Meet the locals in the countryside. Always great. Why? They can take you on a virtual tour of the village, tell you stories and legends about the places. They can even take you to the local pub, where the gossip yes.
For example, one thing I always do on a tour, is go to a local pub. Usually in the evening, when my guests go to rest; or, sometimes, with them as well, since they want to experience the rural life.
Every time I did this it was a success. The locals are spontaneous, sometimes shy. Well, shy until they have a shot of plum brandy and then their faces light up :).
One gentleman I want to tell you about in this post is Ion. Ion is a jolly good fellow I meet in a village near Sibiu.
We did not meet at the pub though. I was in this village, not far from Sibiu, and I was roaming around, looking for cool things to see and visit. I came across some nice guesthouses, took some notes for my future tours, asked the locals about the best places to eat, and so on.
But the puzzle was not complete yet. So I had the best places to eat, the nice guesthouses, but I needed something extra. What could be interesting for foreigners who visit the rural Romania? A ride with the horse and cart, of course.
Someone from a guesthouse had told me about a nice man, Ion. We called Ion and then went to meet him. I am talking about a guy in his mid 50’s, blue eyes, grey hair, tall but not the tallest, and talkative. Aaaand…he enjoys a good drink, plum brandy usually, every once in a while.
I asked him about the possibilities of doing a tour with the horse and cart with my guests, around the village. But I told him that I do not want a tour on the normal road, on asphalt. I want to go on the fields, smell the trees, pick fruits from the trees, and enjoy the fresh air.
Next time I was in the village I called Ion. It is better to call in advance because during the day, like all the locals, he is busy working on the crops.
I was there with a couple from the US, really nice people. Ion met us with a big smile on his face, dressed up in a traditional costume, with a nice hat on top.
You can tell he loves his horse a lot. The horse is well treated and cared for.
He invited us inside and offered us a shot of home made plum brandy; Molotov cocktail, to be honest, but it kills all the germs ;).
Then, we enjoyed a ride with the horse and cart, through the fields, in Ion’s home village, we picked pears from the trees, we enjoyed the bumpy roads. It was great to see the locals greeting each other, and talking about the crops, about the weather, and other daily aspects.
Ion pulled over to his parent’s house. What a treat! His mother (who is in great shape, and by the way..she is 75 but looks like she is in her 60’s!!) offered us some home made pie and a few shots of brandy! Needless to say we were on cloud nine (literally, from the brandy) and could barely speak. But we had such a good time interacting with Ion’s family, that we swore we could stay there forever!
After one hour of visiting the village, talking to the locals, eating and drinking, we went back to the guesthouse. We spent a quite night there and on the next day went to Sibiu.
And, if you are in Sibiu, you must visit the Big Square and The Lesser Square, The Bridge of lies, and walk on the narrow streets. You will love it! It is absolutely charming!