Romanian adventures pt.2

After getting impressed by Romania first time this July, I got a chance to see it again. It's north part didn't change much, cold weather got even colder, but experience was also incomparably better.

Cluj Napoca
St. Michael's Church with statue of king Mathias
It all started with early arrival to Cluj, where we got to spend the whole day. Once reaching the train station, we head off to city centre and started our exploration. From famous sights of universities and cathedrals, to amazing architecture on random buildings we felt that city has it's special charm and were impressed by it's diversity.

National opera house

Botanical garden
One of the well mentioned things to visit was botanical garden. My friend and I half-priced our way in with our fake students IDs. After enjoying roses and statues around the entrance, Japanese garden with lake and glass house with palms, we eventually found it's ''main attraction'', the view tower. Once we made our way to the top over it's funny inside and outside placed staircase, the view was beyond everything we could expect.... All the trees around seemed to be higher, and the leaves turning their colours to autumn ones were the most we could enjoy.

In the evening we set of to not so comfortable bus journey towards Bukovina and in the early hours arrived to Vatra Dornei, which was our final destination and the place of our visit.

We've been staying at a very lovely pension, with amazing big garden, where you could find so many entertaining things: big playgrounds, places to play different sports, whole collection of trampolines, hammocks and swing benches, little houses with tables or human size chess, pond, swimming pool with sauna and even, my favorite, zip line over the river.

Mountain hiking
On a beautiful sunny day we got ourselves into untouched nature and hiked over the 12 Apostoles route. Beside all the amazing sights, the real ''cherry on the top'', or in this cake ''rock on the top'' were literally several meters high rocks on which you could climb to expand your view all the way to horizont.

Beer festival
Since beer festival was just taking place in town, it would have been a shame to miss it. What we expected to be just a leisure afternoon spend in a good company at the town park, turned out into much more permanent memory, since two of our guys proved themselves to be amazing musicians, and we all ended up singing on the stage.

During our free afternoon hours we were encouraged to join Mother Flower project and collect some of the trash laying by the river. Even thought place didn't seem very dirty at first sight, we soon ran out of bags not even getting that far. But the feeling of doing something good was still amazing.

School lesson
On our second visit in town we've spend the morning in one of local school, where we prepared an interactive lesson for pupils of age 11 and over. Most of them seemed to be really amused by this difference in their day and were even seeking our contacts to stay in touch later.

Flash mob
In the spirit of our cleaning session we created a flash mob in which people were challenged to pick up empty bottle lying on the street and ''see what happens''. Whenever somebody did so, we, the random passers by, gathered around them clapping and cheering.

paintbrush factory
Bit more then a week after, we returned to Cluj, where I planned to have few more days of adventure.
It's started with proper city tour and then visit to what is now a modern arts place, called Paintbrush factory. When we successfully found our way to the sight where once the brushes were produced, we were given a short tour around currently exhibited art pieces.
And the best part: rooftop terrace, covered with sand and containing different sitting bags, in which we managed to catch few hours of precious sleep on the sun.

Shisha bar
After diner it was time for night walk trough the city center and visit to Samsara chillout teahouse, an amazing shisha bar. Beside super affordable prices (each of us gave only 1€), we were able to enjoy amazing atmosphere decorated with mosaic lamps and one very special room of underwater feeling.
On the 'last day' we took a short bus ride to Turda, where you can visit an old salt mine. Passing trough initial corridor, we were certainly impressed by black and white patterned walls (that of course tasted salty), and had so much fun sending voices into echo cave.
But it wasn't until we entered the main cave, that we got full impression of how majestic this place is. Descending in a panoramic elevator, passing the hanging lights that seemed like falling stars was a mesmerising feeling, hard to describe with words. 
Once down, we were able to find entertainment  from table tennis, bowling lines, pool and playground, to even a ferris wheel and a real lake, on which you can row around.

It was in the summer when I started thinking it's almost a miracle, that with all this running around I haven't missed a flight yet. And also, that when I do, it might not be due to misfortune, but rather to my conscious decision in abandon of mind when I'll decide to follow my heart. And that it's going to be from this country .
Today circumstances might have been different, but the basics stayed the same. And after the perfect day, came the perfect decision: I'm staying in Romania.

Finding lost heritage
inside the synagogue
By the next day I was back to Vatra Dornei. This time we discovered the town from a different point of view, visiting abandoned buildings, such as synagogue, grand German hotel, former school and the most famous casino. These once amazing examples of architecture and craftsmanship faced sad ravages of time and are left to face their own faith.
abandoned synagogue
After the tour we were escorted to town hall, where we met with mayor and some other officials and specialists of the topic, to discuss future plans around these abandoned architectural jewels. We could all settle for conclusion that will and the way are two very different sights.
abandoned German hotel
Hiking at Varful Ousoru
The second hiking route started by going in completely opposite direction, heading up north the valley. After initial ascent we reached the top of ridge, from where we had various views over flat lands and settlements below.
The bravest of us continued all the way to the peak of Ousoru, and were, on our way back, rewarded by some really magical sunset.

During our last visit and walk trough Vatra Dornei, we just couldn't resist the temptation and get a closer sneak pick of the casino. I need to admit that interior was way disappointing at first glance, but still, once we simply made our way inside trough missing doors, there was something enchanting and deep, walking between numerous columns that are now supporting ballroom from collapsing, looking at the stage from the balcony, discovering smaller rooms, getting our way up as much as possible and later loosing ourselves trough numerous rooms in the basement. It's true that today's soul of casino doesn't give much to impress, but I know I'd deeply regret if I'd leave without walking into this place.
On our last night we presented to each other our promotional video materials. After great hour of impression and laughter, there was a time to decide on what moved us the most. Lots of amazing works  were presented, but still somehow our short clip got the ''Oscar'' for best director (probably mostly based on the unnecessary speech of citing Pink Floyd I had after screening).
The parody movie, meaningfully named Romaniacs,  in which we tried to present society as blindly following sheep, was meant to remind people of the lost heritage and values that is worth fighting for.


  1. Romania is such a fascinating country. Thank you for showing us around.and teaching us about its history and present. Your projects sound fun.

  2. Interesting place! So many unusual things to see and learn while traveling

  3. Amazing adventure and the place seems so wonderful country.
    I love to saw the pictures, thank you for sharing this with us.


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