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 next plans include plastering the walls, fixing the house, making 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 (39 yrs old) and Nicoleta (40), a young married couple with two children - Tereza (8) and Tudor (5) - 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 1h to get there by car). In 2018 we setup and NGO based at the house with various projects in the village and the region.
Hilfe bei Ökoprojekten
Heimwerker- und Bauarbeiten
Mithilfe auf einem Bauernhof
Together with us you will take part in the restoration process of the house and learn old building and restoring techniques using cob, wood and stone. You will learn more about gardening, pruning trees and vines, making wine, baking bread etc. 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. Since we started our NGO we 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, to what's going on in the village, to what needs to be done, each moment of your stay.
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:
- treating wood with wood stain
- plastering walls
- various building projects
- 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
You will need to bring water from the well, cook your own food, chopping wook, making fire for heating and washing, keeping the house clean at all time. These are not volunteering tasks, it is time and effort which you need to spend to take care of yourself and the house. For most volunteers this is fine, but to others it can be overhelming.
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. We do not favor volunteers who are not interested in what we do and just looking for a place to crash. If you fit this loose description, then most likely you will have a wonderful time at our place!
Deutsch: Gute Kenntnisse
Sleeping. We have one bedroom that is ready for guests. It is fairly big and it has one double bed and an extendable couch. We provide clean sheets weekly. Alternatively, tents can be placed on our lawn or anywhere in the garden and orchard.
Eating. We have a 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 only the basic foodstuff (potatoes, pasta, tomato sauce, cooking oil, flour, rice, sugar, coffee, canned food, some meat, vegetables and fruit) but in good supply. You can buy your choice of foods from the two village shops or from the nearby cities. You will have to prepare your meals as you like.
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. We have very good wi-fi but you are adivsed to use it with moderation.
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. Hitchhiking is possible on the route Berzovia - Ramna - Valeapai. The alternative is to travel with us from Timisoara, via Buzias.
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 2 weeks - a month. The more you stay, the more you get immersed in the community and lifestyle. There will be plenty of opportunities to travel with us and get involved with our NGO, in other parts of the region. We hope you come as a guest, become a true villager during you stay and then leave as a friend!
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Wir besitzen Tiere
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