Set off for a 3 hour journey to Oltenia, the land of lean, vigorous, dark-haired and black-eyed people, masters of woodcarving and pottery. Shortly after the oak meadow, stop over in the small town of Horezu, famous for its ceramic craftsmanship and the unique decorative color, the Horezu ivory. Before everything, take a short walk around the town to Horezu Monastery, a true masterpiece of Brancovenesc architectural style, distinguished for its pure and richly balanced details. Have a well-deserved lunch break, then join one of the many workshops where the potters reveal ancient, painstaking techniques still proudly used to create such art.
Continue travelling to the west until you shall reach the city of Targu Jiu, perhaps better known as the keeper of some of the dearest works of art that Brancusi left us. Leave your luggage at the most picturesque guesthouse in town and cross the street to enter the beautiful public gardens of Targu Jiu. This is no ordinary park as it hosts the Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brancusi as a homage paid to the Romanian heroes fallen in the First World War. Right from the entrance you shall pass through the Gate of the Kiss, cross the Chairs Alley, pass by the Table of Silence then finally reach the chef d’oeuvre, the Endless Column.
ake as much time as you like to listen to all the stories and interpretations of the monuments while the sun prepares to set. Afterwards return to the guesthouse for an inspiring home cooked dinner.
Let the early morning hours go by while you carelessly slug in bed. Would you care for breakfast in bed? Or a morning stroll around the pleasantly warm streets before having breakfast on the veranda? Each choice is perfect, enjoy the first part of day exactly as you may wish.
Around noon get back on the road and keep west near the foothills until you reach the lovable village of Hobita. The place where Master Brancusi was born and which influenced his entire existence: from the geometric patterns of the region, the old tradition of woodcarving to the simple ways of living. We can’t spoil such a moment and tell you more about Brancusi’s old cottage nor about Hobita, when the most appropriate thing to do is to let you fully enjoy the experience without having any prior mindset.
Later on you’re most welcome in the nearby village of Pestisani to have lunch with one of the local families, then continue your journey this time to the north. It’s up to you whether you’d like to take the road across the mountains or through the green valley of the River Jiu. Right before night fall you shall arrive to Cheile Butii, a natural gorge dug in Retezat Mountains, and relish on a fresh grilled trout at a rustic lodge.
The Sea Valley is one of the most astounding ladder sequences of waterfalls formed by small streams precisely in the middle of the forest. Spend your morning climbing rock by rock among the waterfalls in a unique scenery roughly touched by civilization where the wet print of a wild animal paw on the stones is no unusual event. Return to the lodge for lunch; afterward take an amazing trip to one of the last intact old-growth forests in Europe – Domogled-Cerna River valley National Park. An inside peek: the highlight attraction is the claw, a fir tree with its bark torn off by a bear happily scratching its back. There’s quite a chance to meet the bear too therefore enjoy the adrenaline rush as you’re in safe hands.
Relax for the evening at a guesthouse located exactly at the bottom of Retezat Mountains and physically and mentally prepare for the following day.
The early birds get ready for a lifetime adventure: the Retezat Massif. Take a car ride through Retezat National Park up to the altitude of 1,611 m (5,285 ft) where a local ranger will join your hike through the forest until you reach Lake Bucura, the largest glacier lake in Romania at the altitude of 2,040 m (6,692 ft). Catch your breath and feast your eyes with the purest, crystal clear water that you’ve ever seen. You’re definitely hungry after the trekking, so it’s about time you had a high protein lunch at the Mountain rescue shelter near the lake.
Thereafter make your pick either getting some fully appreciated rest at Lake Bucura or continue your climb with the ranger to the Peleaga Peak. The latter shall be highly worth it as in a couple of hours you’ll experience all four seasons, cross a glacier and the most sensational snowy ridge with a chance to spot chamois and marmots. You should get your hopes high as the best part is reaching the peak itself. At 2,509 m (8,232 ft) in the perfect sunny day, with scattered clouds beneath you and the view of half the county… Enjoy every bit of yourself; you’re on top of the world. We’d actually toast together a glass of champagne if it weren’t for the heavy bottle to carry in the backpack.
Find your way back to the lake to taste some mied (Romanian fiery water mixed with honey) to warm your heart and muscles. Soon after, continue your descend to the car and relax on the way to the guesthouse where a generously tasteful dinner awaits you.
Start your day at leisure with a light breakfast and perhaps an invigorating morning stroll to say farewell to the Retezat Mountain. Now that you took such a close look at it, you might agree with the local saying: Retezat – hard to get, hard to forget.