As we were approaching the end of the first day of our trip we headed to the hotel that we had booked for the next two nights. The location was near the city of Targu Neamt, about 30 kilometers away of Piatra Neamt. Targu Neamt may be the smaller brother of Piatra, but it is more famous to some extent, as it is the place of birth made of the Romanian classic writer Ioan Creanga, has the ruins of a well preserved fortified castle also made famous in a classic piece of historic poetry, and is located in the heart of the Neamt (read Nae-Amtz)  monasteries land – the target of the next day of our trip which I will detail in the upcoming episodes.

a sign in the dark

Finding the place was not easy, although we had some directions and a GPS in our car. This may be one of the problems that the owners of the place will want to improve, as there are no signs from the center of the city, neither a clear explanation on the otherwise nicely designed Web site – http://www.pensiunea-carol.ro/index.php. The rain had stopped and the skies cleared by the time we reached the area, but also the night was falling. Luckily, the sign of the hotel was clearly visible and we eventually made it.

king Carol

We soon discovered that the name of the small hotel (‘pensiune’ designates in Romanian a small family hotel, sometimes not bigger than a B&B, this one is actually larger and growing) was honoring the first of the four crowned kings in the history of Romania. I do not know if the owners are really royalists, but they certainly seem to hold in high esteem king Carol the 1st, who is actually a well respected character in the modern history of the country, having reigned over the progress of Romania in the last third of the 19th century and first years of the 20th century in a period of building of the institutions of the modern state, getting full independence and what can be considered as the first integration of Romania in Europe.

the Carol at daylight

Next day in the morning we could see the hotel and the landscape around. ‘Pensiunea Carol’ is an example of the new style of tourism industry that I hope will be successful in this region and in other parts of Romania. Its owners used some of the European Community help for small businesses and built a small chalet at standards that compare without hesitation with the over the average similar places all over Europe. They had seven rooms by the time we stayed with them, but a few more were already built in a second building and with the extended capacity they were hoping to attract the attention not only of the occasional tourists but also of small groups and businesses looking for a quiet retreat place to meet, and combine work with some tourism and entertainment in a relaxed atmosphere.

Neamt landscape from the balcony

The environment is really charming with the swift slopes of the green hills in the Neamt area.

in the courtyard

The courtyard has enough parking place for the full extended occupancy, and some artifacts of the traditional agriculture and crafts give it a special color.

art on the walls

The interior of the buildings are clean, warm and accommodating. Paintings in a neo-classical style on the walls fit well in the atmosphere …

portrait of a Jew

… including this portrait of an old Jew from a past century.

dining room

The hotel has a good restaurant with a capacity that exceeds the number of guests in the hotel, sign that they plan to attract customers from the city. Actually there were a few also during our stay. Traditional Romanian food dominates the menu, as it does in the majority of the other places we had eaten during the trip. As tourists in Romania we did not ask for anything else but the food we are missing abroad, and Liliana had her first try of ‘mamaligutza cu branza‘ (cheese polenta).

where they full?

The owners took us on a tour of the facilities and the newly built extensions which include a wine cellar and a separate dining place with traditional grill and oven. Overall Pensiunea Carol is a wonderful base for the circuit of the monasteries around, it is well run by enthusiastic folks with entrepreneurial spirit and a touch for the local specificity. I recommend it and I hope that the place will succeed.