Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Public Holidays 2010 - 2011

There are a number of public holidays in Romania. On these days the shops, museums and attractions often close earlier, and some stay closed the whole day. Schools, city councils, post offices and banks are closed the whole day.

01 January            New Year's Day
02 January            New Year's Day
04 April                Easter
05 April                Easter
01 May                Labor Day
23 May                Pentecost
24 May                Pentecost
15 August            St. Mary
01 December       National Day
25 December       Christmas
26 December       Christmas


01 January            New Year's Day
02 January            New Year's Day
24 January            Reunification of Wallachia and Moldavia
24 April                Easter
25 April                Easter
01 May                Labor Day
12 June                Pentecost
13 June                Pentecost
15 August            St. Mary
01 December       National Day
25 December       Christmas
26 December       Christmas

Saturday, June 26, 2010

University of Arts and Design - Graduates' Exhibition 2010

From 27 June till 6 July you are invited to the exhibition of bachelor and master graduates from University of Arts and Design. More than 3000 items will be staged in 300 personal exhibitions and 30 collections from Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Arts, Conservation - Restoration, Photo - Video - Image Processing, Art - Education, Ceramic - Glass - Metal, Textile Arts and Design.

The opening ceremony will take place this Sunday, June 27, from 6 pm, at Expo Transilvania Showroom.

How to get there from city centre:
By trolleybus: 4, 6, 7
By bus: 8, 30, 46B

Expo Transilvania

Cluj Rally - UPDATE, 26 June

Cluj Rally 2010 is over. The cars are back in town!

The boys are back in town, some of them enjoying a coffee and a smalltalk.

Someone is still connected to the race or is already dreaming about the next round.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cluj Rally, 25-26 June 2010

The rally championship season started in April and Cluj Rally is also included by the Council of the Romanian Federation in the list of the eight rounds of driver internal competition.

Cluj Rally is the 4th round of the National Rally Championship and this year 44 teams subscribed to the competition which will take place on 25 and 26 June.

The ceremonial start takes place today, at 8pm sharp, in Unirii Square.

Photo courtesy of Gabi Tomescu.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cabbage and Pod House in Cluj

Today, we had our lunch at "Cabbage and Pod House" on 37 Eroilor Street. They have only 7 tables inside but there is extra space outside, on the terrace.

When we stepped in I had the feeling of going back in time. The place looks like during my childhood and this was a good sign! They still have the "banner" on the mirror but the rabbit is not there anymore (les connaiseurs know what rabbit I'm talking about).


Of course we ordered the specialty of the house. No, no, it has nothing in common with Alfred Hichcock, it was just a very tasty portion of  "Cabbage a la Cluj" (Cabbage from Cluj).

As for dessert we had an enormous Vargabeles, a Hungarian "noodle pie" with sour cream, eggs, raisins and sugar.

So...today we run with the hare and hunt with the hounds!

Price list:
Cabbage a la Cluj (300 g) = 7.5 RON
Vargabeles (200 g) = 4 RON

Singular Art-Fest in Casa Matei Gallery

You must visit Singular Art-Fest until June 30th at Casa Matei Gallery in Cluj Napoca.

Singular Art-Fest, a novelty for Romania, is Laurentiu Dimisca's project.

The rain stopped

After several days of heavy rain, light rain, depressive rain and thunder storms, last evening the rain stopped.

The surroundings of Cluj and the railway are under water. But there is hope of dryer times.

It's good seeing the sun in the morning!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Matthias Corvinus House

In the Mehffi House of Cluj (later known as "Matthias House"), Elisabeth Szilagyi, the wife of John Hunyadi, gave birth to the couple's second son, Matthias. According to a document written several generations later, Matthias was born on the ground floor of the building, in the first room on the left of the Gothic door which can be seen even today.

In the 16th century, when the Cluj cult of the great king was full revival, the room was marked with an inscription whose text survives in a 1758 transcription "Matthias, of fond memory, by the grace of God King of Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, and Croatia, son of the late ruler John Hunyadi, was born here, in this room, in the third hour of the morning of March 27, in the year 1444, served his country faithfully and ruled happily until the end of his life".

In 1467 Matthias Corvinus showed his affection to the house in which he had been born by exempting its owners from ever paying taxes and other duties. This exemption, which turned "Matthias House" into a coveted piece of real-estate, was sanctioned and respected by later kings and princes.

Matthias Corvinus felt a strong connection to his native town. He made significant donations to Cluj, among them the royal borough of Cojocna. His decisions of 1467, 1478, 1485 encouraged the serfs who had paid by their obligations to their masters to take up residence in town. He also intervened in the conflict between the town and the abbey of Cluj-Manastur, forcing the latter to dismantle its walls in 1466.

One of the best-known and most popular historical legends of Cluj, found in Gaspar Heltai's chronicle, features Matthias as its main protagonist. Allegedly, Matthias came to Cluj incognito, disguised as a travelling student, seeking to find out how the town authorities were treating the citizens. Because he protested against the abuse perpetrated against free men, the town magistrate had him whipped and forced him to carry firewood to his household. Legend has it that Matthias took a lump of coal and wrote the following on three logs found in the magistrate's yard: "King Matthias was here! Where has justice gone?". Released at dusk, the king returned to his camp in Gilau. The following day he returned to town, this time at the head of his army, punished the town magistrate and ordered the strict observance of the laws which forbade the abusive exploitation of the labor of free men.

Nowadays, The University of Arts and Design promote the contemporary art in the cellars of the Matthias House. Students and graduates have the opportunity to exhibit their best creations here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Demmers teehouse in Rhedey palace

If you want to taste, drink or buy a good tea, while visiting Cluj-Napoca city center, you should stop at Deemers, in Rhedey palace, no. 9 Unirii Square. The atmosphere is nice and you can choose from a large variety of quality tea.

The shop assistants can help you choose your flavor.There are some free tea samples you can taste.

Cookies are waiting in the fridge. Taste them with a good tea!

Take a seat in the window, look at the people passing by and enjoy the view.

You can also pick a nice gift, maybe a teapot, chocolate, honey, biscuits or candies for your friends or yourself.

This is to remember old times, when Deemers was next to Victoria Cinema.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Funny meetings

Just before the evening rain I met Che. He was a little bit tired...but he will be "until always" (hasta siempre:-D) just another happy dog. 

After the rain started I met two people belonging to the Strange Hat Society. Yeah, blame it on the rain!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What to do this Saturday in Cluj - go to The Paint Brush Factory

If you do not know what to do today in Cluj I suggest you should go to the Paint Brush Factory. Actually, you should move there till morning, tomorrow morning.

If you like homemade and cookies be there from 1 pm.

If you just want to enjoy short but very good movies be there for The Long Night of Short Movies from 9pm.
See you there!

Back from Paradise Lost

I didn't know what to expect from the exhibition. I didn't try to imagine Anything that could compose her Paradise Lost nor to remember Anything from mine but Everything was there. There were the dreams, the friends, the sun, the shadows, the trains, the times when we all were fearful, unconcerned, serene, faithful, confident but also absorbed, confused, curios and lost among or behind all the Things.

Please, allow me to introduce Elian and a part of her, your, my Paradise Lost. 

Elian was simply flowing in her Paradise!

Photo courtesy of Sanziana Craciun.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer in the city

Here is my confession: I started to write a personal development book about how to cool yourself without air conditioning. Yes, too much heat could be hazardous to the health of nincompoops!

I'm joking, of course! It seems that these hot summer days damaged my sense of humor.

Here are some spots in the city centre where you can cool yourself a little bit.

Water pump - Unirii Square

Fountain - Unirii Square

Fountain - Eroilor Street

"...hot summer streets and the pavements are burning...the air is so heavy and dry..."

Friday, June 11, 2010

A walk through Cluj-Napoca city center

If you are in Cluj-Napoca and the weather is fine, you should spend some time walking and enjoying the atmosphere of the city.

I always enjoy a walk in the city center (in any season). A good place to start is Museum's Square. Continue with Casa Matei Corvin, then go to Unirii Square. You will see the statue of Matei Corvin and St. Michael Catholic Cathedral. From there, go to Kogalniceanu Str. also known as Wolves alley. At the end of the street you will see the Reformed Church and Tailors' Tower, remains of medieval Cluj. Close to the tower, in front of the Orthodox Cathedral and National Theatre, you can enjoy the musical fountain, a quite new addition to our city center.  Then you can rest or have a drink on Eroilor street.

Cluj city center map
Some years ago I particularly enjoyed the fragrant linden trees on Eroilor street, in summer. Those old trees are gone now, but there are many left on Wolves alley.

Have a nice walk!

Insanely delicious things you shouldn't miss in Cluj-Napoca

I like to stop in late afternoon for a dessert accompanied with a most generous tea. If I could tell travellers to Cluj-Napoca one thing that will improve their culinary experience, it's to chill out and try some desserts.

If  you are coming to town, here are some of my favorite places to get something really good to eat as a dessert. 
  • Amadeus Mozart Cafe: my favorite Schwarzwalder KirschTorte;
  • Bistro Viena:  Sacher Torte - chocolate cake, Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce;
  • Club Italia: Panna Cotta;
  • Corso Cafe and Bistro: Floating Islands, Somloi;
  • Euphoria: Tiramisu
  • Quo Vadis - Poppy Seed Cake; Brownie;
  • Viena Restaurant: famous imperialist dessert - Kaiserschmarrn - teared pancake with stewed plums.

Gosh, I could keep going and going and going.
If there's anything I left out, if you have anything to add, let me know in the comments. What are some of your favorite desserts to eat in Cluj-Napoca?

I'm ready, for dessert!

P.S.: In all these places, expect the classics done right.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A place you shouldn't miss in Cluj if you are hungry

What does rocketry and space flight has in common with shawarma? As far as I know nothing...but in Cluj you can eat one of the best shawarmas on Hermnan Oberth street:-)

If you want to see Clujeni eating something messy on the street, with far more flair that I can muster, head over to Hermann Oberth Street, in the city centre. Order at the window, and be sure to ask for extra sauce piquant if you know what's good for you. Then retreat with your sandwich to some doorway to chow down. If you want to sit down, you can go on Eroilor Street and sit on the bench but I recommend you to go a little bit far and sit on Kogalniceanu Street in  front of the Reformed Church.

Cost: small (read big) shawarma = 7 RON, big (read huge) shawarma = 9 RON

Still, you cannot come to Cluj and not eat a shawarma at Istanbul. It just isn't done!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Communication and money matters

What currency is used in Romania, Cluj-Napoca, and where can you change or withdraw money? How much should you tip in bars? How can you call home? And where can you surf the web?

Romanian currency
The currency of Romania is the LEU (symbolised as RON) with subdivision BAN. Other currencies are normally not accepted, so be sure to change euro,dollars, etc. at one of the currency exchange offices located throughout the city. More and more shops and restaurants in Cluj-Napoca accept credit cards, but not all. It is therefore recommended to either ask before you order or ensure you have a sufficient amount in cash to cover the bill.

Beside the coins and banknotes shown in the above picture there is also the 200 and 500 RON banknotes.

General opening hours
Shops are open from Monday to Friday, 10am to 8pm. Saturdays 10am to 6pm. Some supermarkets stay open until 10pm on week nights. Most businesses operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. Banks are open weekdays only, between 9am and 5pm. Headquarters are also open on Saturday from 10am to 1pm. Post offices are open weekdays between 7am and 1pm and 1:30pm and 8pm. The main post office on Regele Ferdinand 33 is also open Saturday from 8am to 1pm.

There are not so many local telephones card-operated in town. The international access code to call abroad from Romania is 00, plus the code of the country you wish to call. When calling Cluj-Napoca from abroad, dial 0040 (for Romania) and 264 (for Cluj-Napoca).

If you are the guest of a hotel, you can often use their wireless internet. And more and more cafes are now also offering wireless internet, which you can access with your own laptop. Some places offer this service free of charge, while in others you have to pay.

It is not customary to tip for taxis but it is however customary to tip in restaurants and bars. As a general rule tipping between 5 - 10% is acceptable.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Best ice cream in Cluj

I'm not mad about ice cream and I don't like the usual flavors (vanilla or fruity), in fact I hate artificial flavors. I usually eat chocolate ice cream because it tastes less artificial then others. 

My relationship with ice cream changed when, a year ago, I discovered Bistro Viena near Casa Matei

Because they didn't always had chocolate, I dared to try other flavors and I was amazed. Now, my favorites are pistachio and coconut. I also like chocolate and limoncello and I'm sure that the other flavors are just as good.  
Bistro Viena is the place where I've tasted the best ice cream in Cluj-Napoca.
Prices: 1 scoop = 2.5 RON, 2 scoops = 4.5 RON, and so on...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Traveller to Cluj - by bike

Today I met Peter, twice. He's a Dutch man who proudly travelled on the back of his favorite bicycle, The Traveller, from Wien to Cluj. Already sunburned, he was enjoying the afternoon in the city centre, just arriving from Turda. Peter rode his bike about 1000 km in 14 days, from Wien through Balaton, Szeged, Arad and ended his trip in Cluj. What a bike tour! He owes this trip to a dear friend who was born here. We talked about travelling, life, Transylvania, Nederlands...He'll go back by train and will be back in Romania for a trip to the Black Sea. Vaarwel, Peter!

I suppose you also prefer to explore the city with the freedom of your own transport, don't you?! Bikes become more and more popular choices in town but there are few possibilities to rent your own bike in Cluj-Napoca.

Be careful not to get your wheels stuck in tramlines and always lock up your bike to something secure and immovable. Also, follow any instructions from the vendor to park and lock-up the bike in authorized locations only.

DownTown Rent a Bike,on 13 David Ferenc Street, is a bicycle rent business in the centre of Cluj-Napoca. The company rents 8 city bikes and 4 MB, by now.
1h = 7 RON
24h = 35 RON
helmet/24h = 10 RON

UmiBike Snow, on 12 I.C. Bratianu Street, also rents bikes, but they said that they intend to close their business in the near future, so give a phone call before, 0740-074851.

Long Night of Short Movies at Paint Brush Factory

If you are in town on June 19, from 8pm, go to the Paint Brush Factory for the Long Night of Short Movies.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pools and Wellness in Cluj-Napoca

Don't pretend to be tired! Go to swim or enjoy the wellness.

Politehnica Swimming Complex - indoor and outdoor pool
Horia Demian Sport Complex, Splaiul Independentei
Phone: 0264-307884

Fee: 16 RON
Monthly fee: 190 RON

Monday-Friday: 6am - 4 pm, 6pm - 10pm
Saturday, Sunday: 7am - 7pm

How to get there: bus 30, tram 101
The outdoor pool is closed from 1 September to 15 June.

Universitas Swimming Complex - indoor pool
Iuliu Hatieganu Park
Phone: 0264-405346

Fee: 15RON/1h, 20RON/max 3h, 30RON/more than 3h
Monthly fee: 220 RON

Monday-Friday: 6am - 10pm
Saturday, Sunday: 10am - 10pm

How to get there: bus 30, tram 101

Sun Swimming Pool - outdoor pools
1 Decembrie 1918, Grigorescu neighborhood
Phone: 0264-420363

Fee: 10 RON/adult, 5 RON/child

Monday-Saturday: 9am-7pm

How to get there: bus 27/28/30
You can play ping-pong, tennis and football.

Aquina Wellness - Spa Centre
28-30 Andrei Saguna, in the city centre
Phone: 0264-403169

Fee: 25 RON/hour

You can enjoy: pool, steam bath, hammam, jacuzzi, sauna, salt mine.

Opera House and National Theatre of Cluj

The Romanian Opera House of Cluj, established on 19 September 1919, is the oldest such institution in the country. Led by outstanding musicians such as the tenor Costantin Pavel, the Italian conductor Egisto Tango, composer Tiberiu Brediceanu, and baritone Dimitrie Popovici-Bayreuth, in the space of a few short months it managed to overcome the difficulties inherent to the debut of such an undertaking. During its nine decades of activity, the Cluj Opera House presented performances by reputed artists such as Lia Hubic, the "Transylvanian nightingale", and Ioan Piso.

The National Theatre of Cluj, founded by one of the greatest Transylvanian actors, Zaharia Barsan, is the major theatrical institution of Transylvania and one of the most prestigious in Romania. The inaugural performance of Cluj Theatre took place on 1 December 1919. Since the year 2000, under the directorship of critic Ion Vartic, its repertoire has featured interesting plays by classic and modern, Romanian and foreign playwrights, staged by major directors like Vlad Mugur, Mihai Maniutiu, Sanda Manu, Mona Chirila, Andrei Serban.

Opera House

Friday, June 4, 2010

Paradise Lost by Elian

I do not remember when I first met Elian but I do remember that I saw her many times in town. She was a presence!
I lost her track for some years then as if by magic I met her at a funky party and we started to talk about travelling.

Yesterday evening, while rushing to Cinema Victoria to see "La bel age" I bumped into her. She gave me an invitation to her new exhibition about "la bel age" of childhood.

Paradise Lost is the childhood defined as a spot in the paradise where we have been banned from.

On 10th of June, from 1pm to 6pm, you are invited to the building site of St. Joseph's Cathedral, Cipariu Square. The opening and the closing will be on the same day.
Professor Aurel Codoban will introduce Elian to the public.

Getting around by taxi

If you don't like Cluj public transport (which is very crowded sometimes) you can get around by taxi. There are may taxis and quite enough taxi companies in Cluj Napoca. Taxi stations are situated near major public transport stations and near all points of interest. All taxi companies have the same fees, 1.79 RON per km + 1.79 RON start fee. After 10 pm the fee is 1.99 RON per km.
Usually, a day ride (before 10 pm) from one of Cluj neighborhoods to city center costs around 10 RON. All prices are showed on the car door. So, please look at the prices when you get on the taxi, because there may be some taxis (we call them "sharks") which practice much higher fees. The "sharks" usually stand at the Railway Station or at the Airport.
You can always call for a taxi when you want to get somewhere in time. The main taxi companies are: Napoca (call 0264953), Diesel (call 0264946), Pritax (call 0264942), Nova (call 0264949).

TIFF is still in town

"...you feel that the authors are expressing something that they actually lived..."

TIFF at noon, Cinema Republica

TIFF in the evening, Cinema Victoria
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