May 16

Romania’s eco treasure- the cob house from Timisoara

casaverdeAfter 12 years working in Canada, Ileana Mavrodin, architect and natural builder decided to head back to her native country in Romania. She settled for her first cob house in Sasca, a village close to Timisoara city, in the west part of the country. Her project is called Casa Verde, which means The Green House.

The concept of this project is all about healthy, environmental, cheap and sustainable way of building in natural areas untouched by civilization. People from around Europe are visiting Ileana every year for a piece of advice on how they can build the house of their dreams using nothing but ecological materials. This initiative brought her many fans in Romania and outside of the country and someone actually had the idea of building a whole village with cob houses in Berca, close to Buzau town (which is located around 110km away from Bucharest, the capital).

A natural material to build with, that you can use straight from your backyard, is earth. Originated from an English word, cob means lump or rounded mass. During her workshops at Sasca, Ileana Mavrodin teaches you how to make a house from the scratch using cob. Cob is the result of mixing earth, sand and straw. The experience of using cob goes beyond your building skills and gets you into a magical and exotic feeling because you can freely use both hands and feet to model your house. If you ever wanted to know how Demi Moore felt in Ghost when she was sculpting with clay, now you can find out visiting this part of Romania and learning this ancient building technique. Everything is organic when you build with cob, from the material to its round, natural shape.

The interior of a cob house is very cozy, appealing to your desire to feel at home; to a home like in only fairy tales you would see. If you want to go ecological all the way, you can use recycled materials for the house; you can integrate colorful glass bottles in the walls of the construction to philter the natural light in different shades. Most of people choose to have their walls painted with inspiring mandalas or creative flower patterns. A cob house can have a hippie look, or a chic one, or definitely a contemporary and elegant one. A very interesting part of the building it is the green rooftop and there you can leave your inspiration run wild and bring into your private suspended garden the flowers you always wanted to keep in the house but it seemed you never had room for them.

If you decide to come to Sasca at one of Ileana’s workshops you can also experience for a whole week how it is to live and eat organic, because the guests are hosted in the beautiful village in traditional houses and the food is provided by local people from their own sustainable farms.

Photo source


May 13


Since summer is almost here, a few hours closer to nature are always welcome. If you are in Bucharest and you fancy going out in the open, but a regular park doesn’t sound so interesting, or you do not want to further away from the city too much we suggest Mogosoaia Palace.

Mogosoaia is located about 15 kilometers further from downtown Bucharest and within easy reach, being an accessible spot even for those who have no personal car. A halt at the lake and a walk among the tall trees in a warm and sunny day, the beautifully attended walkways are a comfort for the soul and luckily picnics are allowed, so things can get even better.

Mogosoaia Palace was built by Constantin Brancoveanu and was completed at the beginning of the eighteenth century, on a piece of land that belonged to the wife of a boyard named Mogoş – hence the name of the assembly. Afterwards it was taken into custody by the Brancoveanu family for about 120 years, and then turned over to the Bibescu family. The palace is designed in a Renaissance style Romanian known as Brâncovenesc – an eclectic style that combines elements Renaissance, Baroque and Oriental.

You will be seduced from the beginning by the beautifully sculpted statues placed on one of the gates of the domain and the floral details on buildings that are absolutely fascinating.

The buildings are in very good condition, recently renovated, there is no advertising banner that affects the fairytale-like charm of the place. Alleys also integrate into the landscape and welcome you to discover every corner of the place.

Entrance to Mogoşoaia complex is free, you pay only if you want to visit the Museum of Art situated in one of the buildings.

St. George Church is right outside the complex, at the entrance. As you pass the gate, it appears in front of a wide, airy yard, inviting you to relax and step into the world of voivodes and dames of past times.

An exterior ladder will help you reach the gate tower, and from here you can admire the whole domain. The atmosphere has something of the simplicity of a monastery and exposes a discreet elegance.

Overall, that architecture of the ensemble is rather transparent, uncomplicated, but pleasant and harmonious: brick and romantic floral decorations or other plant motifs are predominant. The façade that faces the lake guards an Italian-style garden with clipped hedges that form a small maze and the steps leading to the water are guarded by two stone lions. On another side of the Palace there is a parcel full of colorful flowers and another one with purple irises, that make it look like a set from Kink Arthur’s tales.

An important side of the palace we have the Cuhnia, an archaic word signifying the Brancovenesc style kitchen; it was built between 1681 and 1702 and now hosts exhibitions and different events.

The guest house had been built by George Bibescu in 1870 on the site of a seventeenth-century mansion and it was restored by George Matei Cantacuzino between 1922-1930. Currently, there is a terrace where you can serve something.

Other impressive elements that make up the Mogoşoaia complex are greenhouses, ordered by Nicolae Bibescu at a workshop in Paris in 1890 and rebuilt in 2002; the Bibescu family vault, which is beautifully nestled between tall trees; and the ice supply, which in the past, blocks of ice from the lake Mogosoaia used to be kept under thatched.

The best time to visit this magnificent place is during the week, when the area is fairly quiet and there is hardly anyone around. On weekends when the weather is good, the place fills up, but the atmosphere is as delighting, it only depends on yourself If you like to be surrounded with crowds, or you prefer to stroll along and meditate without being disturbed.

Mogosoaia Palace organizes all kinds of events, concerts and festivals, the best known being MogoşoaiaClasic Fest.

May 10


Targu Ocna is placed on the eastern slope of the Eastern Carpathians, in the historical region of Moldova, in Bacau county, on a picturesque lowland at the confluence of two rivers: Trotus and its affluent, Slanic. The landscape is rugged, with heights which variate between 400m – 600m.

Nature has been generous with this region. Natural riches are varied and important: forests, orchards, vineyards, rivers, farmland and major deposits of coal, salt, construction materials and mineral waters.

The gorges and ghats created by Trotus River and its affluents have built pathways between Moldova and Transylvania, which boosted the exchange of goods and development of the area throughout time.

The history of these places provides the resort with significant beauty and mystery. The settlement flourished in close connection with the intensification of the exploitation of salt.

In parallel with the exploitation, processing and marketing of salt, the “Salt” Targu Ocna, in recent years has been developed as a trendy touristic activity that has medical benefices as well.

At Targu Ocna tourism services have been diversified in later years by arranging of a modern recreation complex, inaugurated in the summer of 2010. At the surface, the location has a swimming pool with salt water, showers, medical consulting room, terrace, shop and free wireless internet.

For a pleasant ambient the visitors can enjoy spending time sunbathing on chaises provided with parasols, playing table tennis and basketball on specifically arranged sports fields for tennis, volleyball and even a bowling alley. Sports equipment can be rented on the spot. There is also a module and a barbecue where different food products can be consumed.

The natural environment adds charm to the formula needed for an unforgettable day and the salt water lake and the waterfall complete the fascinating landscape with their presence.

And within the immense underground voids, the labyrinth of thousand meters galleries, the locals have created a modern touristic base which gives you the impression of a “city in the deep”.

Since the resort has plenty of opportunities for the entire family, children could not be ignored; there are plenty of playgrounds equipped with swings, slides and seesaws. Inflatable slides are the favorite place for the youngest visitors. Slot machines constitute attraction for tourists of all ages and connoisseurs can enjoy a game of pool.

In the underground there is room for gymnastics and a medical consulting room. Respiratory problems are currently treated by specialized personnel.

Inside the mine, there is also a food kiosk, a terrace and souvenir shop, so there are plenty to do and you will have a great time and a wonderful experience.

In 1992, at the initiative of the unity employees in the heart of the salt massif, the first underground Orthodox Church in Europe has been built; the church is dedicated to Saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners. In front of the altar is the iconostasis which consists of 24 icons. On both sides of the altar, there are placed icons of Holy Martyr Barbara and Holy Paraskevi, the patron of Moldova.

The iconostasis, the Throne of the Divine King and the beautiful chandelier illuminating the church have been skillfully manufactured by the miners and artisans of great talent and carefulness, dedicating a piece of their soul to eternity.

Within the complex, there is a newly built “Museum of Salt” where you will find information about the genesis, evolution exploitation and processing of the creation of salt and its therapeutic virtues and you can admire the interesting exhibits that recall the past.

This natural wonder, the salt, so necessary for our daily existence is considered the “white gold of the Earth”, and the “slice” of health and relaxation that visitors will gain by visiting the underground are offer generously to those who know how to value these natural blessings.

Targu Ocna offers a unique experience where you can relax with the entire family, improve your health and knowledge and, last but not least, you will get acquainted to the traditional Moldavian hospitality.

There are plenty more tourist attractions on the perimeter of Targu Ocna; the beautifulOrthodox Church of Saint Barbara, the leisure and touristic base, located in the salt mine on the 9th level underneath the surface, Magura Ocnei Monastery, the church of the former Raducanu Monastery, Magura Park and plenty of historical memorial places and ancients architectural monuments, such as Tescanu Rosetti Cultural Centre – a spot dedicated to the memory of the famous composer George Enescu.

As for accommodation, you have a luxurious hotel and plenty of idyllic pensions that will offer you all the conditions that you need for a perfect holiday.

May 04


The Muddy Volcanoes represent geographic formations created by natural gas at 3,000 meters depth pushing to the surface the clay mixed with water from the lower layers of the ground: once the mud is pushed to the surface by the pressure of gas, it forms a cone.

Although, when you think of volcanoes, you imagine hot lava, the mud surface is cold, as it comes from layers of clay at a shallow depth, which does not reach to the lithosphere close to the magma reservoir.

There are about 1100 mud volcanoes known in the entire world. In Europe you can still find active mud volcanoes in Italy, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova and in Romania of course, but there is such a region in Canada, as well.

In Romania, due to the great gas reserve of Romania, we encounter mud volcanoes in several areas of the country, such as the Depression of Transylvania, Banat Plain and Buzau. Mud Volcanoes in Buzau occupies the largest area and are the most famous: the Big Bluffs – as they are popularly known – occupy an area of 22 hectares, and the Small Bluffs span on 15.6 hectares.

Both Big Bluffs and Small Bluffs are close to the town of Berca nearby, and the access to them is at hand if you know the way or choose it wisely, according to the marks.

The big volcanoes are right by the road coming from Berca. After leaving the car in the parking lot, buy ticket from kiosk, where you can find souvenirs, as well, and, under no circumstance, do not light a cigarette! Smoking is forbidden due to the gas that is spreading in the air.

At the entrance, there is a sign with explanatory notes, a map and visitation rules.

Once you get there, you will encounter a marvelous sight that seems to be from another planet; the volcanic cones are not so high, and eruptions are not as violent, and you can admire this lively process in silence and complete calm, with no danger whatsoever. The landscape is in continuous change, because every once in a while, a new cone appears, and an old one grows in height.

Once you receive all the needed information, prepare to be amazed! I assure you that no description can enclose the astoundingly surreal view, and all previous statements that you might have read are short in depiction.

Apr 11


The biggest administrative building in the world is located in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, and it is probably one of the most controversial edifices build in the recent history.

The building plan begun in the year 1978, after the great earthquake of 1977, when a great part of Bucharest – a city with an architecture that lasted since the pre-World War I period – had been knocked down by the seism. At that time, the incumbent president of Romania, the Socialist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, saw the destruction of Bucharest as an oportunity of renewal and “The House of the People” – as it is known by its original name – was considered the crown jewel of the Romanian capital. The chief architect was Anca Petrescu, a reputable architect who gained Ceausescu’s respect; she brought the project to an end and lead a team of as many as 700 architects and 20.000 workers.


Fun fact: speaking of Pharaohs, The Romanian Parliament is bigger then the Pyramid of Kepos in Egypt by two percent!

At that time, it was one of the most lavish and exorbitant  buildings of the 20th century, as it represented about one-third of the country’s budget on a period of five years (in 2006, its costs have been estimated at around 3 billion Euros) and it implied great pecuniary and human  endeavor.

There has been used a great deal of resources and materials, such as tones of marble, crystal, expensive wood essence, leather, glass and Romanian manufactured carpets and curtains that add to the elegance and exquisite furnishments.

The numerous conference halls of the Romanian Parliament Building have hosted countless events and meetings of the most important contemporary political figures and they are opened to the public eye almost every day (except for those days when official events take place), according to the visiting program.


There still is a lot of hard feeling around this building coming from some of the residents of Bucharest, as, to many of them, especially of older age, it represents a painful wound that reminds them of how Nicolae Ceausescu forced them to relocate from their elegant old mansions, in apartment buildings in different parts of the city, because the construction perimeter is settled on the area of the former bourgeois quarter “Uranus”, where everything was demolished from Ceausescu’s orders. We can conclude that every colossal masterpiece involves a great sacrifice.

The Romanian Parliament has 12 levels above the land surface – offering a spectacular view of the city – and eight levels underneath. Its substructure is also a subject of many urban myths, as it is believed that the hidden face of the building shelters a nuclear bunker and a net of mysterious catacombs that lead to secret escaping gates. But that is, of course, legend that adds to the remarkable character of the construction.

Whether it is true, or not, you can see it for yourself and reserve a day to visit the Romanian Parliament during the established program.