Storygram #1: Living in a Medieval Transylvanian Village

Once a month we are posting one of our favourite photos from our Instagram feed and expanding on the story behind the photo. Here is our entry for April 2016, taken shortly after we moved to Transylvania for the summer. If you have any photos of Transylvania you'd like us to see, send them to oli@theslowcyclist.co.uk and we'll share them.

Over the past few years Transylvania has become one of my favourite places on the planet. A combination of abundant history, rich and living cultural heritage, clean air, magical forests and wildflower meadows, cheese-eating visits to shepherds on hilltops, truffle hunting, some beautiful cycling routes and, above all, a sense of space, combine to make this remote corner of Romania somewhere that never disappoints.

So when last year’s Slow Cyclist journeys through its Saxon region, in the forested foothills of Romania's Carpathian Mountains, proved such a hit and bookings began rolling in for 2016, I asked my wife if she would mind leaving London and renting somewhere in Transylvania for the summer. Her answer, to my delight, was “yes.”

That is why this photo was taken. On our first morning as part-time inhabitants of the tiny Saxon village of Mesendorf (population, 80) we climbed out of the plum and apple orchard at the bottom of the garden until we could see the 14th Century fortified church and, beyond it, the rolling pastures that would soon be carpeted with clover, cowslips, hellebore and wild orchids.  

Our simple 19th Century house - with two log stoves for cooking, a vegetable garden, vines, an orchard, plenty of old Saxon furniture, an open barn and no TV - is in the foreground, beneath the church’s spire. It is a Hansel & Gretel type of place that feels a million miles from London. The peace and quiet, occasionally interrupted by owls, cow bells, cuckoos and a rogue shepherd who likes to guide his flock through our garden, took some getting used to. But with one room set aside as ‘Slow Cyclist HQ’ until we return to London later this year and a woodpile that Swiss Family Robinson would be proud of, we now feel very much at home.

We rented our house from the owner, a Romanian lady who lives in nearby Sighisoara. If you’re interested in doing the same, drop me an email and I will introduce you to her. Alternatively, pedal with The Slow Cyclist at the end of September when we’re off in search of one of the region’s most famous delicacies - truffles - and will eat one afternoon in the meadow above the church in Mesendorf.