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Monday, 9 November 2015

Cluj, Cluj – why the fuss?



You might say ‘well, it’s because of that direct competition with Braşov’… and you are partially right, because we do tend to have this issue amongst cities worldwide/cities in Romania/cities in Transylvania. But, hey, Sibiu is up there, as well. I don’t like Sibiu either, but I like it better than Cluj.
I’m opening my heart as to ‘why’.
The bad things
Architecture
Mainly more massive structures than in Braşov, larger streets, but they lack a lot in soul. When you go down Nicolae Bălcescu Street in Braşov, the old houses ‘guarding’ it make the city feel alive, not just a nice exterior without anything inside. P.S. The neighbourhoods including only blocks of flats are horrendous.
People
It felt like travelling to another country, it really did! People were rude, uninterested, uninvolved; ok, not all of them, but you get the point. And without the people element, I’m not happy. Marcel started kidding that it’s because of the Moldavians in Braşov that the city feels that friendly. Could be, could be. You all know Marcel’s also Moldavian, right? :)
Attractions
For one thing, Braşov’s got countless more.
Secondly, opening schedules tend to be observed south of Cluj. We missed out on the Museum of Arts (yet again!), on buying handmade goods at Oranjerie, and what about those city walls? Do locals even know where they’re at?
On our way to Oranjerie
Hmmm... add a pretty interpretable finish of our room escape [we chose ‘The Secret’/The Dungeon and were pretty much devoid of our last precious minutes there], and you’ll understand that my time in Cluj was not that fun, after all.
Accommodation
It felt like something was fighting to keep us away from Cluj and in Braşov.
First, there was a lady from cluj-accomodation.com who called me on Wednesday [the check-in date was Saturday] to let me know they had started to repaint the entire apartment because of the clients who had checked-out that morning and who had smoked relentlessly; so, now they had to cover-up the odour.
Then, we booked another apartment – Apartment Louis Pasteur; the owner – I later found out – had left to Bucharest and forgot to unlist her place.
Do yourself a favour and skip the locations specified above when planning your stay in Cluj.
We managed to find the Deluxe Apartment at Hotel Biscuit free, in the end [Cluj was booked 77% accommodation-wise for our dates]. It was ok, but a bit impersonal, not sufficiently kept for [i.e. it looked better in pictures], and the noise was horrific [we could hear everything from the street to our neighbouring rooms]. 

The good things
Were there any? As in every situation, yes!
Just outside Cluj, Feleacu Slope offers beautiful vistas of the city especially at sunrise and/or sunset.
Feleac Hill
BonBon Candy must be on your list when you visit Cluj, as it boasts an impressive ‘collection’ of sweets from which you’ll have a hard time choosing. Plus, every single item is so kindly and beautifully wrapped!
No breakfast could be better or lighter in vibe than the one at Nuka. I’ve really fallen in love with this place, its design, personnel, history, dishes, and colours!
Turda Salt Mine – although a mass tourism element – is an impressive place. Not as authentic as Praid Salt Mine [I liked this one better], but you’ll get your wows.
Turda
To conclude, if in the area, go for a traditional brunch/lunch at Sarea-n Bucate. And don’t forget to try their Black pancakes. You’ll thank me for that.
...and well, I got to finally see the tomb of Michael the Brave, my favourite historical figure, in the courtyard of Mihai Vodă Monastery. If you admire him, too, you’ll feel honoured to get there.

The supernatural things
The reason for our Cluj visit was Hoia-Baciu Forest, that place that frequently tops the supernatural charts worldwide. I’ve flirted with the supernatural myself on a number of occasions, so I wanted to see and understand. There was an eerie sound right before the start of our walk in the woods resembling a helicopter sound and then... nothing out of the ordinary. Except for yellow leaves dancing and making you dizzy, like when you dive into turquoise clear water. No strange sensations, no creepy vibes, no real sense of danger... though the trees seem very old and secretive. The tension, the sudden fights, the strange findings, and your bizarre dreams AFTER you leave the forest make you indeed wonder if they are somewhat related to your visit. Either way, this forest seems pretty misunderstood to me. Has anybody ever wondered that it might actually be good and not evil?
In Hoia-Baciu Forest

In the end, I’ve given Cluj a second chance (after 2009) and it didn’t work out. C’est la vie. So I’m looking forward to other realms.

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