Swaying willow trees, a reed-bordered lily pond and the bright red blossoms of sumac trees – these were the delights of Nature that greeted us upon arrival at our tranquil lodgings in the secluded backwaters of the Danube Delta.
A one-hour trip in a canvas-covered boat from Murighiol along the southern of the main channels of the delta in Romania brought us to a wooden pier, designated landing place for guests of the 4-star Green Village and camping site, Green Dolphin, together a six-hectare rural holiday retreat.
Owned by Dragos Anastasiu, medical doctor, successful entrepreneur, President of Tourism Alliance Romania and founder of RePatriot, the resort is located at the edge of the delta where the Danube marries the Black Sea and combines adventure and wildlife with relaxation, comfort and culinary delights.
Paradise for birdwatchers and fisherfolk alike, this vast network of islands linked by winding canals is home to a vast array of fauna, from pelicans to pikes, cormorants to catfish, storks to sturgeons.
So extensive is Green Village, it caters for a wide range of accommodation choices including thatch-roofed cabanas, two-storey apartments and multi-room villas in Green Village, comprising 89 rooms in total and an adjacent camp site called Green Dolphin. The resort is also organised in such a way that dedicated areas cater for adults seeking a more peaceful vacation and those families with lively young children. Such areas bear names such as Egreta (Egret), Lebada-Pelicanul (Swan-Pelican) and Starcul Alb (White Heron).
Our apartment, E2, was within a five-minute walk of the arrival pier. Nestled among foliage, the leaves and branches danced playfully with afternoon sunlight creating dappled glints of silver and gold. A spacious patio in front with stone-slab floor and wooden table and chairs provided perfect day and evening outdoor relaxation.
Reflecting the resort’s seamless fusion with Nature, you’ll not find metal or marble, instead furnishings are of wood, bamboo or whicker, including twin armchairs, side-table, cabinet and even mirror-frames and lamp-stands on the ground-floor living room and our bed upstairs.
Staff at Green Village organise a range of indoor and outdoor entertainment for guests. Families can enjoy an outdoor swimming pool, daily movies in Cinema Paradiso while adults can partake of lakeside yoga and pilates, sauna and open-air jacuzzi, as well as darts, table tennis and billiards. Children can enjoy origami, painting and modelling and even ‘mini karaoke’ at the Turtle Kids Club, as well as XBox in the Entertainment Center and occasional ‘treasure hunts’ in nearby Sfântu Gheorghe village.
Other activities include archery, fishing, kayaking, cycling, and even aqua gym. There are even beach football and volleyball courts. Treatments such as massages and facials are offered at the Lotus Spa.
For gourmands, there is the opportunity for wine tastings and cookery classes, the latter involving seafood soup, various mussels dishes and papanasi, a doughnut style dessert popular throughout Romania.
Live music takes place in the resort’s restaurants, the Laguna Brasserie and the Waterlily Restaurant. On one evening, as the slow air of ‘Perfect Symphony’ rose from a talented violinist below, we sat above on the wooden deck verandah of the latter restaurant perusing a comprehensive menu of traditional Romanian dishes, the majority, naturally, being local fish ranging from fried pike and smoked Danube mackerel to sturgeon ‘on the stove’ and garfish. It also comprised caviar and the traditional dishes of fish zacuska, a form of ratatouille, and storceag, sturgeon soup with vegetables and whey. For committed carnivores, there’s duck with cooked cabbage, stew with polenta, chicken schnitzel and sirloin steak. Vegetarians would probably enjoy the eggplant, sheep cheese, tomatoes and onion item.
Before embarking on a scan of the menu, however, take a glance at the cocktail list. Restaurant manager and passionate mixologist Andre Opris from the Transylvanian city of Brasov concocts a superb margarita but there’s also the Green Village version of gin and tonic, with rosemary, and another with blackberries, the herbs and fruits, as well as many vegetables, grown in the property’s own organic garden. Visitors should also partake of Romania’s potent plum brandy, palinca. As wine accompaniment, try the local ‘Letea Horses’ (Caii De La Letea), an earthy, floral with citrus notes from the aligote grape.
Considering the location, our choice proved to be inspired, a starter of bors, a fish consommé, fermented grains and vegetables followed by Black Sea turbot (calcan), its fluffy white meat cooked gently with grilled eggplant and tomatoes. For dessert, try the regional placinta Dobrogeana, a textured sweet cheese pie. For chocolate lovers, there’s always the lava cake oozing with temptation.
As for the Laguna Brasserie, this is located canal side in a quiet corner of the resort, with talented Daniel Zinke leading the kitchen. So skilled in culinary innovation is the friendly Timisoara-born executive chef, we returned twice here for dinner, feasting on dishes ranging from grilled octopus to superbly cooked tomahawk steaks, with wonderful kick-off starters. In fact, such was the feast of tastes we experienced, I have decided to write a separate article entitled ‘Dining With Daniel’ to highlight our host’s admirable contributions to memorable food experiences.
Green Village also offers guests the opportunity to visit by boat certain areas of the delta where fauna and flora are abundant. It should be pointed out that such trips follow the guidelines laid down by environmental groups in terms of protected habitats unlike some excursions by other individuals and groups that do not follow such guidelines to protect endangered species.
One of the festival highlights at Green Village is the annual ‘Anonimul’ film festival, now in its 18th year, which festival director, Miruna Berescu said hosts both Romanian made films and those from the wider international arena created both by young up-and-coming directors and immensely experienced ones.
Interestingly, Green Village also offers the guests the opportunity to stay for longer periods of time, a special ‘Work from Hotel’ program for professionals seeking a pleasant environment from which to operate remote. Walking, or taking the charming local ‘bus,’ to the nearby soft sand beaches of the Black Sea or along the delta canals is a refreshing way to re-charge your batteries after a day’s hard work on the computer and phone.