Matthijs (40 years old) and Eveline (36 years old), a Dutch couple, gave up a vibrant life in their native country for the peace, the beauty and the magic of Breb, a small village in the charming region of Maramures, in northern Romania. Matthijs fell in love with Romania ever since he was a teenager, and moved here after two years of working for the government, in his native country. He and Eveline own a camping and a small hostel built in an old, traditional house, have two children and so much happiness in every look, word and gesture when they talk about their life in a place like a fairytale. They say they are simply at home – an old wooden house, with a story in every corner. And people who visit them feel this – their love for the place and for what they do, the good vibe, the peace and the magic, everywhere.
When I first entered Babou, I didn’t know where to look first. It’s like an old jewelry, that was the feeling. You admire it all and then want to see every detail – and everything is beautiful, simple and just fascinating. Babou it’s actually a place where you would love to live one day or at least stay more than a few days – to feel the magic, the beauty and to rebuild yourself.
Matthijs and Eveline are smiling all the time – and no, that’s not a professional smile, definitely. It’s their joy in every word and gesture, they are just happy with this place, people around, with what they do, with their entire life. It’s a warm, welcoming, loved home.
Matthijs first came to Romania when he was 14, with his mother, for skiing, and he still remembers, laughing, the holes in the asphalt – maybe it wasn’t the best experience. But when he was 18 he came again, by train, and started falling in love, while visiting the country. Then he went to the university and received a bachelor’s degree in History, specialized in the history of Eastern Europe, and a master’s degree in the same field at the University of Amsterdam. He kept on coming to Romania, also visiting other countries in the region – Ukraine, Serbia, Moldova, Russia, Georgia and more.
He was the one who first took Eveline to Maramures, “and I just fell in love, simply”, she says, smiling. It was 2007 and they were both studying – he graduated that year and Eveline, two years later – she has a bachelor’s degree of Fine Art in Education at the Amsterdam school of the Arts. Matthijs worked for the government in their native country for two years, and she was art teacher for half an year, before moving to Romania, first in Cluj-Napoca, where they found some jobs in accountancy. Eveline remembers, smiling, that they came only with their bicycles and books – not having too much but actually having everything.
Breb and Babou camping
Ever since they came to Cluj, they started searching for a place in Maramures where to move into. After one year, when they got to Breb, simply felt they found their home. “I came out of the car and I told him – this is it. It is a very nice village, very unique”, she says. They bought the property in 2011, and started changing things, piece by piece. They kept the old, but added necessary facilities – showers, toilets – both in the main house, where they live, and in the old barn, that was transformed, with a lot of work and attention to the details, in a small, charming hostel.
In the yard, there is a camping and there are also charming small places – chairs, tables, a hammock – that invite you to stay there with a good book or just watch the beauty of the view, enjoy the silence and put some order into your thoughts.
The hostel has 5 beds and there are also 10 places in the camping. “We kept everything the same, we wanted to keep it simple, traditional. In mini-hostel we have shared dormitory, shared bathroom, shared kitchen, and people who come to our place are quiet, nature lovers, peace lovers and are looking for silence and authenticity. The atmosphere is relaxed and warm and we are very happy”, Eveline says.
90% of their visitors are foreigners, from very different parts of the world, from Europe to America, Australia or Asia. They try not to have too many tourists, to keep the place quiet and peaceful and have time to spend with their quests – it’s more than a place to stay, it’s a lovely life experience for everyone.
Matthijs and Eveline keep on telling that, for them, finding a place like Breb was a privilege, they are happy every single day for the life choice they had made. Until they got here, they traveled a lot, but when they got to Breb just relaxed and didn’t feel like traveling anymore – and this was a sign, a very good one, also. They have two wonderful children, a girl of 6 and a boy of 3, born and raised in here, going to school and kindergarten in Breb. In 2016, Eveline started painting again.
In Breb, they are at home.
“For me it was my childhood dream, when I was a girl I dreamt something like this. The quality of our daily life has improved so much, I could not go back to the old life. This is really really our home, feels so good”, Eveline says. They haven’t thought about coming back to their native country not one single day – they just feel the magic place in Breb is simply their home. “We have so many good neighbours, it’s surprising for me everyday, still. People around are very important, and I feel lucky everyday, people are very special here. They are very open minded, warm and welcoming”, she adds.
You can find out about Babou Maramures on their Facebook Page, HERE
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