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Village Stays

Homestays are a fine way of discovering the region and its people, and locals have discovered that they are an excellent way to supplement their incomes -- in some villages, it seems as though every second house is open for business, offering beds and home-cooked meals; usually all rates include breakfast and dinner. Don't expect great luxury -- these aren't hotels by any stretch of the imagination, but rather an opportunity to temporarily stay in a unique environment that in many ways hasn't changed in over a century. What has changed, of course, is the appearance of modern bathrooms, electricity, and many of the comforts that most urbanites take for granted. Granted, the back-to-basics experience isn't to everyone's taste, so if you're feeling less than adventurous, you may want to stick to the more modern rooms at Casa Popicu. Remember that the quality of accommodations may differ from home to home (a firmer mattress here, a larger shower room there), but ultimately, it is dealings with your convivial hosts that translate into memories. Besides the options described below, navigate to www.visitmaramures.ro, where you'll find details of many more agreeable options.

In Baia Mare -- If you must stay in Baia Mare because of an early or late departure or arrival, there's a clutch of relatively decent hotels. Renovated to a relatively pleasing standard, Hotel Rivulus, Str. Culturii 3 (tel. 0262/21-6302; www.hotelrivulus.ro; 64€/$81 double with breakfast), is right in the center of town. It's a slightly stiff business hotel with a no-nonsense atmosphere; nevertheless, the refurbished rooms are smart and comfortable, and have small private balconies. There's a decent restaurant and a popular terrace-cafe.

There's a variety of popular cafes and bars around the cobblestone town center, Piata Libertatii -- you could do a lot worse than Corvin Medieval Restaurant, worth a visit for the refreshingly naive-kitsch design (the whole place is decked out in faux-medieval memorabilia in a series of brick-vaulted rooms, with mannequins dressed in period costume; even the waitresses are styled as serving wenches) as well as the good Hungarian food. You'll sit on stiff Knights of the Round Table chairs and drink from large wine goblets as a bib is tied around your neck in true medieval feast style. After, shimmy on over to the Barbarossa; marked by two pirate statues at the entrance, this is possibly the most popular bar in town, with a hip, sexy crowd filling its outdoor tables.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.