- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
The second son of Britain's heir to the throne spent Easter in his father's rural Transylvanian retreat - his first visit to Romania.
The first private visit of Britain’s Prince Harry to Romania - to a village in Transylvania during the Easter break - stirred media frenzy in Romania and abroad, again prompting some of the usual stereotypes that Transylvania is associated with.
“Transylvania, the land where bear and wolves roam wild”, “homeland of cousin Dracula”, “unspoiled landscapes and ancient traditions” were among the most used phrases about the region where Harry stayed over Easter.
Miclosoara and Viscri, the villages where the Prince spent the weekend, are indeed picturesque villages, with old houses near the forest, extensive flower meadows and mineral springs.
But there is sadly no connection between this region and the land associated with Dracula.
Two 16th-century guesthouses in the above mentioned villages were bought some time ago by Prince Charles, who uses them as vacation retreats.
The Prince of Wales has joked that as a descendent of Vlad the Impaler, the real-life ruler who inspired Bram Stoker's fictional Count Dracula the Vampire, he has “a bit of a stake in the country”.
According to Romanian media, Harry, 27, was spotted riding a motorbike across snowy fields, and later sampled some fiery local plum brandy. He left for England late on Monday.
Transylvania and surrounding Carpathians are among the last remaining unspoilt environments in Europe.
The mountains are home to more than 1,200 plant species, but also to many animal species long driven out of other areas of Europe by industrialisation and modern life, such as as brown bear, lynx and the wolf. Its 2,500-metre-high peaks are also home to rare eagles and many other wild birds.
Romania still has large forests in and beyond the Carpathians. It is home to about 65 per cent of the virgin forests still remaining in Europe, outside Russia.
They are mainly situated in the mountainous Carpathian region, but only 20 per cent of these old forests are protected by law by being included in national parks.
To keep its reform policy credible for investors, the government must find common ground with the IMF and look for a new arrangement, experts say.