One of our favourite places to go in Cluj-Napoca on a hot summer day is the Central Park. It is an urban, public park close to Cluj Arena, an oasis of green and shade in the middle of a busy, bustling city.
We always like to enter from the Arena side of the park because that's where the street food can be found. We sometimes buy langoșe, which is a deep fried dough used as a base for different fillings. Our favourite filling is cheese. The hot dough makes the cheese melt, mmm so good... Most of the times we get ice cream in cones. We love eating it while we are strolling in the park.
The park features a wide unpaved walkway in the middle for bicycle riders or joggers. On both sides of the alley there are narrower paved alleys with benches in the shade. The trees of the park are very tall and just lovely to sit in their shade. Young people bring hammocks they tie on the trunk of the trees and enjoy some rest and a good book. In the beginning of summer you can have a treat smelling the linden blossoms.
At first sight there's not much to do in the Central Park, just enjoy a bit of quiet and shade before you plunge in the noises and the traffic of the city. But once you start exploring it you will find many unexpected joys hidden among the trees.
One of my favourite places is the lake by Chios Restaurant. The lake has a little island with lots of trees on it, a preferred place for wild ducks, the only ones allowed there. The last time we used rented paddle boats to go and watch the birds on the little island, the boys did the paddling while we, the parents, relaxed on the back seats enjoying the view. Ahhh, it's so good to have big kids!
From the lake the sight of Chios is so pretty. I love to see the people lounging outside, in front of the restaurant, under the large sun umbrellas having a drink and chatting merrily. The lake is not so large but it is quite beautiful. In the winter it sometimes becomes frozen and people skate there for free.
At times, we stroll all around the lake watching the floating ducks and the activity on the lake and around it. Not far to the side of the lake we pass by a large fountain with white painted statues reminding us of Greek mythological creatures. I love to walk around it watching brides and grooms taking pictures there.
In front of the fountain, behold, what a sight! It is the Casino, a semicircle shaped building designed in an eclectic Viennese style at the end of the 19th century. It used to host a casino before it was an ethnographic museum in between the two world wars. Right now the Casino is an urban center where artistic and cultural events are organised. Every time we come to Cluj after a long while we take pictures here. Both the fountain and the Casino make a stylish backdrop for our photo in Cluj.
Most of the times, when we are not in a hurry, we go to the outdoors fitness gym in the "backyard" of the Casino. Our kids like it. They try all the fitness equipment just for fun, but they like to think that they do it to grow muscles. While the kids have their fun with the gym machines we relax next by in the picnic area right next to the fenced basketball court where the shade is thick and all sorts of interesting people can be seen eating, playing board games or just socialising.
Last week we exited the park next to the Someș River and crossed Elisabeth Bridge toward the Hill. The name ''Cetățuia'' means ''fortification''. A fortification was built by the Hapsburgs in the beginning of 18th century on the Cetățuia Hill. It had a tower with bulwarks. It was built for defence and as a base for the Austrian troops stationed in Cluj. Also was used as a prison. Not much has been preserved of the former construction but the name lingered on. I love going up on that hill for the beautiful panorama of Cluj that can be admired from up there.
Central Park for me is:
A green rest in the middle of a concrete jungle;
Flamingoes and dragons floating next to ducks;
A chocolate ice cream smile in the shade of a linden tree;
A dream of minotaurs splashing in the sun;
An alley getting lost in the grove.
We sometimes go to the Central Park in Cluj-Napoca, the city in which we live.
Most of the time, I like going to the forest better than in the park, but when it is likely to rain, going to the park is a better idea, as we have more shelter there. Also, we usually get ice cream from the park, so I am not opposed to the idea.
When we drive to the Central Park, we deposit our car on a small alleyway a few minutes away from the park and have to leg it all the way there. We need to pass a few buildings under construction and Cluj's enormous football stadium (European football). Finally, after walking this far, we get all the way there.
Our dad usually gets us ice cream, and then we cross the street and go into the park. Central Park has lots of pathways winding under the tall trees that were planted all over it. My favourite place in Central Park is the area next to the lake where all the fitness machines were placed.
I and my brother go to the fitness machines to burn all the calories that we gained from eating ice cream.
After burning all the ice cream-induced calories, we usually walk in the shady park, sometimes going all the way to the other end of the park, but most of the time turning around and going home or visiting our grandparents.
Central Park is for Me:
The flamingo-shaped boats on the lake.
The slighty sour taste of lemon-flavored ice cream.
The fragrance of linden flowers.
The muffled roar of passing cars.
The smooth metal surface of the pendulum-like swing.
I would go again to eat more ice cream and exercise on the fitness machines.
When the weather forecast says it is going to rain we usually go to the Central Park in Cluj. The park is a long stretch of sidewalk going through a small forest. Our custom is to go and buy ice cream according to the ancient family law stating: "whenever you go to the Central Park buy ice cream".
My favourite part of going to the park is the ice cream and the fitness center because the ice cream gives me calories which I then burn at the outdoors gym. The fitness gym is a small area of the park in which the government built fitness machines, the only place to get muscles like steel, that's where Superman probably worked out since he is the man of steel.
I would go again so that I could eat yet another ice cream.
The Central Park is for me:
The fragrance and taste of the lemon flavoured ice cream.
The smoothness of the handles of the workout machines aka torture machines.
The bells of little horse-drawn carts.
A party of people celebrating marriage.
The excitement of getting muscles of steel at the fitness center.