DAY 1 – PRAHOVA VINEYARDS
Welcome and greetings at Bucharest airport
Budureasca Wine Tasting
They have a steady growing demand, both domestically and abroad.
Their portfolio includes over 100 earned medals. These surely confirm the quality of Budureasca wines varieties. In 2013 they won no less than 8 gold medals in famous international competitions. Mondial du Merlot (Switzerland), Mondial de Bruxelles (Belgium), International Wine & Spirit Competition (England) and ProWein (Germany). Which is the secret of this Romanian wine producer in Dealu Mare vineyard ? They say the vineyard and the people. We say: these would be great gifts too !
Dinner and overnight at the Mansion among vines
DAY 2 – IT’S TIME FOR THE ROYAL RESORT !
Transfer to Sinaia resort via Prahova Valley
The most beautiful valley in Romania is the Valley of Prahova river. This is also the one where there are the most numerous highlight sightseeing.
Riding along it, just when you start feeling like being on a photo safari you reach Sinaia resort.
Its charm is due both to the grace of the architecture and to the wonderful natural setting. That’s why it is nicknamed the pearl of Carpathian Mountains. Here you can ski on sky due to the unique phenomenon in Romania named “sea of clouds”. Between the elevations of 1400 and 2000 meters tourists have the sensation of skiing above the clouds ceiling. Initially in this place there was only Izvor (Source) village. And it was formed by those who watched over Sinaia monastery, named after Sinai Mount.
King Carol I of Romania was one of the great Romanian kings and the conqueror of the National Independence. Born in 1839 Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, he ruled between 1866 and 1914. The year of 1866 was also the one when he first visited the region and future site of the castle. He fell in love with the rugged but magnificent mountain scenery. So he ordered a complex composed of 3 monuments to be nested here. The opulent Peles Castle was built for His Majesty and Queen Elisabeth. Nearby was raised Castelul Pelisor (Little Peles Castle) as summer residence for King Ferdinand. The third one was Foisorul de Vanatoare (Hunting Pavilion). This is actually the place where the royal family lived for 12 years until Peles Castle was finished. Their daughter, Princess Mary, insisted with the King to bring her to Peles creek too. That was the period when Sinaia mountain resort became famous.
The imposing building with unique architecture was originally designed for gambling.
It was built in only 1 year (1911-1912) on the site of resort’s first villa – Ghika Villa – built by Prince Dimitrie Ghika. The main shareholder was the Baron of Marçay. He was also shareholder at Monte Carlo casino. So it was speculated that this building would be the precise replica of the French edifice. In fact, the two casinos share only a few elements of interior architecture. The opening event of the Casino included a high-performance show and a George Enescu concert, ending with fireworks. Both the royal family and the Prime Minister – Titu Maiorescu – attended this event.
Soon the casino became the irresistible attraction of the resort and an important source of revenue for its shareholders. During the weekend, Bucharest-Sinaia “train of pleasure” brought here the addicts of roulette, cards (baccarat, Brazilian), rummy, chess… Unbelievable but this “social magnet” succeeded to attract between 600 and 800 guests each play day. The bar-restaurant, where they also danced, had a jazz orchestra. In the private small room with only 2 tables the minimum stake was 5 times higher than in the others. Players were highly confident in their chances of significant gains. Before entering, they were throwing silver coins in the artesian fountain nearby the casino. But once inside and seduced by gambling exhilaration, they lose important amounts of money. They were getting to gamble inclusively their jewelry and gold chain watches and then to borrow with huge interests.
At that time, the most original bazaar of the resort was only two steps away from the Casino. Here, there was a Turk, Hagi Benlian (known as Benli), with burgundy-red turban and silk baggy trousers. He was luring the pedestrians with all kind of Oriental adornments, sweets like in Istanbul, tobacco or cigarettes and coffee. For a few coins discreetly slipped in his palm, Benli was telling in the coffee cup of 2-3 fortunate numbers (from 1 to 9). Then customers quickly run to play these at roulette.
After Second World War, Sinaia Casino passed into state ownership. It was closed and used for a while by Red Cross Society. After major restorations that kept its elegance, it became Sinaia’s House of Culture, nowadays being an International Conference Center. A guided tour of this beautiful Casino will lead you not only back through its interesting history but also on its terrace. This has great view overlooking the city and Bucegi massif. You will also visit the superb interior garden, as well as the halls that hosts the permanent painting exhibition.
Founded by Prince Mihai Cantacuzino in 1695, it was named after the great Sinai Monastery on Sinai Mount (Egypt).
6th most spectacular castle in the world (2010)
Peles Castle, the summer residence of the Romanian royal family, was one of the most modern castles of its times.
Fairy tales alike, even today it is considered to be the 6th most spectacular castle in the world: 1) Hohenzollern Castle – Germany. 2) Castle Howard – Great Britain. 3) Alcázar of Segovia – Spain. 4) Himeji Castle – Japan. 5) Prague Castle – Czech Republic. 6) Peles Castle – Romania. 7) Chambord Castle – France. 8) Neuschwanstein Castle – Germany. 9) Corfe Castle – Great Britain. 10) Matsumoto Castle – Japan.
The breath-taking grounds of the castle was setting for “The Brothers Bloom” (2007). The stars were Adrien Brody and Rachel Weisz and the movie received 3 Oscar nominations. Take a tour of the adorned saloons. You will admire a large number of statues, vases, fountains, mosaics and other art exhibits hosted within it. The story about the secret passage will captivate you. And so it will do the hand carved teak set received as gift by Their Majesties.
Started in 1873 in an idyllic setting, the fairy tale construction was quite international an undertaking. “Italians were masons, Romanians were building terraces, the Gypsies were coolies. Albanians and Greeks worked in stone, Germans and Hungarians were carpenters. Turks were burning brick. Engineers were Polish and the stone carvers were Czechs. The Frenchmen were drawing, and the Englishmen were measuring…” Queen Elisabeth of Romania was writing at that time. Apparently, there were 14 languages heard among the workers.
By form and function, Peles Castle is truly a palace but affectionately and consistently called a castle instead, by all. Its architectural style is a Neo-Renaissance of romantic inspiration. Its corespondent in the 19th century ideals would be the monumental Gothic Revival of Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. Ironically this is called a castle as well. Designed by architects Johannes Schultz and Karel Liman, it was decorated by famous interior designers J. D. Heymann of Hamburg, August Bembé of Mainz, and Berhard Ludwig of Vienna. With a multicolored style combining baroque and rococo influences, the magnificent castle defies any comparison…
The castle hosted grand figures guests. Royalty (Kaiser Franz Joseph I of Austro-Romania), politicians and artists (George Enescu, Sarah Bernhardt, Jacques Thibaud or Vasile Alecsandri) came here. The last ones were often guests of Queen Elizabeth of Romania (known to literature as Carmen Sylva). In 1953 the castle was declared a museum. It shelters one of the most valuable and most important painting collections in Europe, almost 2,000 items. During the last years of communist regime (1975-1989) the entire area was declared a state protocol interest area and closed. But Nicolae Ceausescu did not like the castle very much so he rarely visited it.
In 2007, Peles estate and extensions have been re-ceded to King Michael I of Romania. Born on October 25, 1921 in Sinaia, King Michael I of Romania was the son of King Carol II and of Queen Elena. His first reign started in 1927, after the death of his grandfather King Ferdinand I. After King Carol II came back to Romania’s throne and his mother Queen Elena left the country, King Michael remained in the care of his father. When the latter abdicated in 1940, he became again King Michael I. On December 30, 1947 King Michael was forced to abdicate by the communist authorities. The abdication act, which was signed under threat, is illegal, invalid and never passed the Romanian Parliament. After an exile that started in 1948, the King returned to Bucharest in 2001. Since 2004, King Michael and Queen Anna lived in Aubonne, Switzerland. When coming to Romania, they used to reside at Savarsin Castle or at Elizabeta Palace in Bucharest.
Pearl earrings from Romanian King Carol II to his lover fetch EUR 2 million at auction (2012)
A pair of large pearl earrings was given by Romania’s King Carol II to his mistress as a gift. This layed forgotten in an English house for 35 years. Auctioned in UK, they have fetched GBP 1.6 million (just under EUR 2 million). Dating from the early 20th century, they a gift from the King to his lover, Elena Lupescu. After her death in 1977, Elena’s earrings were left to an English friend. This had no idea of their value and didn’t particularly like them. Thus the royal gift was left forgotten in a drawer. They only came to light when the current owner had other heirlooms valued for auction.
The Swiss Gemological Institute appraised the pearls and described them as outstanding examples, worthy of special attention. The rose/blue iridescence is known as ‘Orient of Pearl’ and is particularly sought after. Both the size and the color of the large pearls match, which is apparently quite rare. Auction house Woolley and Wallis estimated the earrings’ value at GBP 80,000 to GBP 120,000. This means between about EUR 100,000 and EUR 150,000. But the price went up and up as determined bidders dead set on owning the royal pearls refused to back down. “The vendors brought them to us out of curiosity and were astonished to discover their value. We are absolutely thrilled with today’s result and delighted for the family,” said a representative of the auction house. Source: Romania-Insider
Memorial House of George Enescu composer
The most famous Romanian composer, George Enescu had long worldwide tours.
These used to end with escapades for recreation at Luminis villa. Here you can still see one of the pianos to which he composed numerous masterpieces. There are also furniture and ceramics formerly belonging to the great composer. Numerous documents and photographs evoke the personality of the Romanian musician.
Dinner and overnight at Lux Garden Hotel
A place slightly forgotten by world although blessed by God, Azuga is a ski resort on Prahova Valley.
Years ago, someone who deeply believed in what he was doing, decided to invest some money here.
It is true, with that amount he could serenly live until extreme old age, without having to worry too much.
He called his investment Lux Garden Hotel, luxury primarily referring to light and then to the luxury of the place.
It is a pleasure to stay in such a beautiful environment.
Obviously, they created it with fondness of guests and a sublime attention to details.
Experiences lived within this hotel have already made many to become loyal customers.
The exterior glass elevators offer fantastic views over Southern Carpathian Mountains.
A relaxing spa slowly introduces you in the holiday spoiling atmosphere.
The elegant restaurant has warm-hearted waiters and the master chef prepares culinary delights followed by phenomenal desserts.
Plus their impressive grand crus wine cellar is an unique jewel in the country.
The collection includes over 500 of the most famous labels from France (such as Chateau Mouton Rotschild), Italy and Romania.
Enjoy everything and: Noapte buna (good night) !
Return to Bucharest airport