Archive for the ‘Cluj’ Category

A useful road

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Last week it was a big day for all the rockers in Transylvania (and also for quite a lot of people from abroad): Iron Maiden held it’s first concert in Transylvania. The event was organized by the owner of one of the local football clubs (CFR Cluj) in order to celebrate their victory in the national first league and getting into Champions League (actually this tiny little marketing trick could deserve a post of it’s own, but I do not want to get into details about that…).
Ssso, what happens when a heavy-weight rock band gets into the city? All the roads get crowded! Cluj was not an exception: half of the four lane road leading into the city was closed for all the fans, and so all cars (and late fans coming by car) who wanted to get into the city kindof got stuck on two lanes. Now generally these two lanes (one lane + one emergency lane) tend to get crowded with or without a concert… this time it was a mega blockade: some say the car queue reached the next town to the west, Huedin (surely exagerating, but one gets the idea:BIG JAM).

Anyway, I am not really a rock fan, and I only know one song from Iron Maiden (I like that though), so I decided not to get to the concert. Instead we went to visit some artificial lakes just west to the city. Our way home happened to be on the exact same road which had the blockade. Well, I thought it can’t be that bad… YES it can, as I later realized, that we’ve been inching forward for almost half an hour and we did not even reach the city limits (we were stuck on the outskirts of Floresti). That is when I realized, Cluj recently received a great road which diverts traffic from the city: the A3 highway.

The road to the highway was clear, so I turned around, went a few hundred meters back to the node and headed south right to the next city (Turda). From there is another four lane road (E60) leading back to Cluj from the south. This road only had the usual light traffic (for a four lane road), so with a huge detour, but in under an hour we got home.

So as a conclusion: if you do not need to get to the western part of the city, head south if there is a traffic jam (and there tends to be one from time to time) it might seem a huge detour, but actually it isn’t. The combination of the highway with the four lane road from Turda is quite fast 😉


Groundbreaking plans

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Not long ago I had a talk with an old friend, who I have not seen for a while, and for some reason we started to talk about plans about building a subway for Cluj. My friend was very enthusiastic about it, saying stuff about a fully autonomous subway (like in Torino) which goes under the Somes river and just covers the major areas of the city. Well, for sure the city is really starting to need something like that, especially if they plan to reduce car traffic within the city center, so the idea really seemed interesting: a subway in Cluj, I wonder what is the truth about the rumors?
Cluj Subway
I started to dig a bit through the internet to find any useful information about the project, but sadly there is not much hard evidence of any plans. Well, I have to correct myself: there are plans, but they simply seem very blurry with no clear plans of how, where and even who would build the subway.

One of the oldest articles (in Romanian) I have found about this issue is only talking about the need of such a facility, even stating that the subway would not exactly be a subway but a monorail (!?). First things first: yes, the trains in a subway do have versions which go on a a single rail, but not all monorails are subways… there is a fundamental difference between them (literally). Anyway this article was written in 2008 when people did not really know the difference between a plan and a dream, so let’s call the monorail a subway…

Another article, dated a few months later, talks about the location of the eventual tracks: NOT within the city limits: more like a mini-train between the edge of the city and the newly formed industrial park (Jucu). There are talks about a second phase of connecting it to the Airport, too… Apart from the last part which is clearly just propaganda talk, since the airport is in a totally different direction, the plans seems to be more mature and started to make sense: yes our subway is actually a monorail above the ground: cheaper, doable, more realistic.

And so, the year 2009 came, and another article came out with a totally different plan developed by some Dutch specialists, to build the subway along the line of the Somes river…. ’cause it’s… feasible (!?). Yes… I thought we were planning to make promenade’s among the coast of the Somes river… 🙁 . Don’t go ruin that!… Pretty please!… (Later plans show they wont 😉 )

So: we are in 2010 in deep sh… economical crisis. There are no more plans coming out. Although the city is getting more and more crowded, people have stopped dreaming. At least they are not shouting around anymore 🙂 .


I Love Velo

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Since the 10th of July Green Revolution Association and the local authorities have launched a bike-sharing program to promote biking in the city. The recipe is simple: take 150 bicycles and let people go around the city in a two hour limit, just by signing a simple contract, and what’s more important for the citizens of this great country: totally FREE! This sounds interesting… let’s try it 😀
I Love Velo - Cluj
The rental-center is at the big parking at the Sports Hall in the Grigorescu quarters (kindof hard to miss actually). We decided to go there at around 11:30, since the opening hours are from 10:00 to 20:00 (though I am not sure about the closing time). What is interesting, however, is that when we got there (11:45), there was a huge crowd waiting to “share bikes”, but there was nobody from the organizers to be found…. HUGE minus, it shows a slight lean towards our usual lack of seriousness… sad.

Anyway we took an hour stroll on the banks of the Somes river and when we got back things were already going on: the bike sharing has started! In order to get a bike ones needs to have its ID Card present and to complete a sharing agreement. The place is equipped with stands to do the completion, they provide ballpoint-pens so this part was really easy. After completing the template, we received a card from the rental-boot and exchanged that for a bike at the bicycle-stand.

Great, we have our wheels! Now to see what you actually receive: a quite decent quality bicycle (with a slight wobble while riding it) no gear-changer, nothing fancy, just a basket up front, protection over the chains, and a broken bell (at least in my case 😛 ). The fun can begin!

Apart from the great bike track along the Somes river and into the “Roselor” park, it is quite hard to get to the city center… Getting to the central park is relatively easy, but from then on the bicylce-roads are a bit disconnected (or hard to spot). From the center to the Marasti quarters it was a piece of cake, bike lanes all the way (with a few interruptions only) and also the main streed towards the train station (Horea street) has bicycle lanes on it’s entire length (one way lanes on each side). For a more complete overview of tracks in Cluj, click here.

All in all it was a great experience: for a guy who takes the car everywhere in Cluj, it was a great surprise how much fun this can be on a sunny day (no worries, I am still a petrol-head). Two years ago since I have left Cluj for my adventures in Italy and Belgium, the city did not have a single bicycle track, and now here we are… I think if this goes on well, things can get really great in Cluj 😉 .


Movie Marathon

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

… or how can one plan to see two movies in one evening and actually see a completely different one. Yes, it is possible and it is not actually our fault.

As I have written in a previous post, TIFF has started and is ongoing for the entire week. We have planned to see two movies: The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner, a Bulgarian film and after that, Tehroun an Iranian/French movie. According to the plan, we could finish just in time with the first movie to get to the other.
Movie Marathon Tiff 2010
So let’s start with the cinema of the first movie: Cinema Echinox, an open air cinema, inside the walls of the Babes-Bolyai University. As a second very important information I have to mention, that the rain was pouring as if the whole city were under a great shower. The result: the movie was canceled… no matter, we were told, that we can get voucher’s for the ticket which we could use to watch another movie during the festival.

So far so good… we went to Cinema Republica, a full-size cinema, protected from the rain. The second information that needs to be told here, is that Cinema Republica was the refugee cinema for another open air cinema of the festival, meaning that in case of rain, the movie from the main square was moved to this cinema. As I wrote before, it was raining. Movie no.2: canceled.

So now, we had the option of watching the movie which was moved in from the main square: Road Movie, an Indian movie, or be satisfied with a nice stroll in the city center in a rainy evening… we chose option one, and exchanged our voucher’s to enter the Indian movie.

The movie started off great, but somewhere in the middle I think the writer got bored and made up some quite stupid scenes which I think ruined the whole movie. Maybe I was too tired, after the movie-hunt of the evening, but I still do not get the whole point of the movie…

So, was the whole evening worth it? Definitely 🙂


TIFF 2010

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

TIFF (Transylvania International Film Festival) has reached it’s 9th edition, and the opening ceremony was planned to be held in the city’s main square in an open-air cinema. The few clouds which were responsible for the afternoon rain have been swept away, so everything was set for the grand opening of the festival.
TIFF 2010 Cluj
I have to admit, that although I am a movie-fan, this was my first year when I actually went to see any of the movies of the festival (yes, shame on me…). There is however a beginning for everything and it’s better late than never. I payed the entry ticket of 15 RON’s for the ticket. At first I did not understand why pay, if it’s an open-air cinema in the city center, but now I do: no film is good enough to watch on foot, especially in a rather chilly evening. For this money there have been some chairs set up and blankets have been provided by one of the sponsors (HBO).

The opening ceremony started with a general presentation of the festival, some “trailers”, presenting the jury and some of the events that would take place in this period. A lot of hard work, a lot of commitment: THANK YOU!.

After the opening ceremony the film was presented: Soul Kitchen. I have to say it was a quite good movie for a comedy. It was an “easy movie” but by far not like some of the Hollywood trash that is starting to appear lately. The public liked it very much, too. I can only recommend it to anyone 😉 .