OZB Magazine April 2018

Page 1

APRIL 2018/N° 7




Catalyst For Change





Tu e s d ay, M AY 8 t h Where: Athénée Time: Price:

The English Bar, Palace Hilton Hotel 19.30 150 RON

Booking Essential Contact Fulvia at fulvia@ozb.ro to book your place. Limited number of tickets available!

JOIN US FOR TOP QUALIT Y WHISKY AND TOP QUALIT Y GUESTS! OZB Magazine starts a series of premium products tasting events. We welcome entrepreneurs, CEOs and creative people to a very exclusive tasting of 4 whisky types. The host of the evening will be the whisky sommelier Robert Marshall.




Hello, bună, and welcome to OZB, your new lifestyle magazine all about Romania, in English.



DOUGLAS WILLIAMS Co-owner/Editorial Director, douglas@ozb.ro ARABELLA McINTYRE-BROWN Consultant Editor MARCEL DE ROODE Co-owner/Commercial Director, 0768 971 647, marcel@ozb.ro FULVIA MEIROŞU Marketing Director and Website Manager, fulvia@ozb.ro ADA POPESCU Art Director ALEXANDRU HĂMURARU Distribution Manager

You can get a hard copy of OZB magazine at the following distribution points: International Schools, Ted's Coffee Shops, restaurants and bars in the Old Town Van Gogh, Café Klein, Mojo; World Class, AFI Palace, Starbucks Băneasa, Starbucks Pipera Plaza and Starbucks Iancu Nicolae, the restaurants on Iancu Nicolae St, hotels - Sheraton, Hilton, Pullman, Marriott, Intercontinental; Embassies, Chambers of Commerce.

Douglas Williams - FOUNDER

BLOOMING MARVELLOUS As I write it’s 23 degrees, the blossom is out, as is the sun, it’s Easter Sunday Romania style and all the shops and restaurants are closed, the roads deserted. It’s lovely - if only the city were like this more often. Walking Bucharest’s parks you can feel the collective sigh of relief, the gathering tide of happiness, the air is filled with the aromas of fecundity and growth. Hopes were dashed not two weeks ago when a warmer week gave way to the threatened, freezing, snowy conditions - kids off school!! - but this time it’s different, winter is well and truly vanquished, it’s definitely spring and summer is up ahead so enjoy these near perfect temperatures while they last. Our April magazine has a “Woman Power” theme, as did our second OZB event, which took place on March 28th in conjunction with the International Women’s Association, at the Sheraton. This highly convivial event was attended by a great many people and we were fortunate to have some superb speakers, among them the Dutch Ambassador to Romania and Moldova, Stella Ronner-Grubačić, who you can see on our cover and within these pages. The Ambassador is an inspiring individual and her speech was as wise as it was impassioned, OZB is proud to call her a friend and ally, we hope you enjoy her story here. Within these pages we also have a fashion focused NGO helping children, fashion photography, traditional Romanian blouses and an ex-banker returning from Germany now making ripples in Transylvania. We also have a 4X4 club, mountaineering, travel, Japanese food and spirituality. We can certainly mix it up. What made the last event so good were the guests and OZB is grateful to all those who attended - when we set out on this journey, creating OZB, front and central to our thinking was trying to create a community. A community that was partly international, mostly Romanian, but entirely peopled by individuals interested in celebrating life in modern

Romania and sharing the best of what this fascinating country has to offer with one another. And that is what we’re still trying to do, in case you hadn’t noticed. Increasingly this magazine and our site reflect this aspiration. More and more, the people writing OZB and also the people being written about in OZB are the people who attend our events so the whole thing becomes an organic, self-perpetuating circle. And, yes, I can almost hear your eyes rolling as you read that, hippy dippy or what! The thing is this circle is rapidly expanding with visitors to our site increasing from about 5,000 at the beginning of this year to closer to 30,000 last month alone - that’s exponential. Guest numbers at our event were almost double what we had expected. OZB is growing and fast. Partly as a reflection of this you will notice something of a redesign in this magazine with a slicker looking cover and other cool design features throughout. I hope you like it. We host our fourth event on May 8th at the Hilton, it’s a whisky tasting and it takes place at the Hilton’s English Bar. Whisky sommelier Robert Marshall will guide us through some of Scotland’s finest, it’ll be a great introduction to those new to the “water of life” - Uisce beatha. For more details see the previous page or like our Facebook page. As always I invite you, dear reader to get involved, to comment, to suggest, to criticise, to contribute and of course to come along to our events. Again, like our Facebook page so that you can follow OZB and get to find out first about upcoming events. Similarly, can I ask that, whenever possible, you mention OZB if you use or frequent any of the businesses advertised within? Have a great month, să aveți o lună bună!



Claire Nuttall makes the business case for equality

Her Excellency Stella Ronner-Grubačić - The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Romania and the Republic of Moldova talks about the Dutch way and more

Carmen Schuster returns to Cincșor A social entreprise sells clothes and takes care of the dental hygene and education of childron

Off road and on track in Romania with CORB44

The Danube Delta and film

Craft Beer Revolution


Her Excellency Stella Ronner-Grubačić - The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Romania and the Republic of Moldova

OZB Magazine and IWA Romania celebrated WoMen Power Her Excellency Stella Ronner-Grubačić, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Romania and Republic of Moldova, was the special guest of WoMen Power event, organized last week by OZB Magazine and IWA Romania. WoMen Power celebrated the launching of a new section in the magazine, dedicated to women. The first interview for the new section is the cover-story with HE Stella Ronner-Grubačić for this month's edition of the magazine. 6

Her Excellency Stella Ronner-Grubačić, writer Arabella McIntyreBrown and Ximena Reyes, Chair of IWA



e can only do this with the help of great partners, people who believe in OZB Media and see the benefit of our platform.

on those of us who have succeeded getting into a position where our voice is heard: we need, no, we are obliged, to raise awareness, both inside and outside of our organisations. We A big thanks to: the Embassy have to generate the change of the Netherlands, IWA that will make this world Romania, Superbet, Chivas, friendlier to our daughters and Avincis Wines, Leonidas, Micri granddaughters. If we do not Gold, Renaissance Art Gallery, start doing things differently, Three Happy Brewers. who will? To end with a quote that I came across recently: ‘If “The road to perfect equality you do what you have always between men and women is done, you will get what you still long and at times steep. have always gotten̕. Let’s begin And we may encounter to change – today,” said HE setbacks. It places a burden Stella Ronner-Grubačić.









aying that the Netherlands punches above its weight would be a cliche, but it would also be an understatement. Through history, the Dutch with approximately one sixth the landmass of Romania yet a similar population, have travelled the world mostly trading and mostly profiting handsomely in the process. The Netherlands today is one of the most civilised, prosperous and progressive nations on earth. OZB visited Her Excellency Stella Ronner-Grubačić, the Netherlands’ Ambassador to Romania and the Republic of Moldova, at her lovely residence in an attempt to glean some insight into why her country is so successful, what are the things it can bring to Romania and to find out what this elegant and dynamic lady feels about her host country, Romania. By Douglas Williams




Photography: Sorin Stană

e start by exploring what she sees as some of the key elements behind the Netherlands’ successes. Just why are the Dutch so darned successful? “Well, if you want, we can go back to the 16th century?”,” she says. “When we started reclaiming land from the sea. Maybe that shaped our mentality; up to today, about a third of the country is below sea-level, so our country has been formed by steady, systematic work. We have a very pragmatic approach to problems; we go about things according to a plan, in an organized way. The second reason is closely related to all this: it’s the so-called ‘Polder model’. This is basically a consensus based decision making that is very important to us. You see it in all segments of Dutch society, but particularly in economic and social fields. We need to have consensus before we move forward, always. In our view, this is important to make sure that all stakeholders are on board, that everybody feels committed to what has been decided. Finally, and this is also connected to the previous factor, we often prefer to work with long term goals, long term ideas. When big changes are considered in society, for instance in education or health care, there is always a concern for sustainability – as well as future generations.” Contrary to expectations, the ambassador experienced a relatively smooth transition when she arrived in Romania. She believes it has to do with the fact that she had already spent a large part of her diplomatic career in this part of Europe. She arrived from the Foreign Ministry in The Hague, where she was Director

of Communications, but had previously worked in both Serbia and Croatia. “The only surprise”, she says, “was the scale of the Dutch operations across this country.” But it was a pleasant one. She points out that several icons of the Dutch private sector are represented in Romania, giants such as Philips, Heineken, ING, FrieslandCampina, as well as many others, representing various Dutch industrial sectors, but also transport and logistics, the maritime sector or IT. This is a factor which keeps the Ambassador busy, just the way she likes things. Other things she likes? “I like very much the relatively laid-back lifestyle here, there is a Latin influence that is noticeable and I feel comfortable with that. And, let’s not forget: I do love the climate of course, harsh winters and long hot summers.” What can Romania learn from the Netherlands? “I never like much to speak in these terms, but, as I said, in the Netherlands we make plans very carefully and we generally stick to them, but the other side of that coin is what we can learn from Romania, namely: Romanians are great at improvising, and we could certainly be better at that.” With former territories stretching from the Caribbean and South American, through parts of Africa and right across to East Asia, the Dutch are, historically, one of the world’s great seafaring people and the sea and all things marine are close to the Dutch Ambassador’s heart. “The Black Sea has a very special attraction to me, it’s deep, more than 2 kilometres in some places, and in some places it is mysteriously ‘anoxic’, practically dead,

but this great depth also explains the fantastic power of the waves at times.” The ambassador is equally a fan of the Danube Delta and is constantly thrilled to be living in a nation blessed with such an abundance of flora and fauna. Her Easter holiday will be spent, in part, bear watching. As the Netherlands is one of the founding members of the EU, it’s no surprise to find that the Dutch Ambassador is a fan. She ‘grew up with the EU’, studied it closely and wrote about it as a student through the 80s. “At the conclusion of my diplomatic schooling, the Berlin wall came down, the USSR collapsed and a whole lot of big, international developments happened. My first posting was to Belgrade in 1993, one of the darkest years of the Yugoslav war. It taught me that we should not take anything for granted, not our well-being, our luxury, but also not peace, and perhaps that is something that is felt here in this part of Europe more acutely than where I come from. My whole diplomatic career, 25 years, has been in Europe, both within the EU and on its periphery. It has made me aware that there’s still so much to do. In addition, in my view, Brexit has been a wake up call to the rest of the EU member states and I believe it has galvanised the EU. We need to make repairs and renovations every once in a while, the EU is like a house, it needs to be made ready for the future. We must ensure Brexit is as smooth as possible while making sure the remaining countries are ready for the next phase. “Let’s be very clear on one thing though, from the Dutch perspective, Brexit is a bad 11


thing. It’s bad for the UK, it’s bad for the Netherlands and it’s bad for the EU. We Dutch risk suffering twice in financial terms - the UK is one of our most important trading partners so we have a lot to lose and also, a chunk of the EU budget is disappearing. So, in our view, the EU needs to be realigned to a smaller budget. This also means, we need to modernise the budget by setting different priorities, such as migration or innovation. We also need to improve our internal market when it comes to digital services. In addition, we see a need for improved cooperation in areas like the banking and the monetary union. In short, the EU must be able to deal with future challenges that are likely to arise.” From the efficiency of its agriculture, with the Netherlands being the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural goods, to the famous preponderance of bicycles in Amsterdam, Holland is a beacon of low carbon, eco living. “In the Netherlands we are ‘greening’ our cities and this is a topic on which we are actively engaging with our Romanian counterparts. We share our experiences to transfer technologies to help make Romanian cities more live-able. Studies show that 10% more green in a city encourages children to play outside 15% more. We can combine our knowledge about growing certain species of trees and plants, and our understanding of urban planning to help Romania. Very recently 10 Romanian mayors visited

various Dutch cities, looking at ‘Smart Cities’. They were asked to pick up one element that they can apply to their cities and that is ongoing. I am looking forward to the follow-up to this! I have also had constructive meetings with Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea to discuss how this city can be made more cycle friendly.” It’s worth noting that the Dutch and Romanian capitals share something in common - both cities are pancake flat and great for cycling. Having reached the pinnacle of the diplomatic world, Her Excellency has become something of a spokesperson for gender equality and this isn’t a role she intends to shy away from any time soon. “The system is still very difficult, very imbalanced,” she says. “Research has shown that we are still 170 years away from full parity, which is ridiculous when you consider this is 2018. Even in the Dutch foreign service not even 30% of the ambassadorial or higher positions in the Ministry are occupied by women. In my view, one of the key factors is that women, by necessity, don’t have linear careers - they produce and often rear the future generations - and this needs to be understood, accepted and built into recruitment practices. A woman’s career has to be more erratic than a man’s, and until men are going to understand and accept this – and understand that this does not mean a woman is less ambitious – we still have a long way to go.”

For those visiting the Netherlands what is the one thing you would recommend? Amsterdam of course! Seriously! On a lovely spring day like this, you take an early morning flight to Amsterdam with KLM that takes you in to Schiphol airport around 09.00. You head to the Rijksmuseum immediately which means you get to be among the early visitors, which is good! After the museum, you take a coffee in one of the cafes in this part of Amsterdam, the chique and elegant residential part of town, Amsterdam-Zuid. When you finish coffee, it is time for shopping! The designer shops on the PC Hooftstraat are not to be missed. Loaded with shopping bags, it is time for lunch at the Seafood bar. Enjoy fresh Dutch shrimps or a raw herring or a seafood platter if you are really up to it! After that, it is time to look at Amsterdam from the waterfront, so take a canal cruise or hop on the Canal bus. If you opt for the latter, you may want to hop off at the Anne Frank house, to get a real glimpse of what life must have been like for a Jewish girl in hiding during WWII. After all these adventures, it is time for a drink, accompanied with “bitterballen” on any one of the terraces alongside Amsterdam's canals. Just let the afternoon go by, watching the Dutch doing the same. If you are still capable and in the mood, have a bike-ride before dinner, cycle through Vondelpark and admire the locals strolling, relaxing, or doing sports in the park. If you have managed to do all of this, you will have certainly earned yourself a lovely dinner and a nice evening out: go for it in any one of the thousands of restaurants and clubs that make up Amsterdam’s dazzling nightlife!








Countries in Eastern Europe

have high rates of female participation in the workforce, including in senior positions, but more needs to be done to ensure this continues as mass emigration of working age residents from Romania and other countries in the region threatens a further disastrous decline in the workforce. Nearly three decades since the Berlin Wall came down, the communist history and the subsequent backlash against many aspects of socialism are still highly relevant in the former Eastern bloc countries. Even today, the role of women in the workplace is deeply entwined with these two, conflicting legacies. As socialism was rejected politically, many women were glad to leave behind the dual shifts of paid work and domestic work they had been forced to shoulder during this period, socialism not having penetrated the home sufficiently to ensure an equal division of housework and childcare. But at the same time, the view of women in the workplace (including in senior positions) being the norm has persisted.

By Clare Nuttall

This is confirmed by studies such as Grant Thornton’s annual Women in Business survey, which consistently shows that East European countries have some of the highest proportion of women leading businesses or in senior management positions in the world. The study doesn't specifically mention Romania, but across the region 87% of companies surveyed had at least one woman in senior management, and the region has the highest proportion of companies led by women, 36%.

Clare Nuttall is a Bucharest-based journalist specialising in Eastern Europe. Currently news editor at bne IntelliNews, she has been with the magazine since 2008, initially in Kazakhstan and more recently in Romania. Clare has also written for the Financial Times and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

A separate study by MasterCard on women entrepreneurs found Romania was ninth globally in terms of the high proportion of female business owners, having made the biggest advance on the ranking to ninth place, with 28.9% of businesses surveyed owned by women. Romania’s tech industry is also revealed


to be one of the most gender equal worldwide, with women accounting for 26% of the sector’s workforce; only Bulgaria and Canada had a higher proportion. But the connection between a socialist background and a high number of women operating successfully in the business sphere is not a straightforward one. Romania may have women in charge at some of the country’s largest and highest-profile companies — OMV Petrom where Mariana Gheorghe recently handed over the reins to Christina Verchere being a prime example — but the number of women serving on company boards has actually decreased, a recent European Commission report showed. While Romania and Bulgaria both have a high proportion of women in the tech industry, this is not mirrored in other countries from the region, and when looking at the gender pay gap in the tech sector, the picture even in Romania and Bulgaria doesn't look so rosy for women after all. And while Eastern Europe as a whole continues to have large numbers of women at management level, the latest Women in Business report shows Africa overtook the region this year in terms of the number of companies with women on their management boards. The proportion of senior roles held by women in Eastern Europe also declined this year. This comes at a time when so-called “illiberal democracy” has taken hold in several Central Europe countries, which has generally not been good news for women’s rights. Policies affecting women have ranged from eroding abortion rights, to opposing the ratification of a treaty on domestic violence, to questioning whether policy-making should be concerned with gender issues at all. However, economic expediency has ensured


that so long as populations in the region are dwindling and labour shortages threaten to be a constraint on economic growth, even the most socially conservative governments rarely seek to challenge women’s right to be in the workplace. But even if governments aren’t directly undermining women in the workplace, the lack of positive action to ensure women are able to work is putting past gains by women in the workplace at risk. Romania hasn’t gone down the illiberal democracy road to the extent that its northern neighbours Poland and Hungary have, but it still hasn’t taken much positive action to ensure, for example, that more women are represented on company boards. By contrast, efforts to encourage young people (both male and female) into the tech sector, has contributed to the large numbers of female graduates entering the industry. Losing the historic advantage in the numbers of women in the workforce would be a pity. Not only because women are currently able to forge successful careers and become role models for younger generations, but also because of the bottom line impact. A study by McKinsey Global Institute, for example, finds that global GDP could be boosted by $12tn by advancing women's equality. Businesses benefit from gender balance on their boards, as women are estimated to bring different management strengths such as longer-term strategic thinking, more diligent studying of information and the ability to change course when needed, that complement those of their male counterparts. Moreover, in a region where one of the major inhibitors of growth in the coming decades is set to be mass emigration and consequent labour shortages, encouraging women in the workplace is an economic imperative for Romania and other East European countries.

Across the region 87% of companies have at least one woman in senior management.

The region has the highest proportion of companies led by women, 36%.

Romania is ninth globally in terms of the high proportion of female business owners, with 28.9% of businesses surveyed owned by women. Romania’s tech industry is one of the most gender equal worldwide, with women accounting for 26% of the sector’s workforce. 15


Burning topics of life, for a time that is ahead of us

Digital disruption, the Debt Age and the

‘Cyberchondria” also referred to as “Morbus Google” is the medical condition caused by using the world's most widely used search engine. “The neurobiology of knowledge clarifies how medical conditions, such as Morbus Google, can arise from ignorance about the workings of our own brain. Brains do not download information, but construct knowledge, which is used to access information. There is no such thing as knowledge on demand. Without knowledge, information cannot be accessed. A brain without knowledge is like a very weak muscle”, says professor dr. Manfred Spitzer, German psychiatrist, psychologist, neuroscientist, and one of the main speakers in 2018 Mazars Forum, on May 10th in Bucharest. 16

Dino Ebneter


human brain


How can we confine the adverse effects of technology? According to Dino Ebneter, Mazars Romania Country Managing Partner: "New technologies are so significant, that they captured all areas of our life. The consequences may seem irreversible. This is why, at this year's Mazars Forum edition we have invited two remarkable - and unconventional - guest speakers: professor dr. Manfred Spitzer and Tomáš Sedláček, Czech economist and Chief Macroeconomic Strategist at ČSOB, author of best-seller "Economics of Good and Evil" – to discuss the impact digitalisation has on individuals, society and economy." "Our work is much more than Audit, Advisory, Tax and Accounting. We address our clients' challenges as our own, and are diligent about how our work may affect the communities. Hence, we put the spotlight on burning topics of life, career and business impacting us all. The Mazars Forum opens questions to a time that is ahead of us; it allows specialists and leaders to have a platform for debate among peers." explains Dino Ebneter. The Forum on May 10th opens the stage for topics that reflect the reality we are living in, such as robotisation and virtualization. It intends to help enhance the awareness for the mega-trends that will shape our future. The debates, structured in three panels, will capitalise on social repercussions and behaviors related to the most powerful tool mankind possesses: the human brain, and its transformation under the influence of technology. “Quite a few people refer to their computer’s hard drive as their “external brain”, and to their brain as their “internal hard drive”. Humans in their own often-heard terms, no longer perceive, think, and feel but rather “process information”, just like computers do, and produce behavioural “output” given some perceptual

“input” and some “internal states”, says prof. dr. Manfred Spitzer. At a social and economic level, we are living in an age defined by contrast and paradox. As Tomáš Sedláček says, “Perhaps our era will go down in history as the Debt Age. In recent decades, our debt has risen not out of shortage, but out of surplus, excessiveness. Our society is not suffering from famine, but it must solve another problem - how to host a meal for someone who is full?” Mazars, a modern company bringing together smart growth, high concentration of knowledge, sustainability and agility, recognizes the impact of digital technologies on every aspect of the human life: genesis, education, labour, economics, security and governance. “This is an international event happening in Bucharest,” says Ebneter, “to be attended by top international and local thinkers, IT and media specialists, researchers and business representatives. As a group, we are permanently taking steps towards transformation. One of the latest ones is the acquisition of the French prescriptive data analytics start-up Zettafox, a strategic acquisition for the internal transformation of the business. This complements the open

innovation and start-up incubator programs the group has offered for the past several years.” Mazars is an international, integrated and independent organization, specializing in audit, accountancy, advisory, tax and legal services. As of 2018, it operates throughout the 86 countries that make up its integrated partnership. Mazars draws upon the expertise of 20,000 women and men led by more than 950 partners, assisting clients of all sizes, from SMEs to mid-caps and global players, as well as start-ups and public organizations, at every stage of their development. In Romania, Mazars has more than 20 years of experience in audit, tax, accounting & payroll and advisory services, being active on the market since 1995. The local team comprises more than 170 professionals. Mazars Forum, launched in 2014, is an original concept that brings together CEOs and finance executives from the largest multinational corporations, business associations and local entrepreneurs, to exchange and contribute to dynamic and inspiring conversations about essential aspects of the economic environment, business environment, career and life.

Pete Swabey

Editorial Director EMEA The Economist Intelligence Unit



THE RUBIK CUBE OF GDPR PERSPECTIVES ON THE UPCOMING EU PROVISIONS ON DATA PROTECTION In view of the entry into force of the new EU Regulation 2016/679 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (known as “GDPR”), on May 25th 2018, more and more companies adopt measures in order to submit to its legal provisions. Harmonizing their activities with the requirements applicable to the processing of personal data represents a complex process, involving not only time, money and human resources, but also uncertainties in relation to the manner of interpreting or effectively applying some of GDPR’s relevant legal provisions. Such difficulties can emerge on the occasion of performing the company’s data audit in view of identifying the main actions to be adopted for the observance of the new EU data processing rules, as well as when the data processing measures are effectively implemented. Have all the departments involved in the processing of personal data been identified? Did the company make a list with all the possible situations in which natural persons must be required to express their consent, in view of a legal processing of their personal data? Is there a need for a data protection officer (DPO)? Must the data protection authority be notified in case of a specific processing? Such questions and many others are analyzed these days by the legal entities falling under the GDPR’s scope. Consequently, there is a certain fear when discussing about the GDPR implementation at a company level, which can be also justified by the perspective of incurring severe 18

Andreea Micu, Partner Stoica&Associates

Dragoș Bogdan, Senior Partner, Stoica&Associates

sanctions in case of breaches of the relevant legal provisions (including fines amounting up to 4% of the annual turnover). And…the plot thickens when CEOs and CFOs imagine going through an unexpected visit of The National Supervising Authority for Personal Data Processing.

in the end, such undertakings will probably decide to perform a data audit and harmonize their business with the data protection requirements, given the perspective to incur huge fines. Or, even worse, to pay damages in case of breaches of the individuals’ rights in relation to data processing, which can also lead to a severe deterioration of the company’s image in the eyes of its clients.

The public debates on the subject also reveal that, in many cases, GDPR is perceived as a measure imposed by the EU, which is not necessarily important, but nevertheless needs to be compelled to, given the serious legal consequences that it entails. Just think a little bit and you will surely remember talking with representatives of undertakings who consider that their activity does not involve processing of personal data (but actually it does!) and therefore, implementing the new GDPR provisions would be a waste of their financial resources. However,

But should the assessment of the GDPR be made with fear? Or, on the contrary, with indifference? Let’s think a little bit outside the box. 68 likes on Facebook. That is what it averagely takes, according to a 2012 study performed by a team of researchers from Cambridge, in order to detect the skin colour of a Facebook user (with a 95% probability), the


sexual orientation (88%), the affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85%), the intelligence, religious orientation, predilection for alcohol, cigarettes or drugs or even whether the parents are divorced. The more likes a Facebook post has, the more increases the probability for a specific assumption to be real. This is a mere example of the power of personal data in the Big Data era. Processing personal data with modern tools (i.e. collecting, aggregating, storing and using them in the attempt to predict and influence the behavior of the members of a society, driven by a variety of objectives) has huge consequences not only at an individual level, but also at a social level. The ongoing scandal Facebook/ Cambridge Analytica is only one of the outcomes related to data processing activities. Affecting the private life of individuals, manipulating people, increasing social inequalities, destroying democratic mechanisms, are only a few of the possibilities revealed by the Rubik cube of private data processing. Therefore, processing of personal data is nowadays more intense than ever. Powerful undertakings are collecting data in various circumstances and use them in order to predict and influence people’s behavior. Examples include Target – a leading US store chain – that used its clients’ personal data regarding credit card purchases in order to detect pregnant women’s consumer behavior during the stages of pregnancy and subsequently advertised a selection of products to these women (including food, creams and even baby products), based on the detected behavior; Facebook (again!), that uses predictive analysis in order to personalize each user’s wall, as well as to evaluate clicks and profiles, for the purpose of efficiently placing online advertising of various undertakings, which consistently contribute to its incomes; Uber, that is able to predict, with a 74% accuracy, the specific address of destination where the client intents to travel, based on the place where the car has left that client; Amazon, which

is able to recommend specific products to its consumer, based on the previous purchases and thus, contributes with a 35% increase of its revenues. In addition, a huge part of online advertising is based on the activity of personal data brokers, that collect data from numerous sources, either online or offline, aggregate them and interpret them in order to create categories of consumers, depending on various criteria (profiling). Data brokers subsequently sell personal data to their clients, who place targeted advertising and thus, have higher chances to increase their sales. In other words, modern technology – card payments, GPS localization, mobile communications, internet, mobile applications and social networks – contribute to the multiplication of prediction tools used by the companies. It is common knowledge that processing of personal data represents a very useful instruments for companies (and for consumers, in many occasions, because they benefit of an enhanced shopping experience), but sometimes, these activities can lead to negative consequences. However, personal data processing is not something new. In fact, it appeared – in a primary form – from the moment when people started drawing or telling each other their adventures or those of the group to which they belonged. For instance, the guest lists of the ancient world’s leaders, used for organizing meetings or banquets, represent a version of today’s direct marketing methods. The use of writing and the necessities of trade (such as information related to the sellers, buyers, prices and products, processed by traders and bankers from Tuscany with the help of inventory lists and afterwards, of Pacioli’s new accounting methods), the governments’ requirements (taxes, genealogy etc.) have all led to the increase of processing of personal data. Letters, denunciations, legal deeds, land registers, private

detectives’ notebooks are just a few examples of cases involving the processing of personal data. Moreover, a legal framework for the processing of personal data exists already for a few decades. Art 8 (1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and art. 16 (1) of the EU Treaty guarantee the right to the protection of personal data, which was developed in the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The European Convention on Human Rights also protects personal data in the context of the right to private life, which was extensively interpreted by the European Court on Human Rights (ECHR). In addition, the processing of private data is still regulated by Directive 95/46/CE until the GDPR becomes applicable. Under these circumstances, the entry into force of the GDPR is a natural consequence of the necessity to increase the protection of individuals in relation to the processing of their personal data in the new context of the Big Data era. GDPR is meant to limit the negative aspects and the abuses already committed in the context of processing personal data. Moreover, to the extent that GDPR provisions are correctly applied, they allow the actual processing of personal data, as well as their free movement, in a safer legal framework, by transforming such activities in intelligent tools in the benefit of companies. In other words, undertakings should not refrain from processing personal data, driven by the fear of breaching the data processing requirements imposed by the GDPR. So, do not fear the GDPR! It can actually become a magical tool in support of both the natural persons’ right to a lawful data processing and to the companies’ need to perform such processing. You just need to learn how to play with the RUBIK cube and you could start…by reading the instructions of use: the GDPR provisions. 19

Dawn breaking over the hill above Moeciu, Brasov County

Ruth Rusby, United Kingdom

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To find out more and open your account today, call the team on +40 316 305 111 or email ro@moneycorp.com alternativly contact Johan Gabriels, General Manager, moneycorp Romania at johan.gabriels@moneycorp.com moneycorp is a trading name of TTT Moneycorp Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the provision of payment services in the UK and is regulated by the National Bank of Romania (NBR) for conduct of business rules.


Are you an Inspirational Leader or just a Mediocre Boss?

As I celebrate 10 years of living and to move again into adult mode when the working here in Romania, I can also proverbial school bell rings to go back to class reflect on how certain aspects of resulting in a substantial loss in productivity Romanian business practices have and little stimulus to a young mind. changed in that time including the There can be many natural and, indeed, attitude and perception of Basic People logical reasons why a young professional Management. wants to leave their employer including When I first arrived and dared to an enhanced career move, personal mention “succession planning” to circumstances etc. but the number one reason clients I received this horrified and, that people leave due to discontentment somewhat aggressive look and quickly, or demotivation is simply because of their yet disappointingly realized that manager! many managers were protecting their A recent study by Marcus Buckingham and jobs from the up and coming talent Curt Coffman came up with this unsurprising within their respective teams and conclusion that, if you’re losing good people, organisations to such an extreme that look to their immediate supervisor. More their relationships with these very same than any other reason he/she is the reason people under their assumed leadership people stay and thrive within an organization and guidance was dramatically poor. and he/she is the reason they quit, taking Historically, Romania has been a more their knowledge, experience and contacts task-orientated work nation with high with them, often, straight to the competition. emphasis on the manager being the Buckingham and Coffman emphasise “People ultimate decision maker whether they leave Managers, not companies, so much make the right or wrong ones but in money has been thrown at the challenge of recent times the influx of international keeping good people in the form of better corporation culture has, fortunately, pay, better perks, nicer office, better training diminished this assumed power and when, in the end, turnover is mostly a is rightly encouraging managers to be manager issue” more mentors than the old fashioned So, if you have a problem with your people boss. turnover in your company, look at your As a consultant on office design and managers and supervisors as up to a point, an employee motivation through my great employee’s primary need has less to do with experiences with Corporate Office money, and more to do with how he/she is Solutions (COS) there is a wave of treated and how valuable he/she feels. Much trendy passion these last couple of years of this directly falls at the responsibility of the By Colin Lovering to satisfying the ever-more-demanding immediate manager. needs of the, now infamous, Don’t assume that just because somebody is millennials in the workplace with many a high performing star in the company that organisations installing every kind of they will naturally make a good manager (The “play thing” to provide the alleged Diego Maradona syndrome as I like to call motivation for young people to stay it) and take the time and investment to make in the company for longer than a few them leaders and mentors and, in fact, don’t months. call them managers at all as that is half the In my recent career in the real estate problem! market with Avison Young, this need My final tip for you is when one of your team is further exaggerated with the listed next approaches you with a “what shall I do?” priorities given by prospective tenants or “what do you think?”, don’t answer but as including proximity to a metro, near to a shopping mall, simply throw the question straight back at them “what do eco-friendly environment etc. all in pursuit of desperately YOU think?” because they probably know the answer, they hanging on to their talent and expertise and attracting new just need you to encourage them to take responsibility and blood in the current low unemployment, employee dominant leadership in what they are skilled in doing. business market. Decisions shouldn’t be difficult in life and as my old dear boss Well, my friends, I hate to be the grim reaper here but a poor used to use the above technique on me and explain, “Colin, if attrition rate is only partly improved through providing it makes sense, it’s probably the right thing to do so go ahead ill-planned adult play-areas within the office where your people and just do it.” go from adult mode to child mode and then are reluctant See you all in May!

It’s time to remove the word

‘Manager’ from the business vocabulary

Colin Lovering is senior vice-president of Avison Young Romania and Chairman of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce. 21



Let’s talk about it with Irina Moreno


ucharest-born Irina Moreno, left Romania in 1989, after graduating computer science at the Politehnica University of Bucharest. Her first stop was Austria, then Canada for ten years and after that Detroit, together with her family of four by this time. In Detroit she felt the time had come for her to start doing something she really wanted to do - art. Once accredited in art appraisal she set-up her own company which she ran for 12 years. She appraised art objects, offered consultancy on managing collections, advised on buying and selling on the primary and secondary markets, helped people understand which art fairs they should go to, what artists to look out for and why something costs this instead of that. Irina left the US and took a Master’s degree in contemporary art at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, then spent a year in Paris and now 22

By Ada Popescu

she’s back in Bucharest, lecturing on art markets and contemporary art. Irina remembers her time spent at Sotheby's in London as intellectually stimulating. She knew the US art scene, but the European one was different. Irina graduated with Distinction - a strong achievement when you consider that only 10% of graduates in the UK achieve a distinction. Moreno has been back in Bucharest for 4 months and is enjoying the city, which she has found to have completely changed from the one she left almost 30 years ago. She likes the mix of old and new and she finds the art scene exciting. Still, she feels there is room for improvement, with people misusing and abusing terms, not knowing how to buy or what the differences are between buying and collecting or how to build an art collection. And this is a large part of the reason she agreed to do an art lecture series when Bucharest's Mobius

Gallery invited her. The first lecture was held on March 30th and the topic was “Factors that determine value” - such as size, medium, edition, condition, story, historical importance, to name but a few. Moreno presented artworks that had been through her appraisal company in Detroit and explained some of the ways in which the value of an art object fluctuates according to these factors. For the next lectures Moreno intends to talk more about contemporary art. Every lecture will have a different subject covering topics such as building and managing a collection, art market players, reasons for the proliferation of art fairs and the impact on disseminating and collecting art, a behind-the-scenes look at art curating, a.s.o. The second lecture will be held on April 25th, at 7 pm and the title is “What do art fairs and Starbucks have in common?”. For information regarding price, location and future see Facebook page: @mobius.contemporaryartgallery.


March 30 th, first lecture called “Factors that determine value” at Mobius Gallery Photo credit: Codre Isac



Deep Light During a 10-year management career within the same in-store media company, Ramona Copil kept several side projects, indulging her artistic calling by exploring different mediums such as paint, clay and metal. Photography has given her the opportunity to work with light, shapes and textures and she has been pursuing it for the last 3 years with more dedication than before. She learnt a lot by both participating in various courses and workshops and by practicing to capture meaningful moments of everyday life. Her perseverance paid off when she was one of the finalist in the Street Photography Days Bucharest (PHOS) contest - VSLO. She was also selected as a finalist for PHOS - Street photography days - Bucharest contest this year. 24





How To Cure Chickenpox


By Mike Ormsby The sky is bright and the breeze is cold in our yard. Locals would say the weather is sunny with teeth - e soare cu dinţi. In other words, I need a coat. Besides, this creosote is giving me a fuzzy head. Time for a break. I’ve daubed twenty fence posts so far. The rest can wait. I wrap my brush in a rag, put the lid on the pot and walk back to the house. Our dogs are barking through the fence at a man in the lane. He’s wearing baggy pants, worn-out wellies. and lurching about like a string puppet. He gestures and mutters, as if rehearsing lines for an argument recently lost. He has piggy eyes and a foxy grin. He waves at me and almost stumbles. “Domnul Mike, ce faci?” “Fine thanks, Domnul Titi, and you?” He points. “Your dogs. They don’t like me when I’m–” Titi pauses to admire the mountains, then continues on his way. He’s well-oiled, but at least he didn’t pee in our lane. The locals say Titi is blotting paper - sugativă. They have a way with words. Sometimes, I wonder what they say about my wife and me. I enter the house and greet four young kids huddled around our big table. They’re scribbling in exercise books and Angela is writing on her whiteboard:

Every cloud has a silver lining. She turns from her task. “Hello Mike. I need one more English proverb. Any ideas?” “A stitch in time saves nine.” Angela writes it on the board and I fill a glass at the tap. “You don’t miss your water until your well runs dry.” “That’s plenty, thanks.” Angela stands back. She’s got two columns on her board - English on the left, Romanian on the right. But they don’t match. “What’s this about a flower?” I point. “If you pick garofiţa, lightning will strike your house.” “Garofiţa. The violet one, very small?” “Yes, but you don’t see them often, so perhaps this saying is just a clever way to protect a rare plant.” “Interesting. What’s this about a fire?” “If you destroy a stork’s nest, the stork will burn your house.” “How?” Angela turns to her students and asks for a volunteer to explain. Dark-eyed Maria in the green bonnet rises to her feet and tells me that a stork will drop hot embers on my roof. She’s dead serious, all frowns. You’re dead. I drain my glass of water. Cheers.

“Bye, everyone. Oh, where’s Emil?” “Sick with varicelă,” says Angela. “Chickenpox?” “Yup. He’ll miss your ukulele class and a trip to the bear sanctuary. Then again, it depends what colour clothes he wears.” “Come again?” Angela turns to her class. “The cure for chickenpox, Maria?” For a second time, Maria rises to the occasion. “Emil must wear lots of red clothes to get better.” I can hardly believe my cold ears. “Huh?” “They bring out the rash, Domnul Mike.” “Did a doctor tell you that?” “No, but it’s true, ask anyone.” Walking back to my tub of creosote, I crouch to inspect some bright green leaves growing wild. I tug one off, crush it in my palm, and inhale the aroma. It smells like toothpaste and helps clear my head. I look towards the mountains. Strange to think our planet was rock and slime, once upon a time. But now look, it’s lush and buzzing. Amazing place, the earth. Then I remember something else that Romanians say: Stop rubbing the mint. Nu freca menta. That’s when you’re wasting time, like now.

This extract is from Mike Ormsby's recent book ‘Palincashire - Tales of Transylvania’. Mike is the author of bestseller 'Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania.' Literary critics dubbed him 'The British Caragiale’.

The wine and the divine (Vinul și divinul) by Jean-Robert Pitte, a new book launched in the In Vino Veritas Baroque Books Collection, coordinated by AVINCIS The sacred books and rites of the world's great religions have always had a close relationship with wine. The euphoria or drunkenness they provide are known to promote access to the divine, while only Muslims must wait for heaven to enjoy its benefits. Wine,

beer, sake, pulque, palm wine are at the heart of animist, polytheistic, Christian or Buddhist cultures. The cult of wine and the great religions were constantly reflected in art and literature. The Greek Symposium (the part of the banquet that took place after a meal, when drinking for pleasure was accompanied by music, dancing or conversation) or Dionysus in the midst of the vineyards, reproduced on an amphora from Villa Giulia in Rome, the texts of Euripides (considered a prefiguration of the Christ Eucharist),

the Genesis or The City of God by Saint Augustine are only some of the examples showing the harmony between wine and religion. Open a bottle of your favorite AVINCIS wine and embark in a historical travel amid people’s beliefs and their relation with this drink of the Gods. "In vino veritas" is a collection published by the Baroque Books and Arts publisher in collaboration with AVINCIS as part of the AVINCIS initiative to help educate consumers through consistent cultural approaches.







Traditionally Trendy The Romanian Blouse - Ie

By Georgiana Florentina Dogaru

Yves Saint Laurent was the first internationally renowned fashion house that was inspired by the traditional Romanian blouse and introduced it in his haut-couture collection in 1981. In fact, the source of his inspiration was the painting La Blouse Roumaine painted by Henry Matisse in 1940. Matisse received a collection of Romanian blouses from the Romanian painter Theodor Pallady and, this way, the blouse became an international source of inspiration. Another French designer, Philippe Guilet, launched in 2011 a whole haute-couture collection inspired by Romanian costumes. In Romania, the traditional folklore is promoted in fashion by Adrian Oianu and Ingrid Vlasov.

Lately, traditions have become a source of inspiration for many domains, including fashion. We are all going back to the roots and using traditions as a foundation for modernity. The Romanian blouse was, for centuries, worn only by the women that lived in the villages that used to sew it themselves, and was out of fashion for decades, until important fashion houses and designers launched collections inspired by it. Initially, it was made of linen or hemp, and then they used cotton and silk. Over the past decade, it slowly became trendy and we could see Hollywood celebrities like Halle Berry, Emma Stone and Nicole Kidman wearing these gorgeous blouses. It is beautiful and unique and it cannot pass unnoticed. It is part of the Romanian legacy, integrated into the universal legacy. Some of the modern blouses are not entirely the way the traditional ones

Each year, on June 24th, we celebrate the Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse. On this day, the Romanian orthodox calendar celebrates Sânziene, associated from pagan days with the cult of vegetation, fertility and the sun. No matter what your fashion style is, you can include the Romanian blouse in your wardrobe. It suits any type of outfit; it’s feminine, unique, fine and pretty. You can combine it with trousers or a skirt and wear it proudly.

Jean Paul Gaultier

Oscar de la Renta

The Romanian word for it is Ie (pronounced ee-eh), and it’s been worn by women for centuries. In the beginning, it was a whole costume, but the only piece that passed the test of time was the blouse. Fashion is a circle and trends always come back, but the traditional Romanian blouse should always be fashionable and included in our wardrobe for it is a beautiful piece of clothing that is never out of fashion, a bit like good jeans or that little black dress. Romanian and international celebrities have been

used to be, but it is an art to create such a masterpiece and an honour to wear one. They are historical proof of the Romanian culture and continuity.

Carolina Herrera

The Romanian ancestral blouses have recently been revived and they’ve successfully passed the gap from traditional to trendy. It’s a representative piece of Romanian folklore that became an international trend. It has inspired fashion houses such as Yves Saint-Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carolina Herrera and Tom Ford. It’s colourful and feminine and represents the Romanian spirit: the hardworking Romanian peasant woman who doesn’t forget to look pretty.

seen wearing blouses inspired by the traditional Romanian Ie. It is entirely hand-made, with complex, colourful embroidery, sewed with natural fabrics. It is decorated with beads and symbolic motifs - geometric figures, flowers, trees, leaves, and many other decorations, different from one region to another. Each blouse tells a unique story through the motifs and colours of the embroidery. It’s a synthesis of tradition and modernity, old and new, and one of the things that makes Romania unique in the world.

Tom Ford

We all have our own personal fashion style, but there are certain clothes that suit almost every person and look pretty good on us even though they are not necessarily our style. The Romanian blouse is one of those tops that just looks good on any woman and you can create a casual look with it or, equally, an elegant outfit.




good deeds for children's health and education Merci Charity Boutique

association provides support to humanitarian causes involving children with medical and social problems, through health and education programs. To fulfill its mission, the association opened in 2012 the first charity concept store in Romania, a place with its own identity, located in the old centre of Bucharest. This place is a cultural teahouse with surprising decor, it is also an antique store with decorations and art items and a shop with clothing and accessories. The charity boutique functionned for a few years, when the


team, Alina and Daniela, decided to open a social tailor shop, Atelier Merci. Since November 2015, Atelier Merci helps to integrate children into society and raise money to support them. In the social tailor shop, the team creates clothing for women and recycles donations received from individuals and textile plants. All the items resulted from the tailor shop have a stamped sign ̒ I wear a good deed̓ because 100% of the profit goes back into our charity projects. Health & education projects Our association developed in 2017 a

mobile solution for dental healthcare dedicated to children located in poor communities, both rural and urban, and children with cancer, a group with no access to dental services: a mobile dental facility, under the name “Zâna Merciluță”.


This is a van equipped identically to a dental cabinet, where we collaborate with volunteer dentists who travel monthly with the association’s team in poor rural communities, offering prophylactic dentistry to children in need. Since July 2017, we have offered dental assistance to more than 600 children from 11 villages in Iași and Mureș county, and children from the Institute of Oncology Bucharest. After being seen by the doctor, each child received toothpaste and a toothbrush. In the past year, we also contributed to creating a legal framework for the functioning of mobile medical facilities in Romania. It was a long process, but soon we will have a law for the functioning of mobile medical facilities, which will allow public (state owned structures and NGO’s) or private companies to open mobile medical facilities, having a legal framework to support their work. This legal framework will allow mobile medical facilities and the staff to also provide treatment. In our case, it will allow our mobile dental facility to offer also treatment to poor children, not just prophylactic dentistry. 1100 000 children are living in poverty and have little or no access to dental healthcare services. Therefore, their dental health is already precarious and there is already the need for dental treatment. It is too late for dental prevention in most of the cases. In the long term, the goal of the association is to build a foundation that fosters advocacy for mobile healthcare solutions in various fields of medicine, encourages the design of tools for impact measurement, and facilitates collaboration among healthcare providers, designed to serve the underprivileged: disadvantaged rural and poor urban communities. Apart from this health project, we support 8 children from villages located in Mureș and Olt county to continue their studies in the city through a monthly scholarship of 500 lei/ child. This covers accomodation and food in the boarding school, school supplies and transportation. This is

possible thanks to a company and individuals who support the children’s scholarships. Our children are already in the 10th grade.

How can you help? Help can come in a variety of forms: You can buy products from our social tailor shop “Atelier Merci” (www. ateliermerci.ro), having in mind that 100% of the profit goes back into our charity projects. We can organize together a fashion show with products from our tailor shop if you gather a community of at least 30 people interested in doing a good deed. If you are dentist or dental products supplier, you can get involved in “Zâna Merciluță” project: you can dedicate a part of your time by volunteering in our mobile dental facility or as dental supplier company, you can donate dental care or dental supplies to use them in our program and offer free dental treatment to children. If you are a company, you can choose to donate up to 20% of the tax revenue to our cause through sponsorship. Moreover, we are located in a lovely place in the second district, Foișor area, where we can host meetings, trainings for 20-25 people and your donation for using our space, supports one of our projects.

Daniela, wearing Atelier Merci

If you have some other ideas, you can contact us by e-mail: dani@mercicharity.ro or alina@mercicharity.ro or phone: 0726.008.152 www.mercicharity.ro www.ateliermerci.ro www.zanamerciluta.ro




By Stephen McGrath


s 58-year-old Carmen Schuster taps away at her computer as she sits in a beautifully restored, well-lit part of her guesthouse in Cincșor, a small rural settlement in Brașov County, it’s hard to imagine that this is the building in which she spent part of her childhood, at school. Schuster’s family history in Cincșor stretches back hundreds of year, “at least,” she says, so leaving it all behind in 1984 as her and her family moved to Germany was not an easy move on a sentimental level; but the harsh reality of communism drove them to up sticks when the opportunity came. “My family had quite a difficult situation,


my uncle was condemned to prison for 25 years in Romania,” says Schuster. “He was a writer and there was a big process against Saxon or German-speaking writers because they were considered to be profoundly anti-communist.” Schuster grew up in Cincșor as part of the Transylvanian Saxon community — a Germanic tribe who moved to the region in the 12th century. During communism and in the years after, many thousands, like Schuster, left the country. “I never expected to come back to Romania,” says Schuster. “I was working on a bilateral [banking] project between Germany and Romania and I came back to Cincșor and saw that the entire Saxon


community had collapsed from around 250 people to around 20 people.” The exodus meant that many Saxon homes and community buildings fell into critical states of disrepair. Meanwhile, in Germany, however, Schuster was having a successful career as a high-level banker, where she helped with the restructuring of the country’s banking system, and then on a bilateral project for Romania’s national bank in 2006. The series of serendipitous events led Schuster and her husband Michael, a former teacher, to move back to her native village in 2008. Their project was ambitious: to buy, restore and repurpose her former Evangelical school, the local parish house and a smaller peasant house into superb guesthouses, in a project which she calls ‘private-public’. The Cincșor Guesthouses opened in 2015, is just a 45 minutes drive from Sighișoara and can accommodate up to 30 people. “We expected to get more visitors from Germany, a kind of nostalgic German [Saxon], but it wasn’t the case, about 80 percent are Romanians, between 25-44 and well educated,” says Schuster. One of the Schuster’s prime goals, the public part, has been to help fund the restoration of the local fortified church.

Nostalgia, luck and drive has played no small part in the fruition of one of Romania’s fanciest guesthouses and the revival of a towering Lutheran fortified church, once a focal point of the Saxon community. “Nostalgia played a big role because I felt we were in a situation in which we could do something to ensure development [of the village and the church],” says Schuster. Restoring the buildings has been a years-long project and the results are impressive. The art nouveau style Evangelical school, built in 1910 and designed by local architect Fritz Balthes, was abandoned and deteriorated when the Schuster’s bought it a decade ago. Now the building’s large sitting room, adjacent to the church, resembles a thoughtful mix of sophisticated country house and Transylvanian and Scandinavian chic - every bit worthy of a Farrow & Ball brochure. In the Parish House there are centuries-old frescoes that required a team of (extremely patient) specialists to uncover, paid for by the centimetre, and not cheap. But, like many things in Romania, the restoration of the historic buildings was not a straightforward task. “Our intention was to focus on what the buildings had to offer historically, and we



changed architects four times,” says Schuster, adding that many of the early architects wanted to “put their own mark on the buildings”. That was not part of the plan: Schuster wanted the buildings of her once-bustling community revived, not changed. Naturally, the collection of key Cincșor buildings now owned by the Schuster’s forms a kind of central point to the village, employs many locals and is far more than a slap-on superficial veneer. Schuster’s estate, as it can only be described, offers a combination of nature, cultural events, impressive historic architecture and centuries-old artefacts that makes a visit there both relaxing and culturally enriching. On top of this, there is the excellent food by chef Adrian Boșcu, who Schuster says was given a year to experiment before serving a customer. Schuster doesn’t do substandard and when she says it’s important to make Romania “more European and modern”, it’s clear that she means it and is playing her part. “Even if the Saxon community in ten years doesn’t exist, a good sustainable project could get people involved and maybe some will move back,” says Schuster. “I think everyone who works for a big corporation should at some time in their life go back to their roots.”



Cincșor Guesthouses is the sort of enterprise often imported to Transylvania by foreigners from Western Europe, except that, Schuster is very much in her native home and her passion for it is evident in what she and Michael have created. It's a 24-hour live-in business, but Schuster takes it all in her stride. Stephen McGrath is a Romania-based correspondent. His work appears regularly in the international press, for publications including The Times, BBC, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Spectator, New Statesman, Forbes, and others. 35



The Green Village in Sfântu Gheorghe


By Giles Eldridge

ne might surmise that the two main physical aspects in Romania outside of Bucharest are the mountains and the sea. People seem drawn to one or the other, the peaks or the beach. However, there is another beautiful part of the country that is often overlooked - the Danube Delta. Compared to The Carpathians or the Black Sea coast this is a region that is both less easy to access or describe and, therefore, more intriguing to experience, being, as it is, somewhere in between land and water; it immediately suggests a certain strangeness and allure. Many written descriptions of the environment tend to characterise it in terms of numbers - 5,800 sq km of reed beds and waterways, 300 bird species, 5,500 species of flora and fauna, 23 natural eco systems… and it can get really technical, 35 species of macrophytes and 28 of helophytes. I don’t know what a phyte of any description might be, but it all 36

sounds impressive and convincing. Additionally one might hear about the exotic sounding birds and animals, Egyptian White Pelicans, Bee-eaters, the Glossy Ibis (apparently a bird not a hotel) or the fantastically named East Asian Raccoon Dog. Yet, like Palatul Parlamentului in Bucharest, you cannot start to understand this place by way of lists and statistics. In order to get an initial idea, nothing compares to experiencing the vastness of this expansive landscape. First, find a map to orientate yourself and then look through some photographs, especially aerial, and you will start to grasp the fascination and attraction. It is epic, but then so is the river that feeds it. Within the journey of the Danube there is a lyrical symmetry, from Germany, the river starts out from the Black Forest and taking its time for 2,850 km it finally ends up in the Black Sea, becoming a little blue somewhere around Vienna. There is some talk about its origins in the small German town in those dark woods and certainly

lots about its various stop-offs on the way to its conclusion in the Black Sea, but maybe not so much mention of its splendid and complex Romanian finale at the Delta. In fact, at the Delta there are three main parts of the river that meet the sea and it is the final destination of the oldest branch that I want to say a few words about here, where the river yields to the sea at Sfântu Gheorghe. In this village there is an atmosphere that is hard to define and right from the start I should say it’s probably not for everyone. The air is full of a particular feeling of stillness and ease. There are no breathtaking mountain views or Black Sea resort clubs, nothing is cool or hip; it’s just you, a dusty village and lots of nature, water and boats. Sfântu Gheorghe comprises of a grid of un-surfaced roads where there are some beautiful traditional houses and even a couple of small low-rise communist bloc buildings in addition to a marina, a couple of bars, the village shop and a church; very much as you might


imagine in a community of 800 people. However, of all the other villages and places in the Delta, Sfântu Gheorghe is a little different. Whilst accommodation can be found within one of the local’s houses in the old village, there is also a holiday resort of sorts. Known as the Green Village this eco-hotel complex of 88 rooms is definitely not in the Mamaia tradition. The accommodation is in the form of wooden constructed villas and cabanas with traditional thatched roofs, where one can stay in considerable comfort whilst being situated between the old village and the seashore. The resort offers a variety of sports activities, including those for children in addition to the pool, jacuzzi and sauna that one might expect. This Green Village and adjacent campsite becomes the main headquarters of the Anonimul Film Festival, which is the other element that distinguishes Sfântu Gheorghe. Now in its 15th edition (6th Aug. - 12th Aug.) this has to be one of the most remote film festivals in the world. The emphasis is on young directors and independent films, which naturally span a range of topics and themes. The main evening screenings, with food and drink available at the bar, take place in the open air cinema, under the clear star-studded skies of a summer’s night. Films are also shown during the day in two high quality cinema theatres within the Green Village. A perfect day is to enjoy the beach during the afternoon and then wander back through the dunes to see a film in the evening. In any event, and during whichever season, if you find yourself in this otherworldly watery place, you absolutely

must have a tour of the waterways in a small boatlook for the handwritten Plimbări cu Barca signs in the old village. Try to find one that will take you in a small traditional Barcă if you can. You will be led through the various wide and narrow canals of the local environs, see some of the wildlife, eat fresh water chestnuts and sense the scale of this wetland wilderness. My tip would be to go out as early in the morning as is possible for the real atmospheric deal. Later in the day, if it’s summer, you risk being burnt to a cinder by the sun. The bottom line is that Sfântu Gheorghe is the sort of place that suits the independent person who enjoys doing very little apart from appreciating a unique setting. It’s the kind of environment that is ideal for reading or even writing, but if you are the slightly more energetic type then the sea is super warm in summer, plus you get to share the beach with the village cows. Being surrounded by water, getting to Sfântu Gheorghe naturally requires a boat. There are two basic options, either a smallish 10-seater type boat from Murghiol that will take around an hour, or a four hour trip from Tulcea on a much larger vessel. Murghiol is a car journey or you can take a bus from Tulcea, which can be reached by car, bus or train from Bucharest. For me the longer cruise is the best option as it will set the pace for the rest of your stay - slow down, take it easy, you’re in the Delta.

This Green Village and adjacent campsite becomes the main headquarters of the Anonimul Film Festival, which is the other element that distinguishes Sfântu Gheorghe. www.festival-anonimul.ro/en/home-page-en/

In writing this short piece I seemed to have proved that it is indeed possible to write about the Danube Delta without once mentioning mosquitos. www.greenvillage.ro/en/ 37


Fascinating Fortress ANCIENT BULGARIAN CAPITAL By Kit Gillet Romania-based journalist since 2013, Kit Gillet is reporting from the region for the likes of The Guardian and New York Times.

General Gurko Street General Gurko Street


ith spring firmly in place, it’s easy for minds to wander to weekend breaks far from the madding crowds of Bucharest. A quick drive up to Brașov or Sibiu for the weekend, mountain vistas along the Carpathians, a few days on the Black Sea coast. Few, however, consider a quick hop across the border into northern Bulgaria. Yet, a three-hour drive south, across the Danube River that divides Romania and Bulgaria, lies the picturesque city of Veliko Tarnovo. Perched on a series of hills above a sharp bend in the slow-moving Yantra River, Veliko Tarnovo exudes laidback charm, with its winding cobbled lanes, rich history and rooms with a view. With a population of less than 100,000, it also avoids the big-city feel. One of the oldest known settlements in Bulgaria, as well as a former medieval capital, Veliko Tarnovo is compact and easy to explore, and while the main street running through town is uninspiring, the roads off of it are filled with cobbled lanes and beautifully crafted old buildings, perfect for delving


into on a warm spring day.

on the restaurant’s terrace.

The pedestrianised Samovodska Charshiya leads past craftshops, cafes, antique sellers and restaurants into the maze of alleys that make up Varosha, the oldest residential part of the city. Wandering the streets of Varosha I pass old residents lazing in the sun, and regularly turn a corner to see the city and green hills spread out before me. Further down, General Gurko Street, one of the oldest streets in the city, features beautiful period houses and inns, many of which seem to literally cling to the rocks overlooking the river below.

On the eastern edge of the city, Tsarevets Fortress is one of the main draws for visitors coming to Veliko Tarnovo, and makes for an eye-catching sight when lit up at night. A royal capital and important fortress from the thirteenth century, it was burnt down by Ottoman forces in the late fourteenth century and then partially restored in the twentieth century. The fortress’ thick walls snake along the side of the wooded hill, creating the feeling of a fortified place of nature. Inside, the remains of over 400 houses, as well as a royal palace, monasteries and churches help you get under the skin of medieval Bulgaria. Meanwhile, at the crest of the hill the restored Patriarch’s Cathedral forms a visible marker across parts of the city.

A short walk down the hill and across a footbridge takes you to the opposite bank of the river, where, at the foot of the imposing Asenevtsi Monument – a grandiose sculpture complete with four towering statues of medieval kings – I take in the full panorama of Veliko Tarnovo. In the evening I switch banks again to dine at one of the terrace restaurants that offer unparalleled views out over city. An evening meal at fine-dining establishment Shtastliveca shouldn’t be missed, or if you don’t have time just swing by for glass of wine

Those needing more of a break from city life can head up to Arbanasi, a small village filled with historical houses and churches on a high plateau above the city. A steep, eight kilometre road takes you past Tsarevets Fortress to the hilltop village, with its almost one hundred churches, monasteries and mansions that are now classified as


state-protected cultural monuments. Once popular with wealthy noblemen and women, Arbanasi is well and truly on the tourist map, but that shouldn’t put you off a visit. Meanwhile, for the road-less-travelled, a short drive north of Veliko Tarnovo takes you to the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration of God. Flush

up against a vertical rockface, and with views stretching for miles around, the grounds of the still-functioning monastery, originally founded in the fourteenth century, offer the kind of seclusion that makes the monastic life seem momentarily appealing. A few residential buildings, along with the church and bell tower, are all that constitutes the religious site, which

occupies a spot that would otherwise be consumed by trees. Finally, a short drive away, along a winding country road, you can find a small waterfall in a shady valley to soak up even more nature, before getting back in the car and heading north, across the Danube and back to Bucharest.

Asenevtsi Monument 39





AXLES By Vali Duțu, President CORB44 Club off-road Bucharest CORB44 was founded in 2008, by me, Vali Duțu, and Silviu Bulugioiu. I met Silviu during one of the race stages, held by the Romanian national off-road committee, in Iași in October 2007. At that time I was a member of the original and the biggest off-road club in Romania. Having been a member for five years at that stage, I felt that I needed a change. After meeting Silviu, I was happy to discover that we were both pretty much on the same page, and our passion for cars and adventure led us to form this club. I started off-roading in 1994, while living in England. My passion for the outdoors, for cars, for nature and my never ending search for new life experiences let to me reconsidering my life in London and so, together

with my family, we decided to move to Romania. Back then it was impossible not to get acquainted with the off-roading community of this country. With the help of the people I met, I started off-road racing, travelling around Romania, discovering new places, new people and making friends. Silviu on the other hand, had already been involved in rallies in Romania for more than 10 years. It seemed the perfect fit, with our knowledge and dreams, so we started working together and formed this club - CORB44. In the beginning we were a small team, but with lots of energy. I felt that there should be more than just the racing so in 2008 I came up with the idea of getting everybody involved and spending an entire weekend on the wild beaches north of Constanța,

cleaning up all the rubbish left by the tourists. The idea was well received and for the next five years, in autumn, we said good-bye to summer, in a different way. “Desculț prin nisip, Nu printre gunoaie! - Barefoot on sand, Not among rubbish!”. We also got involved in reforestation, in some parts of Romania. In 2009, together with volunteers, we planted more than 50,000 trees, near Bucharest and also in Maramureș. This is one of the activities we really enjoy, besides racing. Since CORB44 was formed, we’ve organised off-road competitions each year. At the beginning we held them in Târgu Jiu, but these last five years they have been nearer Bucharest, at Târgoviște. Organising such an event



requires a whole heap of man hours and sometimes you feel like enough is enough, but we’ve learnt to overcome the obstacles along the way from local authorities to the muddy terrain. Off-roading is based on teamwork, friendship and respect for everything around you, from people to nature. This is what brings people together, to find and search for new life experiences. We share our knowledge with people, from simple off-road tuition to more advanced level driving, from how to use a phone GPS to orientation in the field, winching and the recovery of others. We also shouldn’t forget the humanitarian part of our club. Over the years, twice a year, we've organised aid trips to remote villages in the mountains of Romania. We usually visit such places around Easter and Christmas, which can bring a smile (and some relief) to the people in these communities. We are always happy to receive help from anyone who wishes to get involved, from small donations to full sponsorships and also just to join us and help out physically. Mostly we take basic food supplies - flour, sugar, oil, tinned food and sometimes clothing and footwear. Personally I’ve found such trips


to be life-changing experiences. Around Christmas 2006 I was part of such a convoy, going to the Apuseni Mountains to help the local people living there in the scattered villages across the mountains at altitudes of over 1000m. We stopped at a hamlet which had just five wooden houses and a little wooden church. In one of the houses an 82-year-old man, living by himself, received two sacks of food and he thanked us profusely. The next moment he started crying like a child, I tried to comfort him, to calm him, telling him that he didn’t owe anything then I asked him why he was crying, his answer gave me goosebumps. He said: “This is the happiest day of my life, it is the first time I’ve seen a car parked outside my house.” It transpired that the last time he’d visited the nearest village, 8 km away, in the valley below, had been 30 years previously. On that day I realised that I have everything I need… After this experience I started organising and guiding 4x4 self drive trips, in Romania, to share my experiences, show this wonderful country off and go way beyond the beaten track.

For more information visit the CORB44 Facebook page or see Adventure.Romania Facebook page.

How does driving on the Transfăgărășan - Top

Gear’s “Best Road in the World” - in a classic muscle car - the CHEVY


sound? How about in a convoy of similar cars, light traffic,

drone photography, a delicious lunch at Albota,


whole day out, with dedicated

guides ensuring you have the trip of a lifetime? The cars are all new, there will be a minimum of 4 cars and it will take place as soon as the 2000m+ Transfăgărășan is open again (April). To book your place contact office@auto-concept.ro or call Bogdan on 0726711775.




Cold Mountain

Ramble By Simon Parker

Photos taken mid-March 2018




A circular route on a mixture of forest/ village roads and marked paths that passes some of the locations used in 2003 film, Cold Mountain, including the final scene. It offers some spectacular views of the Piatra Craiului and Bucegi mountains and ample opportunities to observe the local wildlife – don’t forget your camera and binoculars!

It’s about a three hour drive from Bucharest. Take the E60: past Otopeni, Ploieşti, Sinaia, Buşteni, Azuga. After Azuga, get ready for a left turn to Zărnești – it’s before you get into Predeal town centre and is just over a bridge, Turn left to Zărnești – it is a twisting road through the mountains (DN73A), Turn right at the big T junction at the end of the road – it is signed Sibiu/ Brașov and then Sibiu/ Brașov /Zărnești right at the junction. Drive less than 1Km through Rașnov, Turn left to Zărnești a few metres after an OMV petrol station which is on your left. Follow the road through the countryside into Zărnești – when you get into the town follow the signs for the centre/Măgura – you will go past a large factory on your right before coming into the town centre. When you get to the centre, keep following the signs for Măgura – you’ll come to a roundabout – again, follow the signs to Măgura which is straight on. When you reach Cabana Gura Râului the tarmac ends and you are on a forest road. The parking place is about 1km along this road at Fântâna lui Botorog which is marked on both Google Maps and the hiking maps, just before road crosses the river and bends sharply left up to Măgura.

Casa Rustică in Zărnești: Strada Ion Metianu 61. Excellent and very reasonably priced traditional food and pizzas & very friendly staff.

Where? Zărnești and Măgura Difficulty? Medium. Child friendly? Depends on your child…. Distance? 18km Do-able in winter? Usually – obviously it’s more physically challenging, but it’s a true winter-wonderland hike. Maps: Zenith maps numbers 8 or 3. Both can be bought on-line at:

zenithmaps.com/wp If you have an Android phone, you can download both these maps, from this site, for free. 44

Where to stay: I’ve usually done this hike as a day trip, but if you’d like to turn it into a weekend getaway, I would heartily recommend Hora cu Brazi in Zărnești, but it’s so popular, you’ll need to book at least a few days in advance. (www.horacubrazi.ro)



Table, which is a reasonably good spot for lunch. PART 3: THE SHEPHERD’S PATH

PART 1: THE GORGE Starting from the carpark, the first kilometre, following the blue stripe and red cross markings, is a pleasant gentle warm-up along the two-tone forest road with Spruce trees on your right and Birch on your left. When you reach the barrier you enter the gorge proper. In the summer and autumn you might see the mountain gymnasts climbing up the rock faces and what appears to be crude graffiti on the rocks are in fact cryptic codes pinpointing particular routes. The wildlife is even more interesting. If you are quiet and look up, there’s always a good chance of seeing a wild mountain goat, the capra neagra, which is technically a goat-antelope, doesn’t look much like a goat and can traverse near vertical rock faces without the need for ropes or tight fitting Lycra. Summer bird life includes Alpine swifts, Wallcreepers and a surprisingly wide variety of owl species at any time of the year. Just after you reach what looks like a gazebo in a clearing on your left, you’ll see a sign with the red cross marking directing you into Cheile Pisicii which in its literal translation means ‘the cat gorge’. While you don’t have to be particularly feline to clamber over some rocks to take this shortcut, you’ll not

lose much time by sticking on the forest road which quickly takes you to the one of the final scenes in Cold Mountain was shot. Go in the winter, you’ll see real snow rather than the tons of artificial stuff used in the filming. PART 2: GAINING ALTITUDE As the gorge opens out after a few zig zags, you’ll come to an intersection. Take a sharp left at which the road almost seems to double back on itself. You’ll enjoy the first of some excellent views looking both down the valley and up towards Piatra Craiului but don’t panic if there are initially no red cross markings: these reappear after just over a km when the Cheile Pisicii path re-joins the road. After about another kilometre and a half, the road comes to an end. You’ll see a new signpost where it finishes which confusingly doesn’t give trail markings, just a bicycle sign. Follow it anyway onto a path with leads to up into the forest to the left of the stream bed, and the red cross signs will reappear. When you emerge from the trees into Poiana Vlădușca you’ll get some even better views of Piatra Craiului. The path becomes flatter and the red cross markings are soon joined by the red triangles as you approach La

La Table is an important local cross roads. You need to follow the follow the red stripe and the red cross up and away from Piatra Craiului. At Saua Joaca (an even better place for lunch) make sure you swing left, again following the red stripe and cross markings. In the summer you are likely to shepherds and local villagers using horse-drawn transport to commute back and to from the high pastures where sheep, goats and cattle are grazed before the first snow arrives. After about another kilometre and a half, the path swings to the left and you begin to see the first signs of habitation in the form of simple wooden fences as you approach Peștera village. Peștera is the Romanian word for caves (they have one full of bats) so the Peștera caves is literally Cave caves..... PART 4: THE BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES When you get into Peștera proper you’ll soon reach another crossroads, of sorts. On the map it’s marked as Casa Folea and there’s a sign with a map of the area on it. Take the red cross path going up an incline, not the road down into the village. The path takes you along the edge of the village bordering the Muntele Toancheș forest and you soon run out of superlatives to describe agricultural scenery which has, using



the frequently used cliché, has remained largely unchanged for centuries. The path slowly evolves into a road as Peștera morphs into Măgura (population circa 500), a village that entered the anuls of history in 1713 when the region was still part of the Hungarian empire. It was always been inhabited by Romanians though and you’ll see a path/road down to a recently built monastery (which you can visit) going down from Pensuiunea Mosorel 2. Financed by a local businessman, I have been told it is adorned with some outstanding icon paintings. Soon the stunning views to your right, towards the Bucegi mountains begin to grab your attention on a clear day. Măgura village

Getting back down to your car is relatively straightforward. Look out for a blue triangle on a concrete telegraph pole on your right followed almost immediately by path on your left, initially bordered by a drystone wall and marked with a green arrow. Keeping an eye open for dogs and cows (which both use the path as a thoroughfare) wander down the path until it abruptly widens out just before it enters the forest. There are now two possible routes back down to the carpark: one follows a stream bed on your left, but it’s easier cut across to your right towards what looks a bit like a dog kennel and a low fence that you climb over. The path becomes clear again and aided by a few more green arrows, quickly takes you back to the to the forest road where you started. Turn right when you get to it, and you’ll soon be back at the carpark. It’s now time to set your GSPS to guide you to Casa Rustică and enjoy a well-earned meal. More comfortable with a guide? Well they simply don’t get better than Greg Helm, contact him at greghelmtransylvania@gmail.com - as professional as he is personable. Simon Parker is the director of Albion International Study, a Bucharest-based counselling organisation for UK university applications.


24 Hours of Spring By Julia Leescu

While my snow-loving friend is still posting amazing photos of herself skiing in Poiana Brașov, the rest of my local Facebook feed is silent and happily offline. And no, it's not because of #DeleteFacebook - it's simply that time of the year. Suddenly the morning air is full of promise. Something is happening. Morning bumble-bees hover over the first crocuses, park benches complete with kissing couples in the sunny afternoons, cat miaowing concerts and motorcycle roars that waken you up in the middle of the night and, to no one’s surprise, your favourite gym is now full at any time of the day. Yes, spring is here and you cannot ignore it. But why go to the gym when there are so many more fun options to burn off your winter kilos? While the snow still persists on the tops of Postavaru and Tâmpa there are adventurous options that are “mostly flat”* but still fulfillingly exciting:

A WALK IN ȘCHEI Schei is one of those parts of Brașov that need no introduction, but here is some background info for you to start your trip with anyway: Princess Ileana loved to take a walk here in spring and the local inhabitants proved tough cookie characters in repeatedly rejecting the communist occupation and the imposed rules that came with it. On top of everything, Spring manifests itself in a really romantic way on Șchei’s narrow streets. A morning walk starting from the First Romanian School: (www. primascoalaromaneasca.ro/en/) and ending at Solomon’s Rocks (www. brasovtour.com/en/Attractions/nature/ Solomons-Rocks-Pietrele-lui-Solomon) will impress both history and nature lovers. 48

First Romanian School is a permanent home to some of the oldest Romanian books and even the oldest Romanian Bible, all printed on goats’ skins. Solomon’s Rocks is a lovely picnic area at the very end of the Schei district, surrounded by - you guessed it - rocks and a forest. From there one can take an hour long walk to Poiana Brașov, following the so-called “Old Road”or the trail #54 by “Muntii Nostrii” app.

A DAY IN MOECIU DE SUS Yes, there are many villages worth exploring around Brașov, but Moeciu

That’s all that really needs to be said: come visit “La Cabane aux Images” during the day and take a walk to the forest near the village houses to reconnect with nature.



Those who are on the hunt for first spring flowers, especially crocuses, will love this walk. After arriving to Zărnești by a little train (romantic) or by car (effective), you start your walk following the road that leads to “Plaiul Foii” zone. At some point you will notice the impressive new building of “Piatra Craiului” visiting center. A bit more walking and you will see on your left the indicator of the path that leads to this little remote monastery and a very unique cave, which hasn’t yet been added to the list of those commercial caves charging an entrance fee and surrounded by fake “local” souvenir sellers. Religious or nonreligious, there will be something to reflect on and something to admire. On the way back drop in on he natural Bear Sanctuary “Libearty” (bearsanctuary. com). Just make sure you check their established visiting times, which may vary depending on many factors.

De Sus is a home to something special: we suggest a quick visit to “La Cabane aux Images”, the private Photography Museum created by Laurent Jouault, the Frenchman really attached to this atmospheric place (you can find him on Facebook). The old village house was converted into an art gallery and a museum hosting hundreds of old photo cameras, many of which are still used by Laurent to create his unique, black-and-white old style glimpses of local life.

After such a busy day, sit back and relaxyou’re worth it - fill up your glass and listen to a new playset of evergreens, starting, why not, with: “What a difference a day makes”...

When we visited him, he offered to take our portraits with his vintage photo box, just like they were taken over a hundred years ago.

‘mostly flat’ is a power mantra and kind of a specialty of mine; ask any of my Explorer friends!


Not just another blouse in your wardrobe, but a masterpiece designed to last a lifetime

www.romanian-blouse.com 49 tel: 0723 700 600





14 June – 15 July - THE FINAL COUNTDOWN By Marcel de Roode

Just a couple of months to go until the biggest football event on this planet starts again. OZB offers insights into the teams, the player to watch and the odds on who is likely to win the championship. GROUP C

France Perhaps no nation is as loaded with talent, both young and experienced, as France. Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe , Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba represent just a fraction of the star powered Les Bleus. The only question is if Didier Deschamps is able to manage all these big stars/ego’s, so they can play as a collective unit. If yes, a sure bet for the World Cup Title. Ranking FIFA: 65 Player to watch: Kylian Mbappe Odds to win tournament: 13/2

Australia The Socceroos finished as Asia’s best third place side after a play-off with Syria. This team is well known for their physical strength. Always fighting to the last minute. Tim Cahill (38), the “old warrior” will lead the offensive force together with some new talents like Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Massimo Luongo. It makes this team a tough opponent for everyone. Ranking FIFA: 39 Player to watch: Aaron Mooy Odds to win the tournament: 750/1

Peru Peru are back at the World Cup after 36 years. Coach Ricardo Gareca brought in new, young players and returned to a playing style based on possession and short passes. This team is a mix of experienced, physical and intelligent players. Goals are expected from the talented Christian Cueva. They could be one of the surprises of the tournament.

Ranking FIFA: 11 Player to watch: Jefferson Farfan Odds to win tournament: 250/1

Denmark Danish Dynamite returns to World Cup after missing out on Brazil 2014.Star player Christian Eriksen will lead the way, and take younger players like Andreas Christensen and Kasper Dolberg by the hand. Denmark will continue with the direct style of play that coach Hareide introduced. It makes this team dangerous and unpredictable. Ranking FIFA: 12 Player to watch: Christian Eriksen Odds to win tournament: 100/1


Argentina If we think of Argentina, we think of only 1 little/big man, Lionel Messi. And this is maybe also their biggest problem. They depend totally on Messi, which makes it tricky for the opponents and their tactics sometimes quite “easy”, stop Messi and you stop Argentina. This will also be a farewell tournament for a lot of senior players like Sergio Romero, Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain. Off course it goes without saying that they will be in the tournament until the end. Ranking FIFA: 4 Player to watch: Lionel Messi Odds to win tournament: 10/1

Iceland This team is the smallest nation ever to

qualify for the World Cup.Almost 10% of the nation travelled to Euro 2016 . Can they reach the second round? This will be very difficult for a team that lost their main striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson , departure of coach Lars Lagerback and a draw that placed them with three teams who reached Euro 2016. For me this team is the big unknown. Ranking FIFA: 22 Player to watch: Gylfi Sigurdsson Odds to win tournament: 250/1

Croatia This team exists of players of 29 years or older , it will be the last chance for them to get a result in a World Cup Tournament. The “Vatreni” will just like Argentina also depend on 1 little/big man, 32 year old Superstar Luka Modric. Due to all kind of internal and external conflicts it will be very difficult for this team to focus and get a good result. Ranking FIFA: 17 Player to watch: Luka Modric Odds to win tournament: 40/1

Nigeria The “Super Eagles” were the first team to qualify for Russia.They only missed one tournament (Germany 2006). Counterattacking is the name of the game. This team is based on a solid defense , energetic ball-winners at midfield , and the experience of Mikel John Obi.With outstanding players like Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses they are a team to look forward to. Ranking FIFA: 50 Player to watch: Alex Iwobi Odds to win tournament: 250/1






I Want to Ride my By Douglas Williams When the weather is like this, there is simply no better way of getting round the city than by bike and these days it couldn’t be easier. Not only is Bucharest completely flat and not only is there an increasingly sophisticated cycle path network - Arc de Triumph to Sky Tower to Tunari to Uniri and Alba Julia - but now you don’t even need to have a bike (or go through all that life threatening rigmarole of bike racks on your car) - you can just hire one. There are rental points all over - Herăstrau at both Charles de Gaulle, Aviatorilor and Arc de Triumph, at Piața Victoriei at the top of Calea Victoriei, at Piața Romană, Revoluției, Universității, the Old Town and Unirii. Basically right across the centre of the city you are never too far away from a pick up or drop off point. Here I’m mainly talking about the i’velo bikes that you’ll no doubt have seen around and this system is so neat and user friendly it would be a travesty not to use them, though there are others. Firstly you go to their headquarters near Aviatorilor - you can tell you are in the right place cause there is a massive balloon that floats above it emblazoned with the i’velo logo. There you register (need ID), get your card and put credit on the card and it works like this: (for an adult) for one day, it’s 10 lei, one month it’s 35 lei and for one year it’s 100 lei. Then you go to the nearby docking station, present your card as instructed and release your wheels, your iron horse and off you go. The only thing is that the bike is yours for 45 minutes so it’s probably worth pondering just exactly where you are going cause after the three quarters of an hour you must return the bike for at least 15 minutes. After your 15 minutes break you can release another bike and so it goes. So for the princely sum of 100 lei you can have the use of a modern, well-maintained bike to scoot about the city on for an entire year! See www.ivelo.ro/en for more details.



Taraba Virtualã Romania at


Chivas Venture Competition


of the hottest social startups from across the globe have been unveiled as finalists of the Chivas Venture, which gives away $1 million in no-strings funding every year to the world’s most promising social enterprises. Until 25th April, the public can decide which of the finalists will receive a share of an initial $200K of funding, by voting for their favourite online at theventure.com. Romania is represented in the Chivas 54

Venture Final by Taraba Virtuală, a free mobile app that connects local farmers and their fresh products with people living in the cities near them. Romania is at the third consecutive participation offering a great space to develop for social impact businesses. During this voting period, 1st – 25th April, the public has one single vote to support their favourite business. The $200.000 funding will be spread among the 27 finalists, according to votes from the public. Supporters

of Taraba Virtuală can vote them on www.theventure.com. Every vote helps them receive a larger part of the funding from Chivas Venture. Taraba Virtuală is a free mobile app that enables farmers to organize deliveries, save time and money, while reaching to more customers. Users have access to fresh, organic food, faster and cheaper than going to the local market. Both sides spend less time in traffic, reducing the CO2 emissions.


Available in Romania at a local level, the app reduced pollution by 50kg of CO2 last year and saved the farmers 4 hours of work per week. With the Chivas Venture funding, Taraba Virtuală can grow on an international level, attracting more farmers and users interested in healthy and organic alternatives. Farmers enrolled so far in the application have saved an average of 4 hours per week - which they can spend in exchange to care for 300 plants in their household. Last year, we also contributed to reducing pollution by 50kg of CO2 by streamlining deliveries by farmers. Our technology not only helps farmers and the planet, but also urges people to make healthier decisions. “Through the application, we remove intermediaries and farmers can sell their fresh and organic products at a much lower cost to the consumer. Instead of selling in the market, in an uncertain and difficult-to-anticipated environment, farmers can now decide for themselves on prices and gain time by centralizing orders and delivering them on the same day.We have discovered that small farmers in Romania do not have efficient systems of organization, time or knowledge to develop a good online presence. At the same time, the demand for organic and fresh products is higher than ever. Our application easily connects supply and demand to the benefit of everyone” says Roxana Bitoleanu. Roxana Bitoleanu, co-founder at Taraba Virtuala, represents Romania in the global competition Chivas Venture, where she competes with 26 entrepreneurs from all around the globe. Next, Roxana will take the final pitch in Amsterdam, during The Next Web, where she will meet the best social impact businesses.

During the final, the judges will decide who will receive the rest of 800 000$ from the 27 start-ups. ,,Participating in Chivas Venture is an unique opportunity to develop my business and social impact skills. Discovering more about Chivas Venture during this competition, I realized we have the same mission and values: we put people above the profit” , says Roxana Bitoleanu. She had the misfortune to eat an expired fruit because of which she got to the hospital twice that same night. She realized then that she had to change her diet and turned to local, organic products. That's how she rediscovered the taste of fresh vegetables and fruits that she has not met since she was little and she lived in the country. After this whole experience, she realized that all people should have the chance to rediscover organic taste and live healthier. So the idea for the application appeared. Funding would allow Taraba Virtuală to develop the business and expand beyond Romania's borders. “We will invest in research, we can attract more farmers, and the application will benefit from new features. Thus, we will have more customers, improving the lives of farmers. In turn, the latter become more efficient, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions”, says Roxana Bitoleanu. Romania participates for the third time in the Chivas Venture competition. This is an opportunity for social impact start-ups to develop, receive funds and seek global recognition. SOWAT, a mobile station that turns every source of freshwater into drinking water, won the second local edition and represented Romania in the global final, in 2017. SOWAT achieved the quarter finals in Chivas Venture. 55


Romania Hops on the

Craft Beer revolution

By Robert Marshall


here was a time when beer was simple; sit back, swig the cold suds and enjoy. It was a drink free from the verbosity that frequently flows when a bottle of wine is uncorked. No aroma and flavour descriptors necessary for a drink that slakes the thirst of the working man. However, the times have changed and it is not uncommon for drinkers to smell, sip, and get into a serious debate over a beer’s body and balance. The international craft beer movement is truly on the march falling in step 56

with global trend towards more traditional, artisanal methods of production and locally brewed beers with a sense of provenance. Romania is no exception and it is experiencing a surge of craft beer producers with more than 30 entering the market in the last 4 years, up from just 7 registered microbreweries in 2014. The growth in artisanal production is partly a reaction to the buyout of established Romanian labels by multinationals, which helped to create a consolidated beer industry that operates on economies of scale - for example both Guinness and Holsten, owned by Danish group Carlsberg are

brewed, bottled or canned in Romania. Most of the new generation of brewers are young and passionate entrepreneurs who, unhappy with the quality of Romanian commercial beers, began brewing at home and combined with a flair for design and marketing are gaining popularity on an increasingly diverse Romanian market. What differentiates these locally produced beers is not just the style - which embrace a range of different styles from light, refreshing pilsners to robust, full bodied stouts, but the brewing methods artisanal beers take from 12 to 48 days to brew.


ThreeHappyBrewers– AH and Szpunt Trojka



HopHead - Pure C This Cluj-based producer makes Pure C in the style of an IPA (Indian Pale Ale) and as the ‘HopHead’ name suggests you get a wonderful burst of hops, which impart bitter, zesty, and citric aromas and flavours. This is a beautiful amber coloured beer with a pleasant and refreshing balance of malt and bitterness on the palate with delicate floral notes.

Urban Brewery – Märzen The big multinational breweries use enzymes to speed up the brewing process and make their beers in as little as a few days. Urban brewery beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized and are fermented over 23 days using 3 types of malted barley as well as hops. What you get in the bottle is delicious aromas freshly baked, wholemeal bread. Soft and smooth with a malty aftertaste that lingers in the mouth. From Sibiu, Urban Brewery is one of the newest microbreweries in Romania. Märzen refers to the style of beer that has its origins in Bavaria and is traditionally brewed in March (März).

As well as the usual ingredients of malts and hops Szpunt is fermented with pomegranate so you might expect this beer to be vibrant pink with sticky, sweet grenadine flavours. In fact what you get is a beautiful, elegant beer; wonderfully easy to sip with an amber hue tinged with subtle salmon pink that shines through the glass. Three happy brewers is yet another new brewery, based in Crângași, București and makes a delicious range of beers. Their philosophy is one that embraces recreating rare styles, reinterpretations of classic beers, and collaborations with other passionate brewers from around the world.

Ground Zero – Ticket to the stars Ground Zero is one of the pioneers of the Romanian craft beer movement and often produces provocatively named beers with strong personalities On the nose; sweet, rich and malty. On the palate; a nice, sweet balance, rich, round and robust with plenty of roasted coffee notes. At 12%

ABV this Russian Imperial Stout is bitter and strong, and carries a higher price tag than your average beer. Aged for 6 months in used merlot wine barrels, from the Romanian winemaker Rotenberg, which gives this beer its deep colour and thick, long aftertaste.

Hop hooligans – Sencha As the attractively designed label suggests this beer is light and floral as drinking Japanese green tea. If you like exotic fruit aromas, but dryness on the palate then this is your kind of beer. Hailing from București, HopHooligans have replaced the usual ingredients of bitter hops with Sencha Tea Leaves to create this wonderfully refreshing beer. Served chilled, it is perfect meditation for a spring afternoon. Robert Marshall is a Wine and Spirits consultant living and working in Romania since 2007.



The 2018: Space Odyssey Salad Chef Franz Conde Executive Chef at the Athénée Palace Hilton Bucharest


our evolution, and in case we want to seriously pursue space exploration and colonization, the problem of how we will feed ourselves in outer space needs to be solved. Can we thrive on protein powder and vitamin pills for a prolonged period of time, not only physiologically but psychologically?


ne movie that has kept film experts, physicists and philosophers busy, from its release in 1968 to this day, is the cult classic 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.

Among the many interpretations, some have pointed out that there are

several references to food. In the opening scenes a black monolith seems to influence the primates into eating meat, passengers of a futuristic flight are fed with liquefied food, and an astronaut on a space mission, living on synthetic nutrients, is congratulated with a cake from his family, shown via video-link. If we think about it, our food choices are the cornerstone of

All these questions came to mind recently when we wanted to pay homage to Dumitru Prunariu, Romania’s first astronaut. When we asked him about his favourite foods in order to create a dish for the “100 de chipuri” series, Mr. Prunariu stated that he likes simple and natural Romanian food the most, a tell-tale sign that our hearts and minds are emotionally tied to the food of our land. Our homage to Dumitru Prunariu is an ultra-nutritious vegetarian salad with most delicious Romanian raw and cooked vegetables: beetroot, lentils, cauliflower, carrots, loboda, telemea, nuts and seeds! A reminder that the plausibility of space exploration and colonization depends on our capacity to eat real, nutritious and healthy food.

The 2018:


Beetroot x 150g Cooked (beetroot cooked with skin, to avoid losing color) Lentils x 150g Cooked (lentils cooked only with water and salt) Carrots x 50g Raw (cut into thin julienne) Cauliflower x 40g Cooked only with water and salt, and seasoned with 5g curry oil Raw radish x 6 Rucola x 20g Raw Feta x 70g Crumbled Hazelnuts or almonds x 20g Mint leaves x 12 Crispy rice noodles x a handful Sliced kumquats x 2 60


Layer the ingredients in the following order and add dressing to taste: Beetroot - Lentils - Cauliflower - Carrot - Radish - Rucola - Crispy rice noodles - Feta - Hazelnuts or almonds - Mint leaves - Sliced kumquats.


Blend all ingredients with hand-mixer (quantities for 2 portions).


(35g per portion) Mayonnaise x 100g Greek yoghurt x 100g Raw spinach x 20g Chives x 5g Tarragon x 5g Lemon juice x 5g Salt, to taste

Chef Franz Conde is Executive Chef at the Athénée Palace Hilton Bucharest, following nine years at Hilton Amsterdam.


A little bit of Romania that Will be forever Japanese: Nori Yakitori By Douglas Williams 1. Where did the idea to create a Japanese food truck come from? I won Masterchef contest with a mainly Japanese menu; it was more a bonding between French and Japanese cuisine. After the contest I analysed the market and I exploited it. 2. What do you like about Japanese food and where and when did you first meet Japanese food? My first memory is my extreme dislike for sushi. After a couple of years I met the best sushi chef in Romania, who took me under his wing, he taught me the mysteries and the traditions of making sushi. I started to read Japanese literature compulsively, I felt in love with Yasunari Kawabata, then I understood the purity of the culture and cuisine from Japan. Finally I fell in love with sushi. 3. What do you make of this "truck food" revolution that is sweeping the world? Why do you think this kind of food is so successful? It’s inaccessible! It's a culture that’s much less accessible in our country so we are bringing it to every part of Romania.

country Florin Itu and Robert Noana, who immediately embraced my concept. I created a menu which blends 2 Japanese social classes, yakitori and sushi. That's also where the name comes from: Nori Yakitori. The first event I cooked at was in Mamaia Nord, a high class location in Romania. There I took my first orders with tears in my eyes. 5. What have you got coming up over the summer - I guess you're busy with festivals? The summer of 2018 is fully booked from April through till October. We have street food events but also music festivals such as Neversea, Summerwell, Untold and so on. 6. Do you envisage launching more trucks with other kinds of cuisine? After the success with Nori Yakitori we will launch a food truck serving tempura sandwiches, each one in a black bun

coloured with cuttlefish ink and related dressings. 7. What is the favourite dish that you cook currently and can you give us a sneaky insight into your recipe please? This questions reminds me of an interview with famous cooks from USA. All of them were asked about their favourite recipe for chicken and all of them gave examples with grandiose recipes. Just one of them said the absolute, simple recipe for the fried chicken. So I follow that example: tempura fried chicken, dipped in soy sauce, sake, garlic, ginger. 8. Do you have an anecdote about your time working your truck? On the very first food truck opening day, Romanian superstar Loredana Groza wanted sushi. I remember we were all terrified but, at the same time, excited.

4. Can you give us a bit of back story about how you set up your food truck, we know about your master chef success but what about the business of getting the truck and kitting it out and where did you first operate - a festival? Let's not forget that my main job is a dentist. I met with my cousin Adrian who is a real estate developer and we thought about how we could launch a business that was also a hobby, which would lift us out of the routine humdrum. We bought a holiday trailer and we transformed it into the first Japanese food truck in Romania. Then I met with some of the most important event planners from the 61


The Empowerment of


By Anca Donișan Botez The word CHOICE has a strong energy by itself, no matter if we are choosing the right side or the left side, option A, option B or even option C that was not part of the initial plan. Me, you or any other person that is empowered chooses. A woman or a man that is a team leader always chooses. A politician or a lawyer always chooses. A spiritual guide or a priest always chooses. The question is: are you making your CHOICE from a POWER perspective? Are you validating your inner power, your inner voice and your intuition before making a choice? In this context, power does not mean ego, it is our own personal inner power. This inner power is enhanced by our own self-validation. We validate ourselves when we listen to our intuition, the Divine Voice of Creation within us. It is always spirituality and science, ancient wisdom and neuroscience going hand in hand together. In my previous articles I spoke about M-brain-ing (Multiple Brain Integration Techniques) the claim that we have 3 brains: an emotional brain (Heart), an intellectual brain (Mind) and an instinctive brain (Gut). Intuition is gut intelligence, but it works like a muscle. The more we trust it and we validate it, the stronger it gets. “Trust

your gut” or “My gut is telling me there is something wrong” shows the gut has wisdom and is deeply intuitive. So start making choices from a power perspective by validating your intuition. Sometimes life puts us in challenging situations, in areas like career, family, health or finances and we feel like we don't want to choose. Does this state of mind come from being in a comfort zone or is it fear? This is a question for you, so ask yourself this and while you answer be aware of whether you see or envision one choice, two choices only or endless possibilities. Maybe this new project that you are working overtime on does not fulfill you and drains all your energy, but you don't want to bring this to your boss or to say to your family there will be no trip to Bali this summer. You think that you are not choosing.

Ask yourself now, what are you choosing or what are you not choosing? Now here is the twist: when you think you are not choosing, you are in fact choosing because there is no way outside of choice. You are choosing to stay in your comfort zone, you are choosing to be powerless, you are choosing to play small. So then how do you know you are choosing from a power perspective? You know it, you feel it and it is validated by your intuition. The power perspective does not show you one or two options but endless possibilities. You just have to act upon and choose: if Option A is “no health and no fulfilment” and Option B is ”no family holiday in Bali” then your power spectrum shows infinite option startings from Option C “new job” to Option X “new vision, new industry, new country, new me”.

Or perhaps you are postponing moving from the noisy centre of the city to a quiet neighbourhood, outside the city, with a forest behind. There is no commute to the job from where you live now, but the noise, the pollution and “moving” are on your mind every night.

Well, what are you waiting for? Reclaim your POWER and choose for yourself.

Again, you think that you are not choosing.

And always remember: no one knows what is best for you, more than you.

How we live our lives shows HOW WE CHOOSE in life, so always choose while being centred, Mind, Heart, Spirit and Gut always in balance.

Anca Donișan Botez is a U.S. certified NLP trainer, interested in personal and business training, founder of mameinafaceri.ro project.



In the


“What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.”

By Anda Ene What we do every day, the way we live every moment, makes our lives good or bad, in general terms. The choices that we make: where to go, who to meet, what to eat, what to say, where to walk… we are making choices all the time and these pretty much make our lives the way they are, or aren’t. Maybe some of us only come fully alive at weekends, the rest of the week we work, crawl and resist until the next holiday lets us recharge. Maybe, you’re waiting, planning all those things you’ll do when the kids have grown up and left or, perhaps, what you’ll do when you finally get that new elevated job position, for which you are sacrificing so much right now. I’m not saying that we needn’t sacrifice, but don’t put your life on hold, for that day in the future when conditions will be “perfect”… that moment may never arrive. The reality is that it probably won’t. Stop postponing, dreaming and wishing, now is the time to begin. Maybe with small steps, maybe just one little step per day, but if one step that is taken everyday pretty soon it’ll build momentum and momentum can carry you forward. Each moment is equally important, bring all your energy to the present and make the best of it. This is the other way around from what we are used

to - we must create with what we have, we must be the best that we can and not wait for the right time or for all the planets to align. In this article, I’ve used a lot of “moment”, “moments”, but it’s unavoidable. Our lives are an immense patchwork of moments, good and bad, colourful and dark, dull and joyful, in straight lines and curved ones, everything comes together in our own individual patchwork. See yourself as the author of your own masterpiece, as a wise and thrifty craftsman, do not disregard or throw out what you do not use now or what you do not like about this or that moment. You may well need it later and it will all make sense then. If we really come to see it from this perspective, we will stop categorizing experiences as good or bad and rather see our experiences as something we can always learn and grow from. Too often we live our lives on auto-pilot and we skip the moments when we could be looking into ourselves, trying to better understand what we are really doing with our lives. You might ask: “Is this how I want my life to be?” This is an important question and for many of us this question comes around in our 40s, when we start to see ourselves from a different perspective and ask, maybe for the first time, in a conscious way: “What do I really want to do with the rest of my life?” Take that first step.

Anda is a coach and entrepreneur. Working with both private and corporate clients, she manage to orient her coachees towards a positive approach and achieve the desired results. Contact: anda.ene@linarson.com



That was the month that was - March like honesty, competence, common sense, transparency and is based on the principle that every human being is important, that a project must be built around people and their values and that all solutions must underlie these values.” Photo: Lucian Eugen Bolboacă

Just when we all thought spring was coming after the heavy snow and rain at the start of the month, more snow arrived and with it came the usual disruption, but spare a thought for the stork, a symbol of the coming of spring. The first ones arrived around the 7th March after flying thousands of miles. Many villagers in the Calarași region started to rescue these stranded birds and took them indoors to keep them warm and to feed them. Running after them into fields, basically scaring them half to death which not what they needed after flying all this way! Well after the last two weeks, everything has warmed up and they have started to nest.

He is back! Finally some credible opposition. Dacian Cioloș, who ran this country under a technocratic government in 2016 (and was universally acknowledged to have done a good job of running the country) announced he has set up a new party off the back of his Platform Romania 100 platform which he set up last year. His new party is called the Romania Together Movement and he stated that his political programme is shaped around “values 64

He then went on to say: “It will be an ambitious and risky attempt, especially since people have big expectations. We want to inspire people who think Romania deserves a new political class. A political class with zero tolerance for corruption, nepotism and insincerity.” I for one welcome his re-entry into politics. It will be a massive challenge to bring some sense back to this country's political structure, and I wish him and all members of the new party every success for the future. I will be watching his progress intently.

The world’s largest tourism fair (ITB) was held in Berlin last month, and once again Romania has proved that they really don’t give a damn about attracting tourists to this beautiful country. After it has closed several tourism offices in various countries, it presented another lacklustre stand. It was way too small, misspelt German words, had poorly taken photos of Romania, including one of a rather large gentleman with his stomach hanging out (I know it happens all the time, but we shouldn’t be proud of it). Tourism can bring a great deal of money into a country, and this show was a chance to put Romania back on the map, especially after the

By Dean Edgar top three German tourism companies have dropped Romania from their lists of destinations, blaming poor infrastructure and expensive but bad quality hotels. Several private companies that were also present on the stand struggled to get a cohesive message across as the state representatives hadn’t a clue. When will the government realise that investment is necessary to sell the beauty and charm of Romania to the outside world?

In yet another ridiculous and quite frankly, very sad move, the PSD government have announced that a referendum will be held in May to ask the country to decide to change the constitution’s definition of what a family is. The Coalition for Family gathered 3 million signatures in 2016 and they want the constitution changed to say that a marriage is between a man and a woman. Currently it states that is between “free-willed spouses”. If it is accepted then that will be the total ban on same sex marriages. Of course the church is in full support of this referendum, and as they “control” most villages it will probably be voted in. This is yet another move back to the dark ages. Burning witches coming soon.

You can't make up the next two stories, the first being that of a man who is clearly alive, being declared dead, the second being that of a man who is clearly dead, getting his driving licence back so he can drive. Constantin Reliu left Romania in the 90s to go and work in Turkey, coming back to visit only once. He subsequently lost touch with his wife and family. His wife eventually went to court in 2016 to have him legally declared dead. He was then deported from Turkey after his papers had expired and he returned to Romania. He then discovered that he had been declared dead. Going to court to get the decision overturned he was told that since it had been more than 2 years the decision must stand. It’s not altogether clear what has happened to him since, but Romanian law has been laughed at the world over. The second story involves a gentleman who had his licence taken away from him for 90 days for speeding. The driver then took the police to court to argue against the decision, and he eventually won, the police then appealed the decision, but during the appeal the driver died. The court then dismissed the appeal by the police and the dead man was given his licence back. Like I said, you can’t make this up. Curiouser and curiouser!

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And finally, Lynn Howells, the manager of the Romanian rugby team, announced that he was leaving the position with immediate effect. Romania had just managed to qualify for next year's World Cup, and the future was looking bright. Shame really, but there it is. Until the next time..

The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the writer, Dean Edgar, and not related to those of the publisher, OZB.

45,000 sqm of land for sale, in an industrial area of Fetești city, Romania. The selling price is 7 euro/sqm. Can sell in parcels. Ideal for warehouse/storage facility due to proximity of Danube port. The land has all facilities nearby: water and gas pipe, sewage, electricity line and the road asphalt is modernised. The Sun-Highway, Bucharest to Constanta is at a distance of 1km. Fetești to Constanța 80 km, Fetești to Bucharest 180 km. Railway - 2 km. Port on the Danube river - 1 km. International airport at Constanța - 55 km. The land is square shape with two sides bordering a road. Contact: douglas@ozb.ro 65


Count Down By Dean Edgar As this month issue has a “Women Power” theme I thought that I would highlight five Romanian women that I believe have a positive and/or negative effect in Romania. So, in no particular order at number 5 there is Gabriela Firea, the mayor of Bucharest and hater of all things Uber. Her impact on Bucharest has been pretty much nothing despite controlling a budget of over 1.1 billion Euros, nothing has really been done to make Bucharest better. Other cities have forward thinking mayors, such as Emil Boc in Cluj and Nicolae Moldovan in Alba Iulia. Great cities with a lot of intelligent investment. All that I have seen from Ms Firea is an attempted ban on Uber, plans for a monorail in Bucharest, delays in the new Metro line extension to Drumul Taberei, buying 320 buses at a ridiculously high price, kitsch-ness at Christmas time and Easter and not much else. She will no doubt make an attempt to become the next leader of the PSD as she didn’t get involved in last month’s PSD Congress, so heaven help us.

Next on the list is our new Prime Minister, Viorica Dancila. She is a prime example of the presence of nepotism within the PSD. She is clearly a puppet of the boss, Liviu Dragnea, and is not suitable for the important position of PM, both in Romanian and especially on the international stage. As she bounces from one scandal to another, she has risen to become the number 2 in the PSD. Now for number 3, the outgoing president of Petrom, Mariana Gheorghe. She has been at the top of OMV Petrom for the last 12 years, where she has transformed OMV Petrom into a highly profitable and competitive international company. Hats off to her particularly in what is very much a male dominated industry. I wish her every success for the future. At number 2 I have chosen Simona Halep. Romania has always had a great reputation for sporting heroes, both male and female. She currently heads the WTA rankings and is 1350 points ahead of Caroline Wozniacki in second place.

Not only is she playing great tennis, she is also turning into a successful business woman. She has won over $20,000,000 and has been investing in hotels on the coast and around Brasov. Long may she continue to play great tennis and make great investments. And finally at number 1, I have chosen Laura Codruta Kovesi, the chief prosecutor at the National Corruption agency. She has one of the most difficult jobs in Romania, and handles the constant barrage of threats and intimidation from the various divisions within the PSD with great professionalism. She carries on in her pursuit of the corrupt despite the many attempts to have her removed, so she gets my admiration and support! I am sure that you, the reader, have your own thoughts on the 5 most influential women in Romania, today; I would be interested to hear them, or if your disagree with my choices, tell me why. dean.edgar@gmail.com Until the next time, enjoy Spring!

Dean Edgar has been living the expat dream here in Romania for 11 years. He is General Manager of Moorcroft Services, a company dedicated to assisting foreigners to settle in Romania. They can help with visas, permits, company set-ups, car registration, house hunting, insurance, orientation tours and basically anything that a newcomer to Romania might need see www.moorcroft.ro for further details.


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