If you haven’t already, you might want to start from the top by reading the first in this Romania series.
Our second full day in Cluj started a little late. It was clear that we hadn’t quite recovered from the late arrival we had had to Cluj so we were still playing catchup with sleep. When we finally got underway, we headed towards the small town of Rachitele. The drive there took us about 1 hour and 20 minutes, mostly on good roads though there were portions were massive potholes to be wary about.
So why Rachitele? It seemed to be the closest entry point from Cluj into the Apuseni Mountains for us. Our first main stop here was the Bride’s Veil waterfall, so called because when the water freezes over in winter, it looks just like a bride’s veil.
If this is where you’re headed, know that from the first main sign you see pointing to the waterfall, you can continue to drive in past the initial residential dwellings which will save you from having to walk an extra 5km. Spring hadn’t quite sprung yet and we had to walk through slushy snow in the first part of the path leading to the waterfall itself. It wasn’t the most pleasant feeling to have water seeping into your shoes but the river beside the path was just lovely.
Past the waterfall, we continued walking up. Having started late in the day, we didn’t have a lot of time to be too ambitious, so we dutifully made our way to the next main checkpoint – Varful Lespezi. For those planning to do this hike, I’d say it is fairly easy, with just the final 200 metres or so changing to a steep incline. This is not really a problem going up, but more about the return journey to be wary of. The views of the limestone cliffs from the top are well worth it though! The walk from the waterfall to the top took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
After taking in the views for about 15 minutes or so, we left to make our way back down, just as droplets of rain started falling. By the time we were back in our car, it was starting to get a little dark, so we made the decision to head straight back to Cluj. Had it perhaps been earlier in the day, we might have tried driving further south to the bottom end of the Apuseni park, to check out the underground glacier cave, but alas, not this time.
We had booked dinner at the popular Samsara Foodhouse, a vegetarian / vegan restaurant in the centre of the Old Town. This was probably the longest menu I have ever seen in any vegetarian restaurant, with each page of food looking better than the last. I finally settled on a starter of raw bread with a variety of dips, a vegan burger and raw cakes for dessert (my favourite course). We liked this place so much that we decided to come back the following night (also because there aren’t a whole lot of restaurant options of vegans, especially if you’re looking for more traditional Romanian cuisine.
Next up, day 3 in Rimetea.