The Mathias family welcomed us warmly at Saes. Theirs was the most modern tourist facility we had encountered in the villages to date - a large first floor living/dining/cooking area, and bedrooms off a corridor above. The bedrooms were small, and nearly all of us had to share two bathrooms, but it was very up together.
Outside, there was no sign of animals, dogs apart, but a large mobile still stood in the yard: we were given some of its product, the ubiquitous home-made Palinka, at dinner, as well as beer. I was serenaded to sleep by a nightingale, but awoke early, to find Julia already up and awaiting her taxi: sadly, the sprightliest amongst us was leaving the party early (to return home in time to leave for another holiday elsewhere in Europe!).
My pre-breakfast excursion took me well into the back streets of Saes, quite a large village it seems. The gypsy families live in smallish dwellings, some with pig pens alongside them. On one house an image of the Sacred Heart filled a window. In the garden of another, Romanian flags flew alongside a satellite dish. Walking round, my digital SLR camera prominent, I felt no fear. Far from cowering, threatening or begging, the young people - on their way to school - queued up for photographs to be taken.
On setting out later as a group, Ionut was soon pointing out the tracks made by a bear in the muddy path we were following, steeply upwards through the woods. Descending to the village of Stejarenii, we passed a huge bee hotel: suspended in front of it was a bee CD (hoho!).
By the time we arrived in the next village, Cris, we were ready for lunch, which we ate sitting in the courtyard of the huge Castle. Partly dating from the 15th Century, it belongs to the Bethlens, a Hungarian family, but there is no way they could ever afford to restore it to its former glory. The shiny new red roof looks rather out of place on what might otherwise be an impressive and romantic ruin. After our visit, kind John rewarded himself and all his fellow sightseers with an ice cream each.
Our final walk yesterday took us over the ridge to Floresti, from where Gabriel bussed us to the altogether more prosperous looking village of Malancrav: we stayed there last night.