May 24, 2023 Cluj RO

Today we headed into the city center of Cluj to check out the second largest city in Romania. The campground we are staying in is located about 15 minutes from the main bus and Tram line down town so we were in the city in about 30 minutes.

A memorial to the local Hungarian hero in front of the Catholic Church.

The center had a couple of nice churches and the standard monuments to local heroes both Romanian and Hungarian as this city has gone back and forth between the two countries over its history. Today the city is about 20% Hungarian.

The memorial to the local Romanian hero in front of the Orthodox Church.

We enjoyed walking around, but Cluj is more than just a tourism oriented city. It is the unofficial capital of Transylvania and the feel is much more commercial than historical. There is a major university in the center so the crowds were young and moving quickly as they had things to do.

The opera house. I am not sure what style architecture this is but it is fun to look at.

After a couple of hours we noticed the sky was darkening up fast so we decided to hop on the bus and head back to the campground. It turns out we should have made the decision 15 minutes earlier. Just as we stepped off the bus, the first big drops of rain began falling. Before we walked 100 yards sheets of extremely heavy rain began, I told Ton that maybe we should jump into a bakery nearby and wait out the rain, but we decided to keep going. A couple of minutes later the lightning started and the heavy ran became an inundation. At this point there was nothing to do but put our head down and get to François as fast as possible. In the 15 minutes it took us to walk back we were soaked to the bone. It was one of the heaviest rains I have ever seen.

Another church that blends into the block.

The rest of the afternoon was spent organizing the interior of François to hang our dripping clothes, shoes, and back packs. Ton did that work as well as wringing out all of our clothes before hanging them.

The main square in Cluj.

We had plans in the evening to meet our friend Ovi’s cousin who lives here for dinner. She has been texting us places we should visit and recommending restaurants we should visit in the towns we have been traveling in Romania, so we were looking forward to meeting her in person.

A recent monument to Romulus and Remus commemorating the link between Rome and Romania.

The storm had caused some disruption in the city causing minor flooding and turning traffic into chaos so dinner was in question. But as the afternoon wore on the rain stopped and the skies cleared up. Tania lives pretty close to the campground so instead of meeting them in the center of the city we decided to meet in a neighborhood restaurant a little later.

A bustling town square without the tourist amenities.

Tania and her family were a great treat. Her husband Dacian is a university professor and she has two lovely well behaved children. The boy was 8 years old and very eager to speak English with me. His vocabulary, and sentence structure was good, and his American sounding accent was nearly perfect. He and I had good fun and he gave me a Romanian lesson as well, I don’t think I was as good a language student as he is.

We really enjoyed their company and learned a lot about life in Romania. They share our love of travel and we spoke about their travels in Greece and Italy, and their hopes for the future for both themselves and their kids. They were even kind enough to walk most of the way back to the campground with us so we could continue to enjoy chatting together. It was a wonderful evening.

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