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Published: November 26th 2009
Well, I now have another country to add to my list of places I have visited. I spent 2 weeks in Romania working. And I do mean working. During those 2 weeks, I had about 120 hours worth of billable time! Needless to say, I was exhausted when I got home! But, I did have some fun over the weekend. So, here are my impressions and thoughts of Cluj.
The city is an interesting mixture of old-time building and what we would consider "communist" buildings. The latter are the concrete buildings that look pretty ugly. A lot seemed to be missing chunks of the building (like parts of the balconies). But some of the buildings were built before the Communists took over and are beautiful. There are a lot of colors. I did hear one local guy say that he didn't like it because there didn't seem to be any theme or cohesion. However, I liked it. Some of the colors reminded me of the Alsace area of France (I lived in Strasbourg one year). There are also a LOT of taxis. In fact, that is how I got around. I took taxis between the hotel and office. They are really cheap. I was surprised by the sheer number of them, but was told that drivers can make a decent living. There are a lot of people who come into Cluj for medical reasons and prefer to take taxis instead of driving themselves. Sometimes it was an adventure getting back to my hotel. It had a similar name to another, better known hotel. A couple of times, I was taken to the other one and then had to try and get the driver over to mine. After a few days, I was able to figure out where we were going. The city isn't very big, or least the parts that I saw! The office of my client was attached to a big mall. It was like I stepped back into America! In fact, a couple of the Romanians were quite proud of their American mall, complete with a food court that includes McDonald's and KFC! Very amusing for me.
Over the weekend, I didn't do a lot since I was so tired. However, I did get out and explore a little. On Saturday, I had scheduled a massage (hour long for about $20!). Before the massage, I wandered around a little and found a political rally going on. I stood there for a few minutes listening, but of course, couldn't understand what was being said. Everyone was wearing Orange, which is the color of one of the major parties. I have no idea which party or what they stand for. After my massage, I just hung out at the hotel and rested. It was really nice to have some down time. Sunday, I got out and explored some more, even in the rain and wind (it was cold too!). I went to the art museum. That might have been more enjoyable if I could read Romanian (while it is similar to French so I could understand some things, I did have trouble reading the cards in the museum). I also wasn't familiar with these artists, which were all Eastern European (makes sense to me!). After that, I went to the cathedral. It is really huge. It was also really dark inside since it was so cloudy out. It was amazing to see how well it has survived during the Communist era. There are quite a few Roman Catholics in the city. However, I didn't feel comfortable talking religion with my customer, so I didn't get a chance to find out if this is a recent thing or if they were allowed to worship during Communism. I also went to the Orthodox Church. There was a baptism/christening/dedication going on (or whatever it's called). It was cool to see the priest in his robes performing the ceremony. The family stood around. In fact, there were only a few chairs on the edges of the building. There was a lot of color and mosaics, so that was interesting to see. After that, I wandered over to the Reformed Church, but couldn't get in. I had to just take a picture of the outside. Interestingly, there is a statue of St. George slaying the dragon in front of the church. This is the typical symbol of England, so I found it fascinating to be there. After that, I was cold and tired, so I headed back to the hotel.
I have downloaded my pictures to my computer and hope to post them soon!
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