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Songlines Music Travel, in association with Imaginative Traveller, invites music lovers and travellers alike on this wonderful opportunity to experience the real sounds of Romania. This trip will give you a unique insight into the music and heritage of this fantastic region, including visits to two legendary musical villages: Clejani, the home of Taraf de Haidouks, and Zece Prǎjini, the home of Fanfare Ciocǎrlia. We will also experience the urban lǎutari music of Bucharest and the gorgeous string band music of Transylvania.
8 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 7 Dinners
8 nights Hotel on a twin share basis
• Meet and stay with local villagers and musicians in Clejani and Zece Prǎjini
• Explore the capital Bucharest and the Saxon villages of Transylvania
• Visit UNESCO world heritage sites, see medieval castles and fortified churches
Welcome to Romania! Upon arrival into the country’s capital of Bucharest, head to your hotel where you will check in and meet your Songlines Travel Leaders. Have the rest of the afternoon to explore the city under your own steam. Bucharest boasts a host of good museums, parks and trendy cafes. It is also home to the bizarre Palace of Parliament, which is well worth a visit. In the evening, rejoin your tour group for dinner where you will enjoy typical Romanian food, local wine and traditional music.
From Bucharest the following morning you will make tracks for Zece Prăjini, a Moldavian village to the northeast of the country. You will spend the next two days in this authentic village staying with local families in simple but comfortable accommodation. The village is beautifully situated amongst rolling hills and meadows.
Today you will have a chance to explore the village and its surroundings. Zece Prăjini has found fame as the homeland of popular Romani Balkan brass band, Fanfare Ciocârlia. Composed of Roma musicians, the band are recognised as one of Europe’s most popular contemporary Romani bands. They are known for their distinctive high-energy sound, sometimes performed at over 200 beats per minute, all without sheet music. After lunch, mingle with the local musicians and learn all about their music and traditions. This evening, there will be a concert in the heart of the village which is set to be the highlight of your time here. This will be followed by a friendly and intimate get together.
After breakfast, prepare to journey across the mighty Carpathians, passing impressive ravines and mountain passes until you reach Transylvania. Transylvania was part of the Hapsburg Empire until the First World War and has a diverse population of Romanians, Hungarians, Saxon Germans and Romany people. The region is known for medieval towns, mountainous borders and imposing castles, such as the Gothic fortress of Bran Castle, home to the legend of Dracula. In the late afternoon you will reach Mediaş, the second largest city in Sibiu County and home to a range of historic landmarks. Here you will stay for the next two nights in a hotel in the old town.
This morning you will take a tour of Sighişoara, a city with such historical value that it is now a registered UNESCO world heritage site. One of the most intriguing and colourful towns in the region, at its heart is a remarkably well-preserved medieval citadel. Sighişoara is also the birthplace of the notorious Vlad the Impaler. You will visit the city’s museum, clock tower and the atmospheric Monastery Church, built in 1289 and reached by a long wooden staircase. Having explored Sighişoara, you will head to the village of Ceuaş that evening. Here you will hear a very different style of Transylvanian music from the Lăutari de Ceuaş, the Szászcsávás Band. Szászcsávás is unique for being potentially the only village where polyphonic singing is found, compared to traditional Hungarian folk singing which is typically done in unison. It is led by fiddles and backed by a rhythmic viola, sawing bass, accordion and cimbalom. After hearing the musicians perform, you will stay in the same hotel as last night.
After breakfast, travel south through the Transylvanian hills to Clejani. On the way you will bypass Viscri, a remarkable fortified Saxon church which is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Having visited Viscri, you will cross the Wallachian Plain, located on the easternmost tip of Serbia, before arriving at Clejani by nightfall. The commune of Clejani is known for its lăutari or gypsy musicians. Taraf de Haidouks, one of the most celebrated Romanian Gypsy bands bought fame to the area. You will stay in Clejani for two nights, staying in comfortable accommodation with locals in the village.
Today you will have ample time to explore Clejani. This is the perfect opportunity to get to know the village and its residents as you learn about the musical traditions of the area. Discover the characteristic instruments of Wallachian music; the fiddle, the cimbalom and the bass. In the evening, after some potent food and drink there will be music and dancing.
This morning after breakfast, it’s time to head back to Bucharest. Visit some of the highlights of the city as you stroll down wide, tree-lined boulevards, passing elegant Belle Époque buildings. Bucharest’s reputation for the high life earned it the nickname of ‘Little Paris’ in the 1900s. It is now a thriving metropolis. You will have the afternoon to relax or explore more of the city. Discover hidden churches and fascinating museums, such as the Village Museum (Muzeul Satului) which showcases a great display of village architecture and culture. Here, there is also a good selection of locally-produced CDs. Spend your final evening together listening to the urban music of Bucharest that forms such a part of the city’s landscape.
This morning marks the end of your tour. Depending on the time of your flight home, take this opportunity to further explore the city if you have the chance.