A Trip to Prince Charles’ Retreat in Transylvania

A Stay at Count Kalnoky’s Estate, Miklosvar

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It might seem a bit cliché to visit Transylvania over Halloween but heck, for our first baby-free trip we’d considered quite a few obvious choices before agreeing that we both wanted to go somewhere a bit strange.

Who said romance was dead?

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I’ve always been intrigued by Transylvania since I was quite small. I’m fascinated by the gothic allure in Bram Stoker’s novel and who doesn’t love a shadowy castle on a craggy hillside?

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We drove up from Bucharest airport by nightfall. The big black starred skies masked the piercing landscape and breathtaking Romanian countryside that we would discover the following morning.

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The best place to stay:

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We stayed at Count Kalnoky’s Estate at Miklosvar in a village called Miclosoara which is reported to be the oldest documented settlement of Szeklerland, dating back to 1211. It’s jointly owned by our very own Prince Charles who is said to have ancestral links to Vlad the Impaler, the 15th century nobleman whose deeds inspired the vampire legend.

The Estate is in fact an ancient farm with an air of grandeur, consisting of a beguiling main building and several other smaller dwellings and outbuildings.

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Surrounding the village is vivid landscape with beautiful rolling fields, ploughed only by horse and cart. We didn’t see any modern farming machinery whatsoever during our trip; a visit to Romanian countryside is like stepping back a hundred years. The roads are good on the whole, unless you go off-piste to explore and expect to find lots of beautiful mountains dotted with fortified churches and Saxon villages.

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What’s available at the Estate:

The guesthouse offers culture and nature excursions, one taking place every day, by the estate’s guides.

Horseback riding is also available at 25 euros per person for 45 minutes and you can also explore the beautiful surroundings on horse and cart for 20 euros each.

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We opted for half board for three nights, which included breakfast, dinner and half a bottle of wine each with your meal. There’s also the option to go full board which includes your three meals and wine and also your excursions for the day. It’s advisable to book excursions with the guesthouse – Romania isn’t geared up to tourism and apart from self exploration of the castles via car hire, you’re more likely to see authentic Romania on an arranged tour with the guesthouse which usually includes only a couple of other guests.

We saw virtually no tourists during our trip so if you’re looking for a European break that isn’t teeming with other visitors, then Transylvania is your place.

We stayed in the stunning blue house, this was our delightful room which also had a lovely sitting area with tea making facilities at the foot of the bed.

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The guesthouse also has a Wet House – a Pub & Shop for a pre-dinner drink by the fire. It’s located over the road in one of the estates other properties (pictured below). Complimentary drinks were supplied for our first evening.

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Meals:

Breakfast is 8.30-10.30am

Lunch from 1pm

Dinner with other guests at 8-10.30pm

Special diets and vegetarian options are available on request.

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There are virtually no imported goods used in daily Romanian life so everything was homemade. For breakfast there were platters of cooked meats, sausages and for the vegetarians: local cheese, stacks of fresh sourdough bread, local apple juice, wildflower and chestnut honey and rather excellent poached eggs from the farm’s chickens.

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All meals are served with the other guests around a beautiful table setting in a convivial dinning room (pictured below).

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The evening meal is served in a stunning cellar, walls lined with wine and a huge open fire centerpiece in the room.

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When to visit:

Summer is a stunning time to go from what I hear – big cobalt-blue skies and a colourful backdrop of blossoming trees, lush fields and jagged mountains.

Autumn is arguably the most atmospheric time to visit. We witnessed the height of the season, with vibrant red, yellow and rust coloured trees. The temperature was about 5 degrees cooler than the UK. Winter coat and bobble hat weather!

Winter: From around early December until end of February there is lots of snow everywhere, perfect for those looking for an atmospheric Christmas or some of Europe’s lesser-known ski resorts.

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Getting there:

You will need car hire in Transylvania, it’s the only way to travel unless you plan to stay at a hotel and book transfers and tours throughout your stay. We were really lucky and got a great deal with Avis for £57 for three days.

British Airways, Blu Air and Wizz Air all fly to Romania. The two airports closest to Transylvania are Bucharest and Targes Mures. We flew with Wizz Air from Luton to Bucharest which have more sociable flight times. My Mum always taught me that if you can’t saying anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. So I won’t be saying anything else about Wizz Air.

The verdict:

One of the best European breaks I’ve ever done, we experienced a time that no longer exists. The best move was staying at Count Kalnoky’s Estate at Miklosvar. We researched quite a few options and a good friend of ours recommended this place. By far the best place to stay in the region and reasonably priced too. I’d visit Romania again. It’s a country that’s often under-sold but it was stunning and our money went far too. We even came home with £30 change from our £200 spending money.

Cost: £350 pp including flights, accommodations, half board and car hire

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For more information about the Count’s Estate go to: http://guest.transylvaniancastle.com

My next post will be about the best things to do and see in the region – coming soon!

 

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