Why does the one-of-a-kind Viscri village appeal so much to tourists, especially the Prince Charles?

Due to Prince Charles and Mihai Eminescu Trust, hidden gems such as Viscri village are increasingly sought by tourists, charmed by the beauty of the area, the simplicity of life, the Saxon traditional well preserved architecture and customs of a community which is almost exctint (27 Saxons out of 500 inhabitants). It seems that here, all  stand still and that medieval times come alive in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. This Romanian top destination, known world-wide helps every modern tourist to get away from it all ,to escape from the hussle and bussle of a city and come back to traditions, to bygone eras when aproximately one millenium ago  the first Saxon settled down here coming from Luxembourg and built a strong community who resisted to all obstacles. The impressive heritage  is perfectly preserved and shows  the typicall quaint colourful  Saxon houses with painted blinds, which line up on each side of the road and the simple white romanesque fortified church which stands out in the centre of the village.

the fortified church

But what’s the connection with Prince Charles? Well, it’s this royal member who, under the patronage of Mihai Eminescu Trust, refurbished all the houses in the specific of Saxon comunnity without spoiling the traditional elements saying: “Do not change anything, keep and love this place as it is”.  All the villagers’ houses were declared historical monuments. The property bought by Prince Charles is located at number 163 – an ordinary house, built in 1758, painted in blue, with a large yard and a specific fountain area. He comes here every summer and uses to go riding in the surrounding hills, until Rupea and Homorod.Overmore, the village and the fortified church are included on the UNESCO Heritage List since 1993.

Saxon house

Location– The village is situated in the centre of Romania, close to Sighisoara (40 km). So as to reach Viscri, you have to quit the main road (E60) in Bunesti,turn right and you have 8 km to drive till you get to the remote village which succedded in keeping up its exact local atmosphere. You’ll be amazed seeing an isolated place tucked away under Transylvanian oak and beech forests and sheltered from the busy life of a city.

Mihai Eminescu Trust

What you should first do is to scroll down the streets and gaze in front of each Saxon house, analyse its design, mix up with the locals, take some unforgettable photos of unique properties marked with MET inscriptions (Mihai Eminescu Trust) and the year of renovation and decorated with traditional elements. When I visited Viscri, there where many British, Spanish, German, French tourists that enjoyed their visit and that were astonished by the charming Saxon culture  represented by houses and by the landmark of the village, the white fortified church. Get into souvenir shops and buy homemade products: marmadelades, syrups, traditionally painted items-furniture, pots, clothes and what are very popular here are the warmy handmade feltshoes made of wool which take 3 hours to skillful women to make, puting layer  over layerof wool (in total 7 layers). Difficult and meticulously work! At a table, in a Saxon yard, take a meal and why not spend a night there like Prince Charles. Who knows if you aren’t lucky and bump into the royalty.

souvenirs

And here we are, in front of the most iconic place in the village- the fortified church, considered one of the most picturesque churches in Transylvania. Climb the path towards the chuch and stay for a while admiring the massiveness of the semicircular white defense walls which are completed by the donjons. Like a real peasant fortress resisting to the enemies! If you contemplate the fortified church from the outside, it is the towers and the height of the massive walls which stand out and the small church almost totally disappears behind them. Today, this impressive fortification houses a traditional Saxon museum. For a fee (4 lei adult and 2 lei child/student) payed to a friendly German,you can discover its heritage and how the Saxons have lived. The central church surrounded by the defesive walls seems so small but  inside, you’ll gaze at the simplicity of the  motifs (faded a bit by the patina of times) inspired from the Transylvanian Saxon popular art. The interior of the church recalls the atmosphere of a traditional Saxon house, rich in folklore art. Sit on the old wooden benches and indulge your ears with a pure, relaxing and divine concert of the organ pipe.

inside the fortress

inside the church

 

Then, entirely fullfilled, head to the rear of the church and climb the narrow and steep staircase to the tower of the chuch (not indicated to the claustrophobics). It worths the effort.Tired,with your feet trembling due to the difficult climb, you’ll be prized with a fantastic view of the meadows (so appreciated by the Prince Charles grace to their various types of plants) of the green forests and especially of the wonderful village. The panoramic view from the tower is a highlight in Viscri. Downside, surround the church and see the traces of history, the inscriptions dating back to 12th century. And the beautiful flowers of the right side corner.

view from the tower

Your last thing to do here is to visit the Saxon Museum, several rooms displaying the Saxon culture-furnitures, papers, items, clothes, an exhibition of an interesting community who left their landmark in many parts of Transylvania. Again, you have to ascend some stairs so as to arrive in the towers of the defensive walls from where you’ll delight yourself with an amazing view and from where you can distinguish the extraordinary circular shape of this fortress. Wowww! And now, your visit to the church has ended.

Saxon museum

All in all, subject of many reportages and stories throughout the British and international mass-media, including the hit series of travel movies Wild Carpathia, the village of Viscri has come to the spotlight of Romanian tourism, thousands of foreign visitors arriving in the private guesthouses each year, some of them thanks to the publicity from Prince Charles. So if travelers from the four corners of the world want to evade and meet an authentic place where people still live in perfect communion with  nature, then they should give Viscri a chance. Hope you’ve enjoyed my article! Thanks for stopping by and go to Viscri!

The greatest food experience I have ever had, eating mussels at Dalboka Mussel Farm in Bulgaria!

Do you love sea food especially mussels and search for the best and the cheapest ones? It’s time for Dalboka!  I’ve never thought that there is such kind of  place which succeded in exceeding my expectations. I bet that this experience will stay with you till you return again again… Varied tasty dishes made of mussels or other fish’ll tickle your fancy. About the setting only good words-spectacular, breathtaking and relaxing- both restaurants of Dalboka Farm are  just next to the Black Sea, on the beach, on the beautiful Cape Kaliakra. It really worths a visit or more…Let’s start our gastronomic journey there!

General Information. Dalboka is registered in 1993 and it’s specialized in the cultivation and production of mussels in the clean waters of the Black Sea.The first farm of this kind was built in 1994 by means of Sapard programme and in 2003, 2006 and 2011 it was hugely extended finnaly covering 2080 square m.There are two restaurants which welcome and delight customers both offering a fantastic view of the farm and the sea.There’s a possibility to visit the farm by an organized boat tour.

at the entrance

Location– At 2 km far away from Balgarevo village,on the road to Kavarna. Coming from Vama Veche, Romania you have to follow the road signs to Kavarna, turn left from the main road when you see the sign to Cape Kaliakra, then going past a wind turine park,you’ll  see a sign to Dalboka on the right and follow it. Be careful,you’ll get to descend a steep hill which leads to the restaurants but there’s a slightly chance to find a parking lot available in such a crowded place (at weekend you might make some reservations). I parked my car on the peak of the hill and headed towards the Sirena restaurant on foot. I could easily glance, in the middle of the sea, this famous attraction, a must-eat place which nobody should miss.

the road towards Dalboka

the farm

Mussels served on a large range of ways.Yummy, isn’t it? Learn more about this just bellow.

After descending a tiring road, you have to pick and choose the restaurant -the left side or the right side one. I recommend you the right one (I’ve read many good impressions about this one on many forums and then I was pleased). Go past many tables full of mussels dishes samples, overlooking the sea side and get an available table just near the sea. After I sat at a table (all it’s simple, traditional and nothing fancy), a friendly waitress came with menus (I had the pleasure to get one in Roumanian). I scrolled down all the mussels specialities from that menu (I’ve read about them a lot on the Internet) and it was a bit difficult to make up my mind. All were appetizing.

the menu

 

Now I even crave for coconut mussel skewer or breaded mussel skewer not to say about the icing on the cake- the Italian mussels served with spaghetti. Watch out! All dishes have low prices(you can pay in BGN-lv,EURO or in RON.)The skewers that I’ve mentioned above cost 3lv/aprox 1,5 Euro and are so tasty and well cooked that you’ll want to lick your fingers (order some with coconut,you won’t feel it so much,  the breaded ones are better that the grilled ones). About the Italian mussels, they are very yummy, delicious, the best I’ve have ever eaten (those spaghetti go so well with the mussels and the tomato sauce and the cheese make this dish a possible exquisite dish and only for 8 lv/4 Euro).

the restaurant

 

view from our table

Moreover, there is a large variety of fresh salads made of vegetables, mussels (here are some- sunset at the sea, romantic night, sea gifts and so on). Even soups contain mussels but you’ll be surprised to hear of a dessert with mussels and apples or pumpkin (6lv/3Euro). Loooking into the menu, you’ll see bellow the “why are we here?” other curiosities which are very appreciated- stuffed cabbage rolls with mussels, tomatoes stuffed with mussels,Mussels a la Burgas with riz, mussels stuffed with cheese, Greek mussels, mussel moussaka and the list can go on. If you are not so interested in eating mussels, you can sample other kinds of fish: trout, luce, shark, catfish, beluga or anchoavy. As beverage,take a Kamenitza beer and your meal will be complete. Well, after such a generous meal (the bill-I’ve paid 35 lv for 3 people), all you have to do is relax, do some siesta lying on a chaise longue while admiring a fantastic panorama and sunbathing (at the end of the tables there’s a small beach prepared for tourists).

Italian mussels

coconut and breaded skekers

grilled skewer

The price-quality ratio is great, the location wowww and the food more than tasty and cheap.Trust me that you won’t regret it. See you there! Let me know about your impressions. Thanks for stopping by and bon appetit!!!

5 must things to do in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia!

Welcome to Bratislava! Just at a stone’s throw from Vienna or Budapest ( 1 hour approximately), there’s an enchanting city which you shouldn’t miss! Plan your stopover to Bratislava ( it doesn’t take you so much time to visit it – 1 single day). But what’s so impressive about this city? The economic, cultural and touristic hub of Slovakia, Bratislava is visited by  a lot of foreign people among whom there are Czechs, Germans, English who come here by ship through the Danube (it’s one of the 4 capitals crossed by the Danube) or by car (so close to Vienna, Budapest) or by train. And  it’s obvoius that, during its history, it florished so much being ruled by  the Habsburg Empire or then by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. You’ll be stroke by the very resemblances between it and Austria. Have I caught your attention regarding what and how to visit here? If so, I’m ready to give you  pieces of information because I’ve seen it 3 times.

BRATISLAVA general view

1.Visit the Bratislava Castle! The sight which will definitely attract your sight… Perched on a hill, the  XIX’th castle overlooks the borders of Danube and the entire city. Climb the hill and discover the  History Museum and the National Museum which are  worth  visiting.As an art lover,
I indulged my eyes with a large collection devoted to art – approximately 3500 paintings, statues, and prints by domestic and foreign artists grouped according to theme. But has the well-known empress Maria Theresa of Austria left her mark here? Of course yes, seeing her portraits displayed inside the castle. Other points of interested are the religious art, sculpture and modern art such as Julius Koller’s  canvas. There are  even copies of 15th century altarpieces and church statues done by Paul of Levoca. Furthermore, you should take advantage of the superb panorama offered by this imposing landmark.

Bratislava castle

2. Cross the UFO or the New Bridge! The road bridge designed for pedestrians and cars. Curiosities- It is the 32nd-tallest and the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge to have one pylon and one cable-stayed plane. A real feat of enginnering! But that’s not all. Take a break climbing to the  flying saucer-shaped structure housing a restaurant. Taste the best  dishes there (if you want to have a breathtaking view of the centre of Bratislava  go to  the East Bar or opt for the  West Bar which  rewards you with captivating views of  the Devin Castle and Danube river).  Aren’t you satisfied enough? Then, go to  UFO open-air observation deck situated above the restaurant and  enjoy a 360° view. (the structure was declared Slovakia’s building of the century).

the most important bridge in Bratislava-jon-berghoff

3. Go to St. Martin Cathedral ! This XIV’th Gothic building was the coronation church of  19 Hungarian Emperors (including Maria Theresia)  until the 19th century.  At the edge of the Old Centre,this is it. Don’t be dissapointed by its exterior which seems a bit common and let your steps get in where you’ll be impressed by every detail and where you’ll imagine what was a luxurious ceremony of coronation like. Apart from  a nice statue of St. Martin carved by sculptor Georg Rafael Donner, you can see golden, gothic style altars which you’ll find quite attractive. On the whole, the most important details are a Classic gothic nave, the vaulted arches and stain-glassed windows which strike every tourist. The final leg of your visit is climbing to the church’s tower where it is displayed  St. Stephen’s Crown, a 1m high copy of the Hungarian royal crown and other treasury things ( Beethoven has had a premiere here).

 St. Martin's Cathedral

Altarcopy of the Hungarian crown

4. It’s time to meet wonderful man-like statues!  Where? Just in the Old Centre. Don’t stare at a man getting out of an underground channel! Yes, you’ve heard it well.There’s a working man called Cumil who invites tourists to lean forward (to the ground) to be taken a photo with. He’s not filthy so don’t be afraid and give him a hug while saying cheese. Not far from this popular statue, it stands another one- the Paparazzi which is coming from the corner, holding a camera to snap photos of every passer-by. Feel like a star! Wasn’t it enough? No, it’s time to encounter the happiest “person” on Bratislava or Schone Naci, an older gentleman lifting his hat to greet you as you pass. Something like a famous clown who  gained local fame so don’t miss it! The last but not the least interesting statue is the Napoleon’s Army Solder one, leaning over  a park bench in the center of the square, just waiting for you to take a souvenir photo with “him”.

Cumil or man at work!

paparazzihappy clown

5. See a Middle Ages gate-the Michael’s Gate! Dig into history and discover one part of the historical legacy standing just in front of you. Walking around the city, you ‘ll surely have to walk through the gate to get from the main square back up toward the Presidential Palace area. Michael’s Gate is the only portion remaining of a Medieval fortification that once stood in Bratislava. Here’s also the narrowest house in Europe. Beware not to miss it! In my opinion,even though it’s an important landmark for the whole city, it  is worth seeing to be photographed.The gate continues with  a quaint street lined with many shops and restaurants. In the summertime, the Michalska Ulica is teeming with tourists, street bands, and locals. Can you go inside the gate? Yes! There’s an interesting museum inside the tower and  at the top of it you can experience the views of the old town.  Some metres away, you’ll see the museum of pharmacy with a lobster hanging up at the entrance and medicines showed in the stalls. Find out the history of pills, drugs if you are interested to…

St-Michaels-Gate-Bratislava

pharmacy museum

5. A stroll down the Old Centre will be perfect for you! In this paragarph, I’ll let you know about other worth seeing sights in Bratislava. I’ll begin with the Grassalkovich Palace,  the home to Slovakia’s President, a white-coloured building which is guarded 24 hours a day by a guard who can be seen marching in front of the castle by visitors. Moreover, Grassalkovich Palace is situated in a huge, open park with a Baroque garden that is open to the public, even when the President is in residence.  Next, head to the Neo-Renaissance Slovak National Theatre, built in 1885-1886, during the time of Austria-Hungary, based on a design created by the Viennese architects. Book your tickets (I’ve read that they are so cheap-13 E the best seats). From outside it’s an elegant building which is very appreciated by tourists. And not far from the statues I mentioned, there’s the  Renaissance  Old Town Hall with its  imposing Tower opened  to visitors ( look to that pretty tiled roof design). It overlooks the beautiful main square with its fountain in the middle and some interesting sculptures. It houses the Municipal museum, the oldest museum in Bratislava. If you visit it, you see the exhibition of the feudal justice system and history of the town.

Grassalkovich museumNationbal Theatre

bratislava-old_town_hall

                    I hope that my information is useful for your next visit of Bratislava. Thanks for stopping by and let me know of your impressions or suggestions!

Destination: Lake Lugano in Switzerland and Italy

International Bellhop Travel Magazine

Lake Lugano Travel and Photos

Located on the border between Switzerland and Italy, Lake Lugano is a glacial lake between Lake Maggiore in Switzerland and Lake Como in Italy. While all three lakes are located in the high Alps, Lake Lugano has the unique character of being in both Italy and Switzerland, bringing two cultures and countries together in one magical destination for alpine skiing, boating, recreation, or just a relaxing stay.

Lugano Map

Lake Lugano is one of our favorite romantic destinations, as the crystal waters, snow-capped mountains, and alpine forests are conducive to romance. Everything from the twilight dinner cruises, romantic boat rides, and fine dining to the cozy lodging options will set the scene for lovers to enjoy a relaxing vacation in one of the most beautiful spots in Europe — if not the world.

Lugano Dining

Dining in Lake Lugano:

The regional cuisine of Lake Lugano is considered Ticinese Cuisine. The style of food is…

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The stunning Imperial Crypt or Kapuzinergruft. A not-to-miss sight in Vienna!!!

Beside the well-known funeral monuments shown at Pere Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris there’s a more impressive counterpart, the Imperial Crypt from Vienna,the capital of Austria. In other words, it  is a burial chamber beneath the Capuchin Church and monastery, founded in 1618.It’s  located on the Neuer Markt square, near the Hofburg Palace. A bit of history-Since the XVII century, it has been the entombment for members of the House of Habsburg. Have I sent shivers down your spine? If not, come with me to discover a tourist attraction consisting of the bones of 145 Habsburg royalty, plus urns containing the hearts or cremated remains of four others. Can you imagine that you are in the same place with  12 emperors and 18 empresses?

After you have gone past numerous beautifully adorned tombs,  you can’t help but remain astounded by the the most important and magnificent monument, that of Maria Theresa empress and her spouse the emperor,Francis I. Your sight will fall on the life-size imperial couple whose members are looking to each other and who, up to my mind, want to express their love. It’s something like a conjugal bed which is finely decorated (so much details that you’ll spend a lot of time to make them out). Afterwards, you’ll get to less important(but interesting indeed) tombs of young empresses and then you’ll arrive to other rooms where you see the tomb of the famous Franz Joseph emperor and just near it, the marble monument of his loved empress,Elisabet known as Sisi.

the royal couple

other wonderful coffinsMeeting Sisi and Franz Joseph

TIPS:

Even though, these graves may be spooky,you shouldn’t be afraid of, because you should see the bright side of this visit (the fact that you leap the chance to see such opulence reflected by dark-metal coffins). It’s preferable for you to brush up on the Habsburg history beforehand. But even without the historic background, you’ll enjoy seeing the coffins  which are real masterpieces.The most remarkable elements you’ll marvel at are some crowned skulls, macabre bones, some other spectacular details. It’s time to let you discover it by your own. I hope that I caught your interest and I’ve determined you to visit the Kaisergruft.Thanks for stopping by and have a nice trip at Vienna!!! Wait for your impressions and thoughts…

Simplicity in Santorini, Greece.

Butterytravels

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Santorini, first named “Kalliste” meaning ‘most beautiful’, and I believe it is. You might enjoy it more at its warmest; in June through to September, especially if you’ll want to see some of its beaches. Santorini also has a collection of churches and historical ruins to look at. The whole island could be considered historical ruins, as it is built on top of the remains of the volcano that erupted on the island in the late Bronze Age (A long time ago!) It was one of the worst in the world.

I’ll start by telling you my personal favourite thing to do while at Santorini, the hot springs! You can have a tour of a volcano, which is very impressive, although it’s still active and a little bit scary, it will release fumes every so often. After this, you have a relaxing swim in the hot springs. The sulphur in…

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