I just launched my online journal in Romanian. I decided a try would be useful.
If you want to read and express your views, you're welcome, my friends.
The link was also added to the blogroll.
I arrived in Cluj on Sunday evening, after a very long journey starting on Saturday evening, continuing with a stop on Sunday morning somewhere on a mountain top between Vâlcea and Sibiu and ending with 150 miles of road on Sunday afternoon.
The reason of my coming here was refiling my batteries, as I am really really tired and I could stand no longer Bucharest.
You can get to Cluj Napoca by car, obviously, by train or by plane. Going by train is frustrating - it takes almost 10 hours to get to Cluj from Bucharest (and I must express my amazement that, on Saturday, it took me 7 hours to get to Sibiu, which is less than 300 kilometers north of Bucharest, by train. A ratio of 40 kmph. No comment.). By car, coming from Bucharest, it is frustrating again, because of the underdevelopment of the national roads. By plane would be better, especially if you come from abroad. The airport is quite nice and very close to the city.
Places to see? Yes, there are a few. Basically, the center, but also the Belvedere hill (with wonderful panoramas of the city) and the Botanical garden. I also enjoyed the bridges over the river Someş and the main park nearby. I went to the elegant National Theater and Opera House, and assisted to a good performance of Carmen by Georges Bizet (with the observation that the French spoken on stage could have been better). However, the singing and, from my point of view, especially the orchestra, were very good.
On an easier note, the choice of pubs can take into consideration, but do not limit itself to, places such as: Toulouse, Diesel, Janis Cafe, Janis la Stuf, Demmers (if you like good tea) and Vertigo. A decent club is After eight. As for restaurants, the one I would recommend - and I thank the person who let me know about the place - is La Piazzetta. But I admit that I generally enjoy Italian kitchen, so that choice can be subjective.
After five days, I don't know if living in Cluj is better than living in Bucharest. Usually, it takes me a little to evaluate the place I see and the people who take part to the picture. Comparing to Bucharest, there is obviously more common sense here and people seem more civilized, but not more educated. However, when getting to know them better, they function just like the kind of people you can meet in Bucharest, keeping in mind that there is a sum of cultural differences which, from my point of view, are clearly fading away.
So, as a sort of conclusion to this rather short post, I would say, to my surprise, that I did not notice important differences between Cluj and the south of the country. People are running for their material interest, which is good mainly, but they seem to put a big emphasis on that. Somehow it was frustrating to listen to people talking only about money, even the students in the university library. I have enough of that kind of chat at home.
The photo gallery:
1-2. Janis Cafe - the library
3-4. the center square, with the cathedral and the statue of Matthias Corvinus
5. flower-shop. It was called "Casa cu flori", if I recall correctly.
6. Eroilor str.
7. side street
8. the stadium
9. the river Somes
10-11. After Eight club
12. the opera (well, a part of it)
13-14. views of the city from the Belvedere hill
15. Janis la Stuf. I loved the candles lying on the piano
Kindle your mind,
Although this picture was taken last night, the image was very familiar to me more than 20 years ago.
I used to spend a lot of my time in Bucharest as a child (meaning, generally, a few months a year), which explains why I never had a strong Transylvanian accent. Back at home, in northern Transylvania, I was asked where did I come from and why I pronounce words with a Bucharest accent.
Well, a lot of my time in Bucharest was spent next to the Parliament's Palace (back then, called "Casa Poporului"), in the yard - and the church - of a splendid monastery, called All Saints (picture to follow, btw), intentionally hidden by one of the blocks in the left of this picture. You know, religion was not welcome in the Bucharest of the '80s - dozens of splendid old churches of inestimable cultural value were completely destroyed at the time. On the very place you see now the Parliament Palace, six churches had this fate. And lots of others were translated behind blocks (All Saints monastery among them), and hidden from sights. So that you know why many beautiful things in Bucharest are so hard to spot - it was a intended Communist policy: war against the old, promotion of the Communist urban "accomplishments".
The boulevard was still in the making (I remember soldiers working at the pavement of the new sidewalks), and the palace was never finished until today (if you visit Bucharest, you can still see the cranes in the back of this huge building). The main differences, tough, between then and now, consist in the fact that back then it was much darker, as electricity was scarce in Communist Romania, and of course there were much less cars.
There are quite a few people appreciating the images of this city taken during nighttime (thank you, guys!). In a Communist Romania, it would have been impossible, if not unthinkable to take this sort of images, because of the darkness and the lack of electricity.
Kindle your mind.
The picture was taken back in 1987, if I recall properly, at the International Fair in Bucharest.
I liked that wheels, believe me, they were about 3 meters high. The truck itself - DAC 120 DE - was a curiosity and weighting about 100 tons, and was presented as a sort of a big realization of the Romanian industry at the time. 5 such trucks were exported to Australia, as far as I remember.
Imagine such a monster galloping at 50 miles per hour - its maximum speed. The back of the truck almost didn't get in the picture.
Of course, it was not a common thing to see in Bucharest, but for me it was one of the lasting memories, one of the trade-marks of the city, if you like.
PS. The blog celebrates today its 4th anniversary. Quite a performance, quite nice, don't you think, my friends? I'll celebrate this anniversary by attending a concert tonight. And I hope many years of good blogging on this very page still lie ahead. Being a blogger defines a part of who I am.
Our journey through the Bucharest of the 80s' begins with the presentation of the guide.
Our guide is a young, small - and a little scared - fellow, discovering (certain parts of) the big city while visiting his grandma and intimidated by the air of a metropolis - a city of more than 2,000,000 inhabitants even back then, during the 80's.
I chose to show this picture first because this little guy will show up in the vintage part of the voyage. The picture was taken back in 1984. I was four years old.
I loved that suite, by the way. It was mostly black and white, and combined with my blond hair, it worked wonders on women. Just kidding :)
Kindle you mind,