travel

The Hagianoff Mansion

April 25, 2016
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Car keys? Check.

Camera? Check.

Umbrella? Check.

Driver’s licence and outrageously important car papers? Inside the wallet. (‘MA, can I put my wallet in your backpack? My bag cannot fit anything!’)

***

This is how we started our Sunday. We wanted for a long time (5 days actually, but that is A LOT in mum’s days) to escape our home and fly to Morocco  visit this Mansion we’ve seen on Instagram (obviously) which is at about 60 km from Bucharest.

Said and done.

After what seemed to be an endless journey, (painfully slow as yours truly would despise receiving traffic fines – yes, I’m in that period when I still take notice of the signs displayed on the road), we arrived at our destination, the Domains of Manasia.

The most terrible April showers forced us to take as quickly as possible all our belongings from the car, only to find out after an unpleasant and muddy scavenger hunt, that mum’s bag was nowhere to be found. And she claims she’s THE responsible adult… (Needless to say I’ll start carrying my wallet stuffed in my bra from now own.)

So, no money, one single phone ( its fortunate presence owed only to the fact that we were relying on Google Maps), no credit card, no driver’s licence, NADA. But, hey, at least I had the most beautiful teeny tiny empty bag!

Great. Good thing we weren’t going to visit a private Mansion in the middle of nowhere. Oh, wait…

After pointing out that I never forget stuff (except that one time when I wanted to go to Bulgaria to see some rocks and somewhere in the middle of our trip I realized my ID was on my desk, at home, obviously), we decided to still give it a shot and see if we could get in the Mansion with the unbelievable amount of 7 lei found in various corners of the car in precarious conditions. Nevertheless, we had money!

‘Hello! Could we visit the Mansion?’

‘Do you have a reservation?’

Mum stares at me. I stare back. Then, we compose the most innocent looking faces (we could have been GREAT actresses) asking the now dear body guard if we couldn’t enter without.

‘Let me see what I can do.’ * reaches for the phone

‘Boss, yes, I have two ladies here, at the entrance. They have no reservation. What to do? … aha, OK, thanks.’

‘You can go.’

‘Great! Thank you!’

‘The entrance is 45 lei per person.’

(You know that emoji inspired by the manga cartoons where there suddenly appears a huge drop of embarrassment on a character’s face? We-think-Happy-inexplicably-sweaty Yes, this one exactly!)

‘Funny story, you see, we forgot the bag that contained everything crucial for this trip. Can my husband pay online from home? Please?’

‘No. Cash only.’

‘Um. 000087279dcb44fb2fcd1be2848bf662

‘Can we at least visit it from outside?’

‘No.’

Okay, then.

***

So, we strolled five minutes around the surrounding wall, took some fabulous photos with a silver church in the background and jumped back in the car. That’s the moment when my glorious mum decided she needed elderberry flowers.

Of course, the most natural thing to do when this urge strikes you is, in my mother’s world, to hail some half drunk men from the village’s bodega to promise them 5 lei if they bring some elderberry branches.

(You get used to my mother’s practices after you live some years with her.)

So, it was quite a surprise when not one, but TWO tipsy men skipped a fence and brought her 5 branches, leading to them gaining the easiest worked money they ever got. (‘Hehe, look, Dick, this is how easy I make money!’)

***

‘I’m glad we came all the way to here for nothing. It was such a revelation!’

‘Stop whining! I got elderberry flowers!’

I couldn’t hold my excitement.

***

With the thought of 3 wasted hours, I was pretty bummed that we had to turn around, I have to admit.

So, mum, as any super-mother, called the only person who could have been around to lend us some cash to see the Mansion.

‘He didn’t answer. It’s after all, 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon, so everybody probably sleeps.’

However, the next minute, the phone rang. It wasn’t who we thought it was, but it was better.

You know that overly quoted saying of Paulo Coelho: ‘when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”? Well, here it is quoted again. Duh. (Just because I find it suited for this situation.)

Our luck was that a friend spotted our car while at a gas station! Some say it’s Dumb Luck 101, I say it’s Destiny. (Watch out for this saying, it will become extremely popular one day).

‘Do you have money?’

‘mmm, yes, I think I have 50 lei.’

‘We need a 100.’

‘I’m with my folks and some relatives, we’ll search our pockets.’

‘Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Meet us after the second round-about!’

***

‘Mum, now that we have money, what are we going to say to the bodyguard if he asks us how we got them?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Wait. I have an idea! We’ll tell him we sold your 5 lei elderberry flowers to some naive Bucharest people for 100 lei!’

* eyeballs rolling ‘Well, doesn’t that sound plausible?!’

***

I have to say that I was blown away by how magnificent this building is. With an attic perfect for experimental theatre events or mini-conferences, a floor perfect for small business meetings that include a tea and hookah break in a really good looking salon and a ground floor designed to transport you to a movie scene where the characters indulge in the most delicious dishes (prepared by a top chef), the building is an architecture lover’s dream and a French enthusiastic’s refuge.

If the following photos will convince you to pay a visit, bear in mind that it is open for public only on Sundays, with reservation and only when there are no private events (aka the wedding of my dreams).

Schedule around three hours for the visit, as you wouldn’t want to miss all the floors AND the wine cellar which holds barrels SO humongous that their capacity is 4800 l.

Bring a book, savour some croissants and a tea on their terrace (they’re included :) ) and take deep breaths while listening to their amazing music (it’s the wonderful Café de Paris Radio).

And if you’re an animal lover, you’ll find some of the most beautiful white peacocks I’ve ever seen.

For reservations and other inquiries, click here.

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I hope I convinced you to go. If you do, drop me a line to tell me how it was.

And please, remember to bring cash!

Laura

P.S. My mother insists on telling you how amazing she truly is during the other 364 days of the year.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Ella April 26, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    You really made my day today :))). The story is so delicious!

    So I understand that you have now elderberry syrup / lemonade? Yummy :)

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