Humans will be always grateful to Google Maps for one thing: free imaginary travel to oh so many places. Antarctic peninsula, Inner Mongolia, that Strange Triangle in Australia and, sometimes, something closer to Brașov. Within our Meetup group, we often get new travel inspiration from Google Maps’ browsing. We call this process “pre-exploring”.
By Julia Leescu
That’s how I noticed the small village of Șona, just 5 kilometers from Făgăraș. Asking around has proven that it has three ingredients that make any trip worthwhile – something out of the ordinary (the mysterious eight pyramids nearby), people who spark our interest (Șona is the childhood home of Romanian artist Ștefan Câlția) and that restored traditional Romanian house that many of my Facebook friends are excited about.
Our international group sets out on a Brașov-Făgăraș trip in our German friend’s car. Listening to a very serious English-language GPS, struggling with Romanian toponyms, we try hard not to miss the moment when we have to turn towards Șona. Someone spots the indicator before our GPS: it’s 1-0 in favour of humans.
A dusty road leads us to our main destination called “Casa din Șona” – a traditional Romanian house, looking exactly like a fine Romanian village house would look years and years ago.
Some of us will be staying in that impressive house overnight, enjoying traditional beds and pillows as well as fun challenges – the toilet and a shower are outside, which is the conscious decision taken by the owners, Viorel and Dorina Giurgiu, in order to preserve the authenticity of the experience.
Although time inside the house seems to have stood still, all of the appliances and tools work: the old “Klang” radio from the 50s, a one hundred year old sewing machine and the traditional loom, which still holds the unfinished rug, with the pattern specific to Șona.
“Pyramids? But no local in his right mind would call them “pyramids”!” – laughs Aunt Mărioara, the neighbour.
To see the hills that locals call “gurueții”, we follow the long village street right to its end. It seems to stretch indefinitely, especially if your group is walking in the heat. Hot weather makes us stop often and pay attention to the small things: the colours and the details of the traditional houses, stork nests, blooming trees and the river Olt, from where comes the occasional cool breeze.
I’ve heard many theories about the ‘pyramids’: they could have been raised by giants or be the graves of ancient Dacians. People also claim they have a special energy that can purify water. Or, check this one out: the food left on top of those hills won’t rot for days, but no one from our group is willing to sacrifice their sandwiches to verify this.
Instead we enjoy the panorama of Fagaraș mountains from the top of the highest hill. While I am descending and taking some photos, my head starts to spin: maybe there is some special energy present here, after all?
Back at Casa din Șona, we are having a little chat with the owners while enjoying our traditional Romanian brunch with aubergine salad, apple pie, pork fat slices and many other things which would make any passerby hungry and jealous.
More than ten years ago, Viorel convinced Dorina to buy the old house in the former Saxon village of Șona. Recreating an authentic atmosphere with carefully restored exterior, interior and antique objects was his goal but it took a lot of effort. After years of dedication, including two summer seasons of just building the stone fence, our charming couple of hosts can enjoy their timeless place.
Others have started to discover it too: numerous groups from Bucharest are coming here for brunches, Instagram bloggers snap their pictures inside the huge traditional barn, photo workshops and architectural workshops are also regularly held at “Casa din Șona”. Last summer a bus full of Brazilian tourists came just to admire the location.
“At first the neighbours were skeptical, but look at what’s happening now: two of them have renovated their houses following my example,.” – says Viorel, while pouring us some house wine.
The day is slowly ending and our group gathers at the outside table under the huge walnut tree. We finally switch the old radio off: it had been working for the whole day. Instead we listen to silence and the songs of the frogs on the river Olt.
It’s finally clear what I am taking back home: the feeling of inner peace and things being just right.
In the morning, Viorel’sthe neighbour of Viorel promises us a luxury tractor ride to the “pyramids” anytime we are around. I guess, I will return.
P.S. If you wish to organize a traditional brunch for a bigger group or an overnight stay in Șona for a smaller group, please contact “Casa din Șona” on Facebook.