Transylvania: People and Places
If you meet the local people, you’ll enjoy even more these places…
Climate change, pollution, over-tourism, food waste, animal protection, local identity and values, the people and places in Transylvania are all issues that deeply concern us. Our main mission is to organize responsible tourism with positive impact over our areas. It would be our pleasure to share the same vision with our guests and virtual followers.
Local People Make Transylvania Special
Tour operators and tour guides are supposed to take their tourists to the most interesting, wonderful, relevant sights, representative for their city, region or country.
Sometimes, some of us tend to be quite proud of our native places and excited to show our guests the most amazing places and load them with tones of information.
As a private tour guide in Transylvania I drive a lot, especially in the countryside areas. Yes, Transylvania is, indeed, a spectacular region with such a diversified landscape, rich, old architectural patrimony, delightful cuisine, unspoiled traditions and thrilling wildlife. Transylvania is beautiful no matter the season.
Above all these, Transylvania is natural, genuine and honest. It used to be a mosaic of cultures and civilizations, a territory where several ethnic groups with totally different cultural background have co-existed together during the centuries. Some more privileged than others, stronger or more influential. All of them have, definitely, influenced the life course of this region, its tangible heritage, its moral values.
Ok, but as I described Transylvania, there might be so many other places in this amazing world. So, still, what makes Transylvania special, why should one visit or learn more about it? Well, I think that the local people and their communities make the difference. I think the whole architectural patrimony (be it civil or religious) is nothing but empty walls without the stories and the local people beyond it.
If, up until World War II, Transylvania was a blend society of ethnic groups, today, Transylvania is rather an amalgam of people with various life values, educational backgrounds and expectations. The inhabitants of Transylvania are the repercussion of their own past: 800 years of multicultural and intercultural relationships and around 80 years of terrible communism and slow transition. Unfortunately, in many aspects, the last 80 years have had a much deeper impact on Transylvania.
Of course, all these conflicts and shifts have left a deep trace not only on buildings but also on people, especially in the countryside, in the former Saxon villages. In the 50s and 60s, the systematizing plan and the deportation of the Saxons in Siberia depopulated lots of the Saxon communities, many of those who left being replaced with Romanian or Gypsy labor workforce. After the final Saxon migration towards the Western countries in the 90s, most of these beautiful villages were populated with poor, impoverished people brought from all over the country.
Children are Our Future…
While driving through these villages we admire the beauty of the nature, the terrific architectural heritage, the stunning wildlife but, sometimes, I cannot sweep under the carpet some the less beautiful parts.
When we visit these villages, tourists can notice some of the houses abandoned or not quite well maintained, some may notice the carriages pulled by horses alongside the main road or the muddy cobbled stone narrow streets. Sometimes, when we park in the village, groups of children come around us, curious to see who are the guests.
These children are the future, though. Trapped within a little village, far from the big cities and, apparently with little chances to change their destiny, some of them might have great potential. After so many years of isolation, unlike their parents or grandparents, these children and teenagers could become an example for their community.
Casa Naturii – helping children in Transylvania
Casa Naturii Association has made lots of great things for the children in some villages close to Sibiu and Sighisoara.
Two weeks ago Elena, the founder of this non-profit association, wrote to me on Facebook. She told me that she had participated at one of my virtual tours and that, even though she was from this region, she had learned interesting things during my virtual experience. Then we started to talk and she told me about her project.
Casa Naturii organisation was founded about two years ago; it has been active in several little villages trying to develop educational programs for children. Elena and her team have realized that quality alternative education is the only method to develop the communities on a long term. So, last year they organized workshops, entrepreneurial and digital education classes, civic activities and games for the young ones and, the first results have already appeared.
I was impressed by Elena as I always am by people like her who dedicate a lot of their little time for the children in impoverished communities. Talking to Elena I had a sort of an epiphany… If I have more free time this summer why not try to help them somehow? I think more than the financial support, children need an example. We could be their example… Together with Gabriel, my colleague from Beyond Romania Travel and several other tour guides and people working in the tourism field, we decided to organize this summer workshops for these children, visit them and, why not, teach them to become future little guides in their own villages.
Covid-19 pandemic has thought us a great lesson: we should care more about each other and about everything around us. Tourism should be done with more responsibility towards the environment, wildlife and local people and its impact should be a positive one.
Meet the Local People Through Our Virtual Tours
In one of our virtual tours – Follow Prince Charles’ Footsteps in Transylvania – we’ll reveal you more about Transylvania’s inhabitants and how their life has changed in time. Also, we’ll talk about Mihai Eminescu Trust Foundation and many other projects meant to promote this lovely area and, especially, to reintegrate the communities, mainly the younger generation.
A part of the income that comes from our virtual tours shall be donated to Casa Naturii. We know it’s not a big amount of money, but it’s a start and we’re confident that we can do more than this. We’ll try to involve more in this type of local projects, help these children to form themselves and support them from an educational point of view. In the following weeks we’ll come with more pictures and information.