenta boiled with fresh sour cream with salt and pepper, tasted like ambrosia from the Gods. It was amazing served with fresh bread. My particular favourite was the home made plum brandy.

We then had some refreshing home made spruce syrup with water – also a treat for the taste buds. Rural Transylvania  food is so simple yet, because it so fresh, it tastes incredible.
On the way back down the mountain, we called back at a small museum which had some interesting textiles and artifacts in it from old village life. Old village life was looking a lot like today’s village life to me.

Cabbage rolls

That night we had fresh pasta with local cheese and minced pork. We also had delicious Sarmale which is rice and thyme wrapped in cabbage leaves. Full and happy with the day’s alpine adventures we went off to our beds in the lovely guest house. We looked forward to the next day’s trip to one of Transylvania’s famously ornate castles, in search of Dracula!