Today is our very last day to do some touring of Romania. We got up early and got the car packed up and got on the road for the couple hour drive to the west to the small city of Turda where Romania’s most famous salt mine is located. It is raved about by everyone that we hear from so we figured that we really have to go see it. It’s considered one of the things not to be missed when living in Romania.
The drive was not bad; the weather was great and we made very good time. Getting out to Turda was easy.
Arriving at Salina Turda we discovered a little “village” of shops in the parking lot of the mine. This is apparently a big thing to do, buy knick knacks and snacks before and/or after going into the mine. We had not gotten breakfast and it was a bit of a drive so we decided that we would hit one of the little fast food stalls before we ventured into the mine.
We had a nice little lunch and then went into the salt mine. We had very high hopes for this trip today, we heard so much good stuff about this salt mine. Going down the long stairs into the mine, it seemed like it would be pretty neat.
Once you get down low, the heat gives way and it is very cool and pleasant under ground. The mine is carved right out of the salt, it is really neat. The walls are solid salt and look like ice and snow. This is where the cool part ended.
The salt cut goes miles under ground between towns. Along this route there was very little to do. There was supposed to be all kinds of interesting things in the salt mine, but outside of a few exhibits about a winch and a horse room, there was really nothing. We spent a huge amount of time trying to explore and see if we had missed something. We probably put in a full hour just walking back and forth
in the hallway making sure that we had not missed a doorway or something.
Finally when we had given up and went to leave we were looking at the informational pictures along the entrance and definitely saw things that we were unable to find. So we did more research and eventually found a stairway going down and found that there was a very poorly labeled way to get down fifteen stories to a weird little underground carnival area. But the stairs were not safe and certainly not something that the girls could do safely and the elevator, that is advertised heavily everywhere, was out of service and there was no way for us to get to the part of the mine that people raved about. But we could see it and could see that there was nothing to do and that we were not missing anything.
So Salina Turda was a bust. Not only is it not the big tourist attraction that people think that it is, but it is not even worth going to if you are there.
As we left the mine, we stopped and got some sweet treats from the little stands outside of the mine. We met some Romanians visiting from Washington State that we talked to for a bit and they said that these weird marshmallow filled sandwiches that we had found were the best that they had ever had. So I guess that we lucked out there.
From Turda, we drove to Cluj-Napoca, the capital of Transylvania and its largest city. We have been hoping to get to visit Cluj since arriving here. Our home sits, more or less, along the main road that turns into Main Street in Cluj, hours away, but we have never even been close to it before.
We parked downtown and started by walking around the open air market in the main square. We found a little stand selling head bands and bought matching Romanian hair bands for Liesl, Clara and Luciana. Then we bought some pastries and walked to a playground in the middle park near the National Opera House so that the girls could burn off some energy.
While we were there I went out to do some exploring but it was not too long before Luciana had a bathroom emergency and we had to go looking for a bathroom that she could use. We found one at an awesome little upscale urban cafe near the park. Liesl and I ordered coffee and got a table while Dominica took Luciana to the bathroom. Liesl tried, and liked, her first coffee today!
We returned to the playground and the girls played there for hours. I explored downtown a little, took some pictures and videos. But we did not do too much. Before long it was time to get back home as it was getting late. It was a long day with the driving and everything.
The drive back home went well. Time for our final weekend in Romania.