Christmas in Romania – Part 2: Turda Salt Mine and Ilea Bed & Breakfast

After Christmas, ten of us (six adults and four kids) loaded up in three cars and drove to Maramures, the north-western corner of Romania, near the border with Ukraine. The area is beautiful, with rolling hills and absolutely gorgeous lighting, guaranteed to make your photos glow – a photographer’s Paradise (if you don’t believe me, check out Adrian Petrisor’s photos).

On the way, we stopped to visit Turda Salt Mine. This out-of-this-world looking underground dwelling has been a mine used since Roman times but was officially built in the 18th century. It is now a popular tourist destination for those with respiratory troubles and healthy travelers alike, featuring self-service row-boat rides, a Ferris wheel, ball courts, and more.

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We had a healthy and hearty lunch at the nearby restaurant called Sarea-n-bucate (Salt in Food). It featured traditional food but it wasn’t the best I’ve had.20151226_072247

 

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Varza a la Cluj (cabbage with rice, minced meat, and tomatoes, baked; served with pickled hot peppers and sour cream)

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Assorted meats and pickles

In Ieud, Maramures, we stayed at Pensiunea Ilea, a local bed and breakfast ran by Liviu and Maria Ilea, who were absolutely lovely. The food was spectacular and locally grown. I actually enjoyed drinking milk again – the real thing, with cream on top and all!

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Breakfast and dinner were included with our stay. I absolutely loved the wooden serving trays – rustic and fun. Dinners were more like a family gathering than just a sit-and-eat affair. We enjoyed our hosts’ company and learned more about the local culture and history from them, especially since they were both teachers. Liviu also played in a renowned folk music band, called Fratii Petreusi. I took a photo if his only copy of the CD Marg pe Iza, zin pa Mara.

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Horinca (local “moonshine” with pears or some intricate wooden mechanism that will make you wonder how they got in there – whether you’re sober or not…)
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Lamb ribs and pork sausages with boiled potatoes, topped with parsley
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Cheesy omelette  – the breakfast of champions 🙂

I don’t usually like rose wine. However, I really liked Liliac (Bat); Maybe I’m biased since I’m from Transylvania ;-). It was nice a crisp and not the usual too sweet taste. I could see that going very well in the summer months or with fish. I wish I could have brought some back with me. The red wine was Cadarca and it was a very nice not too heavy, not too light red that goes well by itself or with lighter meats and cheese, of course.

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The backyard smoker was busy.
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Poor Bobi had to smell all that goodness and stick with his canine diet. Well, he did get some good bones at least, since there weren’t many leftovers…

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