A Fairy Tale in Maramures

A Fairy Tale in Maramures

…the children will love Maramures…they will live in small houses like those of hobbits, will stroll to the neighboring hills  where the wild flowers grow with irrepressible exuberance , will join the locals to make hay or will dance and sing together with local children “coconii” …or they will feed the chicken, take care of the cows and milking them; will pick berries, herbs and mushroom…They will play in a land of fairy tale!

Be a local in Maramures!

  • Join the locals for making hay.
  • Go picking berries, herbs and mushroom.
  • Carve your own wooden spoon or sew a “zgardana” (necklace) of glass beads

 

Day 1: Baia Mare – Breb

Arrival in Baia Mare. Transfer to Breb (52 km) by minibus. Arrival at the guesthouse around.

Free time. Lunch at a local Guesthouse 2*

In the afternoon, you are free to wander around Breb village, an authentic open-air museum. Enjoy the amazing, luxuriant surroundings and take in the beauty of the wild flowers. Take advantage of the quiet narrow pathways which go up and down through people’s yards and onto the pastures bordering the small village. The village has taken its current name of Breb in 1715. On the 20th of September it is mentioned as Viata Olahalis or Hodpataka, which could be translated as “the village of the creek with brebi”, where breb stands for “beaver”. The village still preserves important historical sites: the wooden church, built probably in 1531, significantly altered between the 18th and the 19th centuries, as well as the former Greek-Catholic confessional school.

Afterwards, you will spend some time with one of the local craftsmen. In Maramures, wood is an important raw material and a source of inspiration for a great variety of artwork.  The old artisan makes wonders out of wood, sculpting “pecetare” (seal engravers used by women for breads involved in various rituals), “fuse cu zurgalai” (spinning wheels) or small objects for domestic use, richly decorated with traditional local motifs, such as crosses, wolves’ teeth or solar symbols. All the wooden pieces in these objects are bound together perfectly, without nails. During the summer, the craftsman works in an open-air barn, enjoying a wide-view of pastures dotted with haystacks against a blue sky. The man is over 90 years old, so he knows lots of stories – he will tell you which is the best wood for a spinning wheel or a spoon and if you’re keen, he will even make room for you at his work table. While giving a help in hand, don’t forget to take in the beautiful panorama.

Dinner and accommodation  at a local Guesthouse 2*

 

Day 2: Creasta Cocosului – Gutai Mountains

Walk from the guesthouse to Creasta Cocosului (1394.7 m), the most beautiful peak in Gutai volcanic mountains. A red-cross marked pathway starts from Breb village, going through Taul Morarenilor and Taurile Chendroaiei before reaching, after about three and a half hours, Creasta Cocosului. Taurile Chendroaiei are two small lakes – remnants of a glacier lake – mirroring the spectacular Creasta Cocosului. Both are about 5 meters wide, and 10 and 15 meters long, respectively. Surrounding them, on the former surface of the glacier lake is the “tinov” – a raised surface of about 4 meters high – an active peat moor created in the bog area left by the drying glacier lake. The peat in this grassy marsh is considerably thick, up to 8 meters.

Creasta Cocosului – is one of the most spectacular andesite landforms, shaped as a rooster’s crest – as its name indicates in Romanian – and is part of the volcanic cone which erupted nine million years ago; it offers the best panorama of Tibles and Ignis Mountains, while providing a habitat for lynx and predatory birds, important at European level: the golden eagle and the lesser spotted eagle. Your guide will offer you some insights about how habitats are connected to protect big carnivore mammals in the area.

Have a packed lunch up on Creasta Cocosului.

The descent follows the “red ribbon” trail for about two hours, until reaching Pintea Viteazul Inn. Minibus transfer to Budesti, where your visit continues on a traditional wagon pulled by horses through Budesti and Sarbi.

Similarly to Breb, Budesti and Sarbi are villages where you will appreciate how the local communities value their wood. You will visit the wooden church of Josani, a UNESCO world heritage site and you will socialize with the locals in their traditional houses. The iconic architectural elements to focus on here are the famous wood-sculptured gates typical for Maramures.

The wooden church of Budesti-Josani (a UNESCO world heritage site since December 1999) is a place of worship displaying “cheotori” (wooden clasps) from 1643, considered a “magnificent” construction for its age and long time afterwards. The building, the biggest wooden church in historical Maramures, is impressive in size and artistic value, adorned with popular murals from 1762.

Sarbi village displays a great array of finely sculpted wooden gates. It is worth stopping to take a look at the traditional, water-actioned mechanical systems: the mill, batoza (the water-powered thresher), piua (a thumping device in which heavy wooden beams pummel hot, wet sheep wool into felt for coats, waistcoats and blankets), valtoarea (a washing machine which tumbles clothes in a churning pool), the palinca-making devices – examples of peasants’ ingenuity, still used today for cereal processing and washing woolen fabrics. In Sarbi village there are many highly-skilled craftsmen – hay and wood chips hat makers, who add a final touch to the traditional costumes in Maramures; sheepskin coats and breastplates makers; wood sculptors creating, among others, surprising horinca bottles, in which a spinning wheel or a wooden ladder seem to miraculously appear out of nowhere.

Dinner and accommodation  at a local Guesthouse 2*

 

Day 3: Ride on the Mocanita train

Breakfast at 6 am. Departure to Viseu de Sus, at 7 am, on the minibus. Mocanita will depart the station at 9 am.

The steam train for tourists has been in circulation since 2000. The trains go up to Paltin station (21.6 km), at about two hours away from Viseu de Sus, reaching a very pleasant point for a layover. Sometimes known as the «Vaser Valley Railway» the forestry railway of Viseu de Sus is a unique example of technical cultural heritage.  Travelling over a network of narrow-gauge track (of 760 mm gauge), you can still find wood-burning steam locomotives running alongside several diesels and railcars. The railway winds up the valley with many curves, over bridges and through wild romantic scenery of the Romanian Carpathian Mountains.

While in Paltin, you can spend some time in nature, have a picnic, take in the view from the platform installed on a rock nearby or make a short trip to the  Second World War galleries. You can also follow a route (of about 45 minutes) created by WWF and the National Park of Maramures Mountains – a theme route during which you will find out more about the importance of the forest and the area’s biodiversity. You will be guided by a national park ranger.

Lunch at Paltin resort layover. Return to Viseu de Sus train station at 3 pm, the latest.

On your return to Breb, you will briefly stop in Sacel to visit the workshop of one of the most famous ceramics artisans in Maramures. Sacel ceramics is one of the oldest and most important type of traditional pottery in Romania.

Optional stop at Ieud – a 14th century-old town with a wooden church and an etnographic museum. The church is made of pine wood, and some researchers consider it the oldest wooden construction in Europe. “The Ieud Codex”, a document from 1391, was found in the church’s attic and is considered the first writing in Romanian.

Visit to Barsana – a little town with a wooden church and monastery, famous around the country and beyond. The Church of the Presentation of the Virgin was built in 1720 and was moved to its current location in 1806. According to the legend, the church has been moved so that the souls of those killed by plague could rest peacefully in the shadows of the worship place. Further down, on the left side of the road, you will see Toader Barsan’s workshop, a renowned wood craftsman at national and international level. His son, Ioan Barsan, has inherited his talent and skill and continues the tradition, along his father. By the southern exit from the village stands Barsana Monastery, probably one of the most visited places in Maramures. Go in and enjoy a unique feeling emanating from the surroundings. Most of the buildings here are open to visitors.

In the evening you will learn how to make homemade bread and traditional cakes – you will visit one of the village housewives who will show you how to batter the dough, and while it rises, you will help prepare a cake typical for Maramures. Dinner will blend in perfectly with your freshly baked, warm bread, while desert will leave you with the sweet aftertaste of Maramures.

Dinner and accommodation  at a local Guesthouse 2*

 

Day 4: Be a local…in Maramures! Celebrate in the afternoon, along with the local artisans

Free time in the morning for various optional activities.

You can stay in Breb and enjoy the guesthouse’s peacefulness. Get a book and read under the shadows of the trees, on one of the wooden benches or on of the swings in the garden. Or just sit and relax listening to the sound of the stream passing just outside the backyard.

Or, during summer and autumn, join the locals heading for the pastures to mow the grass and gather the hay (optional activity). You can learn how to cut the grass with a mower, how to gather it using a wooden fork, how to dry it and make haystacks.

Do you like fresh cow’s milk? How about ewe-cheese and eggs? But do you know what route they take before ending up on your plate? If you’re curious, you can help your hosts by feeding the chicken, taking care of the cows and milking them or helping out with preparing cheese (optional activity).

You could even visit the village blacksmith (optional activity).  With a bit of luck, you will see how he puts shoes on horses, following a centuries-old ritual. Take a look at how a horseshoe is made and how it’s put on. Horses are brought here about four times a year, and winter horseshoes are different from summer ones. The blacksmith also needs an assistant – making the horseshoes requires rhythmically beating the iron, switching between two hammers at the same time; putting the shoes on requires even more help for holding the horse and its legs. The mouldy horseshoe is fixed with special nails, pierced through the hoof wall. It is said that horse shoes are lucky charms, so if you ever find one by the side of the road, don’t leave it behind!

You can also choose to visit a weaver (optional activity). Women in Maramures have craftily used a loom to clothe their family, to decorate their homes and churches. Sewing needles and tired eyes during long winter nights have produced clothes and carpets, togs and cloths, bags, big or small, tablecloths and beddings. Each guesthouse had a “ruda” – the good room preserving the girls’ dowry, comprising of wool and hemp woven fabrics and everything else required by an orderly household. Fabrics vary in colour and pattern, according to their function and value. Carpets have geometrical patterns, with contrasting colours, while their edges are adorned with human figures and traditional scenes. Towels come in flashy colours, in powerful tones of red and black, with sizeable motifs, resembling those on carpets. Cloths are colored in two, up to four colors. Authentic fabrics are dyed in natural colours, extracted from plants and tree bark. Over the summer, women pick up flowers and leaves, roots and treebark and use them to dye the wool, weaving pagan and Christian symbols into wonderful carpets.

Enjoy the sitting (“sezatoarea”)* in the afternoon(optional activity). Local artisans will gather in the Marioara Guesthouse garden – you will learn to make beaded collars, traditional masks and hats – the clop, the traditional hat in Maramures; you will encounter craftsmen producing agricultural tools such as ash wood forks and racks, designed for gathering the hay and grass, as well as carpenters highly skilled in making crosses; you will learn how to weave baskets of different shapes and sizes, hand or back baskets to carry food or wood. We will show you how to make cloths and spin wool. But how could you leave Maramures without finding out more about its traditional costumes and even trying a typical shirt? You’ll be amazed to hear that an old-fashioned, handmade shirt can take a whole winter to be finished!

* “Sitting” may be organized only for groups of minimum 8 persons.

While enjoying all this, you will also relish a background of songs and dances performed by a group of teenagers (locally known as “coconi”).

Dinner and accommodation  at a local Guesthouse 2*

 

Day 5: Ignis Plateau

This day is dedicated to natural protected areas and traditional agriculture on Ignis Plateau. Travel by minibus through Tatarului Gorge, then by foot along the sunny pastures and deep forests, while discovering how nature is benefitting people, providing them with local plant remedies for every ailment. You will also learn more about the pastoral history of the area, which still provides lush and biodiversity pastures. Your guide will include information about the conservation work done in collaboration with local shepherds, aimed at restoring abandoned fields.

Have lunch at a traditional sheep cot on the plateau. You will be able to join the shepherds in their day-to-day activities: you will learn to milk the sheep, prepare the ewe and green cheese – while the shepherds will offer you an insight into their lifestyles high in the mountains. Lunch will include polenta, ewe and green cheese, lamb sour soup and marble cake. In Maramures, preparing polenta is made in various ways; in the past, it could also substitute bread when wheat flour was hard to find. The balmos, made of sheep cheese, milk and polenta, is the shepherds’ specialty.

In the afternoon transfer to Baia Mare.

 

End of services.

Tariff :

Group size Tarif per person based on double occupancy Single supplement
8 - 10 persons 480 EUR 115 EUR
5 - 7 persons 575 EUR 115 EUR
3 - 4 persons 745 EUR 115 EUR
2 persons 965 EUR 115 EUR

Prices are per person based on double occupancy and are given in EUR. 2014 dates may change slightly.

Included :

  • 4 overnights based on double occupancy at a local guesthouse
  • 4 breakfasts
  • 4 dinners at Guesthouse – set menu (3 courses dinner, including horinca, afinata, house wine, jugs of tap water)
  • 1 traditional dinner at Guesthouse
  • 2 lunches at Guesthouse (3 courses meal, including jugs of tap water)
  • 1 packed lunch on day 3, on Creasta Cocosului (sandwich, 1 fruit, one bottle of mineral water 0,5 l)
  • 1 lunch on day 4, at Paltin (barbeque lunch, one bottle of mineral water 0,5 l)
  • 1 lunch at a traditional sheep cot
  • English speaking local guide for 5 days during the stay in Maramures
  • private transport by private minibus, according with the above program
  • return train ticket: Mocanita Viseu de Sus – Paltin
  • entrance fee for churches in Breb, Budesti
  • visit to water-actioned mechanical systems in Sarbi
  • visit to a local wood carver
  • carriage ride in Budesti and Sarbi
  • experiences: a day at a sheepfold,  how to make homemade bread and traditional cakes
  • Maramures travel guide with useful information

 

Not included :

  • international flight ticket to/from Baia Mare;
  • experiences: how to mow the grass and gather the hay, visit of a blacksmith and a weaver,  how to make traditional jams and syrups or how to preserve vegetables for winter
  • visit of the church in Ieud
  • medical insurance
  • traditional sitting including folk show on day 4

 

Note:

  1. Optional activities depend on the season (e.g. Sheep Sambra takes place only at the beginning of May, etc), the weather and on other social and cultural events taking place in the area. These activities will be charge additional. The guide will assist you with all necessary information.
  2. The sitting will be organized for minimum 8 people. If the group is smaller, there will be organized visits to local artisans, for a fee.
  3. Depending on when you’re visiting Maramures, you can take part in other local social and cultural events: weddings, traditional dancing and singing festivals, church celebrations, artisan reunions, etc.
  4. The daily schedule can change according to the weather, to local social and cultural events, without any fundamental change to the program’s structure.

 

Tariff for optional excursions: please click here

WWF is a global organization with strong local impact, which in 2011 celebrated 50 years in the field of nature conservation.

The panda, which is the organization’s symbol, stands today for the movement to save endangered species and wildlife habitats across the globe.

In Romania, WWF works since 2006 to protect the wildlife found in the Carpathians and along the Danube: protected areas, forests, brown bears, the Danube Delta, and sturgeons. To this we can also add stimulating the transition to green economy and an environmental education program for young people.

For instance, in 2011 WWF-Romania developed the Save the virgin forests! campaign, with over 100,000 allies who have signed the petition to fully protect these forests. In 2012 a special law was issued which clearly defines the criteria for identification of virgin forests and grants the ones identified a status of strictly protected forests. In 2007, WWF created Earth Hour, a global event appreciated more and more each year, which is also celebrated in Romania since 2009.

WWF Romania is also present in Maramureș, area where the organization implements projects related to ecotourism, FSC certification of forests, the conservation of brown bear and its habitat or the preservation of high nature value farmland.

Our conservation work in Maramureș is also the main reason behind our partnership with Explore Travel. In 2013 we initiated our collaboration with the aim of building a sustainable tourism program for the area, that could contribute to the preservation of the valuable natural and cultural heritage of Maramureș.

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