, comment: Is Cluj the best city on Earth?

After traveling the world, guest writer Matt Sampalean moved from Toronto to the Romanian city of Cluj, which he loves in more ways than one.s Cluj the best city on Earth? It’s a question I ask myself at times. Let’s put it this way; I’ve been around. Maybe not all around the world, but halway-ish maybe. Sailed the canals of Amsterdam, biked from one end of Paris to the other, took the train from Budapest to Berlin, drove the 405 in LA, and yeah, I even rode a hay cart back in the day. But other than enjoying all these forms of transportation, I got to enjoy the places I visited. I don’t know about you, but when I visit a place I always ask myself, ‘would I live here?’ While the answer is often ‘yes, why not’, the only place I moved to was Cluj.

Cluj, how do I love thee, let me count the ways:

1. I love your smell. It’s like earth, and air, and city. I will never forget my first day here, when I walked out of the arrivals building at the airport and breathed in your smell. Spring. You’re the city of eternal Spring. On a balmy day, it’s what you smell like, even if it’s December, or August.

2. I love your people. I used to think they talk funny, but it’s because they sing when they talk. They’re calm, your people. I remember the time a neighborhood hooligan was ‘yelling’ all kinds of obscenities at a guy on the soccer field. Even though I understood the death threats, it still sounded like he was singing a lullaby. We kept playing, the cops came and took him to the drunk tank, and that was that. No biggie. ‘Keep calm and carry on’. Invented in London, embodied in Cluj.

3. I love your eclectic architecture. The Gothic church, the Baroque buildings in Unirii Square. Let’s hope they get the restoration work they deserve. If it happens, there’s a chance people will confuse you with Prague. You can handle it.

4. I love your bohemian spirit. You’re ready to welcome anybody from anywhere. The Dutch businessman, the British expat, the Latin American/Tunisian/EU Citizen student, the German and American tourists. You’re equally willing to let your citizens fly out and explore. Plus, not many cities are equidistant from three European capitals.

5. I love that you’re growing. You have to take the good with the bad sometimes. You might gain some weight in cement, but it will help swing your weight at the higher levels of governance. And it’s exciting to see you grow.

6. I love your curves. The only things that should be flat are roads and tables, the rest is up for debate. It’s nice to be nestled by hills, it reminds your people that your backyard is rich and beautiful. What mysteries do you hide in your haunted forest? What’s your good side, the north or the south? Maybe it’s the view driving in that distracts drivers and causes those accidents up on Feleac.

7. I love your cabbies. They never take the scenic route and they have some of the best stories.

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