Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Brazilians in the Carpathians

On the last days of September, we were happy to host a group of Brazilians who were traveling by car through the Balkans towards Hungary: Hélia, her husband Pedro (Vitória/ES) and their brother-in-law Emídio (Berlin) - in the living room in the picture. It was Emídio's second time in Romania, and each of them promised they will come back to see what little time did not let them see this time. Using the hideaway as headquarters, they were able to visit the most important Bukovina monasteries as well as enjoy the autumn landscape and the tasty traditional food. Interesting enough, they crossed the Carpathians three times but they swear they did not meet the Count...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Working again

Now we are building a warehouse close to the main house, in order to keep firewood during the winter, all kinds of tools and lots of unuseful things we will probably collect through the years! We have also paved the space around the house with stones from the river Suceava, which will also lead to a so-called "summer kitchen", under construction right now as well, a small house that shall be used during the good weather season for cooking and receiving guests for a meal in open-air or under a prolonged roof.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Former borders in Bukovina

Last weekend I was in Cornu Luncii (Suceava), where I visited a tiny museum on the road that links Falticeni to Gura Humorului. Even if you by chance get to observe it and read the indication "muzeu", you would probably not stop. Pity. Its beautiful interior - larger than one can imagine from outside - reproduces a local peasant house, presenting traditional objects, furniture and textiles. But that is not why this museum - inaugurated in November 2008 - is so charged with importance.

Till the end of WWI, this place was the customs office, created in 1809 at the border between Romania and the Austro-Hungarian Duchy of Bukovina. It was through this place that, in November 1918, the first Romanian troops entered Bukovina since it was annexed by the Austrians in 1775.

Friday, August 14, 2009

An "excellent" family

During the weekend of August 8, the current Brazilian Ambassador in Bucharest, H.E. Mr Vitor Gobato and his family (in the picture, holding his grandson in front of our guesthouse), stayed at Fernando's Hideaway in order to visit some of the region's attractions: the former Bukovina capital in today's Ukraine, Chernivtsi, Ancuta's Inn in Tupilati, the cities of Gura Humorului, Suceava and the monastery of Voronetz, after which they left to Maramures through the magnificent Prislop pass. His cousin Roberto de Andrade (right side), for the first time in Romania, had the occasion to enjoy the traditional hospitality and to dive into the local peasant culture.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A special Czech guest

In the period July 20-26, Stanislav Kázecký, current Consul General of the Czech Republic in São Paulo (Brazil), used Draguseni as his headquarters in order to make trips around Bukovina and Bessarabia.

After having visited Kishinev, Tiraspol and Kamenets-Podolsky, we guided Kázecký to the impressive fortress of Khotin at the shore of the Dniester river (picture) and through the former Austro-Hungarian capital of Kronland Bukovina: Czernowitz, today's Chernivtsi, in Ukraine.

The Czech Consul had also the occasion to wander around Draguseni and meet its kind inhabitants, carrying good memories in his luggage about local peasant life mixed to the multicultural past of urban life in this corner of Europe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Peasant honeymoon

On July 24, we had the pleasure to receive the couple Laurentiu and Doina Antonescu from São Paulo (Brazil), who stayed a night in Bukovina as part of their honeymoon travel through Romania. Based in Draguseni, they were able to visit the most important monasteries of the area and grasp a taste of the countryside atmosphere as well as of an omelette made of real eggs.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

From Romania to Brazil and back

On July 19, family Barna from São Paulo (Brazil) spent with us a pleasant afternoon. While the hot summer sun was heating the fields outside, we kept ourselves inside the house, enjoying its coolness and natural air-conditioning - possible thanks to its structure of wood and clay. Marius Barna - in the picture, together with Elena Klabin and his sons Marc and Peter - was born in Romania into a traditional Transylvanian family and brought his children for the first time to his homeland this year.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gernot Minke

On April 10, we had the pleasure to guide the German architect Gernot Minke, internationally reknowned specialist in ecological building and professor at the University of Kassel, in a short and very intense tour through Bukovina. He came for the first time to Romania in order to present a conference at the University of Architecture and Urbanism Ion Mincu and to launch the Romanian translation of his book Building with Earth: Design and Technology of a Sustainable Architecture, both organized on April 7th in Bucharest by Arhiterra.

Having the hideaway in Draguseni as his headquarter, he was able to visit and admire the monasteries of Humor, Voronet and Sucevita, as well as the old historical Bogdana church in Radauti. In the picture, Prof. Minke appears together with Elena Klabin and Mr. Constantin, our tireless peasant neighbour who helps us in the domestical activities, in front of the house.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Guide people in such a way that they feel they are visiting their Romanian friends"

Those are the kind comments our guests Katharine Vary-Belanger and James Belanger (US), whom we had the pleasure to guide and accommodate in the period November 24-30, 2008, wrote about their first trip to Romania:

"My husband and I decided to go to Romania on a whim. We found excellent airfare, and a friend had recently been there and spoke glowingly of a private guide she had found to help her to research her family's history there. Though neither of us has any genealogical ties to Romania, our sense of adventure drove us to contact this guide, Fernando, and arrange a trip. Fernando's philosophy is simple - guide people through the country in such a way that they feel they are visiting their Romanian friends. We saw many of the major sites, such as Bran Castle and the painted monasteries of Bucovina, but far more interesting and exciting was the insight we gained by getting to know Romanians. Fernando's wife, Elena, and her brother, Marinel, were our primary guides, and we had many wonderful moments of telling stories, trying new foods, getting drunk, and laughing. I can't tell all the stories which made this trip extraordinary: there was the emergency snow-boot purchase, the drinking of too much champagne and giggling like little girls in the back seat of the car with Elena, the visit to Elena's parents' house, being rude to the statue of Lenin... the list could go on for a much longer time than a one-week trip would normally merit. We were sad to find, at the end of our visit, that we had to return to our daily lives. Everything far exceeded our expectations, and the warmth and hospitality we experienced made this the best, most enjoyable, and most enlightening trip that my husband and I have taken together. I hope that, someday, we will be able to return to Romania; when we do, we will certainly contact Fernando and Elena, in the hopes that we may see more of their beautiful country."

Picture: Bran Castle, Transylvania, by Katharine Vary-Belanger

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Guests # 1

In the period 10-13 Oct 2008, we guided Maryellen Pienta and Michael Minning (US) through Romania. They were the first clients to stay at Fernando's Hideaway during this period of soft opening! After 1250km by car, crossing Moldavia, Bukovina, the Carpathians and Transylvania, our guests had a wonderful time, learning a lot about this country and its people and getting to know some of the UNESCO world heritage painted monasteries: Probota, Sucevita and Humor. Maryellen's roots from around Gura Humorului - her grandfather Jakob Szprowski was an Austro-Hungarian officer's aide who emigrated to the US - will probably bring her here again for a genealogical trip. In the picture, Maryellen poses together with Sister Marcela, our guide Elena Klabin and Michael at the nun's cell in Agapia monastery. You may read Maryellen's impressions on the trip at her blog's article The Catania-Bucharest Connection and watch her travel pictures here.