Douglas Williams Publisher Hello, bunã, and welcome to OZB your new lifestyle magazine all about Romania in English. First off, for those of you wondering, OZB stands for O Zi Bunã which means “have a good day” in Romanian. It’s a quintessentially and ubiquitous Romanian phrase and rather a lovely one I feel and, forgive the cheese, but I hope you are having a good day. With the publication of this magazine, the growing affection I’ve been feeling towards Romania has blossomed into something approaching love - with the place, with the people and even, it has to be said, with Bucharest. It wasn’t always this way. Our arrival almost two years ago was challenging, things didn’t bode well. There was the missed connection and a night at a dismal Heathrow hotel. The kids couldn’t understand why we’d left our Malaysian paradise and the Inside Out movie had planted huffy thoughts in their heads. We got to Bucharest a day late, our luggage arrived some days after that. Venturing out in our rental car (different side of the road for us) we discovered that the school run involved a Strada Iancu Nicolae in a state of viscous and chaotic disrepair; Pipera Tunari was even worse - like the school run needed complicating. The junction between the two was like something out of Delhi but with less rickshaws and more X5s. Still it was hot and sunny. Even grizzly, elderly cabbies spoke English and a big glass of frothy beer was refreshingly cheap. We went into the city. Wow, gorgeous classical French architecture interspersed with a hotch-potch of Soviet era solemnity and bad graffiti: charm personified and uber-cool. Then we went to the mountains - double wow! And reasonably smoothly we figured the driving and the shopping, loving the Mega, and some pals and all the other daily necessities. But I kept missing events like free music concerts in the parks, gastronomic festivals, rural celebrations and a whole raft of others. How do I find out about these events? No one knew and there was no magazine akin to those I’d worked on in East Asia to help. The more I asked about, the clearer it became that there was a need for an English language, cultural, lifestyle, events magazine/website/media platform that would serve the international community living here in Romania and so the germ of OZB was sown. We hope the magazine can be a celebration of modern Romania but at the same time we 4
won’t shy away from constructive criticism, as you’ll see within. Most importantly we want to become your go-to reference point for finding out about what’s on. About a year ago I began working on this project but it wasn’t until I was introduced to Marcel and his wife Fulvia, owners of No Borders Communications, about six months ago that it became clear that OZB would fly. After Marcel and Fulvia had helped me finetune the story commercial partners got on board and here we are. So Marcel and I are co-owners but the magazine is yours and it needs to be fit for purpose, it needs to serve your needs and for that we need your help. We need you to tell us what you’d like to see here in OZB. And we quite possibly want to tell readers about you – are you part of an organisation, a club, a class, a school; do you have a story? Do you meet with others and do stuff? Would you like others to join you? Do you know of something coming up that might be of interest to our readers? Then get in touch at email@example.com. We will dedicate two pages each issue to those NGOs working in Romania. Email us your address and we’ll mail the next issues to your home or office directly. Our next issue will be August but thereafter we will be monthly. We have some really good people involved in OZB and I thank them all. I really hope you enjoy the articles, the photography and Ada’s design.
O z b
So as was said in Doug Williams’s editorial introduction opposite we want OZB to be useful to you and as such we welcome and encourage your submissions, your suggestions and even your criticisms. If you have something going on or you know of something that you think is of interest please let us know – firstname.lastname@example.org. We particularly welcome submissions that fit into any of the sections that you will see in this magazine – music, literature, food, education, travel, art, property, legal and we hope to have many more in coming issues – health and kids/families are a priority for our next mag. We will also have listings and we will have sections that cover other parts of the country soon, Brasov, Cluj etc. This magazine is aimed at the international community of Romania, specifically those with children studying at the international schools, we are distributing with that in mind and we want to work closely with international schools. The magazine is monthly and it is free. If you find one you can take it away to enjoy. For advertisers we offer very well thought out packages that can include the magazine, our website, events, newsletters and social media, we even have a TV show! We are experts at maximising ROI. We work closely with our commercial partners with the aim of building long-term strategic and symbiotic relationships. For our next issue we have a very simple, summer, introductory offer: Whatever ad space you buy in our August issue we will give you the same amount of space in our September issue free. Sort of a “buy-one-get-one-free” if you like. Call Marcel on his number below to discuss.
Please tell all your friends about us and visit www.ozb.ro Romania has exceeded my expectations on a number of levels, I hope OZB exceeds yours. O zi bunã. The cover photo: A rider from the Dandy Run, a race of vintage clothed cyclists, passes the George Enescu Museum on Calea Victorie, Bucharest. Bio:Peter Stanley is a teacher and photographer whose work has been published in National Geographic, The Guardian, BBC, and the Telegraph. He recently published an educational photography book, “Speaking with Photographs” which provides lessons about composition and building photo stories. Peter’s website is www.photopoa.com
Marcel de Roode
Co-owner/Editorial Director email@example.com
Marketing Director and Website Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-owner/Commercial Director - 0768 971 647 email@example.com
C O N T E N T S
This NGO makes a massive and lasting difference to hundreds of women’s lives every year. > page 13
We take a look at the various and varied live music venues across Bucharest, from the small and intimate to the gargantuan! > page 41
N e v e r M i n d t h e ...
Bucharest transport policy lacks in terms of joined up thinking but moves are afoot to remedy this. > page 16
Treat yourself to this little gem of an extract from renowned author Mike Ormsby’s upcoming book. > page 47
John McConnico bids a fond farewell to Romania, we present five of our favourites of his pictures of the region. > page 20
Arabella McIntyre-Brown sees the Romanian gastronomic landscape flourishing and offers a cheeky summer recipe of her own. > page 49
Delta Mayday Food for Thought Kit Gillet finds communities living in the ecological wonderland of the Danube Delta struggling for survival. > page 25
Ursus In Romania there really are bears in them there hills, more than in the rest of Europe combined, OZB goes in search. > page 32
Giles Eldridge samples three Bucharest restaurants that satisfy both veggies and carnies alike. > page 52
Sibiu This handsome little city makes for a very enjoyable three day visit with plenty to see and do. > page 56
EVENTS IN ROMANIA AND BUCHAREST PLACEBO When: June 28th Where: Arenele Romane, Bucharest, Romania What: alternative rock concert. Placebo are an alternative rock band, formed in London, England in 1994. Last year marked 20 years since Placebo released their first album. On 11 March 2016, Placebo announced the A Place for Us to Dream tour that was planned to promote their new album with the same name. The centrepiece of the band’s twentieth anniversary celebrations have been a series of arena gigs across Europe, Russia and the United Kingdom. Placebo is coming to Romania performing at a very beautiful location – Arelene Romane - a beautiful arena in the middle of Carol I park.
Gărâna Jazz Festival When: July 6th-9th Where: Poiana Lupului de la Garâna, Gãrâna, România What: Gãrâna Jazz Festival is an international event for jazz lovers, the biggest and best known jazz festival in Romania. Gãrâna Jazz Festival started in 1997 within an improvised jazz session among close friends in a small Transylvanian village in the Semenic Mountains. The initiative continued the following year and for the next 20 years, developing into what the critics now call one of the most prestigious open-air jazz festivals in Eastern Europe. This year’s program is building up like a echo of the past 20 years of concerts, with a line-up packed with legendary artists and explosive new voices. The festival lasts 4 days and takes place on three strage: Poiana Lupului, Hanul La Rãscruce and the Catholic Church of Vãliug Village. Visit their website to find out more about the line-up, acommodation, and tickes: http://www.garana-jazz.ro/en/about/
Shine Festival When: June 30th – July 1st Where: Arenele Romane, Bucharest, Romania The headliners of this year’s line-up at the Shine Festival is the Canadian band Three Days Grace. They are coming to Romania for the first time and we are all excited to see them. The other bands on the list are popular local bands that represent many musical genres from pop to hip-hop and dance to rock to punk.
Bucharest Jazz Festival Where: Artcub and Piata George Enescu, Bucharest Website: http://www.bucharestjazzfestival.ro/
Cluj Festival Fun
We take an in-depth look at three cracking music festivals taking place in Cluj Napoca this summer. > page 38
Buying a property in Transylvania makes uncommonly good sense, we speak with an expert agent in this field. > page 63
Between July 3rd to July 9th you can enjoy daily jazz concerts but also attend other related events: talks, workshops, improvisation, etc. This year is the 7th edition of this jazz festival and there are important international and local artists scheduled to perform on the stage. All the events at this festival are free of charge. 7
Outernational Days 2 at Grădina Uranus
TIMESHIFT Bucharest Dance Festival
When: July 7th-9th Where: Grãdina Uranus, Bucharest, Romania What: multicultural international festival. Website: http://the-attic.net/outernational
When: July 20th –23rd, Where: Romexpo, Bucharest, Romania
The cultural platform The Attic presents the second edition of the multicultural festival Outernational Days, which will take place in
Between July 20-23rd you can enjoy dance music in the open air at Romexpo. The festival this year welcomes renowned DJs from all around the word including David Guetta, Faithless, Robin Schulz, Jonas Blue and Rudimental.
Bucharest between July 7-9, 2017. Outernational Days 2 will bring to the stage a suite of ensembles, bands and musicians from all over the world, for the first time in Romania. Playing during the three days of the festival are encounter various bands and musicians from faraway lands including Kenya, Niger, Senegal, Lebanon and Turkey, as well as Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Romania). Besides concerts with bands from all over the world, the festival will present a series of thematic DJ sets, artist talks, panels, art installations, workshops, debates, movie screenings and lectures around the Outernational concept.
Street Food Festival When: July 7th-10th Where: Aleea Stadionului, Cluj-Napoca Website: www.streetfoodfestival.ro Between the 7th and the 10th of July food lovers are invited to attend the original street-food festival in Romania: Street Food Festival. The event presented by Home Garden offers a new type of culinary experience and will offer to all food lovers an entire weekend filled with good food, activities and many surprises. Everyone curious is invited to enter the festival zone, as it is free of entrance, and to enjoy a delicious and entertaining event. Gastronomes will be able to choose between more than 50 types of food products coming from all over the world, craft beer, ice-cream and good coffee. At the same time, the Festival Stage will host live music.
The Fresh in the Garden When: July 8th Where: Botanical Garden, Bucharest, Romania What: Underground music in the open air. Website:http://thefresh.ro/thefreshinthegarden If you want to spend the evening in a green area far away from the burning sun, you might want to check out the details of this event that takes place in the Botanical Gardens of Bucharest. The line-up is as follows: Akua Naru, Silent Strike feat. Muse Quartet, Robin and the Backstabbers and others. The main singer of the evening will be Akua Naru, an American hip-hop artist and representative of Conscious Rap. Silent Strike is a Romanian underground band that sings electronic music, they tour Europe regularly. Another name from the line-up is Robin and the Backstabbers, another popular local band that sings pop-rock music in Romanian. 8
WAHA Festival When: July 20th-24th Where: Micfalau, Covasna County Site: http://wahafestival.ro/ This year marks the 6th for the Waha Festival. This a festival that takes place within and among nature, people can camp or stay with locals that live in the area. As with last year, there will be six stages with diverse music for any state you might be in. You can enjoy many types of musical genres: techno, psychedelic, deep house, jazz, ambient, live bands, cumbia, psychill and many other subgenres that only the djs know.
Sighisoara Medieval Festival When: July 28-30 Where: Aleea Stadionului, Cluj-Napoca Website: https://sighisoaraonline.com Sighisoara Medieval Festival is a Romanian festival held on the last weekend of July in Sighisoara. Sighisoara is a small town in Mures county, Transylvania. This town is well known for its old fortress that has been exceptionally well preserved over time. There are plenty of things to visit in Sighisoara: the Clock Tower, the Covered Stairs, the Old Church on the Hill, Blacksmith Tower, etc. Some of the activities you can enjoy during the medieval festival are: medieval and folk music live concerts, knights fights, the pilgrims market, Mercenaries Square, Troubadours Square, officials Great Tribune, Columnist House. Usually people that take part in this festival are dressed up in medieval clothes and take part in parades in the evening. It is a great opportunity to feel the vibe of the town during this unique festival. 9
UNTOLD When: August 4th-7th Where: Cluj-Napoca, Romania What: biggest electronic music festival in Romania. This year the Untold festival is in its third 3rd incarnation with an exceptional lineup plucked from the international electronic scene. Here is part of the line-up: Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Hardwell. In 2015 Untold was voted Best Major European festival. Held in Romania’s clubbing hotspot of Cluj-Napoca and spread across 7 stages in and around the spectacular Cluj Arena, Untold Festival brings four days of performances from the world’s best dance and pop acts. Official website: http://chapter2.untold.com/ro/
Summer Well Festival When: August 12-13 Where: Stirbey estate in Buftea, Romania What: Summer Well is an indie and alternative rock festival on a beautiful private property close to Bucharest. The location of the festival – The Stirbey estate - is located in Buftea, 15 km away from Bucharest. It is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved aristocratic domains around Bucharest and it is the perfect location for a festival. The estate is actually a 25 hectare park with lots of fresh air and green areas, old trees, a lake and beautiful buildings. Summer Well Festival is in its seventh year - the line-up is really impressive for 2017. Bands include: Interpol, Editors, Birdy, Glass Animals, Metronomy, The Kills, Nothing But Thieves and others. This festival is well organized with excellent security and it’s super child friendly event. In fact, there are many young families that choose to come to this festival and have fun outside while enjoying good quality music. For more details and tickets online, visit the official website: https://summerwell.ro/
NEW SWEDISH HONORARY CONSULATE IN CLUJ NAPOCA Sweden opened its second consulate in Romania, after Timisoara, to cater to the needs of the ever increasing number of Swedish citizens and businesses in the Transylvania area. The official opening was celebrated on 6th of June, on the occasion of the National Day of Sweden. The inauguration ceremony took place at Ecolor headquarters, where the new consulate will operate, in the presence of H.E. Ms. Anneli Lindahl Kenny, the ambassador of Sweden in Bucharest. “I am very happy to open a Swedish Honorary Consulate in Cluj Napoca today. It means that we will be able to be much more active in one of the most dynamic regions in Romania, which also is a destination for large amounts of Swedish investment. More and more Swedish companies are discovering this part of Romania. But Cluj in Transylvania is also one of the most popular destinations for Swedish students in Romania. These students, of which the vast majority study medicine and dentistry, are, when graduating, very important for our health system. Through their experience here they will create strong networks and links to Romania – something that helps to further expand the bilateral relations between our countries.”- said H.E. Ms. Anneli Lindahl Kenny. Carl Widell, general manager of Ecolor company, named the Honorific Consul of Sweden in Cluj Napoca, expressed his gratitude for this honour and therewith his full support for the Swedish community, both businesses and Swedish people and his openness for anyone wishing to learn more about Sweden.
Greek Festival Pullman Bucharest hosted the 1st edition of the Greek Festival, between June 12th-18th. The festival highlighted the Peloponnese gastronomy, culture and traditions, with a full week of events with food specialties, local drinks, dancers and traditional music. Official guests who joined the Greek Festival were His Excellency, Mr. Vassilis Papadopoulos, the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic in Romania, Konstantina Nikolakou, Deputy Head of the Region of Peloponnese, and Ioannis Markos, Minister Plenipotentiary for Economic and Commercial Affairs. The festival comprised a tourism seminar and gastronomic show, dedicated to the Peloponnese region, as well as wine and cheese tasting with local authentic products from the peninsula. During the whole week, the restaurants within Pullman Hotel offered special Greek-Peloponnese menus, designed by Executive Chef Giannopoulos Vasileios, with local ingredients from the Peloponnese peninsula. “Peloponnisos is an extremely beautiful region of Greece, well worth visiting, but it has not been greatly explored by Romanian tourists. This week is a great opportunity to introduce to the Romanian public the beauties and delicacies of Peloponnisos.” stated His Excellency, Mr. Vassilis Papadopoulos, the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic in Romania.
Casa Mea e Casa Ta by Douglas Williams The NGO that Ian Tilling established and ostensibly runs, Casa Ioana, helps abused women and their children, especially those with associated housing problems. The women gain much needed safety and security at Casa Ioana and the organisation’s talented and dedicated staff help the women get their lives back together. Over 80% return to a “normal” life after the 12 months that they stay with Casa Ioana. At any given time there are upwards of 150 people being looked after by Casa Ioana but there is also a waiting list of 200 other abused and homeless women the majority of whom have children. Tilling arrived in Romania less than a year after the revolution, a concerned individual here seeking to help, deeply affected by the news and images he was seeing on his TV back in southern England. In England he had been a senior detective with the police in a major port town. Tilling and a friend drove a couple of vans packed with donated goods all the way from the UK. He was struck by the beauty of this country but working in an orphanage to the south east of Bucharest proved harrowing: “All the children had potbellies and I could not help likening them to the images of starving children in Africa. Reminiscent of the children in Africa, flies congregated around the eyes and mouths of 12
the children who either seemed to enjoy the attention they were being given or were too lethargic to brush them away with their hand.” “My duties were simple, I needed to interact with the children and keep them clean. Both tasks were nightmarish. Each time I attempted to lift a child out of their cot, they would become very agitated and scream uncontrollably. I quickly realised that what I was actually doing was trying to remove these frightened children from the security of their own little worlds, a world that only they had shared year after year without change. How do you keep a child clean when he or she has diarrhoea? Sorry let me rephrase that, when he or she has diarrhoea and has only a thin piece of cotton to serve as a nappy.” Returning to England Ian recalls: “The culture shock that I had experienced going from “west” to “east” was small compared to the
The culture shock that I had experienced going from ‘west’ to ‘east’ was small compared to the amazement of returning. amazement of returning. I had left a capital city with few shops and outdoor food markets for a small town crammed with supermarkets bragging dozens of varieties of pet foods; a monochrome city to a town bursting with colourful advertising and bright shop-dressed windows; futureless children with carefree kids 13
NGO profile enjoying life to the fall. I had to go back. I had no idea why or what purpose would be served by returning, I simply knew that it was impossible to resist the lure to return.” There followed a year of back and forth before Tilling settled here in Romania full-time and has lived here ever since.
flocked to help with Casa Ioana and the organisation went from strength to strength. The first Casa Ioana proper opened in 1997. Since then there have been a series of highs and lows, some prosaic like the centre being gutted by a squad of thieves, others more regal with the visit of the UK’s Prince Charles.
Compact, tanned and healthy looking Tilling is a long time vegan. Jovial, genial and unassuming his default setting is busy and yet totally unfazed. His phone continually rings as events he is organising or central too come together, trips to the UN and European policy setting organisations are set up, and certain delicate diplomatic negotiations are manoeuvred.
Getting up to present, Tilling explains: “About five years ago, Casa Ioana witnessed more and more families losing their homes and ending up living on the streets. We were regularly confronted by parents who were able to find emergency night shelter but these local authority sanctuaries would not accept their children. Recognising that the system was failing these families and encouraging their breakup at a time when a family needed each other most, Casa Ioana decided to concentrate all its efforts on this new phenomenon.”
By ’94 the original charity Tilling had set up collapsed mainly as a result of the political turmoil of that time. His personal life went into something of a tailspin as well. He found himself in the depth of winter divorced, broke and living in a tough neighbourhood eating little but drinking plenty of cheap wine “wallowing in self-pity and refusing to acknowledge a future”. He was repeatedly told to “Go home and get a life” by the Brits he knew here. He didn’t heed their advice and the next spring a thawed out Tilling set about creating a new charity, Joanna House, which soon became Casa Ioana. Later that year a fledgling relationship blossomed into a fully-fledged love affair and soon after marriage, and Tilling’s life had most definitely taken a turn for the better. Volunteers from around the world
Although at times frustrated by the “political class” and the endemic “corruption” Romania is now home to Tilling, he has no plan to leave. He feels safer here than anywhere he’s been and he sees a real shift in attitudes towards helping others – a shift in a good way. “I hate it when those who have a great deal, fail to help those who through a lack of opportunity or choice have found themselves left behind. In all my experience, I have never yet met a homeless person who has told me that he or she has adopted that way of life.” For more information on Casa Ioana, how you can get involved or donate see www.casaioana.org/eng
Short term gain, long term pain?
by Clare Nuttall Clare Nuttall is news editor at in Kazakhstan Times and the
a Bucharest-based journalist specialising in Eastern Europe. Currently bne IntelliNews, she has been with the magazine since 2008, initially and more recently in Romania. Clare has also written for the Financial Economist Intelligence Unit.
Romania’s economy has been riding high for the last couple of years, buoyed by tax cuts and pay rises for public sector workers. The populist measures, most of them adopted in the run-up to the December 2016 general election, have resulted in a boom in consumption. This has been good news for the economy, which expanded by well over 4% in 2016, according to assessments by international financial institutions, a return to the type of growth rates not seen since the mid-2000s and mainly driven by consumption. This trend is set to continue; the latest GfK Consumer Confidence barometer showed that in the first quarter of 2017, confidence reached its highest level since the start of the international economic crisis. Consumer oriented sectors are benefiting from this trend, which coincides with the ongoing evolution of the retail sector from “informal” retail like open air markets to “formal” retail - as seen by the opening of more and more supermarkets and shopping centres across the country. Online retail, while still accounting for the lowest share of total retail turnover among EU countries, is also gathering pace. Adding to the feel-good factor, Romania’s unemployment rate is at a post-crisis low. High emigration levels and an increasing shortage of skilled workers are adding to wage pressure, especially in the growing IT sector. With international IT and outsourcing companies continuing to invest into Romania, there are no signs of this trend abating. Going forward, growth is expected to remain largely driven by consumption, though with the boom seen in the last 18 months gradually tapering off. Romania’s local economic forecasting body, the Comisia Nationala de Prognoza (CNP), has
maintained its optimistic forecast of 5.2% GDP growth this year. It’s well above those from the likes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the E u r o p e a n Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) or the European Commission, even though both the IMF and the EBRD recently raised their projections for this year to 4.2% and 4% respectively. How long the current boom will last and how steep the slowdown will depend to a large extent on the government. Rising wages have been the main driver for increased consumption and the left-wing Social Democratic Party (PSD) promised further public sector pay hikes before it was re-elected in December. It now has to figure out how to deliver on these while preventing public spending from ballooning to unmanageable heights. The pro-cyclical fiscal policies pursued both before and after the election are potentially storing up problems for the future. Accepted wisdom is that governments should save when times are good and spend when they are bad and the government needs a boost. Instead, Bucharest has been fuelling the boom at a time of high growth. “The main risk to the outlook is the posibility of further fiscal stimulus,” the European Commission warned in its Spring Forecast published in May. The IMF has already said that Romania’s budget deficit will rise to 3.7% of GDP this year and 3.9% in 2018, pushing Romania past the 3% threshold to activate the EU’s excessive deficit procedure. While the consumption boom has been good for many Romanians, what the economy really needs if it is to grow faster in the longer term, is investment. Yet the government’s expansionary spending is likely to take place at the expense of investment into infrastructure, which would create new jobs and address some of the concerns of investors.
Liveable City A Bridge Too Far? by Alan O'Brien Alan O'Brien is a Transport Speciaslist with the European Investment Bank in Bucharest. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of EIB.
As a parent of three daughters, it was only a matter of time before I would be hauled up in front of a school classroom to give a presentation on my career. In my case, this happened last year where I was thrown to the wolves in front of 30 boys/girls aged between 11 and 13. When thinking about a topic to speak
of 30 had been involved in a road traffic accident during their short lives – about half of the group raised their hand. When I asked how many of them personally knew somebody who had been seriously injured or killed, I had four hands raised. Although I didn’t press this any further, some of the children spoke to me after the session with some of their very personal stories. Thinking about this afterwards, I suppose this confirms what we already know. Ask any visitor about their experience living in Bucharest. The positive aspects are plentiful – good weather, low cost of living, great social scene, wonderfully welcoming people. But on the flip side the negative experience always seems to start with “traffic”.
about, I knew that talking about my job would probably not only bore them, but would probably turn them off school itself for quite a few years. Instead I chose to talk about road safety, which is somewhat related to my own work and also has some relevance to their daily lives.
Drivers in Bucharest can be described in many ways, but I suppose one would never accuse the typical Bucharest driver of having an over-active Frontal Lobe. The fear about consequences doesn’t really seem to feature in the many undertaking, speeding, overtaking, parking and mobile-phone-use-whilst-holding-a-cupof-coffee manoeuvres that become part of the overall experience.
In 2015, just under 2,000 people were killed on the roads in Romania, with another 9,000
The results were startling. I asked firstly how many of the group
suffering life-changing serious injuries. Since my time in front of a classroom of pre-teens, I’ve come to see that many people in fact don’t realise the scale of the problem, seeing this as something that happens to other people when they don’t “take care of themselves”. I’ve lost count of how many times I have been scorned for using a seatbelt in the back of somebody’s car. I was once told by a taxi driver to hold a child on my lap, and he would drive “carefully” (along the DN-1 from the airport to the city!). Something that many foreigners take for granted is seen as bizarre in Romania. How disturbing this reality is. But this safety problem is, to me, a consequence of the focus that has existed on transport in the city, where the car owner sits top the social scale, and all other road users are of lesser importance. This evolves into every available inch of road-space being given over to traffic lanes and parking, with practically all other users being brushed aside. Bowing to the needs of car drivers is an easy game for our politicians. Contrary to the opinion of the occasional elected representative, the modern city inhabitant does not always choose to travel by car but does so in many cases as a necessity. It takes real leadership to act on this.
I had the great fortune of being witness to the development of the Urban Transport Plan for Bucharest that took place during 2015 and 2016. That process brought together many of the entities responsible for managing transport in Bucharest – Metrorex, RATB, the City of Bucharest, Ilfov County Council, the University of Bucharest, the Police and so on, with the aim of developing a single vision for the city. As would be expected, the first meetings were fractious as each organisation battled for respect and its place at the table. But as always, the initial chest-banging developed into a valuable group which provided an excellent platform for the genesis and testing of new ideas. The Final Report of the Transport Plan is worth a read. The document sets out an ambitious vision of metro, rail, cycling, parking and bus proposals that look to take the city in a new direction. It is the first strategy for Bucharest that brings together all different transport systems into a single investment plan. (www.pmb.ro) Only time will tell if this represents a starting point for a real transformation of the city of Bucharest into a more liveable city, or if it is another wedge waiting for a very wobbly table. In other words, the city authorities have proved that there is “know-how”, but now there is a need to prove that there is “do-how”.
The result is a city that leaves little space for actual living. One might draw a parallel with wartime Europe where life was spent in isolated shelters, with inhabitants scurrying between work, home and shops trying to survive the streets outside. 17
Stejarii, a piece of Paradise in Bucharest An island in the middle of an oak forest, a feeling of serenity, surrounded by wonderful nature, far from the madding crowd. Stejarii is in theory a residential club, but in reality it is a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle highly appreciated by the members of the diplomatic corp and international organisations, business owners and managers in multinational companies active in Romania. And the peerless concierge service is able to provide the residents of Stejarii Residential Club with whatever they want – even when they don’t know exactly what they want – and this is perhaps the pearl in the crown. For a person who has a busy career with many responsibilities, to come home every day knowing for sure that his or her family is enjoying the best place to live in the city, is reassuring to say the least. Imagine you come home tired after a
hard day at office. You drive slowly up the oak shaded road. A rsidence card is required at the entrance and so the barrier is lifted, a 15 km per hour speed limit contributions to the general ambiance and of course the safety. You walk on the marble halls of your building and you open the door of the beautiful and spacious apartment. Solid wood flooring, thick solid walls, large windows from floor to ceiling, Miele equipped kitchen, ultra-comfortable beds and a vast terrace, exactly what you need for an evening with friends. Home is where the worries come to an end. Would you like to go out for dinner? All you have to do is call the concierge and ask them to help you with a reservation. If
you like to stay inside for a quiet evening, you can ask the concierge and they will send you a chef that will prepare your dinner. In the meantime, you can go out onto the terrace and admire the oaks while you enjoy a glass of something cold. Given half an hour in Stejarii Residential, regardless of your day, total relaxation will prevail. You can’t wait for the weekend to come and, no wonder, there are dedicated events for residents from an off road day in a 4x4 car to wine-tastings and barbeques.
A Variety Of Options This project was developed by Tiriac Imobiliare, a group of companies active in the real-estate market, part of Tiriac Group. Stejarii Residential Club was built in the northern part of Bucharest. It includes several buildings with four floors (plus ground floor and basement), with a total of 285 apartments
close to nature but also close to the city. It’s also in the proximity of two airports, office buildings, shopping centres and international schools. The location of this club is truly unique. And so are the services offered to its residents. They can ask for information and reservations for theatre and cinema tickets, restaurants, plane tickets, hotels in Romania and abroad, car transportation and many other things.
Unlimited Concierge Services
In addition to these, they can require services like dry cleaning, personal shopping, flowers, rent-a-car, day care with specialized personnel, medical services, financial services etc. Also the concierge office can help the residents organize trips and tours in Bucharest and across the country. If you need to organize a birthday party for your kid or a rooftop party for your friends, the concierge will be glad to help you with that. available exclusively for rent. Besides the fabulous forest that hosts the club, generous and well-cared green spaces cover almost 30% of the surface of the project, and each building has an interior Japanese garden. Nature is one of the most important attributes of this club and it is one of the main reasons residents choose to live here. Regarding the apartments, there are a variety of options. One can find 2, 3, 4 room apartments and even duplexes or penthouses for residents who have a big family or rich social life. The luxury apartments have centralized air conditioning, floor heating, solar panels, generous terraces or gardens. In the morning, at dawn, when the birds start singing, the sensation of waking up and having your coffee on the terrace in unspoiled nature is priceless. The children can play in a safely –designed space, very close to the forest and situated in a private park, where the parents can enjoy the fresh air. In the same area there is a fenced dog park, where the pets can run and play.
Still, in Stejarii Residential Club there are rules that all the residents have to respect. Some of them are related to noisy events, some to driving speed on the internal roads of the club, some to the pets. But what makes a community is the sharing of the same values. And the values are driven, among other things, by rules. Either a resident for a couple of months or a couple of years, everyone has the right to enjoy in equal measure the privilege of being a member of the exclusive community of Stejarii Residential Club.
tel: 0755 128 129
Located near one of the most important commercial areas in Bucharest, Stejarii Residential Club offers the advantages of living 18
Of Fairy Tales, Horror Stories and Cartoon Adventurers
John McConnico is an American Pulitzer Prize and World Press Photo award-winning photojournalist. McConnico has spent the last 25 years as a wire service photographer and photo editor. He has worked in over 90 different countries. Much of his work focuses on photo essays in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Some of his clients include the New York Times, UNICEF, Conde Nast, and the Associated Press.
T his is the story of John’s time here in Romania and neighbouring Moldovia: lived in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “likeAfterlandhaving of Copenhagen for 5 years, our family was told by my wife’s employer, UNICEF, that we would be moving to Eastern Europe in 2007.
Our firstborn Liam was 4, and we felt like we had settled into a place where everything was comfortable and certain. Everything worked in Denmark and we were not keen to leave at all. Where would we move? Our son asked. Moldova, replied, which we tried to tell him was like a little hat on top of Romania. People often got it confused with Syldavia, fictional country from the Adventures of Tintin. Or sometimes Maldives, off the southern coast of India.
we the the the
After a frenetic period of checking hospitals, schools and housing, we decided to make the leap from the comfortable and certain into the great unknown. Liam, a French speaker, liked the idea of moving to a place associated with Tintin. And his soon to be little brother Luka would know Eastern Europe as the only home he’d ever had. What we found after 4 years in Moldova and 5 years in Romania was that it was the best decision we could have ever made. Living in these two places has shaped our children in ways we could never have imagined possible. They are worldly, they are resilient, they understand myriad customs that their parents had never been exposed to as children. And they have come to know how absolutely magical these two countries are. When they move on to college, they can tell their friends they were raised in the land of Tintin. And Dracula. And while most of that is not exactly true, the mysticism of living abroad and seeking out the unknown when it is usually not the easy thing to do is what counts in the end. We now move to Belgium. Back to the normal. But we know our children now have it in them to seek adventure in their lives. To find places which stoke their imagination and make them citizens of the world, not of any one country.
S U C C21E S
(left to right) CART SIGHSOARA EYES NUN
nature British journalist Kit Gillet has been based in Romania since 2013, reporting from the region for the likes of the Guardian and the New York Times. This month he delves into the world of the Danube Delta, visiting many of the small communities that dot this impressive natural landscape.
Foto by Andrei Pungovschi
In Romania’s isolated Danube Delta, traditional communities are struggling to survive in the face of reduced fishing, tighter regulations and economic migration. Kit Gillet explores the challenges that exist in one of Europe’s most bio-diverse regions.
It’s close to midnight and the mosquitoes are out in force, yet Marius Nestor barely seems to notice, despite the fact they swarm around his head. Sitting smoking a cigarette outside a rundown fishermen’s bar in the isolated Romanian town of Sfantu Gheorghe, on the far edge of Europe’s second longest river, the 37-year-old talks about his life to date. “I started work at 14; I gutted and cleaned the fish. From 17, my dad would take me out every day to show me how to catch fish,” he says, remembering a period in the early 1990s, soon after the fall of communism in Romania.
Nowadays, like many fishermen in the Danube Delta, perhaps the least inhabited region of Europe, Nestor struggles to make a living, caught between the dual pressures of those trying to preserve the Delta and its stunning wildlife and the traditional communities within it who are struggling to survive. “They don’t allow us to fish where there is fish, because those are now protected areas,” he says. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1991, the Danube Delta is one of the most diverse regions on the planet – a unique habitat of
Foto by Andrei Pungovschi
over. It’s the only income I have,” says Nestor, sitting under a single bare light bulb outside the fishermen’s bar. He quickly goes back to talking about earlier times.
canals, reed-beds, lakes and ponds that acts as an important breeding ground for hundreds of species of birds and freshwater fish, including several rare and threatened species. White-tailed eagles can be seen hunting for prey among the reed beds, while white pelicans and pygmy cormorants skim along the water almost playfully. Somewhere in the waters below many of the remaining wild sturgeon of the Danube live out their long lives. The delta is the ending point of the Danube River, which snakes its way 2,800kms through the heart of continental Europe, through ten countries and four European capitals. The WWF considers the lower part of the Danube, including its delta, among the 200 most valuable eco-regions in the world, while its labyrinth of channels makes it one of the largest wetlands on the planet. Yet for the traditional communities that live within, life has always been hard, and has become increasingly difficult in recent years as young people have abandoned the villages to find work elsewhere and efforts made by the authorities to regulate fishing and the cutting of reed beds - in order to preserve the nature before it is too late - have restricted their livelihoods. “The people in the delta feel pretty powerless,” says Alexandra Panait, project leader in the Danube Delta for Rewilding Europe, an NGO focused on helping return areas of Europe back to their natural states. -----------------------------------------
“Once, together with five other fishermen I caught a sturgeon that weighed 220 kilos, with 58 kilos of fish eggs. I made 45,000 lei just from that one time, but that was in 2001. Life got harder since Romania joined the EU, not because of the EU but because of the Romanian government,” he adds. For generations, local communities in the Danube Delta have survived mostly by catching fish. Yet over the last 50 years supplies of fish have dwindled steadily, as overfishing combined with the reclaiming of wetlands for arable use, particularly in the 1970s and 80s, impacted on spawning grounds and fish populations. Industrial and agricultural waste further added to the damage. Sturgeon, a source of high-grade caviar which could, with one catch, make a local fisherman’s fortune when sold, are now an endangered species in the waters; in 2006, Romania placed a 10-year ban on catching sturgeon on the Danube, with neighbouring Bulgaria following suit in 2011. “People in the delta need to try to find alternative ways of making a living,” says Dalia Onara, a researcher at the Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development in the nearby city of Tulcea. “If things don’t change we can go to a museum to see the sturgeon in the future.” Yet, with the opportunity to earn real money, Onara admits that illegal sturgeon fishing still takes place within the delta. “We all know there is illegal fishing, and that it is tolerated,” she says. “On one of the bridges out of Tulcea you can see people on the roadside selling fish. Often that fish is a sturgeon.”
Four hours from the nearest city and accessible only by boat, the 860 residents of Sfantu Gheorghe rely on a single ferry that docks every other day for any supplies that they can’t grow or catch themselves. Roads in the town are unpaved and streetlights spaced far apart. At night, the men head out in their small fishing boats, hoping to catch enough fish to feed their families and then earn enough extra money to survive the cold winter months. They return in the early morning, to gut the fish and then gather at one of the bars to start drinking. Life can be monotonous. “I have to fish all year around, even in the winter when the water sometimes freezes
“The biggest sturgeon I saw was and three metres long,” says Vasile 57-year-old local fisherman, talking years before the ban as he walks long-deserted building, “but books say sturgeon that weighed 1.5 tonnes.”
400 kilos Ciumac, a about the through a there were
Ciumac has taken me to visit a former fish collection centre, now an abandoned set of buildings located down one of the small river channels a short distance from Sfantu Gheorghe. Inside the main hall 80 large vats, which once would have been filled with the day’s various catches, stand empty. Cobwebs hang all around, while many of the building’s windows are smashed. The place was shut around 1995, after failing to meet European standards for the water used to clean the fish. “At some point there was so much fish that they just had to throw Foto by Andrei Pungovschi it on the floor here,” he says. Some local villagers have had the idea of turning the buildings into a museum or a communityowned fish centre and market, but so far that has yet to happen, and so it stays as it is; a forgotten place only visited by a few people like Ciumac, who used to work there and who rows over in his ancient boat to visit the lone caretaker and his dog. Fishing is the only livelihood most of the local communities in the Danube Delta have ever known, and finding an alternative is not easy. Some in the delta have set up guesthouses and eco-lodges to try to take advantage of the interest from domestic and international tourists in the delta’s wildlife, returning to fishing in the tourist off-season. In places like Sfantu Gheorghe, on the far end of one of the delta’s main channels and popular with visitors, this has worked to a degree, but it requires start-up capital that many are lacking. For those in communities only accessible by smaller boats, it is likely next to impossible. ----------------------------------------Traveling between the isolated communities within the Danube Delta can be complicated. Beyond the daily ferries that go up or down the three main channels, reaching more isolated villages requires smaller boats able to navigate the thin and winding channels. The journey from Sfantu Gheorghe to Caraorman takes around 90 minutes, passing through unmarked channels and under fallen trees. The boat navigates through freshwater
lakes, skies filled with birdlife, and passes fish weighing stations where cats lazily eat discarded fish guts. Vast beds of reeds, some of which are being cut down to be used as roofing for locals’ houses, seem to glide by. In the 1980s, Communist Romania had the idea of establishing a sand factory in Caraorman, and coming into the village along a manmade channel the skeleton remains of the factory, which was never operational, stand starkly against the skyline. Behind, a series of six-storey blocks of flats slowly fall into ruin; the never-occupied rooms empty but for loose wiring and graffiti left behind by local children. Caraorman itself isn’t faring much better. Many of its houses are abandoned and its population is shrinking fast. The cemetery is overgrown with weeds. “There are now 280 people here, when I was a kid it was around 1,500,” says Mihaela Ivanov, a polite, middle-aged lady who owns one of the village’s two shops. “Some left because it is difficult to find work here, but most died. Our priest has been here six years - in that time he’s buried 80, with just three born.” Ivanov was born in Caraorman, and like most of the village she is ethnically Ukrainian. The delta region of Romania is made up of diverse communities, with Romanians joined by Ukrainians, Turks, Bulgarians and Lipovan Russians, old believers of the Orthodox Church who fled to the region to avoid persecution back home generations ago. Locals often speak more than one language, depending on whom they are talking to. “Our language is screwed up, it’s not pure Ukrainian,” says Ivanov, speaking in Romanian whilst standing behind the counter in her spartanly stocked shop. Most of the people in Caraorman are fishermen, and life is getting harder for them. Isolated delta communities like Caraorman are on life support. The local school has just seven children, including kindergarten, who study in two classes. “There are 10 families in the village who have no kids; they prefer not to have kids because of the conditions here,” says Ivanov. “This year we were declared an ‘unfavourable area’. Taxes might drop from 16% to 3%. There are months when my husband doesn’t make any money from fishing. You can’t really survive on fishing anymore.” Ivanov’s daughter lives in Tulcea, the gateway
Foto by Andrei Pungovschi
Sinescu, the 41-year-old caretaker of the Lighthouse of the European Commission. “After 1856, the European Commission took it over from the Russians. Everything in Sulina was built then and the architecture is very interesting because of this.” From the top of the Commission’s lighthouse it is possible to look over the church roofs and the 19th century European architecture, and then in the other direction out towards the mouth of the Delta and, a few kilometres beyond, the lighthouse at Mile Zero, out in the Black Sea and the official endpoint of the vast Danube River.
city to the delta, and works as a waitress in a hotel while studying law. Her 21-year-old son is still in Caraorman, but is thinking about moving away. “I’ve always thought about leaving, even now. It is hard to quit, but the idea is always in the back of my mind,” says Ivanov. The name Caraorman, meaning Black Forest, has its origins in Turkish, and just outside the village the dark forest, complete with four-century-old oak trees, is one of the special features of the area. One local tells me that they hunt wild boar, illegally, in the forests, “though boars are plentiful everywhere. We hunt them with dogs,” he adds. Sitting on the dock in Caraorman one afternoon, a lone boy sits dangling his fishing line in the still waters. He’s from the village but lives in Tulcea and is just visiting his family. “Everyone young left, it’s only the old people now,” says 74-year-old Contzolenco Timofte, just back from placing his fishing nets overnight and busy repairing the wooden fence outside his house. “It was better in communist times. Then everyone had work, nowadays so many young people are unemployed. They have a hard time making a living.” ----------------------------------------During the last decades of communism in Romania, ending in 1989, industrial and agricultural development across the delta region, and further upriver, impacted heavily on the environmental balance of the entire region, with agricultural and industrial waste seeping into the water, causing far-reaching pollution and eutrophication. In addition, by transforming wetland into fishponds or draining it for agricultural use, the Romanian authorities also drastically affected the natural habitats and spawning grounds of various species.
from Sfantu Gheorghe, where it aims to return wetland drained in the 1980s to its former state by breaching two existing dikes and reflooding the area. According to Tetelea, the earlier attempts to create more arable land across the delta region were largely unsuccessful; the land at Mahmudia was initially used for crops but the soil became very dry and it was then turned over to grazing for sheep and cows, “but it wasn’t good for that either,” he adds. “We are now trying to recreate the previous channels that will give the communities better connections to the internal delta and its resources. It is a long process to convince the authorities and landowners; to make them understand that it is good for nature but also good for them. “After it’s flooded, nature takes back control. In one to three years the wetland can recover,” he adds. ---------------------------------------In the largest population hub in the Danube Delta, Sulina, population 3,600, the riverfront bristles with restaurants and bars. Young couples, families and tourists stroll along the promenade in the afternoon, as others settle down to eat and relax. A large, heavily loaded cargo vessel, the Kafkametler out of Istanbul, moors up to be inspected before it can continue its long journey up the Danube River towards the heart of Europe.
“A lot of the wetlands were drained in the 1970s and 80s,” says Cristian Tetelea, Head of the Fresh Water department at WWF Romania, “approximately 80,000 hectares out of a total area of around 500,000 hectares.”
In 1856, at the end of the Crimea War, the international powers established the European Committee of the Danube, a multinational body based in Sulina with authority over the Black Sea gateway to the Danube River. In the late 19th century the commission, under the leadership of British engineer Charles Hartley, began straightening and dredging the Sulina channel, the central one of three main branches than run through the delta, to allow access for commercial shipping. Sulina, as the gateway to the Danube became an important stopping off point on the journey.
WWF Romania is currently working on a project in Mahmudia, a small village of 2,000 residents on the southern delta channel, upstream
“Legends say that Greek pirates were cast away here and that is how the community of Sulina first started, around 945 AD,” says Maria
Domestic tourists still flock to Sulina to enjoy its beaches and to take daytrips into the Delta, but like elsewhere in the delta other aspects of its economy have suffered. Thirty years ago there were thousands of people employed in the local fisheries, fish canning factories, ship repair yards and the naval barracks in Sulina. Now there are just 3,600 in the entire town, and the factories are long gone. Cargo ships still pass by regularly, stopping for supplies and inspection, but two large cargo vessels stand high above the waterline across the channel from the town and look like they’ve long been abandoned there, while the rows of factory buildings, on the same shore, also look deserted. ----------------------------------------“I’m among the very few from here who manage to get by,” says Adrian Oprisan, the 48-yearold owner of a small guesthouse in the town of Crisan, a two hour ferry ride from Sulina along the delta’s central channel. Crisan, population 1,200, is little more than a single road that runs along the water’s edge; it didn’t even exist until the late 19th century, when engineers began straightening the central channel. Nowadays it’s a picturesque small town increasingly reliant on tourism. Oprisan organises canoeing trips through the delta for visitors, with trips often lasting three or four days. “In ten minutes you can learn to use a canoe,” he explains. “We have route maps and people can just rent the boats, or they can be guided by me, my brother or my son. Whatever we catch we cook, and everyone eats the same. Guaranteed fresh, no menus,” he says, with a smile. Oprisan started the business back in 1999 and in 2004 got a loan to build the current guesthouse (before tourists were just offered
rooms in his parents’ house). In 2012 he began working with Rowmania, an organisation set up by Ivan Patzaichin, an Olympic gold medal canoeist, to promote canoeing in the delta. Oprisan doesn’t have a huge number of guests – he estimates 60 in the first half of the year – but he says it’s enough. “I can’t live anywhere else,” he tells me, sitting 20 metres from the riverbank. “I’m qualified as a Slavic language teacher and taught for a few years near Tulcea, but I missed the quiet and nature of.... this place.” His brother qualified to become a dentistry... technician..... but also .. came back. -----------Nowadays, communities in the delta are cautious when it comes to outside in- F o t o b y A n d r e i P u n g o v s c h i volvement or help, which in the past - whether it was the communist government or those that have come since - has often had an ultimately negative effect for the local population. “Authorities don’t generally involve locals in their decisions,” says WWF’s Tetelea. “The environmental regulations put in place over the last few years have had positive impacts – species have recovered or stabilised – but locals complain there are too many regulations; that they can’t compete anymore. There is a truth to this.” Sitting in his office in the centre of Sfantu Gheorghe, Valentin Sidorencu, a former forestry worker and the mayor of Sfantu Gheorghe since 2008, is adamant that things would be better without outside interference. “We don’t need to be helped - we need to be left alone to do what we’ve always done. We understand nature, live among it, know how to guard it.” Outside his door, one of Europe’s most important, isolated and diverse regions stretches outwards.
This article was reported with the help of a Europa grant from the Romanian Cultural Institute.
in a forester’s family in Bavaria. He studied forestry but focused on biology and ecology and has worked to conserve large carnivores and the wild places they inhabit ever since. He is the Executive Director of Carpathia an organisation dedicated to protecting Romanian wilderness from illegal logging and hunting.
BEAR N E C E SS I T I E S Contrary
Romania is a rich country in many sheer, unrestrained natural beauty and
to some understandings
perhaps none more so than in
dour particularly with her abundance of flora and fauna and wilderness. speaks with one individual who has spent the last
W e Promberger
spoke with to get his take on bears, wilderness and Romania:
years working to ensure
As a biologist whose professional life is centred around large mammals, principally bears, can you recall a particular point, a particular incident or discovery that switched you on to these creatures perhaps when you were a child?
this remains the case for generations to come.
by Douglas Williams
M OT H E R N AT U R E ’ S R E C I P E S We live in times when talk of the natural world is invariably negative. We hear about vast tracts of jungle disappearing at a staggering rate, more and more species endangered, almost certain extinction just around the corner for many of the planet’s big mammals, and yet here, in this corner of Europe, the story is refreshingly different. Romania has one of the healthiest populations of brown bears in the world. In addition Romania is home to nearly 3,000 wolves and to the elusive and exquisitely beautiful lynx.
”t o p c a r n i v o r e s i n C a r p a t h i a n s .“
Not as a child, but when I was a student I read a book about wolves (Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat), which fascinated me. Some months later I spent a couple of months in the North of Canada and on a canoe trip down the Yukon River. One full moon night two wolves came out onto a clearing right in front of me and they began howling! It was a magical moment that completely turned me onto wolves. Do you recall your first experience of seeing one of the large mammals in the wild bears, wolves etc where, when, how did you feel?
Partly this is due to geography with sprawling, untouched forests and sparsely populated mountainous regions, and partly this is due to social and historical factors. This isn’t to say there aren’t threats nor that these magical animals’ status is guaranteed but it is something that all Romanians can and do feel justifiably proud of.
My first direct encounters with carnivores were rather scary – I had read “Bear Attacks” by Stephen Herrero and was very scared of bears when I went into the Canadian Northwest for the first time. I did see a couple of bears from far away but nothing happened. It took a couple of years until I overcame my fear – now I am not scared anymore. I have respect for bears, not fear. I have never had any fear of wolves, just a great admiration and excitement when seeing them.
One man has dedicated his life to studying and protecting the above-mentioned species and the wilderness they require to survive. His name is Christoph Promberger and he has spent the last 24 years living in Romania working to create the biggest contiguous, gazetted area of pristine wilderness to best enable the brown bear to continue to prosper.
When did you first come to Romania, why did you come and how was it then, what was it about the place that led you to move here and live here for so long?
Promberger, 51, grew up
Just take a look into Scotland, a country that cleared all its forests and killed all its carnivores.
I came first time in 1992 to evaluate the opportunities to start a wolf research project. I moved here in 1993, thought I would stay for three years, and I never left. Romania offers such unique and beautiful nature and a quality of life that is beyond anything I could have in Germany. How important are bears, wolves, lynx etc to the environment, the ecology of Romania, what do they mean to the country, what is their value both economically and otherwise?
nature Due to the overabundance of deer, forests cannot regrow and the country has turned into an ecological dessert (with a beautiful landscape, so most people do not see the devastated state of the ecosystem). Carnivores are the top predators, and without top predators, any ecosystem suffers tremendously. An overabundance of herbivores causes tremendous economic damage and, last but not least, carnivores are charismatic species wherever they live. People like to observe them and are willing to pay significant amounts of money to so. So if a country has carnivores, it has also the opportunity to make money from people who will pay to see them.
and by developing conservation and sustainable development programmes with local communities. How did Wild come about?
The CARPATHIA project started as an initiative to stop the illegal clear-felling in Piatra Craiului National Park as a result of the restitution of forests in 2005. We first intended to only purchase forests inside the National Park, but then started to see the potential to buy forests also outside the current park boundaries with the goal to create a Fagaras Mountains National Park.
How threatened are these creatures in Romania, what are the main threats and are these threats combatable? At the moment, in most areas of the Carpathians carnivores are still relatively abundant. However, development of the mountain areas, increasing pressure of trophy hunters, heavy poaching of
Do you think Romanians have a different relationship with rural life than western European countries and perhaps by extension with the wilderness that is so important for the survival of these species?
”T h e CARPATHIA
project a i m s t o e s t a b l i s h …. a European Yellowstone“ ungulates (as the main prey of carnivores), and bad wildlife management all cause serious and unnecessary problems for carnivores and their relation to humans. All these threats would be combatable; it just needs the political will and a strong support against the hunting lobby from the civil society. What does Carpathia do, how does it do that and how successful is it? What are the major achievements and goals? The CARPATHIA project aims to establish the largest forest National Park in Europe, an iconic park, a European Yellowstone. We do this by purchasing forests and alpine grasslands for full protection, by restoring the original ecosystem, by protecting wildlife,
Carpathia European Wilderness Reserve aims to create a world-class wilderness reserve in the Southern Romanian Carpathians, large enough to support significant numbers of large carnivores and to allow evolutionary processes to happen.
Due to the long and difficult years during communism, Romanians have been cut off from Western-style economic development for many decades. Today, this suddenly becomes an advantage as a lot of nature has remained here – the country is not yet overdeveloped as the Western countries are. Most Romanians still remember a peasant countrylife from their childhood and this means that many have still more understanding for and interest in nature.
The foundation contributes to the conservation and restoration of the natural Carpathian ecosystem, for the benefit of biodiversity and local communities, by acquiring, protecting and administrating forests and natural grasslands. Thanks to the fine work of Carpathia there is now 28,300 hectares of hunting free forest, 17,137 hectares under full protection (so no hunting or logging) and nearly 800,000 trees have been planted by the organisation. Find out more about the work Carpathia does, how you can get involved and how you can donate at www.carpathia.org/en
Time, is our second album, we had written the song that gave the album title long before it actually came out, so we are making plans for spring again for the third. If you’ve never listened to us before, that means plenty of time to check out the first two albums until then! Meanwhile we are releasing a new single, Go Get It, and we also want to make available a REMIXES Album, as well as an Acoustic Album, so we’re keeping busy!
I was first told about Moonlight Breakfast by my daughter’s classmate’s mum - great how these things work - and went to see them last year at a Full Moon gig where I was suitably impressed. They have a fresh sound that’s somehow also classic, eminently accessible and full of a quirky, cool style - very Bucharest. To me they represent modern, confident, international Romania musically and hence we tracked them down and got a wee chat for our first issue. I urge you to explore further - great summer time listening . by Douglas Williams 1.Where are you guys and how is your summer looking? What gigs have you got coming up? We are writing this on a plane right now on the way to a Festival. We’ve just finished the first half of our European Tour and we’re going to spend some time to work on new material. The summer looks great, but then, so did spring I think it’s safe to say we love every season. We do have quite a few gigs coming up. We’re really excited about performing in France. We have our first Paris show on June 28th and we’re playing at the Europavox Festival in ClermontFerrand on the 30th of June. The next day we’re going to fly straight to where we had our first show in 2011, opening for Jamiroquai, at the H2O Beach in Mamaia. It’s become a tradition to go back there every year. There is more coming up, we regularly post concert information on our Facebook Page.
3. Where do you come from, where did you meet, how did you get together? A little bit of backstory about you guys. We all come from Romania. We’ve known each other for a really long time. We’re family and best friends, so we’re lucky to be able to work with the people that we love. Bazooka’s parents were also his music teachers. He studied clarinet at the National University of Music in Bucharest and then started playing drums in a rock band. He was at one point a drummer in 12 different bands, so he has a lot of performing experience! Adita is actually an actor. He had been a guitarist in a few bands, he had even played together with Bazooka at one point, but acting always came first, so we were really happy when he decided to become a full time musician. And I was sure I would never be able to go on stage and sing in front of people, but six years later, I can’t imagine doing anything else. 4. How would you describe your musical style and who are your influences? We are going to stick with the description on Facebook as: urban, rough style mix of Soul, Electro, Beat, Nu-Jazz and Swing, though if you’re going to look for us on ITunes we’re under Pop. Not really sure we can name specific influences, as we are and have been influenced by all the music we’ve listened to and loved so far, and that is a lot of music and diverse, too. 5. What do you think about the Romanian music scene just now? We are really excited about it! We hear about new cool bands all the time. It’s where we started and we are proud to still be a part of the Romanian music scene. We’re always trying to upgrade, our sound or our show and we’re really happy we were able to do that with our last show in Bucharest where we worked with Les Ateliers Nomad for a new visual experience.
2. Have you got any albums on the horizon, can you give us a little bit about your back catalogue thus far? We were just talking about not waiting that long again before releasing a new album. We released our first album, Shout in 2012 and in 2014 Motor Entertainment Germany did a reissue. We were happy, of course, since they also did physical distribution in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and it’s a nice feeling to see your music up there on the shelves among your favorite artists, but that meant we had to wait for at least one more year before we could release anything new. 36
CLUJ FESTIVALS Increasingly, people are investing more and more time and money in experiences, as opposed to material things. Enjoying life, discovering new places, travelling, going to live concerts and listening to music are top of the list of preferences. And Romania has a whole lot to offer when it comes to fun experiences. by Romaniţa Oprea Steadily, Cluj-Napoca has built herself into the international music and festival scene. With world-class events like Electric Castle, UNTOLD and Jazz in the Park, the city is finding a new vibe and now possesses the power to surprise and entertain ever-growing crowds. This summer the city is the perfect detination for culture, sports, music events, for history, fun and chill, gourmet and traditional cuisine.
ing to forgotten or less used public spaces, using music in order to attract the public. Every year the festival grows and develops in terms of artists, stages, experiences and public audience. In 2013 we had 20,000 people but last year 61,000 people attended the festival, we’ve grown a lot. We now have six stages, we’ve developed a ticket based section and we bring more and more award-winning artists, from abroad and from Romania,” explained Brandu ș an. This year the line-up includes big names such as ÂVintage Trouble, Dhafer Youssef, Susana Baca, Bar-
All That Jazz The Cluj summer kicks off with Jazz in the Park, taking place in between June 26th – July 2nd. The organizers are billing this event as “the biggest jazz festival with soul in Romania”. So how did it get started? The organizers had the idea of bringing good music to the city’s Central Park, thus making it accessible to everybody. “We noticed that classical and jazz music are out of most people’s reach. They inhibit the general pulic because not everyone understands these types music. We wanted to change all that: to make jazz and classical music more accessible for everyone. In 2013, when we started the festival, it was forbidden to sit on the grass and people didn’t really enjoy the city’s Central Park as they could. That’s why we decided to develop a jazz festival in public places with free admission for everyone who wants to discover and experience jazz,” said Corina Brandusan, PR Manager of Jazz in the Park. Stages are being constructed on which jazz, blues, folk and classical music will be played, all live, whether just for those taking a walk in the park or coming especially for the event. There will be music from morning till evening, with Romanian and foreign artists. still 38
“Our goal was – and - to give newmean-
celona Gipsy Balkan Orchestra, Jojo Mayer & Nerve, Skalpel and Mammal Hands. Ultimately, Jazz in the Park tries to maintain a balance between promoting Romanian jazz artists and having big international names. There’s a 50-50 percentage in the festival. “For young Romanian musicians we want to create a place where they can grow and
develop and we invite famous international jazz players from all continents as we want to offer great experiences, to have diversity and a lot of jazz influences,” concluded Brandu ș an.
Cluj will, Cluj will ... Rock You The summer music fiesta continues in Cluj-Napoca with the established and renowned Electric Castle, which offers a broad variety of musical genres, from alternative and indie rock to techno, experimental, hip-hop and electronic music. The Electric Castle story begins in 2013 with a group of music loving friends frustrated by what was on offer on Romanian radio. “Some were into dubstep, others loved rock, reggae or hip-hop, but we wanted to create that special place where people with different affinities could come toge-ther to celebrate good music, meet their favourite artists and enjoy a few days of magic.
“We started with smaller parties at Booha, a club we owned in Cluj, and we realised that people wanted to hear different kinds of artists, not mainstream, not famous, but brimming with talent,” said Andi Vanca, PR Manager for Electric Castle. The concerts sold out, and this success gave them the hunger to create something way bigger! It quickly became apparent that Banffy Castle was their only option as venue. “We all loved it and we realised that it was a hidden treasure as the castle wasn’t really known,” added Vanca. A long time ago it was considered as Transylvania’s Versailles. And so was born the “Electric Castle” in 2013, Electric standing for the atmosphere, the vibe that the festival wanted to create for its guests. Over 32,000 people attended exceeding expectations two fold. The first festival featured over 90 artists including Morcheeba, Pendulum DJ Set, Feed Me, James Zabiela, Fritz Kalkbrenner, Dope DOD, Dub Pistols, Stanton Warriors, A.Skillz, Krafty Kuts, Wankelmut and Telepopmusik. Even the organisers were surprised by the number of people that showed up.“We ex-
pected to have around 4-5000 people every day, but there were double that. Since the festival takes place in a village, we had to build the infrastructure from the ground up, investing in water networks, electricworks and other essential amenities. We had to convince people in Bontida that we were not crazy and that we could actually do it, and since then we’ve become good friends; and we had to convince people from all over that Electric Castle is a place to discover new music, new people and new trends.” The second edition took place under the motto “Bigger, Stronger, Better” - the festival was extended to four days and Electric Castle became the biggest festival in Romania’s history. In 2014 performers included Die Antwoord, Thievery Corporation, Bonobo, Dub FX, DJ Fresh, Gramatik, Chris Liebing, Kraak and Smaak, Wilkinson, Foreign Beggars, Delta Heavy, Oliver Koletzki, Dub Pistols, Akua Naru, DJ EZ, Suie Paparude, Notes and Ties Orchestra, The Correspondents, Adam Freeland, Fred V & Grafix, Gramophonedzie, etc. The festival is growing year on year but the organizers aren’t aiming for numbers. The question, according to Vanca, is never “how many people can fit in here”, but “for how many people can we offer the best festival experience too?” Electric Castle grew from 80 artists in the line up in the first festival to over 200 artists this year. Last year the festival was five days long and welcomed over 130,000 attendees. The Electric Castle festival attracts an eclectic crowd from a wide demographic and from all over the world in keeping with the acts that appear. This year the festival will take place over July 12-16th. The tickets are almost sold out. Headliners include Franz Ferdinand, Paul Van Dyke, Unkle, Architects, House of Pain, Dub Pistols, but also famed Romanian acts such as Subcarpati, Suie Paparude, Coma, Golan, Diamonds Are Forever, Robin and the Backstabbers, etc.
music This year the organizers are employing the best sound system out there, one of the largest LED screens in Europe providing 8K resolution, an 80m main stage, two stages with covered audience areas, and the overall festival surface area has expanded to more than 220,000 square meters, in order to have room for the wide range of sets, day-time activities, the myriad food and beverage vendors, etc. How hard was it at the beginning? “It’s hard to imagine how different things were even just six years ago,” says Vanca. “Nowadays, people in Cluj are used to seeing big names here. Not so long ago we didn’t dare dream that acts like Skrillex would perform here, that we’d see Sigur Ros live or dance and shout along to the Prodigy. So it took a lot of convincing locals that yes, we can do this, and also a lot of convincing people from other countries that Transylvania is, well… real! And well worth a visit!”
Awarded “Best Major Festival in Europe” at 2015’s European Festival Awards, UNTOLD received another nomination at the same awards event last year. As the largest electronic music festival in Romania, the first version of the festival took place in 2015, when Cluj-Napoca was anointed European Youth Capital. Key artists included Tom Odell, ATB, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Avicii, Armin van Buuren and David Guetta. During the first UNTOLD more than 240,000 people attended gigs at various venues across Cluj-Napoca’s centre. Confirmed this year are Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Afrojack and Armin van Buuren.
music Former Prime Minister and current Cluj mayor Emil Boc was also present. The music fans spent EUR 23 million during last year’s festival. Moreover, all available 12,900 accommodation places in Cluj were booked during the festival, no matter if they were luxury hotels or guesthouses. The festival’s organizers have also found a cunning way of making tourists spend more time in Transylvania, visiting the most famous tourist attractions in the area: all those who attend the music festival are able to use the access bracelets as entry tickets to the main tourist attractions of the city and the area.
Let the music guide you through Bucharest’s street maze
This year’s festival takes place over 3rd-6th of August with seven DJ headliners: Afrojack, Armin Van Buuren, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell, Martin Garrix and Steve Aoki. This year’s festival features a special guest, Marshmello, who is playing for the first time ever in Romania. Live acts include Ellie Goulding, Example, Hurts, Jasmine Thompson, MØ, R. City and Tinie Tempah. The festival will take place across the city involving eight stages. Other artists performing are Alan Walker, Don Diablo, Dillon Francis, Sander van Doorn, Dubfire, Jamie Jones, Loco Dice, Solomun, Sven Väth, Andy C, Borgore, Pendulum and Chase & Status. The festival will once again transform again this beautiful city, bringing visitors from all over Romania and the world and thus consolidating Cluj-Napoca’s reputation as a major music and festival city.
Last year’s UNTOLD brought more than 300,000 people to Cluj with 10 percent of those being foreigners. The largest number of spectators was recorded on the third day of the event when famed Dutchman DJ Armin Van Buuren took the stage.
By Oana Vasiliu
When you arrive in Bucharest for the first time, you are facing a challenging journey. Most of the city’s buildings preserve the eclectic style of the 19th century. The streets and the utilities are an ongoing work in progress, prolonged by the city’s bureaucracy. Restaurants and bars remain the only well organised attractions, thus leading you to an unique experience.
Moreover there is a varied and burgeoning live music scene that is eminently missable but that would be a shame as much of it is really rather good. Here we start in the north of the city and move down into the centre.
Let’s go for a ride! 41
From north to the Old City Center As with the rest of the world, the Hard Rock Café (32 Kiseleff Avenue) is the place to be for a live gig with a local rock band, eating their famous burgers and drinking their one of kind cocktails. Just next door is the cavernous Berãria H (32 Kiseleff Avenue), one of the biggest beerhouses in Eastern Europe. The menu is similar to any other beerhouse, but the venue is huge, offering over 1,500 seats. What’s more, local bands – recently famous or from the Communist period, like Formatia Azur, play gigs there every single night. The small café from the Romanian Peasant Museum, called The Peasant’s Club (Clubul Taranului, 3 Monetariei Street) is one of the most colorful institutions of its kind, so unsurprisingly the club associated with the museum follows in its footsteps. Here there are
regular concerts, plays and different cultural events almost every night, so it’s usually pretty full of an evening. Going towards the Old City Center, on Victoriei Street, you can find Green Hours (120 Calea Victoriei), one of the oldest places in Bucharest with good, live music. Since opening in September 1994, Green Hours has offered a mix of jazz concerts, alternative theatre (Green Hours has its very own Teatrul Luni / Monday Theater) and various cultural events, from art exhibitions to hand made accessories fairs. Just before you cross the street to feel the vibe of the historical centre, you can find what is probably Bucharest’s most famous underground bar, Control Club (4 Constantin Mille Street). From famous DJs to local hip-hop singers, every night there was a special lineup. They also have an outdoor garden area.
Old City In his trilingual book on Lipscani, historian Eugen Istodor wrote of the main street of the Old Center, “It looks like a theatre setting, ready for a party which is always postponed: vintage scenery, wedding dresses, easy drugs, easy lovers, cheap and colourful gifts, antiques, crazy bicycles, all sorts of tea, ecological, organic, shawarma/kebab, mussels, narghiles, eccentricities, cool, small talk, euphoria, parties, drunk men, funny, takeaways, pubs and taverns for all pockets, but also an earthquake waiting around the corner, ready to turn everything to dust.” The book was released in 2011, but it’s still true. For a traditional Romanian experience, there are a bunch of places to taste both goodies and music, such as Caru’ cu bere (5 Stavropoleos Street), Lacrimi si Sfinti (Sepcari Street) or Crama Domneascã (13 Selari Street). Here, almost every night a nice taraf (Romanian folk band) will sing an old Romanian song for you, especially about love and romance. The custom
of the place is to honour the singer, called lãutar, with a tip, but it isn’t mandatory. Secondly, a lot of promoters, boys and girls, will try to lure you into their club. The music is so loud and usually all of them are so crowded that we can’t name one place to have fun, you should pick one according to the music you like and which can be heard from the street. A kind of unique place in this Old City is Tunes (16 Gabroveni Street), a rather small bar where everyone performs karaoke. Most of the “singers” are former participants at the Romanian versions of “X Factor” or “Romania’s got talent”, so every song seems like a private concert of the band you love. Just across the street, quite hidden, is another underground spot recently opened, Manasia (13 Stela Spataru), a place which used to be a police station. Sometimes, the place hosts parties or film screenings. 43
EXPAT PROFILE - up close
A n d r es V erga r a by Romaniţa Oprea International Executive Creative Director at McCann World Group, Bucharest.
Outside the city centre Fabrica (50 11 Iunie Street) is another underground style bar. The space is quite unusual and has several bars and rooms inside. Here, local underground bands play. Drinks are cheap so it’s worth trying. Moving forward, a new place is the talk of the town, Expirat (1 Doctor Constantin Istrati Street). The club was previously found in the Old City Center,
but after the tragedy the owners decided to close it down for safety reasons. Currently, the club is situated in on old hall (Halele Carol) where private parties used to take place. According to my Facebook newsfeed, the city’s most amazing underground parties have moved there.
Swedish with Chilean heritage, Vergara's career developed in various award-winning agencies around the world, including: BBDO Dubai, TONIC Dubai, Publicis Stockholm, SCPF Barcelona, Ruiz Nicoli Madrid, DDB&Co Istanbul and Leo Burnett Chicago. He has worked as an Art Director, Creative Director, and Strategist. He has worked with numerous clients, including: KRAFT, Coca Cola, Nawras Telecom, Audi, CNN, SONY, Finansbank, Koenigsegg, Dank furniture, &amp; amp; Multi Turk Mall. In 2013 Andres Vergara moved to Bucharest as International Executive Creative Director at McCann Bucharest, working on clients like Bite Latvia and Lithuania, Julius Meinl, Mastercard and Beko. When did you first receive the proposal to come to Romania and what was your initial reaction? I was finishing my EMBA in Berlin in 2013 when I was asked to join McCann Bucharest to spearhead their international division. It was a great challenge and I was excited to come to Bucharest to start this new journey.
more hands-on job for me, but it was exactly what I needed as I had grown apart from the actual daily creative work in my previous job, with a 650 hundred person organization, I was too involved on the management side and too little in the actual ideas part, which is what I truly love and was missing. Secondly, Romanian creativity is a natural thing and I see it expressed in many layers of society, from daily things adapted and reinvented to the great heritage of inventors, writers and composers. I believe people in Romania are creative by need also because of the past lack of infrastructure or official support, and then the result is something completely out of the box.
“C U L T U R E E A T S S T R A T E G Y ” How did your multi-cultural experience in advertising change the McCann Bucharest creative department?
What did you know about our country at the time of your arrival? I have been visiting Romania since 2001 and I had explored many nice places around the country but I had never worked or lived here before. How has your perception of Romania changed? By living here, I have been able to pass from being an observer and get to know the Romanians’ soul and mindset. I am here with my family so I am also living through their experiences. Like in any other relationship, there are ups and downs throughout the years, but I can say we truly feel part of Romania now. What would you say are the main differences between the Romanian advertising scene and the Russian one? First of all, I was previously working in BBDO Moscow, the biggest Russian agency in that market, coming to McCann Bucharest was a drastic change for me. It became a much
I’ve lived in 12 countries up until now and I have a huge amount of cultural baggage to share with my team. As the true globalist that I’ve become, I believe I’ve left a small piece of my global-footprint in the organization by now. What would advertising?
I’m a “culture junky” after all these years living and travelling, I really love to discover the cultural insights and truths that every nation and its people carries and for me it’s very important to include that in my own work. “Culture eats strategy” for breakfast is my motto. If your work has little cultural relevance you become exactly that. Non-relevant. What does Romania and your life here now represent for you? It’s been a solidifying period in my life, not only from a career point of view, but also from a family one. My kids have created their own space and social life and everyone is very happy with what they’ve accomplished on their own. I would recommend to any expat with a family considering coming here to bring their family with them. All the expats that I know here, their kids are really integrated and happy. What are your main passions and how are you building them? Ironically, it’s travelling, and I do that a lot in the job. I think I must have clocked close to 350 flights since I came to Romania. Mainly in Europe. Too much, some would say, but it comes with the territory. I use every opportunity I have to discover something new about the place where I go. I love architecture, food and wine, so it’s not a hard topic to keep when travelling, besides the waistline, hahaha! What type of going out in Bucharest do you prefer and why? (cinema, theater, etc.) I love the social side of this town and it’s best enjoyed with friends. There is something new almost every week. I try to avoid the clubs as they quickly become repetitive in their approach, but I’m the first to come if you have a new cool place to recommend. Then again, I have high standards, so it better deliver or you’ll hear it from me! What literature do you prefer? I don’t have a specific type honestly - I love to jump between genres and to read as many books as possible at the same time, if you saw my reading list now (currently 4), you would think the person is schizophrenic. I’m currently reading: “The Misfit Economy” by Alexa Clay, “The Mysterious Island” by Jules Verne, “Roaming: Living and working abroad” by CM Patha and “You are not smart” by David McRaney. What professional book are you read lately and impress you? Why? More than a book, I would recommend a genius app. Blinkist. Through a yearly subscription you
can speed read hundreds of books, each in just 15 minutes, if any title is really interesting, you can buy it there directly. I think I’ve gone through 150 books since I got the app in the beginning of the year. Much better spent time than endless hovering on Facebook or Instagram really!
Our hawkeye correspondent Mike Ormsby reports from his mountain eerie in Transylvania.
What restaurants do you prefer? That’s a tricky question because like I said, I’m really picky about food and wine. If I had to recommend you something that I call as “sure thing” I would tell you to have your cocktails at Salon Golescu, eat Italian at Animaleto or Grano, Japanese at Yuki, brunch at Simbio, fish at Amada and special Romanian cuisine at Casa Terra in Fagaras which is sometimes hosted by Espace Minoux in Bucharest.
Key to Brighter Future
How do you find Romanian food? One thing to tell. If you don’t travel in the regions you’re not trying true Romanian flavours – and the forgotten ways of preparing food. It’s a European gem. You must travel to have the true tastes. I recommend you read a „Dor de ROST ” by Razvan Voiculescu who blends film and food with photography and unique stories of incredible people around Romania. How would you characterize your life outside of work? Involuntarily, I divide my time between socializing with my colleagues in the industry and my family. Free time is short and I have little chance to meet more new people, I wish I did though. This would give me a better chance to learn new things and make new interesting friends. What are the places you would like to travel to more and why? In Romania I would love to see more of Bucovina this year and more of Italy and France as well. Actually, anything Mediterranean. I’m jealous of how they can truly enjoy life and keep health and joy present in their lives and there is so much to discover in these places anyway. What pieces of advice would you give to an expat who has recently arrived in Romania? Don’t stick to your bubble. It’s quite possible that the combination of your work and relocation it might feel overwhelming in the beginning. Skip that, ditch it and go out as much as possible, you will find interesting places and people. There are great organizations like Bucharest with Kids, IWA and great Facebook groups - you just have to socialize more, get out there. What are your next goals in your professional life? What about the personal one? My next goal is to just keep growing in my field and to have more fun while doing so, I know it’s easy to say but it is really what makes the difference - to have more fun doing what you love doing. On a personal level, I’m curious about what’s around the corner, because you never know what you might find.
The elderly woman in the centre of Braşov has sad eyes and a big book. She thrusts it at me, with a wobbly hand: Brothers Grimm . She looks as hungry as the wolf on the cover. “Mister, 20 lei.” I flick musty pages. A hardback with good illustrations? Besides, she needs the cash. Her clothes are faded and an empty shopping bag dangles from her wrist. It’s no fairy tale out here under this summer sun. “Mister, call it 15.” “Done.” “ Mulţumesc , God bless.” She has good manners. I have Hansel & Gretel , and all the rest, in Romanian. I’ll read some on the trip home, improve my vocabulary. The station is as decrepit as ever but the trains run on time, sometimes. Platform 1 in 10 minutes can mean Platform 4 in 2 minutes . This would probably make a good PR campaign: Free Fairy Tale with Every Ticket. I buy mine, go upstairs to the marble mezzanine, and sit to wait. Dusty hikers trudge past. A middle-aged man in a Ceausescu-era safari suit squints at the schedule. A pee-stained drunk lies face up, mouth open. What if one of these soaring pigeons plops in it? A pretty girl in a tatty yellow T-shirt trots towards me. She’s about eight. Her jeans are too big and her long belt is looped twice. She smiles, head
cocked. “Mister,give me money.” It seems this is my job and she’s my boss. I smile back. “Hello, and what are the magic words?” “Huh?” I explain about please . “The magic words are vă rog .” “ Vă rog , Mister.” I hand her two lei . “And afterwards?” She grins, cute little beggar that she is. “ Vă rog , Mister.” “No, mulţumesc .” “ Mulţumesc. ” She trots away but soon returns, chewing a sticky bun as big as her head. She sits nearby, munch munch , smiling. She knows a sucker when she sees one. I’m an ATM on legs. She has big brown eyes. I glimpse a bright future in there and beckon her. You, now . She approaches with a wary gaze. “Your name, please?” I ask. “Rushinta.” “I’m Mike. Can you read?” “Sigur, domnu’.” “Good, this is for you.” I pull The Brothers Grimm from my bag. Rushinta’s eyes pop when she clocks the dastardly wolf. “For me?” “And I want to write your name inside. How do I spell it?” I dip in my bag for a pen. Rushinta has other ideas. “Let me do it!” She sits alongside and writes her name, tongue peeping out. I scribble a dedication and she grabs her prize. “Should I read this book now?” 47
Heavenly Weed Salad
by Arabella McIntyre-Brown This is a very liberal salad, which depends on your mood and what’s in your veg patch and fridge. But it’s crucial to have a good proportion of wild leaves in the bowl, and colour from flowers – which gets easier as the summer wears on. In the salad bowl pictured:
“If you like.” She runs a finger across the first page, mouthing the words. After a few minutes, she looks up. “Ten lines already, Mister.” “Congratulations. Any good?” “Yes, but why did you give me this book?” Rushinta wrinkles her little nose at me. Strangers don’t give you books. They give you money, or food, or nothing. I sit wondering. Ah, I know. I pull out my keys and select one. “This is a key to a door.” She looks at the key, then at me. “ I know. ” I point at her page. Her fingertip is poised, so I’d better be brief. “Rushinta, books are important. They are the key to your future, they will open doors in your life. Understand?” “Sort of.” “Read every day. You’ll get smarter, every day.” She sighs. Perhaps time is tight at home. “OK.” “Now, how are Hansel and Gretel doing?” Rushinta reads aloud and I listen, watching pigeons soar. What were the chances, today, I’d meet a tired old woman who needed money and an energetic little girl who needs something more? All I need now is a pigeon to plop in that drunk’s gob. Vă rog . I sit in my train, watching people with worried faces shuffle along outside. A sweaty guard taps steel wheels with a steel rod. Question is why. A yellow blur rouses me. Rushinta zigzags 48
between travellers. Most ignore her pleas but some oblige. She’s not carrying the book. Perhaps she sold it. Dumped it. She vanishes. Never mind. I’ll watch the sweaty guard. Rushinta reappears soon enough, perched on a bench and kicking her heels. She doesn’t see me. A whistle blows, wheels turn, and my train clanks away. I doubt we’ll meet again. She’ll forget our chat. Just another weird foreigner. One who can’t help watch and wonder still, from his seat. Rushinta twists around, tugging at something tucked under her belt. She pulls the book free, turns the pages carefully, and places a finger. Her little feet stop swinging as she reads the magic words.
This is an extract forthcoming book.
Mike Ormsby is the author of bestseller ‘Never Mind the Balkans, Here’s Romania’. A former BBC journalist/World Service trainer, he has been described by Romania’s literati as ‘The British Caragiale’. More details at www.nicoarobooks.com
Shop-bought saladings: Butter lettuce Celery chunks Cucumber Spring onion Avocado Cherry tomatoes Feta cheese (and/or cheese of your choice) Toasted sesame seeds Wild leaves: Dandelion Chickweed Ribwort plantain Sorrel Dressing: A squeeze of lime juice – or your favoured dressing Pick, wash, shred, chop or slice greenery, and toss in salad bowl. Add scattering of sesame seeds, chopped avocado, and bits of feta. Top with flowering chickweed sprigs and early chives.
Options for later in the summer: Mixed leaves and other veg grown in your veg patch, eg mizuna, rocket, frisee, endive, chicory, cos, radicchio, etc. Radishes, mange tout, sugar snaps, raspberries, nasturtium seeds & flowers, etc Wild leaves: broadleaf plantain, goosefoot, Good King Henry, redshanks, ground elder buds, wild carrot buds, red and white clover, comfrey flowers, black medick, marguerite flowers, chicory flowers. Go mad! It’s all delicious, everything goes with everything else. Put in lots of colour with the edible flowers. 49
Arabella McIntyre-Brown celebrates an English table in Transylvania
cholesterol T he
Romanian foodscape has changed beyond recognition in the last decade. What’s now available in shops, hotels and eateries defies belief for anyone used to the spartan offering at the start of the century. This morning, in fact, was another landmark in my search for foodie food. At the Mega-Image in Bran I found fresh turmeric root. Seven years ago there was no turmeric powder to be found – now we have the fresh root (cure for everything but death, as well as essential food flavouring and colouring). I was gobsmacked, as they say in my old haunt of south Liverpool. The same shop, a few years ago, provided an earlier landmark: sushi rice. That was the point I knew that Romania was heading to new gastronomic horizons after decades of limited choice. The country isn’t yet a destination for haute cuisine (with a few honourable exceptions), but Romania has so much more to recommend it in the food stakes these days, especially for rural expats who
are prepared to root about in markets, back street groceries and the wilder haunts of the countryside. In a country where carnivores rule, vegetarian and vegan visitors could – until recently – leave leaner and meaner than when they arrived. When I first came to Romania in 2003, the two vegans staying at our guest-house were given a soup with a few limp vegetables floating in chicken stock, followed by unsalted pasta with tomato ketchup. These days you can delight in creative and delectable dishes at the raw vegan restaurants in every sizable city. And it’s not just vegans eating there, or foreigners. This is how things are changing in Romania, and it’s a boon for migrants longing for a bit of foodie culture. In rural Romania, like the village where I live up in the mountains, pallid pasta and chickenish soup are still likely to be on the menu in the guesthouses, and my neighbours are unrepentant carnivores who like their
food the way they’ve always eaten it. But the young are beginning to explore more exotic tastes and daringly bizarre options like the nutrient-rich ‘weeds’ in the meadows around here. Every year I find new plants that are not just delicious in salads, gently steamed or dried for tea, but are crammed with vitamins and minerals, far more than in any shop-bought veg. Nettles, of course, Good King Henry, goosefoot (the European quinoa), ribwort and broadleaf plantains, comfrey, redshanks, bistort, red clover, ground elder, dandelion, chickweed, wild marjoram, wild mountain thyme, wild raspberry, St John’s Wort… and on. Properly organic, with ne’er a chemical within a mile of the meadows, these are free food and medicine in abundance. Mind you, when I gave a ‘lawn’ salad to some Romanian guests, they ate it with gusto, but Mirela admitted her mother would be scandalised if presented with a bowl of raw weeds. But then my neighbours, when asked if they had duck eggs for sale (Muscovy ducks drifting around the house), they wagged fingers at me, muttering ‘ Cholesterol! ’ I thought that a bit rich since they swallow vast quantities of slanina (smoked pig fat) and head-spinning tuica. Romania’s countryside traditions are hearty and robustly flavoured; the ubiquitous festive plate of sarmale (stuffed cabbage leaves) can be delicious; meat grilled over an open fire, after living a free-range life browsing the rich grass, has the best flavour although the tenderness depends on the age of the sacrificial beast. I bought a whole leg of lamb in the Sunday market for about 40 lei (for the whole thing, not per kilo), and roasted it.
We couldn’t carve it, let alone eat it. Carving knives bent in surrender. It must have been mutton from an old ewe that died of age up in the alpine meadows; we eventually hacked it to pieces and dumped it in a Le Creuset pot overnight, and it was tenderly delicious the next day. My local market in Zarnesti is heavy with Turkish fruit and veg, but the occasional local smallholder offers a basket of blue plums or glowing hazelnuts, a bowl of coveted duck or goose eggs, bundles of dried dill and lovage, home made smoked cheeses and buckets of creamy urda. Syrups made from spruce, elderflower or wild fruit; surplus veg, misshapen, multi-coloured and full of flavour; pots of homemade zacusca and horseradish – and in the autumn, boxes full of cooking apples which the locals find too sour for their taste. I carry them off gleefully, to make chutney or eat raw with excellent Dorset farmhouse Cheddar I can now find in Lidl. Since moving to Transylvania I’ve started making jams, chutneys and relishes in an Anglo-Transylvanian mashup, and love surprising guests with new weedy recipes. Enthusiastic foodies can have the best fun growing, buying, cooking and eating here, and all the time make new gastronomic discoveries in supermarkets and restaurants, from coconut milk and green curry pastes to Ras al Hanout spice and French tapenade. When I find Shropshire Blue or a proper farmhouse Red Leicester, my English taste buds will be able to rest on their Romanian laurels.
Arabella is a writer who moved to Magura, a village 1,000 metres up in the Carpathians, seven years ago. She has published two books in Romania with a third out in October. https://arabellamcintyrebrown.com
Veggie Triple By Giles Eldridge
The following three restaurants have been chosen for their selection of vegetarian dishes in particular settings. These are selections based on quality rather than quantity and for value for money alongside ambiance and attention to detail. First up is Simbio at Strada Negustori Nr. 26 open Monday to Sunday, 10am to midnight located within a rather austere looking Neo-Romanian style building. This type of architecture is, admittedly, an acquired taste but don’t be put off, stepping inside one is struck by a visually intriguing main space with smaller rooms beyond. Key aspects of the interior have been retained and house an array of new elements incorporating bespoke lighting and furniture with a range of materials and colours. Downstairs there is a bar and beyond there is a walled garden with 10 or more tables set amongst quince trees. Simbio is as much about its look and feel as it is about cuisine; both aiming at quality. As for the menu Simbio offers a number of good and well priced vegetarian dishes for every meal from Breakfast to Dinner. For example French toast with fresh fruit and sauce, 15 Lei, Spring salad with new potatoes, fennel and Bocconcini, 30 lei and seasonal fruit crumble with ice cream, 14 Lei. The menu is small but well balanced.
Finally there is the Japanese restaurant, Yuki at Strada Puţul lui Zamfir Nr.5 open Tuesday to Friday midday to 3pm and again from 6pm until 10pm and Saturday from 1pm to 10pm. From the street it may not look particularly noteworthy, but don’t walk past otherwise you will miss the best Japanese restaurant in Bucharest. Enter through the traditional Noren curtain into a beautifully subtle interior that gives the sense of being in a different city. The attitude from here on in is completely Japanese with a graceful and warm sensibility. The staff wear traditio-nal dress, not as a theatrical gimmick but to maintain the overall feel of the place. The décor is reserved and almost domestic, befitting the home style menu, not simply sushi which is particularly welcome in terms of the vegetarian selection of dishes such as Oboro, homemade tofu, 35 Lei, Japanese, sautéed Kidney beans, 25 Lei, Yasai Tempura, 43 Lei or Kimpira, sautéed vegetables in a sweet and spicy sauce, 25 Lei.
My next choice is Voilà at Strada Gen. Constantin Budisteanu Nr.18, open every day except Monday, midday to 11pm, where again architecture and setting is the first thing to mention since the building is of a strikingly attractive Art Nouveau style; not over the top Nouveau but distinctive and it certainly sets the tone and provides the atmosphere of this modest bistro.
One could easily miss the venue as it is accessed via a short drive way off the street and walking past one might simply mistake it for a private party. This tucked away position makes for a very easy going vibe, day or night as one enters through the garden of around 12 small tables. Inside there is one large room with elegant tall doors and an unusual coloured glass ceiling with three smaller rooms leading off for more cosy dining. The furniture and lighting is an eclectic 20th century mix, reflecting the building’s former vintage shop usage. The cuisine is, as one might expect, essentially French, which is often bad news for the vegetarian diner but here there is always something to select from, for example a lunch special of Asparagus poached egg with truffles, 30 Lei or a nice twist on a Romanian classic, Zacusca with grilled goats’ cheese, 25Lei.
All served in a beautiful array of differing plates and bowls. 53
art compounded by the owner’s lack of direct experience in art. “In Romania the managers of the hospitals are doctors and the managers of the schools are teachers. In fact you need a very good and intelligent manager, and it’s the same in art. Beside this, the local art market is emerging, so the people need to be educated,” says Oana the entrepreneur. It’s not an easy business but what keeps her going is developing relationships developed with the artists.
Passion in Renaissance by Fulvia Meiroşu Renaissance Art Gallery, the newest gallery in town, has ambitious plans: not only to promote original exhibitions, mixing Romanian and foreign artists, but to sell them on the US market as well. After all, art has no boundaries. Oana Visoiu Cutucache, the owner of the gallery, has 20 years’ experience in financial services, so she is used to thinking outside the box. Turning the gallery into a profitable business will take a while but for Oana the most important thing is her passion for art and this passion makes her happy. The idea of an art gallery was born last year, when she resigned from the title insurance company where she had been working for seven years. “I had six months of non-competing in my contract and I knew I wanted to do the same thing, but I had to take this break. So I started to paint and I started to think about opening a gallery. At the kindergarten where my little girl attends I met a well known painter, Vali Irina Ciobanu, who became my teacher. I also found a Romanian artist who lived in London, Ramona Pintea. With the two of them, plus a very talented glass artist from Chile, Mariana Villanueva, I did my first exhibition,” recalls Oana. Renaissance Art Gallery officially opened in March 2017, and to date it has hosted three exhibitions. But Oana’s connection with art goes back a long way. Oana’s parents had friends the Savopol family, 54
renowned artists. Their son, Radu Savopol, was in the same highschool as Oana and today he is the owner of the well-known coffee business 5 To Go. “You may admire someone else’s parents, but normally you end up doing what your parents do. My father was an economist and I wanted to be like him. He wanted me to do something else, architecture, so I learnt how to draw for two years. But architectural drawing is more related to math than to art, and I always preferred art and colour. So I’ve ended up in the art business, like Radu’s parents, and he ended up in the food industry, like my parents,” says Oana smiling. Many artists were sceptical about opening a gallery in the north part of the city (Pipera), not a traditional area for a gallery,
“I learn a lot about the artists I’m exhibiting during the day when we actually arrange their pieces in the gallery before their official exhibition. That’s physical work and the gallery owner has to do it together with the artist. But that day is a day entirely spent with the artist, it’s the day when I really get to know each other. You can’t know a person in the few hours when you go to his or her atelier. The visitors and clients of the gallery only see a beautiful exhibition and nice photos and they don’t know how much work goes into creating this. The evening of the exhibition is not my evening, it’s the evening of the artist,” says Oana. The works exhibiting in the gallery while this interview was conducted were the surrealistic works of Marian Simon. This exhibition, done in coffee colours by an artist who doesn’t drink coffee, has taught Oana more about surrealistic art than any book.
Many people buy art as an investment. “But I advise my clients to do something else: to buy only what they really like. The value of a piece of art won’t diminish because the prices in Romania are already lower than in other countries. On the other hand, in my gallery I have decent prices and a painting, the older it gets, the more valuable it will be,” says Oana, who advises her clients to be patient, to come to many exhibitions and after that to see what they like and what is a good match for their homes. Another problem with the market is that many artists sell directly from their
ateliers, at very low prices. But if the clients are used and educated to buy from galleries, the artist’s market value will increase. Renaissance Art Gallery has a commission of only 30%, way lower than most local galleries. Also her policy is to have an exclusivity contract with the artist only for the duration of the exhibition, not for several years, like other galleries. In order to be able to go to art fairs in other countries, she needs to have a certain number of exhibitions and a detailed view of the market. She also a gallery membership, with members invited to all events and afforded special benefits. Renaissance Art Gallery is the only gallery to host foreign artists, and this is another differentiating factor. The beautiful glass butterflies currently on display are crafted by Mariana Villanueva, an artist from Chile, who studied glass in UK. The spots on the wings of the butterflies are not painted – they are small pieces of coloured glass placed on the wings and then melted together in a special oven. A butterfly has to stay in the oven 16 hours and its price, 100 euro, barely covers the cost of the electricity used in the making process. The best-selling artwork for Renaissance so far has been that of the American photojournalist John McConnico featured earlier in this magazine. John McConnico is a Pulitzer Prize and World Press Photo Award winning photojournalist currently residing in Bucharest, Romania but who will bid farewell soon. The 25 square black-and-white photos exhibited in Renaissance Art Gallery, taken on an Iphone, proved highly popular. For the rest of this year, Oana has big plans. In the autumn, another original exhibition: a combination between the paintings of Ammar Alnahhas, a Syrian artist living in Romania, and the Turkish carpets produced by Syrian refugees camp sold by an American friend of Oana’s. Another project is a movie night with the movie “Brancusi From Eternity”. “Ioan Andrei Ionescu, the actor playing Brancusi, was my colleague in high-school. His wife is an architect but she is launching a fashion line and I think all these can combine in an interesting event,” says Oana. Everything is exactly in line with her strategy, to promote contemporary Romanian and foreign artists, but also charity projects which support art in all its forms. Because art has no boundaries. Just passions.
Sibiu: Compact, Accessible and Fun Stephen McGrath is a British journalist living in Romania. His work appears regularly in the international press, for publications including The Times, BBC, The Guardian, and others.
As the sun casts shadows around the lively, yet relaxed Piata Micã square in the centre of Sibiu, a barman at NOD — a trendy cafe-come-bar — brings out a strong, locally-brewed 1717 beer in a 750ml champagne bottle, and a flute to serve it in. At 92 lei a bottle the beer may be overreaching and pricey, but with live jazz permeating the square as locals slightly outnumber tourists, something is clear: this scenic and well-developed Transylvanian city has a lot to offer. What is striking about Sibiu is that, while it lacks the name recognition of Bran, or the UNESCO citadel of Sighisoara, its charm has a particularly Germanic flavour — and its size and beauty makes it a highly enjoyable place to go for a short break. Sibiu boasts a combination of rich history, splendid architecture, rich museums, many cultural activities, — including the oldest jazz festival in Romania, and an international theatre festival — and various culinary delights, all packed into a highly functional city, with a good balance of locals and tourists. It feels almost finely-tuned to make you feel as though you’re on holiday but also mingling with the local community. It’s easy to see why Sibiu was voted the European Capital of Culture in 2007. Although the journey from Bucharest is long — 4 hours by car, 5 and half hours by train — it is a scenic one: panoramic views of the Fãrgãras mountains in the distance can help the time pass pleasurably. As can a snack or good book. Trains from Bucharest depart Gara de Nord daily at 10am and 2pm. Both trains will get you to Sibiu in time to check-in to your accommodation and venture out for food and drinks. There’s plenty of choices. Among the city’s many average eateries — mostly targeting tourists in the squares
— there are some hidden gems. The best cuisine in town, as suggested by a quick straw-poll of locals, is to be found at Capsicum , a small bistro with a homely atmosphere just minutes’ walk from the touristic crowds. Its international menu changes weekly depending on the available fresh produce. It’s worth booking to ensure you get a table on a weekend. Beyond good food and drinks, however, there’s a mixed handful of accessible and impressive things to see. One of them is the opulent Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox cathedral — which has vast, vibrant-coloured wall murals contrasting against swathes of gold — and was completed in 1904. With its decorative domes and neat, two-tone brickwork, it wouldn’t look out of place in St. Petersburg. Only a few minutes walk away is an impressive Lutheran 14th century Gothic cathedral. It was the worshiping place of the first settlers, the Saxons. For three centuries — up until 1796 — mayors and various other prominent local figures were buried here. Newlyweds can occasionally be spotted here on weekends, which adds a certain local charm.
Both of these churches are a short walk from the main 15th century Piata Mare, which is ideal if you want to recharge with a coffee before your next move. This is where Sibiu stands above many other Romanian cities: it caters for the culture-hungry, the history buffs, or the people who want to just kick-back and enjoy a relaxing weekend. Another must-see is Brukenthal Palace: a superb baroque building presenting excellent art collections from many European painters, dating from the 15th to 18th centuries, and which served as the palace of the first Habsburg governor of Transylvania. Also noteworthy is the Museum of Pharmacology in Piata Micã, where Romania’s first of many pharmacies was situated. Another great thing to do is visit the medieval city walls and towers, which protected the city from external threats as far back as the 15th century. Each tower was manned and maintained by one of the city guilds. However, one of the best things to do in Sibiu is simply to wander the parochial streets and alleyways of this medieval city, taking in the architecture, and happening upon some of the small independent shops, such as Jujube concept store, which sells plants and various independent Romanian-made gifts: from leather bags, to perfumes and massage oils. What makes Sibiu so enjoyable for a weekend break is the proximity of everything, especially if you have kids. You can walk around the city and visit most of the significant spots in a day. Equivocally, getting lost around the city’s small side streets and medieval stairways to view the impressive — and distinctive — Saxon architecture is a also a treat. You’ll rarely be a long way from the centre. Dracula aside, Transylvania has long been perceived as Romania’s crown jewel. Sibiu, however, is arguably the best and most accessible city in the region. It certainly makes for a great weekend getaway.
Choosing an international school for British university success by Simon Parker
Simon Parker is the director of Albion International Study, a Bucharest-based counselling organisation for UK university applications.
One of the main reasons parents send their children to international schools in Romania is to increase their offspring’s chances of winning a place at a leading British university. I firmly believe that Bucharest and Cluj now offer expat and Romanian families a growing range of highly-quality secondary schools which are a very viable alternative to overseas boarding options.
These are five key factors you should consider when choosing one:
(1) Academic performance: British universities value this more than their American counterparts. Look at the school’s exam results tables carefully and compare! (2) Elite university (Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics and Imperial College London) track record: success tends to breed success. How many former students have progressed to study at these four elite universities within the last three years? How many are studying medicine or dentistry at any British university? (3) Trained counsellors. UCAS, the body that runs the UK’s university admissions service, runs free regular training events for international school advisors. Check which members of staff have been on them. Counsellors also need to be aware of preferred A level and IB subject combinations. (4) Work experience programmes. For a wide range of degrees, including accounting, architecture, dentistry, engineering, management and medicine, work experience can have a decisive impact on an application. (5) Valuable extra curricula activities. Not all after-school activities are created equal: depending on the course applied for, options such as debating contests, public speaking, Junior Achievement, and Model United Nations can be particularly valuable. Participation in maths and science clubs can also make a difference and community action can be vital for medical school applications. firstname.lastname@example.org 60
INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BUCHAREST ACHIEVES INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE WORLD SCHOOL STATUS The International School of Bucharest has become the newest member of an ever-growing global community of over 4000 schools offering the International Baccalaureate in 147 different countries. Students will be able to take the IB Diploma Programme at the school, with the first cohort commencing their studies on 4th September, 2017. The IB has a positive impact on students, schools and their wider communities with learning going well beyond the classroom. Its unique and innovative approach to learning means both students and teachers are genuinely engaged with the programs and benefit from being a part of an unparalleled global network. Students are able to participate in international conferences and educators work with their peers internationally to ensure that the IB remains at the cutting edge of international education. David Newsham, Head of Secondary says: “We wanted to offer our students a more holistic education which will instil in them the skills, knowledge, and outlook to succeed in the 21stcentury, both in their local community and in the wider world. At the same time, we wanted to give our teachers the opportunity to be a part of an international network of experts leading the field in education. We are delighted to become an IB World School and we look forward to reaping the many benefits of the programme.” Adrian Kearney, Regional Director IB Africa, Europe, Middle East says: “The IB is recognized across the world for its innovative approach to education. We strongly believe that it is important to place an equal focus on academics and other, transferrable skills, in order to best prepare students for success beyond school. “That ISB has now successfully completed the authorization process and can now start offering the IB marks an exciting time for ISB and more importantly, for the students who will benefit from an IB education.” For further information about the International Baccalaureate please visit www.ibo.org. For further information on ISB’s admission procedure please visit www.isb.ro. 61
Summer School Fun As the school summer holidays are fast approaching, you may well be looking at options for entertaining the children during the hot weather. One solution might be a Summer School but what are you looking for, what choices do I have, where will the children benefit most?
Head For The Hills Tas Jan`os Director of Transylvanian Properties http://transylvanianproperties.com/property/
1. What do you see as the main
In any country you can do a
between 10,000 euro and 50,000
attractions to buying property in
good investment or a bad one.
Romania is different is constantly
- 15% over 50,000 euros.
The English lessons, for non-native speakers are geared to all levels and are conducted by fully-qualified native speakers who are full-time teachers at the British School. Activities such as fencing, climbing and cooking are complemented by swimming, arts, crafts and sports. The teachers are supported by bi-lingual assistants who assist with those pupils who speak little or no English.
- Price, here the properties are
developing. Lots of people are re-
- 5% are potential industrial inves-
turning and investing back home.
- the hope of a return on invest-
I can’t really list the advantages
Romanians don’t like to use agen-
ment as Romania is a developing
as it all depends if the investor/
cies however foreigners are more
Each week finishes with a fun BBQ around the pool and is a time to celebrate the achievements of the children who are leaving the course at that time. The elegant surroundings of the Pipera Campus provide a fantastic opportunity for children to make new friends, learn new skills and many of them return year after year from as far afield as the United States and from many other countries within Europe.
potential buyer is in the right place
comfortable when dealing with
- if somebody wants to get away
at the right time. Anyone thinking
from a hectic busy place.
of coming here has to have an
- Romania might look underde-
open mind and embrace change
4. What would be a typical Transyl-
For further information contact the school via email@example.com
veloped compared to other coun-
as here the people and the cul-
tries but here you can experience
ture is quite different, certainly
In my opinion for a foreign private
much more freedom.
from Western Europe, and other-
investor a typical property would
- cheap labour.
wise after a relatively short period
be in the price range of 50,000 -
- you can own a piece of land or
of time you will leave.
100,000 euros and close to a de-
The British School of Bucharest offers a four-week programme which runs throughout the month of July. Chiidren from the age of four can sign up for one, two, three or four weeks and can choose between an English and Activities course or an Activities only course.
house for a relatively small amount
veloping city 1-2 hours drive max,
compared to UK prices and not
3. How would you describe the
ideally in a mountainous area and,
sign up for a 30 year mortgage.
Transylvania property situation at
even better, close to a city where
the moment in terms of supply and
an airport is or will be built so in
2. What advantages do Transylva-
demand? What sort of people are
10 years time - this can double
nian properties have over other Eu-
buying Transylvania properties?
- 80% are looking for properties
Proper Property Advice The northern area of Bucharest has experienced the strongest real estate development. Most of the luxury segment is concentrated here. The architecture, green spaces, private medical environment, international schools and business centres, make this area one of the most desireable on the rental and sales market. According to studies, several hundred units are being built, trying to satisfy the growing demand in this area, therefore placing it top in the real estate transaction market. Expats choose the North side, this is a major factor in increasing the premium real estate market. The first criterion of selecting the right property is the location. And it is obvious that where foreigners’ communities are already formed, more will follow as they can feel more at "home" being able to meet people of the same nationality. Most of expats with families that are in collaboration with GoodMark Estates prefer three-room apartments especially in new buildings. They select fully furnished and equipped properties for convenience. Penthouse apartments with 4-5 rooms, having a large terrace and spectacular views are chosen by those who occupy top management positions. Dorobanti, Floreasca, Kiseleff, Aviatorilor, Herastrau are the most popular areas for these categories. Baneasa-Pipera is favoured by families with children who seek proximity to international schools. The generous space afforded by villas in residential compounds is a big attraction. The sales transactions also represent a big part of this real estate market which increased in the last 2 years, for new and old buildings. According to a study done by Imobiliare. ro, in September this year, apartment prices increased on average by 1.7%. firstname.lastname@example.org
As an EU citizen, do I have any legal obligations after arriving in Romania?
In the European Union there are countries in which you must report your presence after arrival. Fortunately, as an EU citizens in Romania, you are required to register as a temporary resident only after spending the first three months within the country. So there are two options: a) If you, as an EU citizen, are staying less than 3 months in Romania, then you are not required to register or notify the authorities at all. b) If you, as an EU citizen, are staying longer than 3 months in Romania, then you must register as a temporary resident.
Do I obtain the temporary residency just by showing up to the immigrations office?
No, in order to obtain a legal stay in Romania you have to provide proof that you are staying in Romania with a purpose. The reasons for which you can obtain the temporary residency in Romania are strictly regulated by the law, as follows:
FIT FOR PURPOSE Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle and How to Implement Sport into your Life First you should consider sport as there is simply not enough time. If you decide your way of living if it’s not already. Use the to hit the gym bear in mind that a personal following advice as part of a full-time commit- trainer can make all the difference. If you go ment and not just as a short term push in order for outdoor sports a good companion or a cool to get in shape for an upcoming event. Having team will definitely help. this front of mind make sure that you are con- Now just a little bit about mixing stant in your practicing of any sport. Be con- different types of sport. A perfect combination stant but do not exaggerate. About three/four would include a type of cardio training that times a week of any physical activity will keep will help improve your cardiovascular system, you fit . Nevertheless, there is also homework. some strength training for your muscles and It doesn't matter how much jogging, cycling, bones (also good for burning the fat in the gym, yoga.... etc that you do, if you don't get cardio training) and a type of flexibility training your diet right then those kilos will remain. Here to avoid injuries that may occur. are the top five foods/drinks that you must One final tip for you . And this is something cut out if you wish to shed weight: processed a lot of people miss. You are unique. If you have sugar ,fizzy drinks (also rich in sugar), fried aesthetic targets that are based on pictures foods and fast food and lastly, select your from the internet then you are destined for carbs with care, avoid refined white bread and disappointment. There are genetic limits that go for the whole grain. Stay away from too you have as an individual. Push them as much much fat. Go for more fruits and fresh ve- as you can but at the same time respect them. getables, hydrate enough using flat water. In terms of meat go for white meat like chicken Andrei Penu is a fitness instructor with World or fish, for red chose the lightest alternative Class with 10 years of experience, he is a and always try to have a good natural source master instructor of endurance-cyclo-spinning. for your meat. Back to sport now. Be realistic when it comes to your targets. You will only get frustrated if you don’t achieve your targets when 64
EU citizens: having a pleasant and legal stay in Romania
a) dependent or independent activity (employment, commercial activities, professional activities, volunteering etc.); b) following studies in Romania; c) having family relations in Romania; d) having the means of living in Romania.
What is the document issued by the Romanian state and how long is it available?
The Romanian state issues a registration certificate (residency card for having family relations in Romania) which is available from one year to five years. So after obtaining the registration certificate you can have up to five years legal stay in Romania, if there are no changes in the your stay.
What changes must I notify to the Romanian authorities?
If there are any changes in your initial statement given in order to obtain the temporary residency, then you must notify the Romanian authorities. The main reasons for which you must notice the Romanian authorities are the following: a) b) c) d)
changes in name (by marriage in another country); nationality (obtaining the nationality of another state); address of residence (changing your address in Romania); loss/theft/destruction/damage of the registration certificate.
What risks do I face if I do not respect the legal obligations? In case you do not respect the legal obligations imposed by the law, you may be fined by the immigrations officers. wwrrpb.ro — email@example.com
‘Where’s that then?’ Craig Turp is the editor of Bucharest In Your Pocket (inyourpocket. com/romania). He blogs about life in the Romanian capital at: bucharestlife.net When the ridesharing app Uber first began operating in Bucharest just over two years ago, we predicted a quick demise. We failed to see what kind of market share this cheap alternative to taxis could grab for itself in a city where taxis were already ridiculously cheap. Not surprisingly, given that almost all of our confident predictions over the past few years have proven to be totally wide of the mark (the day before the Brexit referendum we were casually telling anyone who asked that there was no point even staying up to watch the result as it was a foregone conclusion: the stay camp would win comfortably) we were completely wrong about Uber’s prospects in Bucharest. The service has thrived, and now covers three other cities in Romania (Brasov, Cluj and Timisoara). We use it all the time. Uber (and a similar app, Taxify) have in fact picked up so much traction that Bucharest’s delightful taxi drivers are now doing all they can to get the service outlawed. A huge protest last month at Piata Victoriei in front of the Romanian government building saw as many as 5000 taxi drivers (complete with their cars, all illegally parked: taxi drivers know no other way) demand action be taken to protect their interests against this ‘foreign’ competitor. An informal agreement was reached whereby the government promised to look into the matter, with vague assurances given that Uber would be regulated to within an inch of its life. These promises were quickly forgotten. Expect more protests from taxi drivers over the summer. In London, the other city in which we use Uber a lot, the service is far cheaper than a standard black cab. It is also of a far lower quality. Drivers are often useless, know little of London and its streets and are solely reliable on the navigation app Wave - not always accurate - for directions. We once very nearly missed a plane due a driver missing a motorway exit. A black cab driver would never make such an error. The fearsome Knowledge - the exam London taxi drivers need to take before they can get behind the wheel - requires them to study for years in order to become
familiar with just about every street in the UK’s capital. The iconic cabs themselves also have to conform to pages of legislation, not least the requirement that a wheelchair can be wheeled into one. Our mother is in a wheelchair, and we can tell you that particular rule is a godsend. Londoners therefore have a choice: pay more for a better service, pay less for a no-frills experience. In every other city where Uber operates the same is more or less true. Except Bucharest, where it is almost the exact opposite. Although costing about the same as an ordinary Bucharest taxi, an Uber in this city offers a far, far better experience. Cars are spotlessly clean, drivers are well-dressed, polite and are unable to refuse fares. They also need to obey the laws of the road. Bucharest’s taxis are often dirty, drivers can be rude, they habitually smoke, drive and park how and where they like and although they are obliged to take any fare, as anyone who has ever tried to get into a taxi in central Bucharest at midnight can testify, they are highly selective, often demanding way over the odds for the shortest journeys. Last week we met the newly-arrived manager of one Bucharest’s big five star hotels. First thing he complained about? State of the taxis. ‘They stink,’ he said. ‘And none of them know where they are going.’ Indeed: none of them know where they are going. Conversations along the lines of: ‘Strada Jiului 93 please.’ ‘Where’s that then?’ ‘Well, it’s at Strada Jiului 93.’ ‘I know, but where’s that?’ are not uncommon in Bucharest’s taxis. In a city in which public transport long ago stopped being a viable option for many people, there is room for both taxis and Uber. Bucharest’s taxi drivers need to stop protesting and up their game: they need to clean themselves up, stop smoking, turn off the music, teach themselves a bit of local geography and stop refusing fares. The biggest threat to Bucharest’s taxi drivers is not Uber, it’s Bucharest taxi drivers.