Oct 6-7, 2014: Sibiu to Sighisoara to Cluj-Napoca? Sighisoara to Sibiu to Cluj-Napoca? Stop off in Alba Iulia (from Sibiu)? Stop off in Targu Mures (from Sighisoara)? I knew nothing about Alba Iulia or Targu Mures until I looked them up in Lonely Planet. Then a reference to an Art Nouveau building decided me on the Sighisoara – Targu Mures – Cluj-Napoca route, but how long should I spend in Targu Mures? An afternoon? An over night? I’m not fond of one nighters but I figured I could handle one (nowhere else on this trip was going to be less than three nights). Then I added the night I cut from Sighisoara to Targu Mures.
Looking at the map it made perfect sense to go via Targu Mures, but the railway engineers didn’t agree with me. I was going to settle for the bus or a maxi-taxi, but the driver I used for my afternoon excursion from Sighisoara made me an offer I was willing to accept, so I arrived in Targu Mures in style. The owner of my pension, the Ana Maria, offered me a choice of three rooms, and kindly carried my bigger bag up and down the stairs to the bedroom plus sitting area I chose at the top of the building. Her English was limited, so we communicated in French, with a little help from the translate app on my smart phone. (The phone wasn’t new, but my T-Mobile contract was, and I was finding the unlimited low speed data useful.)
Turned out that for my purposes – the Art Nouveau building – one night would have been fine. But Targu Mures was a lively town, with a festival setting up along its beautiful central promenade, a symphony orchestra practicing outside the concert hall, and a castle area undergoing serious renovation. Its population is mixed Romanian, Hungarian and Roma, and I saw signs in both Romanian and Hungarian, and a number of Roma women in bright flowered skirts and head scarves.
The Culture Palace, my target, held my attention both inside and out. Inside a whole series of stained glass windows illustrated Hungarian folk tales, and I liked them enough I actually bought a set of postcards with descriptions. The last time I bought that kind of souvenir was at the Alhambra, ten years ago. Outside I took plenty of photos, finding a number of other buildings of interest.
Wandering away from the central promenade (officially Piata Trandafirilor) I found the remarkable Teleki-Bolyai Library, founded in 1802, with an eclectic collection of rare books and maps and including 52 incunabula. Count Teleki specialized in scientific volumes but several other libraries were added over the years.
I took advantage of some down time to catch up on sleep, laundry and my journal.