13 May. My wife and I have just spent two nights at the venue, making final arrangements with our hosts. It is my first visit to Romania and I am very impressed. It was a long drive from Bucharest, but well worth it. There are gentians and orchids outside my door, a redwing nesting in a spruce tree opposite and a male chaffinch singing from a nearby birch!
Boros village runs along a narrow valley managed in very traditional ways. Horses and carts are still used extensively and every house has its strip of cultivated land, barn and fruit trees. Boros Skanzen is in essence a museum in which people can come and stay, holding their activities – whether they be folk dancing or academic discussions – in a very traditional, homely setting. The houses have been relocated from elsewhere in the region. They date back over 100 years, as does most of the furniture. The decor is very spartan and as a result it only rates a single star for accommodation (you will also need to bring a towel and your own soap/shampoo). They have, however, been upgraded for electricity and modern bathrooms (at the houses that we will be using!). There is even a church, though it was locked at the time, and a 150 year old working water-powered grain mill.
The main indoor event area is a large converted barn, with an internal balcony all the way round. This is also where the traditional meals are served, all prepared by the incredibly friendly Olga (she talks to you non-stop, though only in Hungarian and regardless of whether or not you can understand what she is saying!). The food was excellent, though served in vast quantities and very filling; “traditional” seems to be a synonym for “high carbohydrate”. And there was a lovely liqueur, Palinka, made from a base of apple brandy and bilberries.
They have a range of livestock on the property, including donkeys, geese, sheep and pigs. So you will need to be tolerant of being in a setting where animals are produced for meat. Pork seems to be a staple part of the diet – though they are well used to catering for vegetarians.
Although it rained for much of the time we were there, the clouds lifted in the afternoon, allowing us to drive up to the nearby pass at an elevation of around 1000 m. This is a region of outstanding high-diversity alpine hay meadows of international significance. It was still early spring, but the slopes were cloaked in orchids (the two colour forms of Dactylorrhiza sambucina) and two species of gentian (Gentiana verna and Gentiana acaulis). Primula veris and Primula elatior everywhere. I am told that by June the flora is even more spectacular.
Overall, I was extremely pleased with the choice of venue, the facilities, the friendliness of our hosts and the landscape within which we will be having our afternoon hikes. I can’t wait to return in June 2020!