After almost a year since I left the city , I decided it was time to revisit Cluj and and what better occasion to go than during the Electric Castle music festival. I did not go necessarily just for the festival but considering that the fourth day of the festival Prodigy was playing it became really attractive.
The road was long and as you know , Romania’s infrastructure is still lacking behind. From Constanta to Cluj Napoca are only 687 kilometers of which if you include the new section of motorway from Sibiu to Sebes there are almost 400 kilometers of motorway, but due to the fact that on the critical section of route from Pitesti to Sibiu where you cross the Olt Valley there is no motorway and the road there has only one lane in each direction and the road is very busy with cargo trucks , we spent almost 12 hours on the road.
We arrived late in the night in Cluj and I expected after such a long way driving to fall in to bed and stay there , but apparently the coolness of the mountain air in the area gave us fresh forces to go out. So accompanied by our host, whom I wish to thank dearly for her hosting and hospitality , we started to head downtown. We stopped at the cafe “Le General” , which is very loud inside but instead if you catch a table out on the balcony of the old building which has a view towards Eroilor Boulevard you will enjoy a very relaxing stay. Throughout the night I made a visit to Bulgakov and saluted the ethnic Hungarians and a little stop at Caro club , where I did not stay long because was already almost morning time. And of course , for the night out to be complete , after all this clubbing we had to stop after for a snack. Like the nice folks that we are , we could not eat this snack at the fast food table , but had to carry it instead with us all the the way up on “Cetatuia” hill to enjoy the view of the city. Not really a very good idea when you falling down due to lack of sleep, but eating up there high above the city and enjoying a great sunrise that brings back nostalgic memories of the city was worth it.
The next morning ( which was around 12:00) after a enjoying a coffee with our host on her terrace, and I must say it was a magical terrace where you feel like you are somewhere in the mountains although it’s in a prestigious area of the city, we made our way down to Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden. I can not say I’m a big fan of this kind of attraction, but I must admit that the mountain sector of the garden just makes you feel like in the heart of the mountains, and for a few seconds when you follow the trail along the creek you are totally disconnected from the city.
About Cluj what to say, after I walked on it’s streets so many times , photographed and analyzed it when I used to lived there , and wrote plenty about it here, or when I visited it here and here, I can say that it’s just as nice as before, and it is in a continuous process of improvement. Since my last visit I noticed that the central boulevards were paved , the sidewalks dressed in a very decent granite paving, overhead cables are almost nonexistent in the center and in the periphery they are working hard on burying cables, upgrading sidewalks and creating bicycle lanes . And public events are still present , in the Union Square on Saturday evening there was a free outdoor opera show and an exhibition of … something, so what can I say, good job Cluj and keep going like this.
After all this cultural events we decided it was time to go on Piezisa street to meet with some people we know around the city and let the refreshing drinks flowing. Of course we went out in the evening to enjoy a coffee and somehow I got back home at 4 am. I remember that I saw a very beautiful cafe near Piata Unirii, Yolka, a very original and funky lot.
On Sunday we were still not one hundred percent sure we were going to Electric Castle Festival. I saw all the pictures and jokes made of the festival due to the fact that it was very rainy , muddy and dirty on the first day of the festival …. some even wrote articles on their blogs about it , despite the fact that they were never in this area, but considering that Friday and Saturday the weather was good and it was sunny , it looked pretty promising . The final convincing argument was a phone call from two wonderful people that we know and are living around Cluj , they confirmed they are also coming to the festival . So said and done, around 7-8 PM we started heading to the the bus station.
So then, to get to the Electric Castle festival you have to go to Cluj Arena stadium and from there there are buses departing every 10 minutes towards the village “Bontida” , where you will find Banffy Castle, the host of the festival. The bus ticket costs 7 lei. When you get off the bus if you do not see two Catholic churches and Protestant you could swear you are in Vama Veche. Lot’s of happy people , rustic terraces with barbeques, non stop markets and that atmosphere where everyone dresses as they wants and do whatever they want. A notable difference, however, at the terraces you will hear electronic music, and at the grills among the pork steaks and sousages you will also find Kolaks Curtos. After you pass the madness of the bus station , down the street you can see a bright light, towards which you must go. There you are greeted by an area of Check In, you know , same like at the airport where you buy your ticket. It cost 149 lei per day, or if you catch it from the beginning you may pay 300 lei for all 4 nights. And just like at the airport, after you have validated the ticket and received your bracelet, you have to pass some massive gates where you will be inspected by some massive guys, both you and your baggage. Upon entering I was greeted by one of the volunteers who explained us how the credit card system works , and suggested us to go around the castle if we want to get to the big stage to avoid the crowds in front …. which obviously we did not listen to and lost an hour crossing the large crowd in front of the stage :). But we did listened when she explained us about the credit card system. The festival does not work with cash money for obvious reasons, instead you buy a special credit card at one of the stalls, and you can charge your card with how much you want and consider you will be spending… and at all bars and food stalls in the festival you will pay with that card. A very good idea I can say. After another hour of dangerous maneuvers through the crowd we found a good place to stay and watch Prodigy band playing. The Live performance was as excellent as expected, but the show put on by Sigma after , seemed more interesting. The festival had five stages in total , spread out over the castle grounds , each with it’s own artists and music, and between scenes you can find trampolines, swings and a lot of fun stuff to do. The atmosphere similar to Vama Veche continues, although the number of suspicious weird people per square meter at this festival exceeds all expectations.
At the festival you are not allowed to bring drinks from outside, and inside the prices were not quite as those in Vama Veche. Besides the access fee of 149 lei, using your card you must pay 7 lei per one dose of Becks, 8 lei for a very small shot of spirit and 17 lei for a kebab.
Time passed quickly and soon the sun started to rise. We got in line to catch a bus , but the line was already in the queue stretched for some kilometers. I tried the taxi option , but to give up 100 lei to get back to Cluj did not seem like a very good deal. Although buses were flying nonstop between the city and the festival we still spent about one hour waiting in line. The good part was that everybody around us was still in party mood and the time passed quite fast.
It’s a pretty crazy feeling to reach Monday morning at 7 AM in the city and see everybody around you going to work and all you can think about is going to sleep , even though you still hear a Jamaican beat in your ears. On Monday we did not went directly back to Constanta , instead we accepted the invitation of the couple with whom I was at the festival to spend a night at their house in the beautiful city of Alba Iulia, which we gladly accepted . But I will tell you all about Alba Iulia another time because the city deserves it’s own article . Enjoy the rest of the pictures in the gallery below and your please do share your opinions.
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Check out other trips: First 48 days in Marseille France , Romania road trip across the country in 7 days , Budapest Hungary road trip , Prague – dream vacation , Excursion Dobrogea: Enisala, Ibida, Histria , Vacation Madrid Spain , Two days in Jacksonville USA, Paralia – Greece road trip, Brasov 12.2014 , Buzau quick stop , Lepsa & Vrancea county , Chisinau city break , Nessebar Bulgaria , Bucharest weekends 2014 , Busan Korea , 40 days in Cluj Napoca , Hunedoara Castle ; Singapore 2013 , Brasov 02.2014 , Istanbul 01.2014 , Cluj Napoca 08.2013 , Sibiu 07.2013 , San Pedro-Ivory Coast , Bucharest 2013 , Varna 2012 , Los Angeles 2012 , Budapest & Viena trip , Salerno Italy , Cluj Napoca 2012 , Florence Italy , Brasov 02.2012 , Amsterdam , Antofagasta-Chile, Valencia Spain , Lima-Peru , Bremen Germany , Istanbul 2009 , Valletta Malta , San Juan-Puerto Rico , Barcelona Spain , Singapore 2010 , Los Angeles 2010 , Transilvania road trip , La Spezia , Bosphorus by ship , Sydney , Melbourne Australia , Auckland New Zealand , San Francisco USA , Tauranga NZ