-article written in collaboration with Tanja Erlah
So there is this city, that I would’ve never known, if it weren’t for my friends. Two intelligent, life-loving women, whom I met studying abroad and invited me to come visiting Romania. The country that I knew mostly for Dracula and, let’s be honest, gypsies. But I found so much more than that. So much more. Because when you travel and you have THE plan, THE list and you already know what a place is ‘well-known-for’ and what to expect of it, trust me when I say that there is nothing like a city exceeding your expectations.
Let’s say that I also won a Jackpot with the weather, so I got to see the city in its most …vivid form. People strolling around the streets, enjoying the sunshine in all those cute coffee places and restaurants in the city center, especially around “the big” St. Michael’s church. Dare I say: quite a picturesque architectural city center! In some sense, this city still feels a bit vintage, especially with the infrastructure that still shows the oppressive history of the country.
On the other hand, I also found a green city with beautiful riverside and central positioned park, simply perfect for ‘take-your-hammock-and-just-chill’ kind of Saturday. People were reading, running, riding their bikes or simply having a picnic. Vidid that’s how I found the city of Cluj-Napoca. And with such an easy-going kind of attitude.
“People who like to brunch, are the best kind of people.”
I also found myself surrounded by so many perfect little places to brunch, have coffee, eat delicious food and spend some quality time over meal with friends.
The ones that blew my mind away were “the waffle place”, offering heavenly rectangles of sugar (but who cares for calories, we only live once), the funky tea house, with great and proper tea selection and unique atmosphere. And who would’ve think that the vegetarian place would be a highlight for an amazing lunch (also with the actual attendance of care from the waitress).
My stay in the city collided with a perfect timing to see the botanical garden, were the tulips blooming was on the peek. An amazing place to relax, walk between the flowers, greenery or in the woods.
Turda Salt mine is actually located outside the city and is perfect for a half-day trip. It offers quite impressive salt chambers with delicate lightning that show the once expensive ore glittering around and even a small lake at the lowest point of the mine. It’s definitely a cool underground place, also literally.
While the city buses are on time and well organized, getting a right bus for out of town was a bit of a challenge. It was like a treasure hunt to find a right bus, from right station to right direction and with a right schedule. The most important point: find a young person! While he will be the one with English skills. In general, people are kind and really helpful, even those who don’t speak English. Which always causes a cute scenes of pantomime that not many have patience to try to answer to. Romanians do.
Cluj is indeed a bubbly city, full of life and events, were you can easily and spontaneously end up at the designer fair, a book fair, a random concert or a movie festival. There’s surely a lot going on all the time. And most of all, it offers a warm welcome to anyone. Trust me when I say that there is nothing like a city exceeding your expectations.