Prahova Valley private car tour

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SINAIA – BUSTENI – AZUGA

Take a private tour across Wallachia in a breathtaking getaway on Prahova Valley.
This is among the most beautiful valleys in Balkans !
Your private tour features guided access inside Peles fairy-tale alike castle from Sinaia – the pearl of Carpathian Mountains.
And a feast at the Outlaw’s Hut whose excellence in Romanian culinary tradition is nationwide recognized.

Highlights

* Potigrafu, Breaza and Comarnic movie settings places
* Sinaia royal resort
* Sphinx & Old Ladies

DAY 1 – PRAHOVA VINEYARDS

Welcome and greetings at Bucharest airport

Movie buffs, Potigrafu village is definitely for you !

Released in 2003 and having no less than 7 Oscar nominations, Cold Mountain features Nicole Kidman, Jude Law and Renee Zellweger.

It brought to the last one the golden statue, opening a new era for Romania in movie industry.
The movie depicts an impressive story of love and war from the America of 1860s.
This was filmed for 5 months in Potigrafu village (Gorgota, Prahova county), Rasnov and Zarnesti (Brasov County) and only 2 weeks in U.S.A.
By the way, the leading actors enjoyed visiting Bran and Sighisoara.

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 – PRAHOVA VALLEY

Breaza – One of the very few places with the purest air

Ever since 1928, this has been a spa resort and here you can breathe fresh air due to ozone and negative ions with therapeutic effect.
Together with the roads between Breaza and Comarnic this city was one of the settings for “The Brothers Bloom” (2007) with Adrien Brody and Rachel Weisz that received 3 Oscar nominations.

Hand-made Tapestry and Traditional Romanian Crafts” by Elisabeta MURGU

All the crafts on display are hand-made and represent a significant value of the traditional artists.

Near the entrance of the Prahova Valley is the community of Breaza, home to a small craft workshop.
Women have made their living for many years producing table linens, and gauze blouses traditional to the region.
A single blouse may take up to ten days to complete.
The women start by cutting out the fabric, then carefully join each piece with hand sewn seams.
Brightly colored cross-stitch patterns are added, in hues of gold, blue and red, just as they were a century ago.

It’s time for the royal resort !

The most beautiful valley in Romania is the Valley of Prahova river.

Peles Castle - Prahova Valley private car tour | Romania

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.
The only villagers were those who watched over Sinaia monastery, named after Sinai Mount.

King Carol I of Romania was one of Romania’s great kings and conqueror of 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:
* the opulent Peles Castle for His Majesty and Queen Elisabeth,
* the nearby Castelul Pelisor (Little Peles Castle) as summer residence for King Ferdinand
* and Foisorul de Vanatoare (Hunting Pavilion).
The last one is actually the place where the royal family lived for 12 years until workers finished Peles Castle.
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.

Don’t miss out the Little trains exhibition within Sinaia Train Station

Sinaia Casino

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, also shareholder at Monte Carlo Casino.
That’s why rumors said this building would be the precise replica of French edifice.
In fact, the 2 casinos share only a few elements of interior architecture.
Casino’ opening event included a high-performance show and a George Enescu concert, ending with fireworks.
Both the royal family and Prime Minister Titu Maiorescu attended this event.

Soon the casino became the resort’s irresistible attraction and an important source of revenue for its shareholders.
During 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, 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 resort’s most original bazaar was only two steps away from 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 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 a 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.

Sinaia Monastery

Founded by Prince Mihai Cantacuzino in 1695, it was named after the great Sinai Monastery on Sinai Mount (Egypt).

Peles Castle

This is the 6th most spectacular one in the world (2010).

Dream castles of the artist queen: Pelisor  

Queen Elisabeth of Romania was the most fascinating personality of her time.

She was talented painter, garden designer, creator of original pieces of furniture, inspired interior decorator, photographer…
But the most of all she was a writer (inclusively for prestigious American magazines).

The Queen had two castles very dear to her soul: Bran and Pelisor.
Part of the vast architectonic ensemble created by King Carol I on the Valley of Peles Creek, Pelisor (Little Peles Castle) was built between 1899 – 1903 as a royal and princely residence.

Its initial purpose was to be used as bell tower — its 1,700 kg bell, was moved to Sinaia Monastery after tower’s demolition.
But it became summer residence for King’s nephew and heir, the future King Ferdinand (son of Carol’s brother Leopold von Hohenzollern) and Ferdinand’s consort Queen Mary.

In 2006,  castle’s complex, including Pelisor – museum and tourist site for a long time – became legal property of Romanian royal family’s heirs.

Pelisor was designed by Czech architect Karel Liman in Art Nouveau style.
Furniture and interior decorations were designed mostly by Viennese Bernhard Ludwig.

Art Nouveau artistic current from 1900 defined both the end and beginning of a century.
It bestowed personality to an epoch and included all artistic genres related to exterior and interior environment.
Accomplished artist, Queen Elisabeth considered Art Nouveau a weapon against sterile historicism.
So she created a personal style combining Art-Nouveau elements with Byzantine and Celtic elements.
She herself made many of the artistic decisions about Pelisor Castle’s design.
And participated in its decoration, inclusively as a painter.

Important Art Nouveau pieces were acquired by Queen Elisabeth and especially by Queen Mary of Romania in order to complete the Royal House Collection initially constituted by King Carol I.
Pelisor still keeps the pregnant memory of Mary, Queen of all Romanians, King Ferdinand and their children.
Some consider it even more interesting than Peles and unmissable.
What about you ?

Hunting Pavilion

Located next to Pelisor Castle, the original destination of Hunting Pavilion was King Carol I hunting lodge.

Endowed with 42 rooms, it also has a swimming pool, which Peles and Pelisor do not have.
Because it was finished before Peles Castle, the royal family (King Carol I and Queen Elisabeth) lived here for a while, as well as King Ferdinand with Queen Mary, until Pelisor was finished.
In 1921, King Michael – son of King Carol II and Queen Helen – was born here.
Hunting Pavilion could never be visited because it is a protocol residence.

Memorial House of George Enescu composer

The most famous Romanian composer, George Enescu had long worldwide tours.

Composer George Enescu - Bucharest | Romania

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.

 

DAY 3 – BUSTENI & AZUGA RESORTS

Continuing towards the small town of Busteni, you can admire the towering cliffs and Caraiman to the west.

Look for Caraiman Cross that entered the Guiness World Records

Caraiman Cross, historical monument built between 1926-28 and located on Caraiman Peak, was designated the world's highest cross placed on a mountain peak.

Caraiman Cross is situated at an altitude of 2,291 meters, according to  Guinness World Records.
Also known as Cross of Heroes, the monument was erected to honor the memory of Romanians heroes of World War I.
The monument has a height of 39.5 m and includes an 8 m cement socle.

Feel the special thrill of Caraiman Monastery

“Exaltation of the Holy Cross” Caraiman Monastery is an Orthodox one, founded in 1998, at the initiative of the Most Devout Father Gherontie Puiu.

It is situated on Prahova Valley, in Buşteni town, at the foot of Bucegi Mountains, in a glade, which has in its center a fir tree with an unique shape.
The place where the monastery was built is a place blessed by God, an ideal place to detach yourself from everyday worries.
Believers, who come here are filled with a special thrill, a state of tranquility and peace.
Father Gherontie Puiu had a dream about Virgin Mary, when he was sick and hospitalized after a stroke.
Virgin Mary told him: “You will find a fir tree with 6 branches, near a stream, on a realm from where you can see the great Cross. Build the monastery there !”
Following this dream, father Gherontie Puiu found the indicated place with Virgin Mary’s help.
The mountains dressed in the fir trees’ green are like a fortress protecting the glade meant for the monastery.
The sky’s bright colour induces you a state of peace and the Cross from the peak of Caraiman is like a messenger of faith overlooking the sunny glade.

Between 1998-2002 Caraiman Hermitage receives a total of 23,500 square meters as concession for the monastery building.
Between 2000-2001 they built the wooden church with the patron of the “Virgin Mary’s Shelter”, a Pot for the holy water and a cells body.
In 2001 it is put the cornerstone for building a new church, of bulwark, with the patron of the “Exaltation of the Holy Cross”.
They raised the cells between 2007-2010 and in 2008 Caraiman Hermitage, with the patron of the “Exaltation of the Holy Cross”, was elevated to the rank of monastery.
Since 2010 Caraiman Monastery got a new abbot – Father David Petrovici – came from Crasna Monastery in Prahova County.
In 2014, the founder of the monastery, aged 81, was called to God, leaving behind a beautiful monastery and a parish, which will carry on the begun works.

Don’t miss Nabob’s Castle

Head towards Busteni and dine among clouds at the magnificent Nabob’s Castle.

If weather has not fluffy white little clouds on hand for you, for sure has few sunset rays to golden the terrace and surrounding fir trees.
For the more demanding guests, they have from romantic candlelight parties on Castle’s balcony, to picnic brunch on the cave near grotto and marriage proposals in Cantacuzino tower.

Prince Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino, also known as the Nabob, was minister of Romania between 1899-1900 and 1904-1907.
On the place of a former hunting house from 18th century, he built in 1911 a charming castle in Neo-Romanian style.
This dream location hosted in 2013 the wedding of the famous Lucian Bute boxing world champion.
Nabob is said to have been so rich that at one point he would have told the king he would plow the golden coin’s courtyard.
The king replied that there was a problem.
If he put the coins with the country coat upward would mean that people were going to the country standing.
If he put the coins with the king’s face up, people would walk on king’s face.
Then the Nabob came up with the idea of putting the coins down, which was how much to be done if Nabob had lived for another 2 years.

Take the cable car up to the Sphinx & Old Ladies

Busteni - Babele cable car route has 4.3 kilometers, the difference of level being over 1,200 meters, from 880 m in Busteni to 2290 at Babele.

Sphinx - Wallachia | Romania

Maximum travel speed reaches 36 km / h, the route taking about 12 minutes.
Well, now you are officially at aover 2 km over sea level !
Situated at 2216 m altitude and formed by wind erosion, the Sphinx from Bucegi has 12 m width and the same height as the one in Egypt at Gizeh: 8 m.
It is a megalith meaning a prehistoric religious or funerary monument from Neolithic or Bronze Age.
Its first photo dates from 1900 and it appears in 2 famous Romanian movies: the Dacians (1967) and the Outlaws of SevenHorses (1971).

In 2001 the Counties Dambovita and Prahova disputed in court the ownership over the Sphinx and the Old Ladies.
The legends talk about the transformation of Old Woman Dochia in stone, places of introspection of the Dacian god Zamolxe and the guarding of a treasure.
The Old Ladies are also called the Caraiman Cyclopic Altars being sacred to the Earth, Sky, Sun, Moon and Mars.
Paths starting here take you to Man Peak and Caraiman Cross.

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.

Azuga ski resort - Prahova Valley private tour | Romania rent a car

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 serenely 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) !

 

DAY 4

Return to Bucharest airport.

Reviews

VALUECantacuzino Castle - Prahova Valley private tour | Romania

* What to expect: highly customized itinerary planning (10% discount for tours longer than 1 week), recommendations for upscale / luxury hotels and traditional / fine dining top restaurants, all in country private transfers

* Optional (subject to availability): special experiences  (helicopter leisure flight over Bucharest and / or Carpathian Mountains, other experiences), personal tour manager

* Base price (itinerary planning & all inclusive car rental): from 936 Euro for up to 6 guests

DETAILS

* Departures: all year round.

* Interests:  family,  gourmet / wine tasting, culture / art / museums, movie buffs, history,  churches.

* Further details and notes

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