Christopher on Count Kalnoky Trail, Romania

The horses were all fit and in good condition. They covered a broad spectrum from calm willingness to spirited athleticism, so there was something for all abilities. All of them were well up to a week’s steady work – with plenty remaining in the tank.

It was clear that our statements of ability had been read by the Countess and that she had put careful thought into the allocation of the horses. Moreover, she explained the reasons for her decisions. Although I had given a fairly downbeat account of my own skills, I was absolutely delighted with my horse, a tall and elegant Hucul. He was fit, lithe and eager. He was the fastest of the horses, and had the most stamina.

Generally the lodgings were homely – and all the better for that. After all one aspires to be an outdoors man – a salary-man no longer. All of it was perfectly clean, comfortable and above all welcoming. The welcomes we received rivalled those of my loneliest maiden aunts. In the unlikely event that you get fresh flowers in your room at the Sheraton you know it is a corporate policy executed by some poor chap on minimum wage. When you get it in a Transylvanian guesthouse you know you are wanted and appreciated. Open, honest and lovely people, and genuine unfeigned hospitality. The food was proper home cooking and in itself a cultural experience. Simple but varied – and the work that had gone into it was palpable. Would you prefer bland and formulaic meals aspiring (and failing) to be haute cuisine, or the equivalent of the food that your mother used to produce as an expression of her love? There is no contest IMHO.

As to the other things: Riding: ruddy marvellous. I loved Rudy and I think he loved me. The scenery was world class – and I speak as one who has got up close to many of the world’s wonders (I could expand on my past travels, but I trust you are already sufficiently impressed).

  • Organisation: I knew I was in safe hands from the outset. Everything went like clockwork. As to Zara’s Planet – you know how very helpful you were and I am most grateful to you.
  • Service: Are you kidding? If you are the guest of a Count in Transylvania you are guaranteed to get the treatment. Everybody I came into contact with – guides, grooms, waitresses, drivers, admin staff – were very respectful, polite and friendly.
  • Hospitality: See my comments on accommodation and food above. Watch out for the home made schnapps – it keeps coming (and coming).

Would I recommend it? Absolutely not. It’s far too good for the hoi-palloi!