Previously you found us jumping from one place to another like crazy. Cancelled plans and bad luck left us with very little time to rest and just be, so we looked forward to the quiet week and a half of kitty-sitting that we expected to find in Cluj.
1. Photography: Architecture around old town, People in Central park.
2. Hunt alien lifeforms in the botanical garden.
3. The Central Cemetery.
4. Free live music concerts.
5. Arrange an event (Free Hugs).
Go on a food hunt.
Join\Create something in Casa de Cultura Permanenta.
We definitely took it slowly in town, not at all in a rush to reach touristic attractions or even wake up that early. But even on a quiet day we somehow ended up walking a lot, because Cluj is mostly flat, and it’s nice to just stroll about to get groceries or try out some restaurant. Also we don’t know how to a ride a bike. Yet…
So here are five plus things we enjoyed doing in Cluj-Napoca. A lot of chilling, cooking, reading and playing with cats not included 🙂
Photography around Old Town and Central Park
Our apartment happened to be conveniently close to the old city center and central park, so we walked by and through quite often. Even when we got too lazy to carry the real camera around, we spend there enough time to purposefully spend several hours finding interesting architectural compositions and watching for park people who occasionally make a lucky good frame.
Hunt for Alien Life Forms in the Botanical Garden
A local piece of forest and a many foreign species of plants, trees and aliens await you in the Cluj-Napoca Botanical Garden. Some were totally strange and exiting to discover, like the huge water lillies in one of the greenhouses, while the rest of the garden is a nice place to take a stroll, discover all the pathways, feed the ducks, or sit in the “Japanese” garden for a lunch stop. Entry fee is only 10 Lei, and is indeed worth the few hours we spent there.
The Central Cemetery (Hajongard Cemetery)
This cemetery is the resting place of many local VIPs, but that’s not we were after. As usual, the strange mausoleums, statues and half-erased crumbling tombstones are the real fun. While Bellu Cemetery in Bucharest had a high population of female angels to offer, Hajongard Cemetery is more into regular humans, most of which are solemn old men and sad-eyed youths.
Photographers: We found that morning was the better time to capture the best statues in a good light.
Free Live Music Concerts
The timing we got to Cluj is considered “low season” for night life, because all the students are out on vacation. And yet, we managed to catch: a live classical concert and international contest for the flute and clarinet; a Battle-of-the-Bands kind of event in a local undergroundish pub called La General; a mild jazz covers band in the gazebo at the Central park; a climb on the hill to watch and listen from afar to Depeche Mode who played in the local arena. Summer is also the time of huge festivals like Electric Castle and Untold, which are less our thing and actually cost money 🙂
Arrange an Event
If you have some extra time and there’s nothing of interest going on, why not create your own happening? Within a few days’ notice we created a Facebook event, posted in a few groups and sites, made a couple of makeshift Free Hugs signs and showed up to our own party. After that evening, Piața Unirii – the main square in the old town – seemed somehow more intimate. A little bit our own. When so many people open up to you, sometimes sharing a story or asking for ours, the world seems like a comfy friendly place. It’s a nice feeling, and it’s so easy to create… all you need is a sign and a smile.
Cluj is house to endless amounts of restaurants, cafes and hipster hangouts. At some point we decided on a semi-random piece of food we insisted on comparing between different places, and you could pick your own or continue our holy work 😛
Enigma – Kinetic Steampunk Cafe looked nice, but we didn’t stay long after admiring the décor. Maybe you can check the menu and let us know how it is.
Casa de Cultura Permanenta used to be a normal guesthouse up until a while ago. But Dan, the owner, decided that he’s tired of money economy, and now offers the place as a hub. If the space is free and you have an idea in the spirit of the house, you could probably create any sort of event or gathering there. It can be for art, dance, music, social events, or simply a place to find a free bed. The unusual atmosphere sometimes attracts interesting people, and occasionally a semi-permanent urban community is created.
So we spent our last three nights in Cluj in this magical place, and then again it was time to pack our bags and continue our journey. We geared up and headed to meet Marius, our ride and host in Maramures, our next destination.