Since we entered the Youthink, we knew it’s not an usual hostel. The path between trees, white in snow, led us to a one-storey building. Completely frozen, we opened the door, to hear “Good you arrived, we were waiting for you!”. Few minutes after we were drinking tea with honey and ginger - prepared by Claudia, a member of the hostel community - in a cozy kitchen, getting to know the story of Bogdan Costea, founder of this magic place.
I was travelling a lot in my life. I saw many hostels, trying to remember things which are important and valuable in each of them. And also those, which I didn’t like, for example strict breakfast hours. A little bit more than a year ago everything fell into place: I found this house and I rented it from the owner, who understood my idea and really liked it.
And the idea is not only to open a place where people feel comfortable, but to connect it with permaculture and responsible tourism concepts.
We try to promote awareness and principles of permaculture. Our goal is to create a fully autonomous house with solar panels, compost, recycling system, our own food. We want to be independent from corporations, also in the sense of electricity or gas. It will take time, but this is the vision I want to complete. Of course I do it with others, you cannot do things alone. I give the general line, but people fill the rest. I told a friend of mine I wanted to have something alive in the reception desk and he decided that instead of a vertical garden we will do moss, which requires less space. I told my friends about an idea of chairs in the kitchen reflecting the main monuments in Cluj, but they choose particular buildings and designs. Even permaculture was not my initial idea, but when I got this garden, I invited a friend who is working in permaculture, he was amazed by this place. Wild growing has done half of the job for us. We have fruit trees, I encourage guests to pick fruits directly for breakfast.
The Hostel, even in winter, is often full of people. Not only guests, but also friends, local people coming for events or just to meet each other. It gives tourists a chance to sample the real local life.
We are organizing many events, to make guests meet with local people. Not only parties, also art exhibitions, exchanges, massage, yoga… We want to be a kind of social and cultural center. My main task here is to care about the right vibes. I go around, being sure everything is going smooth, with good vibrations. It’s not easy to tune people, but possible. I want them to feel here like at home, chill out, everybody can be here whoever they want.
The idea seems to be successful, after a year of working they are financially sustainable and fully booked during high season. Winter time there are less guests, but those who we met were all satisfied, staying longer than they planned or coming back later. Beside guests, friends, and stuff there are always some volunteers around. During winter, they mostly help in cleaning, like in our case, spring and summer they come handy more outside.
I want people who work here to meet others, not only tourists. We are not closing ourselves. Volunteers, beside help, bring international perspectives and experiences. In the summer time there is much more to do, there is always some work in the garden.
In whatever role you are coming here, you can be sure to find a comfortable, easy going atmosphere, a lot of space for chilling out and getting to know others.
In Cluj there are not many hostels. And even if they exist, they are not really competitors for me, we target different people. We are a little bit farther from the city center, but we have a huge garden. The structure is built the way people can easily socialize. Going out from the room to the kitchen or shower, you cross the living room. Often somebody starts to talk to you, this is how things happen.
Things happen in fact because Bogdan started them. And he facilitates them every day, being very attentive to people’s needs. Looking at him you just have the feeling it’s the right person in the right place.
If you have some idea in your mind, do it. Do what you love. With respect to people and nature.
More about Youthink Hostel: www.youthinkhostel.com