Discovering Haferland region in Transylvania
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to take part in a two days trip through Haferland region of Romania ( in the south of Transylvania). This was a press trip preceding the “Haferland week”, which takes place 9-14th Aug. This is an annual event, 2017 being the fifth edition already!
I had seen the previous editions in the news and I was actually planning to go myself this year. So this press trip was the perfect introduction!
Let me give you a bit of background about this first and then I will let you in a virtual visit through this gorgeous region through my photos!
The Haferland region
The name Haferland, comes from the German language and it means the Oat Country. Apparently, due to the harsh climate, the region’s land was mostly suitable to oat harvesting, thus the name. The Haferland region is situated in Transylvania, between the famous Sighisoara and Rupea and not very far from Brasov. The German name is due to the German colonists that settled here in the 12th century and who made this place their home for about 800 years. However, in the second half of the 20th century, after their families have been split between the two countries (Germany and Romania) due to the World War II, many Saxons fled their home trying to “re-settle” in Germany. This was not easy however as they were not Germans anymore , but nor were they pure Romanians. The fall of the communist regime in Romania (in Dec 1989) opened the “gates” for the remaining Saxons and most of them left to Germany as well. Today there are hardly any Saxons left in this region.
One of the strongest German minority nowadays lives in Sibiu, another special Romanian city.
The Haferland Week (Saptamana Haferland)
With so few Saxons left in the region, their culture is hard to be maintained, which is where the Haferland Week comes into play. One of the reasons for organising this event was to attract as many Saxons as possible to come back and visit their homeland every year. On top of that, the strong cultural heritage in this region of Transylvania is something very unique and more and more tourists are interested to visit. The increasing number of people taking part at the Haferland Week stands as proof to that. Originally, the festival started with a few hundred participants in the first year and last year it reached 4000! This year 500) people are expected to join!
The Haferland week is one of the largest festivals dedicated to Saxons and it includes a very diverse programme. This year’s focus is on food! And thanks to this trip I was lucky to already try a few dishes. I must admit I knew nothing about the local food before but “Fata care gateste cu flori” (The girl who cooks with flowers), not only cooked for us so many traditional dishes but also explained to us about the food.
There are always many villages included in the program and this year some of them are: Archita Rupea, Homorod Viscri, Bunesti, Saschiz, Crit, Mesendorf,Cloasterf. The program of the festival includes: religious services in fortified churches ( including organ plays), theatre play, a display of local traditions, brunches and so much more. You can participate the whole week or you can pick the days, villages or activities that you are interested in.
For a full program of the festival you can check directly on Saptamana Haferland.
As I mentioned, we were visiting for 2 days and the conclusion is that I certainly want to come back.
But let me tell you a bit more about our trip , giving you at the same time more details about the places.
Two days in Haferland
I should start by telling you that one of the many sponsors behind all this is Michael Schmidt foundation, a non for profit association founded in 2010 by Michael Schmidt, the owner of Automobile Bavaria. The foundation is very active in supporting the region and it is one of the main co-founders for the Haferland week festival. They have a lot of similar activities, so I suggest you read more on their site.
As one of the sponsors of the festival, Automobile Bavaria were kind enough to facilitate our travel in style, using a few of their BMWs 5 series (thank you for that!).
So after a quick pit stop to fuel up our cars and ourselves ( thank you Rompetrol for the amazing breakfast), off we go!
First stop (ok… 10th probably, but I mean the first real hard stop 😉 ) was in Rupea village, where we met Miss Maria who is trying to keep the traditions alive with her embroidery workshop….and who is cooking a delicious sponge cake!
From there we went to visit Rupea citadel where we met 2 ladies from the village dressed in the traditional outfit. After welcoming us with bread and salt (according to the tradition) they started telling us about their lives, their traditions, their past and so on. Whilst listening to the amazing tales from the past from the two cheerful women, I felt as if I was transported back in time.
Next stop was Roades, at casa Tabaluga where we were spending the night. Casa Tabaluga is a very charming guest house, build by yet another foundation, Peter Maffay foundation. This is one of the 4 houses build by the foundation in the region and its main objective is to serve as a vacation guesthouse for local and international children diagnosed with all kind of traumas.
The guesthouse was build in the vicinity of the fortified church of the village and it is located in a very picturesque area.
From there we went to Crit village, where we spent some time at Casa Kraus and were immediately won over by the idyllic landscape and the charming traditional rooms! I definitely need to go and stay there at least one night!
The surprise of the day came in the form of a picnic, but not before we visited the fortified church from Mesendorf village and listened to tales from the past from two local Saxons.
Oh I almost forgot to mention that at Casa Kraus, we loaded up everything for the picnic in our elegant BMW 5 series and I must say their trunk never looked better 😀 .
So the surprise of the day was not actually the picnic itself, but the transportation to it. If you’ve never tried it before I strongly suggest you to do it!
They seem to be really happy to take us..
…so of course I chose the carriage!
I must say this was the best picnic I have been to! And with the best view!
And what can one do after a picnic…..exactly: dinner. But not before a sunset drink! The view begged to be admired! look at this!
And believe it or not by 10pm we were actually starting to get hungry. Luckily!…because “The girl who cooks with flowers “ had prepared a real feast full of traditional dishes. I apologise I cannot explain the dishes to you as I hardly understand what some of the things are in Romanian, let alone translate them in English (palm face). BUT you have to try them when you visit this region! Deal?
I will stop here with this post and create another one for day two as I do not want to make it too long. But I hope I will see you for second part!