My hotel in Iasi is some a 12-minute drive to Barnova village, which sits on top of beautiful hills. Every time I am here in these hills, my lungs fill up with pure clean air. I have been in all seasons to these hills, the mesmerizing autumn air, the gorgeous cold winters, the flower season of spring and the cool breeze of summer. But this time it was different. First, it has been some 18 months since I last visited because of the travel restrictions and the second was this beautiful out of the world unique café that sits at top of the hills, surrounded by linden tree forest. It is green everywhere and the sun was shining just perfectly.
I meet up with Oana and Dragos, the owners and founders of this little retreat and when in the past it was just an empty field now I see a lot of activities. There is a family with two little children who are playing soft ball on one side and another family who are getting ready and putting their gear on, to go on guided e-bike tour, with a professional guide. There is also some tents which I learnt later was called ‘glamping’ or glamorous camping, a new word for me but it sets you up with water proof tent and enough space to have a young family. But what really set the place apart was the café.
Let me just start with the design. Wood trusses coming slanting down. Higher on one side and lowering itself on the other. A display room showing many items, Taina Vie honey and JooyRidez healthy bars, comfortable seating.
“Would you like some coffee?” asked Ioana, daughter of the founders. Her mom then tells me that this brilliant young lady is going to Amsterdam to study her Masters, after completing her bachelors from the UK. What more can a mom want!. I mentioned that I love black coffee but I don’t like instant coffee brands, and that’s when I saw the inside of the kitchenette, equipped with an awesome two headed coffee machine. Dragos starts to make the coffee and in between tells me that they have just opened the café and really need to find a barista, so that she can attend to other ideas and expansions.
We take a stroll with Dragos within the compound. And they show me the Taina Vie honey unit. It is modern and recently built. I had heard this before coming, and I was wondering how will a honey processing unit and a café coupled with bikes come to together. Is that the right chemistry? But whoever was the designer, perfectly put each item at the right place. From the main road you can enter from the side and come up with honey unit at the beginning with lots of space to park your car inside. I noticed some nice trees that was recently planted and there is a sign that mentions that Swiss Ambassador to Romania had personally come to inaugurate the unit. Then you have the café on the left with a beautiful 360 degree view from the hill tops with green trees down to the rustic homes that dot this beautiful town. On the far right you see the glamping tents and then on the far left I notice two huge barrels. I ask and I am told that building this place was done with a lot of love and care and additional items were just inspirational. One barrel will be made into a sauna and the other can house a couple for the night. I thought I didn’t hear right. “A sauna?” I asked. And yes came back the answer from a beaming Oana.
Back to the café, I found a young couple sitting. The lady was reading a book and the young man was sipping a glass of wine. But both were smiling and chatting lightly between reading lines and sipping wine. I made my customary “Buna” and they greeted me back. I sat at the far corner, letting all the lights and colors sink in my memory. The light breeze was cool and the sun was at that perfect place before sunset. I am in love with this mesmerizing place.
So I will be back as soon as possible: sunsets (and not only sunsets: people, nature, organic products …) are simply wonderful.