Sinaia is Thame’s Twin Town based in Prahova County, Romania. The two towns have been twinned since 2012. Every September the town holds a festival “Sinaia Forever”. Former Thame Mayor, Nigel Champken-Woods and his wife Alison revisited Sinaia earlier in September this year. The last time when Nigel and Alison visited Sinaia was in September 2012 when as Thame Mayor, Nigel signed the twinning charter.
Nigel and Alison were hosted by Felicia and Nicu Mirza at their home in Sinaia. Felicia as member of ASPE, a local cultural association, visited Thame during TAL Festival in 2017.
Nigel and Alison noticed a dramatic difference of the look of Sinaia’s main between the visits. 6 years ago, all cabling was carried on poles along the main street which was sometimes looking like a giant tangle of knitting. This has now been put underground and pavements replaced and widened, cleaning the whole area up.
Nigel and Alison were welcomed to the Town by Vlad Oprea, Mayor of Sinaia, who accepted a letter from Ann Midwinter, the Mayor of Thame, explaining that she could not attend as it clashed with her civic service. Vlad understood this and passed his best wishes to Ann and all the people of Thame.
On Friday, September 14th they were taken to the top of the mountain by cable car. Since their visit in 2012, this has been much improved by the extension of the Telegondola (ski lift) to the top of the mountain. Nigel said:” The views from the top are outstanding and must be amazing in the winter. There are 16 ski slopes of varying difficulty to choose from.”
Nigel said: “The highlight of any visit to Sinaia must be Peles Castle and the Monastery, which we did on Saturday morning with Dan Manea.” Dan Manea, the architect, is another friend of Thame, as he thoroughly enjoyed his visit and presentation of his book, “Sinaia Land of the Elites” during TAL Festival in 2017.
Peles was the summer home of King Carol I of Romania and featured in a recent Great Railway Journey with Michael Portillo. The Monastery was the first building in Sinaia offering hospitality to travellers in the Prahova Valley.
Saturday evening was the reception held by Vlad Oprea in “The Casino” used as an events venue nowadays. Nigel said: “With about 3 minutes notice I had to make a speech, but got away with it! We were next presented to Prince Nicolae of Romania and his fiance Alina along with our host Felicia. It turns out that Prince Nicolae knows Thame as he went to school at Shiplake College just outside Henley on Thames. We joked about the rivalry between the two towns especially on the sports field!”
Nigel added “We also visited prince Charles’ home in Viscri, not what one would expect! It is however very unspoilt and indeed you can actually stay there. We then went onto Bran the home of the infamous home of Dracula’s Bran Castle.”
Nigel said: “Our last full day was again spent with Dan Manea, who took us to the Royal Meadow which is situated in the mountains above Sinaia and Peles Castle. The problem was it is situated at just over 4,000 feet and while we had been driven up we had to walk down! A fitting end to a fantastic weekend.”
Nigel concluded: “We would like to thank all involved in our visit. Vlad Oprea and his team at the Town Hall in Sinaia, the members of ASPE who looked after us, Dan Manea our guide and in particular Felicia and Nicu Mirza who welcomed us into their home.”
Anyone from the Thame and neighbouring villages interested to get involved in family, cultural, or groups visit exchange projects between Thame and Sinaia are more than welcome to get in touch with Thame-Sinaia Friendship Association on www.facebook.com/thamesinaia or ring/text us on 07764 854949.