If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my first post in this Cluj-Napoca, Romania series.
Sleeping in a little on Friday morning, we finally emerged from our rental flat at about 11.30am and headed to the Old Town to grab some brunch. Parking by the main square where St. Michael’s Church and the Matthias Corvinus Statue is located, we opted for the trendy Roots cafe, a place I would highly recommend.
I ordered the hummus and avocado on toast with a soya latte. Hearing that their fluffy pancakes were not to be missed, we order 2 portions for dessert. No regrets. This place would’ve fit in well in hipster Shoreditch in London, and is representative of the new generation of foodies coming out of Cluj-Napoca (commonly known as just “Cluj”), the 4th most populous city in Romania.
After a long and lazy brunch (the staff were in no hurry, and neither were we), we wandered along the streets, popping in and out of stores (mostly distracted by the local pastries strategically displayed in glass windows).
It was around 1.30pm at this time and we figured we’d make a start with exploring some of the surrounding towns around Cluj, starting with Turda. One of the main tourist attractions in this area is the Turda Salt Mine, one of the oldest salt mines in the world. Having now visited the mine, I have to say that despite its age, it is one of the most seemingly futuristic tourist attractions I’ve ever visited, with the underground theme park that now fills the space of the empty mines. If you’re planning to drive there like we did, it takes just under an hour to get there.
All in all, I’d say it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area, but be prepared for heavy crowds and noisy children milling about the mini-golf and ping pong tables. I rather enjoyed reading about the history and construction of the mines, but wish there was more English information available through the attraction.
Back out in daylight, with a couple of hours left before sunset at 8pm, we drove to the nearby Turda Gorge for a nature walk. This is a well-known trail, but there doesn’t seem to be much information about it. If you’re planning to drive here to trek through the Turda Gorge, what you need to do is park your vehicle in the Turda Gorge Parking, then walk to the entrance of the gorge about 5 minutes away (it’s not formally sign-posted).
The walk started innocently enough (we wanted to go towards the head of the gorge), but felt a little too perilous for our liking about an hour in. It had just been raining before we set off, which made the path muddy at times, but also extremely slippery where there were rocks. I had trail runners on, but these were not sufficient, and we decided not to chance it with the potential for falling into the river in one wrong step being a real possibility. A bit of a shame, but no big deal I guess. 😀
The sun was starting to set by the time we made it back to our car, so there was nothing much left to do but to head back to Cluj for dinner and rest. Day 2 shenanigans in Romania coming up in my next post soon!