Uber in Cluj

January 24th, 2017

Last year, in the midst of the biggest festival of Cluj, Uber thought it would be a good idea to start its services here, too. Naturally, the demand was a lot higher than the local drivers could support, so Uber supplemented its drivers from other cities of Romania. Despite the small scandals that arose between local taxi companies and Uber, the initiative cought on and soon I also decided to try it out.

My first rides were small disasters, but I decided to overlook the fact, that the first few drivers had no idea where I was and went to completely different quarters to pick me up, after all, they were newbie drivers. It is true, that I never had such an issue with a local taxi driver, it did happen though, that Uber had a car to pick me up, while NONE of the local taxi companies could get me a car in a reasonable time. So, related to the ease of finding a ride, the local taxi companies do not have a clear advantage: after the first few hard pickups, the Uber drivers got the hang of it and could eventually pick me up in time regularly 😉 .

So what about price? Well, normally it is a bit more expensive than a taxi. There are, however, many promo codes, which reduced the price quite significantly… There is also, a minimum price you have to pay, no matter what. I’d say depending on where you want to go Uber can become much more expensive than a taxi.

So, why would I pay more for Uber? Well, for starters, I do not pay the driver (i.e. no cash involved), Uber simply charges my registered credit card, depending on the ride, the promo code or sometimes, the weather :). HUGE advantage for Uber, welcome to the 21st century, local taxi companies 😉 . Another reason why I’d pay more for Uber: the ride quality. On average it is miles better than a local taxi. I also found out why: Uber drivers do it for fun, taxi drivers do it cause they have to… imagine the difference in attitude.

Unfortunately, a couple of months ago the local authorities decided to interpret the law in a way which brough Cluj back to the 20th century: Uber is banned in the city. I mean, if there is something old and not working, why would we even try to change it? Really disappointed… this is not the city attitude I got used to in my 13.5 years living here… at least it should have been a wake-up call to taxi companies: it is possible to do MUCH better!


Check in

January 21st, 2017

Hi there. I believe it has been a while since I posted anything here. Not that I had such a boring year, not at all. In fact quite a lot has happened:

Basically, much of the stuff I learned this year was about construction materials and babies 🙂 … Also, I found out that whatever you learn about these things is quite specific, so I was not sure sharing it would help anyone…

So, traveling, the usual stuff I blog about, was the only thing I should have written about… Last year’s travels were a bit different though. Unlike before, they were 100% work related. And traveling for work does not really leave you time to check stuff out (especially if even the fun places are visited off-season). So, I know lots of new airports, lots of new places in Europe and the road between Cluj and Budapest which is something I now start to know by heart.

Keeping up the blog, in these circumstances seems therefore difficult… but not impossible 🙂 , I will simply have to MAKE the time 😉 .


One of the Islands

September 27th, 2015

Since the day we arrived, and actually before ever leaving Cluj, we knew, that we would visit one of the nearby islands while being in Split. According to the information available on the net, there are several islands, each with it’s own unique way of attracting tourists. Of course apart from what’s there, there is another thing which needs to be considered: ease of access within a day. After considering all aspects, we decided, that the best place to visit in our situation was Bol, on the island of Brac.
Brac Island
We chose this specific location, due to a specific beach: Zlatni Rat Beach. To get there, however, there are several things to consider: there is hourly ferry connection between Split and the island of Brac, but the connection is to the town of Supetar, which is exactly on the opposite side of the island. So, we needed to be sure, that once we get to the island, there is a means to get to our destination. Well, there is. Actually there are several possibilities: either get on the ferry by car (and then there is no issue on the other side), or hop on to the local bus which can take you to the other side within an hour. Oh, yes, there are also taxis, which theoretically take you to Bol at the same price as the bus (I don’t really believe that, though), but I would not advise that if you do not want to see your breakfast again 😛 …

In the end we chose the ferry+bus combination. The ferry per person costs 33kn one way and the bus costs 50kn per person if you buy the return ticket also (it is 40kn one way otherwise). So the whole trip there and back cost us 232kn. It is cheaper than taking the car with the ferry, then drive around there and also worry about parking… Of course this way we had to be at the ferry latest by 9AM, which crossed over in 50 minutes. At 10:30AM the bus took off and after stopping at almost every possible village on the way, we arrived to Bol at around 11:30 AM. So basically it took us 3 hours to get to a beach. We really hoped it was worth the trouble…

Compared to Split, Bol is a real beach resort. You are far away from the sounds of the city and the water is much cleaner than in Split. In fact, I have never seen a cleaner beach in my life, so it was perfect for taking pictures at least 🙂 . After a 20 minute walk from the bus station, we arrived to the actual beach: it looked clean and less crowded than the ones in Split and there were still several sun-chairs left. Later we found out why: being so far from the city, prices are a bit steeper in Zlatni Rat. One chair costs 50kn. If you want an umbrella with that you need to pay 50kn more. So we payed 150kn for two sun-chairs and an umbrella. The plastic table came as a bonus 😉 . Of course the other alternative was to sit on a towel on the pebbly beach or in the shades a bit further from the shore… but we wanted the full experience: almost front row seats admiring the beautiful white and blue colors of the sea and listening to the calming sound of the waves without getting a sunburn 😉 .

Lunch can also be solved directly at the beach. There are several fast food boutiques and even restaurants right on the beach. The prices are higher than in Split and they charge for the restrooms also. Yes, this beach was pricier than the ones in Split, but for one day, it was an interesting experience. To top that you also get a bus ride which takes you through some idyllic local villages and some winding roads among the cliffs just above the seashore. This last one was a bit scary part, but breathtakingly beautiful 😉 .

I have uploaded some pictures here.


Unesco Island

September 26th, 2015

We were advised to visit several interesting places around Split during our stay. One of them is Trogir, a small town, which, much like Split, preserved a lot of its old walls and buildings to the enjoyment of tourists of our time.
The Trogir visit was a half day activity: it is just a half hour drive from Split (well, that is if you do not get stuck in traffic and spend almost an hour instead) on the same direction as Split airport. When you approach this small town by car, the first thing that pops up in a driver’s head is: where do I park? Well assuming you have a GPS, you try to get to the center as much as possible and look for a parking place there. In our case, when it said we have a 1-2 minute drive left, I just entered the first parking spot on the left 😀 . We basically parked in the parking area just next to the bus station near the bridge leading onto the small historic island. The best thing about this parking lot was the guy greeting us: he was sitting on a bicycle as we entered, made a sign and led us to the most appropriate spot… neat 🙂 .

So, on to the historic island itself. It is basically a miniature version of the city center of Split. It has a similar atmosphere also, including the huge crowds of tourists that always get into your perfect artistic photo of a building. One thing that was different, was the nice yachts just next to the city walls: it kind of gave off a vibe of a more refined and restricted city center. One thing I did not like, was the fee they wanted to charge for entering churches. I know tourists can be a good source of money, but it is not nice to charge people for entering a church. You charge people for entering a fort maybe, which we did and gladly payed the 25kn per person entry into Kamerlengo Castle, but we skipped the church…

The small promenade where the yachts were docked is filled with nice restaurants, which have their menu available in several languages. We picked the one having also hungarian (its amazing how the small things can make a difference 🙂 ), and had a nice meal before heading back to one of the beaches in Split…

Photos have been uploaded here.


Split, the Relaxing City

September 25th, 2015

As written in my previous post, we have successfully arrived to the southern area of Croatia, namely to the city of Split. We had 7 days to spend here, which, as our host at the apartment said, is quite a lot for this single city. Luckily, Split is surrounded with exciting places to visit, so we had options in case we got bored with it.
Split Center
Indeed, Split is an exciting city: it has nice beaches, a historic centre, lots of great restaurants, for which one can dedicate at most 2-3 days. Our first day was reserved for enjoying some lazyness after a long period without a real holiday. We have basically spent all day on Ovcice Beach. This small bay with a pebble-beach was real close to the apartment and it seemed ideal to relax a bit and avoid the crowds of the rest of the beaches.
Ovcice Beach
We rented two sun-chairs for 40kn (whole day price) and an umbrella for 5kn and after a short dip in the water, where we quickly realized we have forgotten our aquashoes at home, we basically sat back and relaxed for almost the whole day enjoying the sound of the waves washing the pebbly shore. Well, speaking for myself, I actually listened to it for a while and then I got carried away and just… fell asleep (hope I wasn’t drooling though :P). It was perfect for getting a sunburn on my lower legs (luckily the rest was under the umbrella) on the very first day… let me tell you that was not a pleasant way to wake up 🙁 … Anyway, I managed to cool it down with lots and lots of sunburn lotion in the evening, so it got better later 😉 .

There was another beach in Split to which we dedicated the rest of our beach experience: Bacvice Beach. This shallow, sandy beach is much larger than the previous one and due to the sand, much more crowded. It also has sunchairs and umbrellas, but here you pay for the sunchair(40kn each) and get the umbrella and even small plastic table for free 😉 .
Bacvice Beach
Here we did enjoy the sea more, due to the shallow and clean water, I think it is much better than the previous one. The additional great thing here is the presence of more restaurants and boutiques selling food and drinks, so you do not really have to leave the sunchairs (and lose the rental), you can spend the entire day here. The beach is even lit for late evening fun, not that we tried it, but others seemed to have fun, so it must be 😛 .

Another thing we did in Split, was to visit the city center, which is basically everything within the old walls of Diocletian’s Palace. You do not have to pay for the museum tickets here, just strolling around the city center is like visiting a museum. Old, narrow streets, great sculptures on building walls all give a unique experience, which did not really compell us to pay and actually check out the museums. The whole atmosphere among the old walls is awesome: the place is full of nice restaurants (with reasonable prices), live music and lots of thematic shops. With a 30-40 minute walking distance from our apartment, we visited it several evenings, each time chosing another restaurant to eat dinner at. As we have seen, this is where the city’s beating heart moves to in the evenings.

There were some nice restaurants around the apartment also, so we did stay close on some evenings. Dvor, one of the best restaurants of the city (although a bit pricy) was nearby, so we checked it out one evening. Immediately we ran into trouble: the table we sat at was dodgy so we had to change. To top that, at 9PM they were already out of one of the items from their already quite limited menu (a thing we were planning to try)… things were looking bad, but we decided to still check it out. The apetizer arrived: a small and insignificantly looking pate with some bread… great, we were warned about this… but we were hungry, so we took a bite… and another… and another… wow, now that was the point we realized, sometimes quality beats quantity. It was one of the best pates I ate: soft, creamy and perfectly seasoned… an unexpected score for the restaurant. Then, the main course arrived, confirming, that once again, this place was all about quality. Score, again. The waitress kindly asked about desert, we said no, she was sad… so she decided to bring some on the house: not much, but very tasty: touch down for Dvor. What a turn-around 😉 .

For other evenings, we had another great choice nearby: Movi the favorite of many, judging by the fact, that it was almost full of guest the entire day. Here we could get food for average price of all kinds with a pretty decent quality. It was nowhere near Dvor in class, but it was still really good 😉 .

For us, these were the highlights and I have uploaded some photos of them here. More about the other days, in the next posts 😉 .