40 days in Cluj Napoca – review

[For Romanian version click here]

Because I had enough  of the  sadness and the feeling of a  dead city that  Constanta city offers outside of the summer season I decided to pack up  and try life Cluj Napoca – the capital of Transylvania . I visited the city before but only for the weekend period and I liked what I saw , and when I had  an opportunity I went to the car , filled the tank and  hit the road. Unfortunately  my living experience in  Cluj Napoca  was a bit short , I would have stayed there for about another two months but duty calls. I had good living conditions , we stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment with  a colleague , in  Mănăştur , the rent was 200 euros , and utilities somewhere around  400 RON per month ( not bad at all especially since it was cold outside ) splitted in 2 was not bad at all.
Let’s take it from the beginning , Cluj is very different from the rest of  Romania country , especially from the Balkan – gypsy atmosphere found south of the Carpathians. And I do not mean just the beautiful architecture of the city, but the people are friendly and civilized ( not much but still  ) from the rest of the country . The city is full of students, somewhere around  60,000 registered students , so  in relation to the city’s population comes around – 1 out of 5 people are young students , if you put the rest of the young people who came to the city attracted by well-paying jobs in IT , medicine and telecommunications the youth report will be probably even bigger. Everywhere you look there are young men and women , there is  a very high traffic both pedestrian and auto . Car traffic in the downtown area often   remembered me of the  one in Bucharest . All these young people working in the  industries listed above engages an incredible  services and entertainment industry , the number of cafes , bars , pubs , clubs are great for a city the size of Cluj, offering a large variety and good fun for almost every evening and night of the week . In general the city is active , as in Bucharest , you always find  a concert, an art exhibition , a flash mob or   outdoors  events.

Public transport has good points  , although a ticket costs 4 RON for 2 trips , there were made ​​serious investments in  trams , trolleys , buses , mostly new and good quality ( not cheap MAZ models ) , although there are still some old communist models running  , but still ,   RATUC ensure efficient transport and you rarely wait more than 10 minutes for the bus to come and some lines keep services running up to 1 am …. and surprise – there none of the famous Maxi Taxi vans with sardines here ! Also cycling is encouraged and there are special tracks , and a new system of park and ride your bike will soon be implemented ,  whose stations are already built throughout the city by authorities . Taxi  is expensive unfortunately , the prices were  recently  raised to 2.25 lei per km by day and 2.5 at night, but fortunately due to the geography of the city the clock rarely reaches more than 10 lei to the center. Another attractive  point for the  multinational companies and travellers is Cluj International Airport , which is just outside the city ( you can reach it by bus) , the airport is serviced by daily flights ,  big airlines such as Lufthansa and the lowcosts companies such  as Wizzair , providing direct connections to many destinations .

As I said earlier, the city is clean, green spaces are maintained , central park deserves applause for landscaping and renovation, it is a pleasure to walk in it. And it’s really easy to throw a paper in the trash bin  when you have bins on every second pole …. and those bins  are not broken or melted and are not full. Another impressive aspect that we will  probably never see  in  our region is the cleaning routine of the city ,each evening there are people sweeping the streets in large teams  supervised by a boss  , especially on sidewalks and many pedestrian areas and on the streets after passing a first car that sweep the roadway comes back a second tanker car behind which is a man with a hose in hand that spray jets cold water on both street and sidewalks.

Also tourism in  town is not bad , the well preserved historic center is quite large, although there is much room for improvement. In the of old city blocks are full  with cobblestone streets and old buildings, where they buried cables o , and the Austrian model of city planning is very good, usually consisting of a continuous line of buildings to the street, with passages that give way to the beautifully landscaped interior courtyards and the buildings have usually undergrounds with  arched ceiling , which usually feature underground pubs and clubs . In the perimeter of the old fortress there  are numerous cathedrals , churches, monuments , museums, including the gorgeous church of St. Michael in Union Square – the largest Gothic building in the country, the city hall , numerous palaces ( Szeky liked by me ) , bastion , and the city is situated on the hills that  offers some great views especially at night or at sunset on the hill of Cetatuia or on the shores of Somes Mic river that crosses the city . Cluj county and surroundings have much to offer , a few miles away where there is Feleac ski slope ; the mountains , lakes , dams and great roads around  Tarnita ; a superb ethnographic park with various wooden buildings of the region ; Salina Turda salt mine – MUST SEE ! ! ; just 100 kilometers is the beautifully renovated city of Alba Iulia and a little further you can see the  Corvin Castle in Hunedoara and many other smaller castles and fortresses which unfortunately I did not get to see them .  Sports fans will not be disappointed , there are plenty of great places for canoeing, climbing, hiking , mountain cycling tours . Football fans will be delighted, as two great teams play in the city, with two impressive stadiums as well. Cluj Arena stadium is the best and most modern but  CFR stadium offers through its location and design a beautiful view above the city.

So …. ,  from a drivers perspective i must complain about the city, I understand that the city hall chose to invest in other areas , but city boulevards and streets in general are in bad condition , bent and deformed , and therefore you kind of break you car there. There is  a serious need for new asphalt in the city,  from this point of view is better in Constanta . Another thing that I noticed : it’s quite a complicated city , as in Brasov there  are many one-way streets and avenues with many lanes, and if you don’t choose in time the lane  for the  desired direction you have to  make some huge loops to return to initial area …. but after you get to know the city it kind of makes sense . Another serious problem of the  city is the parking lots , where again I can say that is better in Constanta . You just don’t have any place to legally park your car , the only parking spaces are rented by the city hall  subscription based , and if you park your car on the sidewalk the local police will come and fine you. In Constanta if you park your car on the sidewalk but leave 1 meter free for pedestrians in accordance with the law you are ok , but in Cluj the city forbids it and will fine you very quick , even if the sidewalk has 5 meters wide.  A big plus however for the many multi-level parkings built by the city hall , big buildings of  6-7 levels,great  for the locals but instead for visitors cost somewhere around 18 RON per day , well who the hell will pay that much money for 10 days …..what about 40 days? ? ? And in the central area all the parkings lots have fees, i guess Romania is still active here.

Let’s get to people, so first of all I wish to  thank everyone who made ​​my life and evenings beautiful  there , I really had a nice time and I will never forget many moments and hope to see you soon. People are generally nice , I met and made ​​friends both Romanian and Hungarian , Bulgarian , Moldavian , Americans , Germans etc etc , the city is full of foreigners  that came to study at  college or to work in multi -national  companies , and citizens of different origins from the region.  They are much more friendly and talkative ( I’ve never heard all my life so many good day and good appetite cheers ), so guys  if you come to Bucharest and Constanta – do not think that we have something against you if we talk little and only the minimum necesary with a stranger , it’s just the way we are) . I met also some bad people , especially that of the local police fagots . I have not seen instead to many gypsies , stray dogs or local street corner cigarettes sellers  , I really need to complain against some Romanians there , who works on the taxi and some rags that you intentionally drop you beer in the club … and …… I really need make a big fucking complaint against  the Romanian Orthodox Church , and the idiots from the city hall  who let them do what they want , so just like in Constanta and the rest of Romania  , these people actually butcher parks and green spaces of the city to build some really ugly  megalomaniac things called cathedrals, to impose orthodox religion in the city. And in a city like Cluj Napoca , where one third of the population or more is of  another religion (usually Catholic or Protestant ) is just simply insulting to put out on the streets big speakers on a Sunday morning to force everyone to listen to the service of your religion . And when I say ugly megalomaniac Well no kidding , the best example in my opinion is  the Cathedral “St. Peter and Paul ” from Mănăştur , which was  built abusively  in the park, which presides over the surrounding towers of 9 floors  ! , Made especially to be taller than the old and gorgeous Calvary Catholic Church – located on top of the  nearby hill , and which is for more than 20 years  under construction , swallowing millions from  state budgets (meaning out taxes ) and which from  an architectural perspective is simply tacky and ugly … so it’s really bullshit. A beautiful city where I hope to return  , I know that there are other nice places but I can say it’s safe in top 3 favourite living destinations  if I had to choose where to live ( in Romania ) .

ps : I can confirm – Shawarma is still the best in Constanta 😀

Check out also my fb page Fb GarciaCalavera.ro  , where if you like what you see you can hit the like button.

Check out other trips: First 48 days in Marseille FranceRomania road trip across the country in 7 days , Budapest Hungary road tripPrague – dream vacationExcursion Dobrogea: Enisala, Ibida, HistriaVacation Madrid SpainTwo days in Jacksonville USAParalia – Greece road tripBrasov 12.2014Buzau quick stopLepsa & Vrancea countyChisinau city breakNessebar BulgariaBucharest weekends 2014 , Busan Korea40 days in Cluj NapocaHunedoara CastleSingapore 2013Brasov 02.2014 , Istanbul 01.2014 , Cluj Napoca 08.2013 , Sibiu 07.2013San Pedro-Ivory Coast , Bucharest 2013 , Varna 2012 , Los Angeles 2012 , Budapest & Viena trip , Salerno Italy , Cluj Napoca 2012 , Florence Italy , Brasov 02.2012 , Amsterdam , Antofagasta-Chile, Valencia Spain , Lima-Peru , Bremen Germany , Istanbul 2009 , Valletta Malta , San Juan-Puerto Rico , Barcelona Spain , Singapore 2010 , Los Angeles 2010 , Transilvania road trip , La Spezia , Bosphorus by ship , Sydney , Melbourne Australia , Auckland New ZealandSan Francisco USATauranga NZ

Alternative tourism: Detroit , Georgia , Burning gate of Turkmenistan , North Korea , Pripyat & the alienation zone   , Nouadhibou graveyard

How the other half lives :  KarachiGuayaquil  , Lagos

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