Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Transylvanian Castles - 1. part

Zau de Câmpie

As you know I live in Transylvania. This beautiful and unique part of Romania is full of old buildings, castles, palaces and fortresses, some of them part of our history, others having interesting stories. 
I have a plan for this summer: to visit as many castles as I can and write a mini serial about them here on my blog. 
Lets start with the castle form Zau de Câmpie.

Zau de Campie Castle of Baron Istvan Ugron

The village of Zau de Câmpie (romanian), Mezőzáh (hungarian), Sannendorf (german) is situated in the middle of the Transylvanian Plateu in Mures County and it is documented as of 25 May 1339. We visited it last week and we had a wonderful Sunday seeing the castle and the Wild Peony Reservation, the other sight of the village. 
The castle was built between 1909 and 1911 and it was the summer residence of Baron István Ugron. The castle is a real architectural calendar, having 365 windows as the days of the year, 52 rooms as the weeks of the year, 12 hallways as the months and 4 towers as the seasons. The building is surrounded by a dendrological park with many rare plants and trees. 

Zau de Campie Castle of Baron Istvan Ugron
The castle has a very romantic but sad story...
The Baron has spent years in Russia being the ambassador of Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and he fell in love with one of the daughters of  Tsar Nikolai II. István Ugron asked the Princess to marry him and he built the castle as a gift for the young lady. But she asked that the whole road between the railway and the palace to be covered with gold coins. Once work started, the Princess asked the him to put gold coins so that no one can step on the Emperors head. Even if the Baron was very rich and owned huge properties, he wasn't able to satisfy her wishes. 
Unfortunately time has solved this unfulfilled love, but the Baron's heart has crushed. In 1918 the entire family of the Tsar was killed by the bolsheviks, including the Princess to. After this he retired completely from public and he came to the castle just for short visits.
After World War II the castle, the furniture and the whole property of the Baron was took by the communists. István Ugron died lonely in a poorhouse. :(
In the communist era the building received more destination from 1963 was an orphanage. These days the heirs claim the domain, the surrounding forest being already returned!

Zau de Campie Wild Peony Reservation
There is another beautiful place located a few kilometers from the village: The Wild Peony Reservation. It is considered to be the only place within the Carpathian arc where this flower grows. The peony has 10 to 30 centimeters in height, grows in clumps and has crimson red flowers. It is protected by law and it's unique in Europe. The first data about the Zau de Câmpie peonies were published in Vienna in 1846. The reservation has 270 species, subspecies and a variety of very rare plants, most of them protected by law. 

Zau de Campie Wild Peony Reservation
Unfortunately we visited the reservation too late this year and most of the flowers were already faded. So if you want to see this "fairyland" come to Transylvania in the first days of May! :)

There are beautiful forests to!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Wild Garlic Season

Finally we can find wild garlic in woods!!! Love this plant, it's healthy and delicious too!
It's Latin name is Allium ursinum and it's due to the brown bear's taste for 
the bulbs and its habit of digging up the ground to get at them.
Wild garlic it's not just a beautiful plant but it's also yummy and a remarkably
versatile herb too. 
It's excellent against chronic diarrhea and constipation, relieves headaches, reduces 
high blood pressure, purifies the blood and helps with menstrual and menopausal 
complaints. In fact, some theories suggest that wild garlic is an aphrodisiac!
This plant is also known as: ramsons, buckrams, broad leaved garlic, wood garlic,
bear leak or bear's garlic.

It can be easily confused with the lily of the valley or with the autumn crocus,
so hikers be careful what are you picking, especially when it's blooming.
It's special scent distinguishes it from similar flowers.
We can find wild garlic across most of Europe, it grows in deciduous woodlands
with moist soils. 
We can make soups, salads, pesto, we can eat with bread, use in place of garlic
and froze it, so we'll have all year fresh wild garlic from the refrigerator.

Go outside and pick a big bunch of wild garlic!!!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Five Girlish Books for Spring

Have I already told you that I love to read? I just looove to read :)
- Hi, my name is Orsolya and I am a bookaholic.-
Here are some girlish books that I recommend to you. They are perfect for this Spring.

1. The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd

Worldwide more than 1 million copies sold, about hope, courage and friendship, 
based on true story. The portrait of Sarah Grimké's from the 19th century, who fought 
desperately for women's rights and liberation of slaves. The heroine is Hetty, a young slave 
in Charleston, who dreams about freedom. Sarah is the daughter of Hetty's owners 
and the young slave is in her property. The novel follows their dramatic lives 
and presents the ambivalent relationship between the young girls.
Will they be able to fly without wings at the cruel world of the South,
dictated by social prejudices? 

2. Frog Music - Emma Donoghue 

Two women in the summer of 1876 - one of them, Blanche fleeing away
from her cruel mistress, the other one, Jenny, a french immigrant woman -
help each other to have a better life. They want to start a new life together
in the hope of a brighter future, when a tragedy happens. They are hiding 
at a small village near San Francisco and one day Jenny is shot through the window.
The situation is getting worst, Blanche's little child is kidnapped by her
lover and she thinks Jenny's killer wanted to shoot her. The woman
fights desperately for her son, while she wants justice for her friend, Jenny.
Slowly the secrets are revealed and she gets to know a complicated story.

3. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawking

The novel's heroine is Rachel, who is commuting every morning with 
the same train at the same hour. The train stops each time at a barrier and she sees 
a family house, where lives a couple. She is obsessed with the pair, they represent 
to her the perfect relationship. But on a usual morning Rachel sees something terrible.
From that moment the woman's life is changed and she becomes part of 
the couple's life. Paula Hawking is a debut writer and her first novel is 
already a success. Critics say she stimulates the tensions very well and 
probably this is her secret.

4. Prayer for the Stolen - Jennifer Clement

There is a small village in the Mexican jungle, near the highway, but far 
away from the bustle of big cities, in order to flourish the drug and
girl traffic. In this small town the young girls are hidden as long as it's
possible, they wear short hair, trousers and baggy shirts and when the 
elegant cars arrive in the village they hide in cavities graved by their families.
The novel's heroine is Ladydi, a young girl, who is miraculously saved, 
even though prison leaves its marks on her life. It's a stunningly realistic,
exciting and touching story about how someone can stay human at an 
inhuman world.

5. The Year I Met You - Cecelia Ahern

A man and a woman who live next to each other for years and has absolutely
nothing in common except that both of them were suddenly fired. Even though 
they hate each other, they are doomed to spent their days at home, 
so their paths cross each other too often. This is a story about how friendships 
can form in the most unlikely places between two people. The writer has a 
unique writing style and the book feels like a big hug with warm characters,
the lovely plot and the simplicity of the story is the perfect recipe.

Which book did you already read? Did you like it?
And what is your recommendation, what should I read?