We’re delighted to have found Serena now that she has returned to terra firma. With a background in crewing luxury yachts from the Mediterranean to the British Virgin Islands and several seasons welcoming guests to ski in the Alps, Serena is both an accomplished adventurer and host. From her new home in the small village of Richis, she’ll be working with our local guides to make every slow cycling trip in Transylvania a truly memorable journey.
How did you arrive at being a host? What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’?
I have always enjoyed helping people and exploring new places and being a guide is an extension of that. The opportunity at the Slow Cyclist came along and I jumped at the chance to be part of an exciting growing team that shares so many of my interests. Growing up I wanted to be a spy or an explorer; I loved all the Anthony Horowitz books about a young James Bond, and followed all of Ben Fogle’s adventures.
What’s your earliest cycling memory?
I suspect my first cycle memory was like many other peoples. When I realised my Dad was no longer holding on, I promptly fell off even though I had successfully ridden solo for about 50 yards. After a bit of venting I got back on and never looked back.
Do you have a piece of kit would you never be without?
My running trainers and penknife go everywhere with me.
What’s your favourite dish?
My mother’s spaghetti bolognaise. It feels me with energy and pure happiness. It’s delightfully simple but a complicatedly delicious flavour. Here in Transylvania, I am very much looking forward to trying sarmale (cabbage leaves stuffed with pork and rice).
What is your favourite local saying?
My favourite Romanian saying is, ‘cine se trezeste de dimineata departe ajunge’. It’s similar to ‘the early bird gets the worm’ but literally translates as ‘who wakes up in the early morning is getting far away.’ I always feel so much better waking up in good time and making the most of my day.
Is there a traditional game you enjoy playing?
Sotron, or hopscotch as we call it, is what the kids here play, which I also did when I was younger. Now I thoroughly enjoy a good game of cards: racing demons is my favourite!
What are you reading at the moment?
I am currently reading William Blacker’s book ‘Along the Enchanted Way’, which makes you instantly fall in love with Transylvania.
Have you found a favourite word in Romanian?
‘Noroc’ as it is three words in one! ‘Cheers, hello and goodbye.’
And when you’re not hosting, how do you spend your time? Do you have a secret talent?
I always enjoy having a new challenge to accomplish, anything from learning a new sport, like paragliding, to running a marathon. Right now, my aim is to learn Romanian! I am also the family story teller. They often include minor disasters and entertaining characters I have met. Lastly riding is also a great sport of mine; I was put on a pony before I could walk properly and I often fell asleep whilst onboard without falling off. I hope I can find a horse locally that I can borrow to further explore the area.
Where in the world would you still like to visit?
I dream one day of paragliding solo down the Himalayas. I just think it would be great fun. Where possible I like to stay with local families to broaden my knowledge of the country and their communities. In Mongolia last year we stayed in yurts, ate and rode across the steppe with local families. It was gloriously desolate and very beautiful.