We are restoring an 1850 old traditional house located in Valeapai, a remote village in western Romania, in the Caras-Severin county. Our project is aimed at preserving the cultural and architectural value of the building while helping transforming an otherwise forgotten corner of the country into a friendly place for tourists. We strive to use old techniques for rebuilding the house, using mainly cob, stone and wood.
We bought the property in august 2016 and decided to bring it back to life as it once was. It consists of a small house built on a wooden frame, sitting on a foundation made of rocks. Outside walls are built with wood and cob and inside walls with mud bricks. The pavement is also made out of cob. There are also two annexed buildings, one of which is also very old, made in a traditional manner.
Nobody lived in the house for the past 20 years, yet it managed to stay in a fairly good shape. For us it is a proof that old techniques of building houses are worth preserving. We want to strike a balance between modern comfort and traditional ways of life. So for now we can only offer the basic comfort, but improving all the time.
The house is small, but the rest of the property is fairly big, with two garden terraces, two orchard areas and a vineyard. In the back of the garden we are bordering with a small forest, so there's a lot of natural surroundings, with an incredible diversity of birds, butterflies and even squirrels or foxes.
Our plan for this year is to finish plastering the walls, finish building the traditional wooden porch, build the wooden floors, make the garden and the vineyard flourish again and much more. Any help is welcomed! We are absolutely positive that you will have an exciting experience joining us in this project!
A little bit about us: we are Radu (35 yrs old) and Nicoleta (37), a young married couple with two children - Tereza (4) and Tudor (almost 2) - and we live in the city of Timisoara. The house we're restoring is located in a village some 60 km from our city (it takes about 1h15min to get there). We go there almost twice a week, especially on weekends and holidays, so if you decide to come and stay longer, some days you'll be having the whole place for your own, others you will spend together with fellow workawayers.
Hilfe bei Ökoprojekten
Hilfe bei Kunstprojekten
The help we need. We wish you could help us in the restoration process of the main building, annexes, gate and fences, or with diverse tasks in the garden, orchard or vineyard. If you know how to build, saw, sand-dust, paint and so on, then you will have a good time. If you don't, but you are a quick learner, then it's going to be also fun. Some of the tasks include:
- keeping the property clean
- cooking your own food
- making fire for heating and cooking (if necessary)
- treating wood with wood stain
- reconditioning old furniture
- plastering walls
- various building projects
- taking care of the garden at all times
- cut the grass and weeds
- vineyard works (cutting, pruning, treating the plants, digging etc.)
- gather ripe fruits and vegetables
- build pathways and steps, fix the wooden fence, build vegetable boxes
- pruning trees, treating them with lime mix
- chopping wood
Your profile. We are looking for people who enjoy physical work in the outdoors, who have a good work ethic, who are dedicated and somewhat skilled (or learn quickly), who are fine with a simple means of living. You will have to be friendly and collaborative with the other volunteers. If you fit this loose description, then most likely you will have a wonderful time at our place! We want everyone coming here to enjoy themselves so if you feel this is too hard for you then maybe try something different.
Together with us you will take part in the restoration process and learn old building and restoring techniques using cob, wood and stone. For gardening, we are using basic no-till techniques and permaculture. If you already have some knowledge of the above we are happy to learn from you!
We will introduce you into the social, cultural and economic context and help you discover the whole area of western Romania. When more workawayers stay at the house, the experience can be more fun and enjoyable. We can help revive community life, bring back traditions and set an example in building restoring.
Remember: you will have to take care of the house as it was yours! You will be more than a tourist and a guest, you will have to be a true local villager, a part of the community, with its rules and own lifestyle. You will have to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the house, of what's going on in the village, of what needs to be done, each moment of your stay.
Romanian, English, French, Italian and some German
Sleeping. We have one bedroom that is ready for guests. It is fairly big and it has two double beds. We provide you with clean sheets weekly. Alternatively, tents can be placed on our lawn or anywhere in the garden and orchard.
Eating. We have a small kitchen with a wooden stove, an electric stove, kitchenware and a fridge. You can also grill outside or bake in the cob oven. We provide basic foodstuffs, vegetables, fruit, diary products, bread, some meat etc. We try to make sure you have enough for three meals a day. You have to prepare them as you like. If you have special requirements, let us know in advance and we will try to provide you with what you need. Also, you can buy groceries from the two village shops.
Washing. The house has no running water and no inside toilet. You'll have to get your own water from a community water well some 50 m away. We have an eco-toilet and a solar shower area outside. We provide clean towels. During cold days you can wash inside, using warm water that you boil on the stove, just like many villagers still do.
Phone signal and wi-fi. Mobile phone signal is very weak inside the house and the courtyard, but gets better as you walk up the hill in the backyard, where you could also catch some mobile internet. On some mobile phones you can catch signal inside the house but it is not reliable. There is no wi-fi. We have a Romanian phone that you can use for receiving calls and some limited internet se.
Other amenities. We don't have a tv and we have no intention to spoil the mood by installing one. For heating we use the two wood stoves.
Travel. If you have your own means of transport (car, bike, motorbike) you can go straight to the house in Valeapai. For public transport, there is a minibus connecting the village to Bocsa twice a day. Hitchhiking is possible on the route Berzovia - Ramna - Valeapai. If none of these work out, then the main option is to meet with us in Timisoara and you'll travel with us by car (usually Friday afternoon or Saturday morning).
Getting to Timisoara is now easier than ever, with two budget airlines available on the airport, with connections to many major European airports. If you come from Bucharest, the train option is the safest, but takes a long time. Let us know in advance and we can help you find the more convenient transport option.
Sightseeing. You can explore the village with its castle ruins, old mill and traditional buildings. Surrounding villages are interesting as well, especially the "ghost-village" of Barbosu, close to Valeapai. Many biking and hiking trails are available. The surrounding mountains and forests are little explored by tourists, but rewarding for those who like pristine environment. The river crossing our village is great for fishing and even swimming (there's a pond where villagers gather to have a swim).
If you plan on staying more time then you will have time to explore the biggest tourist attractions in the area - the city of Timisoara, Semenic Mountains, Danube gorges etc.
Other. For a truly meaningful experience you could stay at least 3 weeks - a month. The more you stay, the more you get immersed in the community and lifestyle. We hope you come as a guest, become a true villager during you stay and then leave as a friend!
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