Archive for the ‘Concerts’ Category

The isolated Czech villages from Banat – a region with probably the most interesting mix of ethnic groups of Romania

This year, I decided together with my family and friends to spend the 1st of May extended holiday weekend in a different place: Cheile Nerei National Park, near the Danube Gorges in the Western part of Romania called Banat.

We knew that the region is a fantastic one with amazing landscapes: the Danube river flowing along the green mountains, waterfalls, caves, and we also heard about the isolated Czech villages making great plans of exploring the area as much as possible …but in the end, things were a little bit different from what we expected 🙂

Besides all these natural attractions, we found out that in a village called Garnic, near Moldova Noua, there is a music festival called the Rocker`s Challenge Garnic, taking place every year on May 1st. That was great news for us: during the day we could explore the nature and in the evening we could enjoy the concerts!

On the morning of May 1st, we left Bucharest very enthusiastic and fresh, because we had a 7 hours journey in front of us (470km)- towards Garnic village, which would become our home for the next 3 nights. Everything went as planned until we reached Orsova, a nice port city on the Danube River, above the Iron Gates. But from this spot on, the unexpected happened: we experienced the bad roads taking us to Moldova Noua and Garnic village! Imagine, it took us about 3 hours to drive just about 100 km!!! So, if you decide to discover the area and you really want to get there, you need to be calm, spare some time and have a strong car, like a 4×4 or a motorbike. 🙂 But it was totally worth it!!!

Once we arrived in Garnic, we completely forgot about the long and bumpy trip, we were instantly charmed by the beauties of the place, and we could feel something different in the air: the place, the people, the mood, we didn`t know exactly what it was, but we were about to discover it in the next days.

Garnic (Gernik in Czech) is a village surrounded by green hills and untouched by the modern world where about 500 people still speak the Czech language have preserved their customs, culture, traditions and way of living for generations – perhaps due to the difficult access to the place and the isolation. There is only one guesthouse in the village, however you could spend the night at the locals and this was for sure a challenge for all of us (30 Ron/bed/night – about 7 Euro)! Maria, our host, a very nice lady wearing a traditional Czech dress and a headscarf told us the story about her ethnic minority in her poor Romanian, which was very interesting for us.

In 1820, Banat was under the Hapsburg Empire rule colonizing this area with Czech people for various reasons: to guard and protect the military borders, to populate the weak inhabited territories or for foresting and mining of the area.

The Czech people established in several villages and today only 6 of them are still here: Garnic, Sfanta Helena, Rovensca, Eibental, Bigar and Sumita. Their way of life is a simple one: farming and handicraft work, their houses are old but well maintained and one doesn’t notice any local people sitting in front of their houses for a chit-chat (like Romanians do :); everyone is just taking care of their households. Most of them are old, while the young people have left the village mainly to the Czech Republic. Our host Maria was in the same situation: all 3 of her children live in Prague and they come to visit her every year. We were really sad to find out that the number of people from this beautiful and archaic minority has decreased significantly in the past years….

But going back to our adventure, on the first day we explored only Gernik village, walking on the streets, admiring the houses, exchanging some words with the locals we met by chance while they were cleaning the garden in front of their house and listening to the silence (as we came from never-sleeping Bucharest :)) The weather was with us, sunny with fluffy clouds, a perfect Spring day in a perfect setting where a beer was more than welcome! The local bar in the center of the village surprised us: they served Czeck draft dark beer at only 3,5 Ron (less than 1 Euro)

The friendly lady from the bar of course spoke Czech, our table neighbors were some students and volunteers from the Czech Republic who were there for a camp in Gernik. The bill was similar to those in Prague (photo) and we were surprised to find out that you could also pay with Czech Koronas! That’s when we asked ourselves: where are we, in Romania or the Czech Republic?! The feeling was just great! And another important detail worth mentioning to some of you: the mobile phone signal is almost non-existent, but you have free Wifi at the local bar. 🙂

Next day we visited two other special and quiet villages: Sasca Montana, the perfect point to start your trails into the National Park Cheile Nerei and Socolari, that impressed me so much because of its houses made of river stones. Recently many artists from Timisoara like painters, sculptures, musicians have moved here and I can understand them, because the peace and quiet along with the sources of inspiration are generous in these areas!

Our bonus trip: Rocker`s Challenge Garnic festival was an amazing and very well organized event, with great sound, good bands, free supervised activities like biking, trekking, flying fox, tasty food cooked right in front of us (15-20 Ron/big portion – 3-4 Euro) and not least, quality personalized T-Shirts, the perfect souvenir 🙂 We spent two memorable evenings surrounded by friendly people from Banat , enjoying every second, especially when we heard that in 2015 will be the last year of this festival after a 6-years-tradition (so don`t miss this last chance!) The organizers said that due to the difficult access to the location, the audience is not that numerous… We didn’t know about this festival either, we found out about on our way there! For sure next year, we`ll be there because we made a promise!

CAM00231

Overall, apart from the interesting history of the Czech minority, this region of Banat hosts a mix of Ethnics: Serbian, Croatian, Hungarian, Germans and Ukrainian. The area has a big potential and can satisfy all needs a tourist may have:

  • adventure tourism in the Cheile Nerei Natural Park : biking, rafting, hiking, trekking, kiting, speoadventure, archery, motosport (guided ATV rental very famous), flying fox

  • a cultural experience

  • heritage and history in its purest form

Unfortunately, we didn`t have the enough time to explore the entire area; there are so many places to visit were you need at least 6-7 days, but we`ll definitely return to see the other Czech villages and the natural beauties!

I hope our story will open your appetite to travel to this unique region in Banat, to have a different experience discovering the precious Czech cultural heritage fenced under Romanian borders. And of course, we would be happy to assist you with other personal suggestions and tips 🙂

So come along friends….

Madalina Visan

Advertisements

To all music lovers out there, clear your schedules for July 12 and 13!! We take you to Rasnov, where Ghost Gathering happens, in the Valley of the Fortress.

Ghost Gathering is about non-stream music, beautiful scenery and promoting national values. Camping can be found within the festival area or in the villas around Râșnov.

In this respect Classy Romania is the only official travel agency partner of Ghost Festival.

Hurry up and book your package:

  • 2 days Ghost festival pass
  • 2 overnights with breakfast in a 2* guest house (12 – 14 July)
  • Meet & greet your favorite band – if you book until 15th of May.

All of this with only 39 EUR/person.

Irfan, Kistvaen and Eye of Solitude are just three of the bands playing at the festival. Here is a glimpse from last year, so you can understand why you should join us at the festival.

And here is Kistvaen, preparing for July. 🙂

More details about the festival and bands can be found on festival and Cavalleria websites. Contact us to book your trip now.

Madalina & Gabriela