Off to Cluj
Up and ready to go for the third. Our only problem is we have no idea on where to go. WE had looked for tourist information, and walked the street it should have been on with no sight of it. The Wifi at our pension didn’t exist, even though it was advertised, and we are a bit clueless at the moment. There are things we want to see here, but don’t know where they are yet! Great organisation as usual.
At the station, we checked for Cluj, a big city about 150km from here. Finding out the price it was 47Lei each ($15!) and the direct IC train will take almost three hours. The local train is over four hours! Its 150km! Still, debating what we could do, we need internet at least and a good tourist info to give us some ideas. Cluj is our best bet. We could have caught a minibus north, but that leaves us in the same predicament.
So, on the train and off we go…
We made it to Cluj, and again there is nothing at the station to let you know anything. No, that’s not true, there is a map of town, and it has a tourist info I on it! We set out to find it. The town centre is a way aways from the station, and it took us a while to get there. Looking out for a place to stay on the way.
At Info, we got anything but. The guy is nice, but completely useless. He had no idea where hotels were, only knew two hostels and no pensions. He did look them up on bookers.com, which we already use, and could have done ourselves. He new nothing about town, area, region or country! We gave up on tourist info, and decided to make our own way. Stopping in at the hostel, we decided against it. It was pretty dodgy with second hand furniture, beds and mattresses. Not good.
Walking around the streets with our slowly dying bags, we couldn’t find anything. We saw that there was a big international film festival happening (tourist info hadn’t mentioned it, and it was BIG!). Checking into one of the hotels, we decided this has to change.
First we had to check out the city a bit. People here are fantastic, English is better than mine in a lot of cases, and everyone wants to help. Soon we had programs for the movies, outlines and recommendations. We also got a quick look around the city.
Back at the hotel, we were looking up couchsurfing.com. Having been members since 2005, it is still the first time since we used it! We found someone in Cluj that was willing to put us up for the night. Will see how it goes, but happy tomorrow is sorted and the guy seems very nice.
Cluj is the town where the Hungarian King Matei Corvin was born in 1443. It was an accident as his mother was passing through, so born in an inn. The future king never forgot this, so Cluj got a lot of recognition and benefits for this.
We were up fairly late, the weather was still around, so we just hung out, had a very crappy breakfast at the hotel (considering what we could have had for the same price elsewhere, we should have booked the room without breakfast!)
Alex turned up at 12:30, and we went out to lunch. He is working near the centre, and came around during his lunch break. Taking us to a nice little restaurant, we had a long talk over a good meal. The set lunches here are three course.
Alex was a great guy, easy to talk to, and apparently we passed the face-to-face, and after lunch we grabbed our bags, piled them into the car and headed to his place.
He has a very nice unit just out of down town as well, and we dropped off our bags. He was already late to go back to work, but we still had time to put on a load of washing! This was great, and much needed.
We left, and Alex went back to work. A nice walk into town, and we went around all the sites. Churches, walls, old buildings, you know, the usual. It started raining a bit, and we took refuge in a bikie bar. No one was there at this time of day, but we still managed to get a couple of drinks to wait out the rain. It was not as bad as we thought, and leaving after lemon beers (there are all sorts of cool beers here, lemon, cherry, grapefruit, etc) we walked up to the citadel.
There is nothing left of the citadel now, but a big three star hotel built on the site. Walking up the hill, there are lines of wells going down the hill. A bit different, and we have no idea what they were for. The top gives a good view out over town, and we sat there admiring the view for a bit. By now it was after six, and we started heading back to Alex’s. We had missed one of the best preserved watchtowers on the way in,and stopped by it. The building is quite impressive, and they have left a section of wall beside it. Not expecting it to be open, we walked around and found out that it still was. The space is now used as an exhibition area. At the moment there are a set of paintings done by one of the Art School graduates in the city. These are an interesting style, somewhat rough, but from a distance very good. Then there was a calligraphy exhibition upstairs.
After we made our way back to Alex’s, we ended up talking for a lot of the night. Unfortunately for him, he was trying to work as well. He does wedding photos, and had a batch that he was currently working on. I did admire the skill that he has though, and think that he is a very good photographer, along with his skills with lightroom (a program I will now have to learn, as it looks much better than photoshop).
Then a good nights sleep on the sofa bed. It was more comfortable than last nights hotel!
A great first experience with couch surfing, and a big thank you to Alex!