Archive for the ‘Romania’ Category

Uber in Cluj

Tuesday, 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!


Free Visit

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

We have recently had to go to Carei (Nagykároly), where we had to spend half a day waiting for some personal stuff. The town is not large enough to easily find anything to spend time with, but luckily there is one thing that stands out and is certainly something which should not be missed.
Karoly castle
The central park of Carei is dominated by the Károly Castle, which has recently been renovated. It now acts as a museum open to the general public. The opening hours are between 9:00 and 16:00 (I think) so at around 10:00 we were well within visiting hours.

We prepared our wallets for the tickets, but we were in for a big surprise: no guard, no tickets, just a smiling man welcoming us and giving us a quick heads up of how we should visit the museum 🙂 …
The castle is almost entirely open, on both floors with a museum of the town on the ground floor and a furnished second floor, showcasing the castle’s old interior. Also there was a temporary exhibit dedicated for hunting.

The visit did not take more than an hour, but it was fun and we were certainly impressed by how much can be showcased if a little money is invested…


More than a Coincidence

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

I have been puzzled whether I should write this post or not. Then, I thought, if I do not do anything, then I can consider myself as one of the people who contribute to this situation. There is a small chance, that someone who can actually do something about this will actually read my post, but hey, it is better than nothing. So what is the story about? Well, it is about how a certain bank made a fool out of me today.

It so happens, that I had some things to take care of at BCR (the biggest bank in Romania). Unfortunately, I rarely find the time to do such things personally during workdays, because I do not have that much free time. Today, however, I had a little more spare time, so I decided to visit the banks nearest office. The target office was a 10-15 minute walk away from my workplace, so I decided to go on foot. After a 15 minute walk, however (uphills), I arrived at the bank, but sadly, the operator told me that the lady responsible for the operation I needed to do was not working that day, and nobody else (!?) could do that task instead of her.

I said to myself, no worries, I will just walk down to the second nearest office (a 20-25 minute walk) and handle everything there. After all, these things may happen to anyone. Surprise, surprise: after arriving to the second office, another lady told me, to come back in 10-15 minutes, because the lady who is responsible for the operation I needed to do was just out, and nobody else (again!?) could do that task instead of her. This was more than a coincidence… was the bank fooling around with me?

There was no other choice, I had to do yet another 10 minute walk to the central office, and there the lady responsible for the operation I needed to do… was just in 🙂 . I successfully wasted around one hour of my one hour lunch break walking around in the city, looking for someone at BCR who can help me (it was NOT a complicated job)…

I did not work with BCR for quite a while now. I chose some more “user-friendly” banks… boy I made the right decision: these guys have a very poor management system. Let me point out a few key problems:
– Most clients, who have money, work all day long, and there is a high probability that they will pay a visit at lunch-time (not when they are also working), so… do NOT leave the front desk in that period.
– Task management 101: always have a backup for everything (if someone is not in, someone else should cover)
– And finally: do try to open up your offices next to busy office-buildings (e.g. Sigma center in Cluj) like other banks do.

I am not sure if I had a bad day, or if the bank really has bad organizational methods, but having two bank offices refuse a service due to the fact that the person is not in on the same day is, I think, more than a coincidence. I think something is wrong there…


Another view of Sibiu

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

I was not able to finish the story-series of our holiday (I will tell in another series, why), so I am writing this last entry about our final stop of our vacation period just to put the dot on the “i”. The final stop was in a familiar city for me, a city about which I have already written a blog entry: Sibiu. This time, however, I have discovered some other things to visit there apart from the classic stroll around its remarkable city center.
First things first, I have to tell where we stayed at. The place is called Casa Verox and it is a small family pension in a quite OK neighborhood close to the city center. Also the prices are OK and for it we have received a very good service. I was also able to park the car inside the courtyard.

After checking in, the first target to visit was the city center. At first we wanted to visit the Brukenthal Museum, but we considered the entry price of 32 RON (€7) a bit too high for the Romanian prices just to see some paintings. What was even more appalling, is that the price to make photos was astronomical (around 100 RON = €22). So, we have visited the quite deserted Museum of Natural History, where I think the entry price of 13 RON (€2.8) was much more acceptable. Here the photo price was also appalling (and we did not buy it), but at least we have seen something different than the usual paintings that are displayed at every museum one goes to.

Another interesting place to visit in the city center, that I did not mention in my last post, was a climb to the city-tower for as little as 2 RON (€0.44). Here one can have a great overview of the entire city. Also photos can be made freely, making it ideal for photographers.

There is one other museum which is hardly mentioned anywhere (I have found it mentioned in Wikipedia though…): it is the Museum of Steam Engines. Now, this museum is REALLY hard to find. There are no indications, no maps, just one address I have found on the net: Str. Dorobanţilor 22. The street, however, does not contain this number. Instead there is a little street between number 16 and 30 which is apparently still the Dorobantilor street and there, in the back (basically next to the railway lines), one can spot the entrance. There was, however, at the time of our visit, nobody there. No gatehouse, no nothing, just a phone number which I could call: it seems like the museum is so insignificant, that the guy at the other end told us, that the number I have called is actually the train depot’s and indeed they have some old steam engines and I could just go to the back and have a look 🙂 . So we went to the back, where we have seen a lot of old engines in a very bad (but original) shape. I think it is worth a visit, though, the old engines are quite cool 😉 .

If one stays the second day, then I can advise anyone to visit also the Sibiu Zoo. It is not as big as the one in Tg. Mures, but it has some different animals which make it probably as attractive as the latter one. Also the entry price is a bargain 2 RON (€0.44), so I do not see why someone would miss it. For children (like me) I think it is ideal anyway ;)… I even took some photos, just to make you interested 😀


Another Route

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

The return through the mountain after the trip south trough Transfagarasan was scheduled the day after, by returning via the highest road in the entire Carpathians, the Transalpina. Due to the weather forecast, however, it was not safe nor scenic to pass there. Also, the road is not officially open to public, yet, so anyone passing there does it on his/her own risk. So we abandoned the scenic route and planned to return on the fast route… boy, we had a big surprise:

The road we chose was the Olt Valley (just between Transfagarasan and Transalpina) which is theoretically a fast road for heavy traffic going to the north (from our point of view) offering a nice view of the mountains from a lower perspective. The road, however, was neither fast, neither for photographers. The best views one can have is from the car, so there is no need to stop at any point. So you drive along, following the truck ahead of you barely reaching speeds of 60km/h and rely on your girlfriend to film the road and possibly catch some nice views along the way 🙂 .

So, people who are responsible for tourism in Romania (or traffic): DO SOMETHING!