28th August 2014
Today, I made sure to be in the kitchen before 9 to get the pancakes! Jack (the guy from South Africa) and I had 11 AM appointment at the Dungeon. The concept was new to me. They locked us in a cellar (hence the name dungeon) and we were to find the key to the door which was hidden in the room. It was like a treasure hunt with hints and clues all around the room. The details of the dungeon are not appropriate to disclose here (I do not think it is ethical) but it was a lot of fun to do! I would highly recommend it though, to visit the dungeon with a group of four people at least. It was too difficult to solve all the clues for two of us.
After the Dungeon adventure, I had a short GoodBye session at the reception of the hostel.
I wanted to catch a bus to Turda, my next destination. I had to ask for the directions. A helping woman walked with me to the bus-stop. She curiously asked me about the news that she had heard recently : “rape in some part of India”! I was shocked that such a bad news should reach her and that she biased her opinion about the country. I was not in the best of my dispositions for a couple of minutes. I could not deny the news , neither could I comment. “Bad people are everywhere and such sins are committed in every part of the world”, Well, that was my shrewd remark! Deeply in my heart though, I was hurt that such news are bringing shame to the country and to the humanity in general.
Yet another (weird) experience was awaiting me in the bus. It was a mini-bus. When I boarded, none of the double-seats were entirely available. One woman was sitting on a double-seat, having one chair empty. When I tried to occupy, she made offensive gestures, suggesting me to go away. By then, I knew that I was mistaken as a gypsy. Thus, I chose to sit by someone who would not mind it.
So much for the Cluj!
At Turda, I wanted to visit the infamous Salt mines’ which is now converted into a history museum. From the bus-stop, the salt mine was a mile away. On my way to the mine entrance I had to ask for the directions to confirm my way. One kind guy asked his little daughter who spoke surprisingly fluent English and helped me. Another incident happened right at the entrance of the mine: Two teenager Romanian boys came to me and asked for a picture with me! It was very strange however I did not mind it.
My friend, Andreea was to receive me at the entrance of the mine. She came from Alba Iulia and it so happened that we were waiting for each other at the different ends of the mine. It became clear later that the mine had two entrances when she called me up to know my location and let Google know about my location.
The mine was beautiful as expected. It was huge, deep, salty and cold ! The mine dates back to Seventeenth century and was maintained by Hungarian emperors before Romania came into existence. The mine has its peculiar atmosphere because of high concentration of salt. It is said to be a good cure for respiratory diseases and lung disorders. People visit the mine to spend an entire day there and breath good air. There are several recreational activities one can do inside the mine-museum including rowing, Ping-pong, basket-ball and several other kids-special machines to play with.
The mine is 13 floors deep and we took stairs to enjoy the air more, not to mention the long queues for the elevator!
We went for rowing in a small lake inside the mine. Andreea taught me how to row. I had never done that before (except in the Gym, where they have rowing machines). It was a lot of fun not rowing it right and hitting other boats! Finally I gave up and Andreea rowed the boat safely to the bank of the lake.
Our mine journey came to an end after rowing and the stairs comprising of 13 floors were awaiting us. We took a long time to climb up observing the carving on every floor. The year is clearly carved on each floor to indicate when the particular floor was excavated (explored). A long alley took us to the entrance and it was only then we realized how salty we had become.
There was salt inside our boots and jackets. Somehow we had breathed quite a good amount of salt into our clothes and also indeed some good air into our lungs.
Andreea chose a warm welcoming restaurant which could offer authentic Romanian food. I had a soup in the bread followed by smashed sweet-corns with Romanian cheese.
The food was too good and with our bellies full of corns we left for Alba Iulia, Andreea’s home-town, the oldest settlement of Romania, and the capital of Transylvania.