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


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


Assorted meats and pickles

In Ieud, Maramures, we stayed at Pensiunea Ilea, a local bed and breakfast run 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!



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…)
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.

The backyard smoker was busy.
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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