Well it had been many days since we left Islamabad and the journey up North had started taking its toll. We were both feeling tired, but at the same time the places to follow supported a steady flow of adrenaline to tackle the tiredness.
When we got to Istanbul, late at night, we understood that it was a real time metropolitan with all the attributes, which apart from everything else included a fine transportation infrastructure, not to mention the night life and hoards of taxi drivers preying on new comers.
Unfortunately the central railway station in Istanbul is currently under reconstruction, so a number of international trains (maybe all of them) leave from a different location. That place is called Halkali and it is around 1 hour bus ride from the city center.
When you would buy tickets from the counters at the central railway station in Istanbul, the counter clerk would tell you that the train leaves at so and so time from Halkali station, but please don’t be fooled by this misuse of the word “STATION”. When you get to Halkali, it might take you some time before you might succeed in finding the platform (or a set of platforms) called Halkali. It took us some time.
We had bought tickets out of Istanbul on Sofia bound train. The train was to leave at 22:20 (10:30pm), but we decided to go a little earlier. We thought that, why not go to that other STATION, which we had not seen and wait their for the train and in the meanwhile we could have some wholesome dinner and could buy provisions for the night on the train at that STATION.
The idea was good theoretically, but we didn’t know that what awaited us was a long wait in a small room and shocks of hunger and boredom.
You can see the glimpse of our travel out of Istanbul and through Bulgaria into Romania, but I will skip today straight to Cluj Napoca, without any details of the way.
Cluj Napoca is the second largest Romanian city, you can guess after which city. It is the cultural and academic center of the country. The city does not have a large population, but is the unofficial capital of Transylvania and the word Transylvania causes an itch, a pinching sensation on the neck. You don’t know why?
Well we got to Cluj Napoca very early in the morning, when it was still dark. It took us some time to decide to whether to stay at the railway station till the sun would come out or to risk going out into the streets crawling with blood thirsty vampires!
We took our chances and leaving our baggage at the station we went out, into the darkness of predawn urban life. But to our disappointment the only thing that reminded us of Transylvania was the sign board of Bank of Transylvania.
What a disappointment! We traveled all the way from Islamabad and this Transylvanian city didn’t even have a single vampire to offer…
the central square is well represented in our gallery.
Cluj is a small town, but the local beer is grand. If you would be there definitely give the local beer a try, it’s worth it!
Cluj Napoca is approximately at an equal distance from Bucharest, Budapest and Belgrade (320-350km app), so if you want to tour around the area, you can set base at Cluj Napoca and travel out of there to the three mentioned cities and a lot more. We headed out of Cluj Napoca to Budapest on a mini van, which cost us very little.
I hope soon I wil be in a position to write in more detail, because there is a lot to tell, not only about Cluj Napoca, but the whole route.