OZB Magazine May 2018

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W W W. O Z B . R O




Wooden Wonders Crafting Excellence Fab Festivals Summer Fun






reduces headaches and fatigue - Climate controlled cabin leaves you


SAFETY, quality and comfort. The Boeing 787 – Currently 8 AIRCRAFTS operated by KLM – has several




information about your destination, the airplane you are on and more.

new features:




compared to similar aircrafts.



The cabin crew has the option to SIMULATE morning or evening colors, helping you to transition through time zones.




CONSUMPTION of about 20% than in other airliners. This means up to


F U L L- F L AT 2 07C M L O N G S E AT S A N D D I R EC T A I S L E A CC E S S

Personal stowage space close to the passenger with a KLM-designed mirror. Dutch designer Hella Jongerius gives the hi-tech world of aviation a warm and ‘FEEL-AT-HOME’ ambiance. 16-inch HD-quality screen plus video touchscreen handset.

in CO2 emissions.

CO M F O R TA B L E S E AT S W I T H 4 0 % M O R E R EC L I N E

Bigger overhead bins. In-seat power to charge personal devices. A RICH CHOICE OF MOVIES and TV programmes.



available in 12 languages. 6-INCH HD-quality screen plus video touchscreen handset in World Business Class and 11-INCH HD-quality screen in Economy Class.




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



Douglas Williams - FOUNDER

Bob, Andy, George and Roddy Martin

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 OANA VIȘOIU-CUŢUCACHE Art provider for OZB via Renaissance Art Gallery JIM HENDRY Business Development Manager

ADA POPESCU Art Director ALEXANDRU HĂMURARU Distribution Manager

The excitement is building: within a few weeks the World Cup kicks off in Russia. There is no Dutch team, no Romanian team and certainly no Scottish team competing, but the OZB team will do our best to muster some enthusiasm regardless. One way of upping the excitement around events like these is to introduce a financial element. First off you pour over the OZB World Cup pieces in this and the previous two issues (thanks Marcel), you select some teams (I suggest a couple of long shots and a sure thing) then you pop along to your local Superbet and lay down some lei. It really couldn’t be easier and thereafter you will be deeply involved, well, until your teams get knocked out... It was Euro 2016 when things began to move with this OZB project - much stroking of chins and mutterings of “it might just work”. I remember watching a dismal performance by Romania against Albania and being reminded of watching a Scotland match, similarly disappointing, only the weather here was way better and there were fewer drunks. Talking of drunks we had a very enjoyable Whisky Tasting event at the Hilton earlier this month where we learned about the “Water of Life”. And I got, err, merry. Aye well, so shoot me! Don’t miss our next OZB event coming up at the end of June - a pool party – it promises to be super cool.

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.

So who are Bob, Andy, George and Roddy Martin of the title? They are three people who have been important in my professional life and one who’s my uncle, and I’ve been thinking about them all recently. Bob Cronin gave me a job on the Shanghai Daily in 2005; he printed the weird and wonderful stuff I wrote over the next three years and he successfully cultivated in me a deep love of print. I was very lucky. Bob finally retired two years ago after 50 years in newspapers and I’m going to send him this mag to hopefully put a wee smile on his face. I managed to slip a deeply inappropriate headline past the Chinese

editors and onto the front page while he was out of town, he’ll remember which. Here’s to you Bob. Andy Davison gave me a job running the publishing house in Kuala Lumpur that he’d set up to celebrate and promote Malaysia, the place he (and I) loved and called home. Andy was, and still is, a shining example of what a good idea, hard work and passion can achieve. His business employs scores of people and he is feted by the great and the good of Malaysia for the work he does promoting their country. I hope OZB can achieve similar. I’ll send Andy a copy too. Cheers Andy. Next, we have George Monbiot the acclaimed journalist, author and environmental campaigner who I had the great good fortune to meet a couple of years ago when we went bear watching together in Transylvania. George is something of a hero to me, has been for a long time, for his tireless crusade to “save the planet” with fearless, pointed, impeccably researched writing but late last year he was diagnosed with cancer and he’s endured a rough time since. Lately he wrote for the first time in a while in the Guardian and it would appear, thanks largely to medical excellence, that he has the upper hand. Thank goodness. Here’s to George. Finally my mum’s older brother Roddy Martin is a lovely legend but he’s been proper poorly lately. He lives on the Isle of Skye, speaks Gaelic and is a true Highlander who spent much of his life at sea. He’d have loved the earlier mentioned Whisky Tasting. Get well Uncle Roddy Martin and mum says smoke less. Slainte! As always - if you want to get involved in OZB - advertising, writing, being written about, products, services, NGOs, photography, places, criticisms, suggestions, jokes, freebies I’d be delighted to hear from you douglas@ozb.ro. Good luck with your team selection… Hai Panama!


11 MAZARS—Speaking about tectonic shifts in society


Andree Micu—Avincis wine virtuoso, lawyer and children's book author


38 Contemporary crafted furniture


We take a look at this summer's film, music and theater festivals in Romania

53 Insight into the Romanian Real Estate market

Gin stories and cocktails


BOBBY MCFERRIN When: May 19 Where: Sala Palatului What: Jazz Concert Known as the “orchestra man” and mostly for his “Don’t Worry, Be happy” hit, Bobby McFerrin has won 10 Grammys and is one of the best improvisers and vocal innovators in the world, acclaimed classical music conductor and music education promoter. He is regarded as an ambassador for classical music and jazz after collaborating with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea, the Vienna Philharmonic and Herbie Hancock. McFerrin was born to an opera musician’s family and, unsurprisingly, felt the music calling early on. “ My parents never forced me to sing or play. I was just interested in music since I was little,” he said. Keith Jarrett was one of the artists who was a great influence after he began to study the piano and the clarinet. When he discovered jazz, he wanted to be a vocalist too. One word that would describe McFerrin and his music is “unconventional”. He combines jazz and folk with choir, a cappella and classical music, adding his own bits and pieces on top, to make a very personal, original sound. May 19th, save the date! MUSEUM NIGHT When: May 19 Where: National Museum of Romania Network What: Exhibitions Museum Night, organized by the National Museum of Romania Network (RNMR), will take place on 19th May with the participation of about 150 partner institutions and organisations in Bucharest and Romania. A significant cultural event dedicated to the museum circuit and related events, Museum Night invites the public on Saturday evening, 19th May, to discover this year’s cultural offer of museums, cultural organizations, associations and art galleries in Bucharest and in the country. Ten documentary shorts have been prepared, presenting unseen aspects from the history of ten museums in Bucharest. Maia Morgenstern will be the storyteller of this year’s event, a cultural project that aims to raise awareness around the social and educational value of museum collections. ASTROFEST When: May 19 Where: National Library What: Astronomy For the third time, the Astronomy and Space Exploration Festival offers astrophotography workshops, interactive games for kids and access to many professional telescopes and specialists in the field. Dumitru Prunariu, the only Romanian astronaut to go out in space 37 years ago, will also be there. 6


RO-WINE | THE INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL OF ROMANIA When: May 19-20 Where: Fratelli Studios What: International Wine Festival Over 350 top wines, carefully selected, are on offer for participants to taste at this edition of the festival. The story is written this year by the event’s hosts Marinela V. Ardelean, Liviu and Mihai Popescu, together with Cornel Ilie and Virgil Ianțu, RO-Wine Ambassadors.

discover THE LOVE for

A special selection of Champagne bringing together 12 producers will also be available, as well as a gourmet section and the opportunity to taste the uniqueness of “extreme” wines – meaning unusual wines made at stunning altitudes or at sea level. To support and encourage future wine specialists, a scholarship worth €10,000 will be granted in northern Italy, in Treviso, offered by Giotto Consulting in partnership with RO-Wine. Find more about this event on romaniawinefestival.com/en.

at THE INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL OF ROMANIA Dedicat iubitorilor de vin ,si operatorilor HoReCa

19-20 MAI 2018 12PM - 8PM





When: May 19-27 Where: Palatul Telefoanelor (main venue) What: Design Festival If it’s May it’s Romanian Design Week, a 10 day festival that promotes cultural, social and economic growth through design. RDW aims to show to a broad public that Romanian design is so much more than you might think and it does so by supporting and drawing attention to interesting ideas, energy, vibrant exhibitions and extraordinary collaborations. Product and industrial design, furniture, graphics, fashion, architecture and interior design are the focus of the showcases and events at the festival. Apart from the curated formats of the main exhibition, this festival’s themes are also explored in connected events, organized by the RDW partners. Around 30,000 visitors come each year. The main exhibition is held at Palatul Telefoanelor on Calea Victoriei, a design landmark in itself, being the country’s first tall building using a metal structure, in the late 1920s. 150 of the best design projects will be exhibited there between 19-27 May. www.institute.ro/romanian-design-week 7



P REMIUM TA S T I N G , P REMIUM GUESTS OZB Magazine started a series of premium products tasting events. “The Whisky Experience” took place in The English Bar of Athenee Palace Hilton and welcomed entrepreneurs, CEOs and creative people to a very exclusive tasting of four whisky types. The drinks were accompanied by delicious finger food prepared by Chef Franz Conde of Athenee Palace Hilton. The host of the evening was the whisky sommelier Robert Marshall, who 9


entertained the audience with stories about "the water of life". The four types of whisky were: Dewars Aberfeldy 12 y.o., Macallan Amber, Highland Park y.o., Port Charlotte. We can only do this with the help of some great partners, people who believed in OZB Media and see the benefit of our platform. We would like to thank our partners Superbet, Athenee Palace Hilton and El Unico. If you missed our great event, don’t worry, we have some great things coming up for 2018!! Events where you can enjoy Art & Design, OZB’s Cool Pool Party and a lot more. Oh yes, at the end of 2018 we will have our “Gala of the year”, this will be quite different from what you are used to. But that’s of course something that you can expect of OZB, we like to do things in a different way!











ino Ebneter (photo centre) comes from a family of Swiss entrepreneurs. Stepping out from the robust Swiss economy, where he had the potential of a decent career in an established consulting firm, in 2004, was a very conscious and calculated decision. For young and unattached Dino the adventure of Romania was more of an opportunity than a risk: a place where he believed he could build and contribute to major changes. Together with partners, he started a consulting company from scratch. The path to a successful business was full of obstacles, privation, disappointments but, in time, it also brought important rewards. He always tried working in solid partnerships and that made him go through different experiences of merging into companies and demerging as well. The fusion with Mazars was a well-calculated step and also an ideal match. Although comfortable with being just another member of the team, Dino did not reject the CMP position in Mazars Romania when it became vacant, in 2015. “It obviously meant to be my turn and I embraced the chance with all that comes along: good and bad�, he explains. Ebneter answered a few questions for OZB. Dino, you picked some tough times to lead a company like Mazars. Tell us more about your vision. A healthy vision for Mazars could be this: a great place to work, where one can excel in professional and personal abilities. And that should work for all stakeholders. PHOTOGRAPHY | SORIN STANA 11


Long term leadership is needed, especially during tough times. This is actually, what I attempt to achieve. My love for endurance sports is certainly helping me when it comes to following long-term goals. This is also linked to the fact that ethical behavior in business is crucial; it has and will always pay-off. Generosity is always possible; teamwork is not only more fun, it also brings more value. I rely on the fact that our company has strongly embedded values, which I fully shared even before joining the partnership. Responsibility is what drives me in all decisions.

foundation for any company – we have that. I am more concerned about the easiness of young professionals moving today from firm to firm, for sheer opportunistic reasons. What was the most difficult thing you had to do as MP of Mazars, so far? Defining my role as MP: a precise job descripton was needed. It had to be done my way, in total respect with the complexity of the context we are living in. A simple copy from a predecessor was not an option.

A few words about your team: what makes you optimistic? What is your biggest concern?

What yardsticks do you use to measure yourself day to day, year to year?

A strong core team creates the

One simple question in the mirror,

Dino Ebneter, Mazars Forum 2017

every evening: did the cake become bigger today so that many others may benefit from my doing, beside myself? What do you want to achieve till 2019? I want Mazars to have a team well reputed for its proficiency and stability, with an indepth understanding of the real world and good drive towards applied social responsability. Some advice you would give to new entrepreneurs? Entrepreneur means to be hands on your business 100% and 24/7. Let it be clear in your mind what you want and follow your target astutely. Know and trust your abilities! Mazars Forum – why do you think



such a quality event is needed? Our Forum is a platform where we bring expertise and meaningful discussions back on stage. Critical thinking is highly necessary when it comes to seeing the big picture. We live in a paradox having access to so much information, which, at the same time, tends to overwhelm us. Business leaders are not excluded from this phenomenon. How much of a threat are cyber vulnerabilities for your company? We are managing sensitive data, so we take utmost care not to enter in a data breach. Any incident small or big is one too many. How will Blockchain technology change the financial services industry? The effect appears to be significant. It is about the underlying technology for crypto currencies – traditional banking entities have reacted already. Blockchain is decentralized (no central unit is required). That makes it safer than any technology before. An example is the Government of Estonia that has secured all its national records with Blockchain – they could digitalize the public administration entirely that way. Question is: for how long will it remain un-hackable? If you could spend a day hanging-out with people from history, who would they be? Why? What would you ask them? Jesse Owens – athlete at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics in Nazi Germany. An US sportsman in times of separation of blacks & whites in his own country. I’d ask him this: how do you gain the strengh to overcome all these mental stress factors? One can train a body; as for the talent, others have it as well. Still, the brain is the most important muscle in any competition. So makes mental fitness in business the difference.

Neil Armstrong – astronaut. My questions for him would be: how was it possible, in the 60s, to fly to the Moon without computer help? And what was his biggest fear at that time? What are your thoughts now that the 2018 edition of the Forum is in the past? We all like technology and machines working for us. However, it is humans who created these machines. Inviting Prof. Dr. Manfred Spitzer, brain researcher and psychiatrist working in the areas of cognitive and social neuroscience, founder of the Transfer Center for Neuroscience and Learning in Ulm, Germany, had its reasons. Continuous evolution is only possible with a functional brain – so we have to go back to basics about how the brain learns. Tomáš Sedláček has a outstanding way to put economy in a historical, religious and philosophical perspective. Let’s take the story of Matrix: we create robots to serve us, but then, at some point, all changes and it becomes the opposite. Same happened with debts, that should have served us, but it went the other way around. So, I’m left to wonder: is economy scientific or are we constantly just taking moral decisions? We sold stability and bought growth. Coming back to Romania. How did it become the centre point of your life? It was more by chance and coincidence. The people make you stay. Some specific characteristics of Romanians resonate with me. For instance, the more relaxed way to see things is good for me, having been raised in a very organized environment with potentially more rules than the usual written ones. I find beauty in imperfection, it calls for creativity. Switzerland is already perfect. Nevertheless, sometimes I wish predictability of mature economies could be brought along. Let’s go more into this, Dino.

Which of your personal values form common ground with Romanian local culture? Family and friends are the most important to me. This may sound banal, but there I find happiness that money cannot buy. Romania has this warm culture and should protect it – as individualism is spreading more and more. A community only functions well when people communicate and genuinely contribute. In a democracy like Switzerland this works very well. It means efforts from everybody. What I see in Romania is that a large part of the people are gradually quitting the dialogue. So you agree with Romania having a lot of idle capacity and untapped potential? Romania has plenty of bright people, very pragmatic, with a can do mentality. Sometimes we smile at the multifaceted concept of “Romanian creativity”. In fact, it can be a great thing, if we refer to the habit of playing like kids do. It is probably one of the best ways to find solutions. Romanian teams are pioneering in world class companies. Their language skills are remarkable, which is a big asset and makes people more valuable. Also, gender diversity is better represented in former communist countries. It’s a big plus for women, and we see more and more rising into top positions, even internationally. I am definitely a promoter of diversity in every way – this creates better culture and results. Not to mention Romania is famous for welcoming its guests. That fosters new businesses, conducted by companies and people from around the globe. The challenges in terms of infrastructure have to be seen rather as an opportunity for the time to come. There will always be solutions, but at domestic pace. If we can adapt to the different speed, investments are and will be profitable. 13



Mazars is permanently taking steps towards transformation. One of the latest is the acquisition of the French prescriptive data analytics start-up Zettafox, a strategic acquisition for the internal transformation of the business. Marc Atallah, Mazars Partner: "Mazars Lab mision is to enable AI for Mazars. The create the augmented auditor. Focusing the technical expertise to address the issue truly required. A faster, more efficient audit."

Prof. Spitzer: "What does dementia mean? Literally "down with the mind" as in latin 'de mentia'. The harder you study and train your brain, the later it decays. Education is the best preventive factor for dementia."

Discussing tectonic shifts in society: prof. dr. Manfred Spitzer, neuroscientist; Tomáš Sedláček, economist; Ioana Avădani, Center for Independent Journalism; Pete Swabey, editorial director EMEA & global lead, The Economist Intelligence Unit; Peter H. Frank, journalist and writer; Dino Ebneter, managing partner Mazars Romania

Tomáš Sedláček




The Next Step for Romanian

Tec h

Clare Nuttall in Bucharest Romania has become a favoured destination for IT and business process outsourcing (BPO), thanks to a diverse set of advantages from the highly skilled, multilingual local workforce to its relatively low costs compared to fellow EU member states, to its proximity to West Europe’s main tech and innovation hubs. This has brought international tech giants including Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Dell and many others to Romania, and having tested the location they almost invariably expand. In 2016, real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield ranked Romania top among “mature” locations for business process outsourcing (BPO), noting that “despite annual salary inflation starting to tighten cost margins and erode its cost competitiveness its favourable operating conditions (ranked first place globally) and enhanced connectivity continue to attract investment.” But BPO is only part of the story. As well as expanding their operations in Romania, international firms have increasingly outsourced more high tech operations to the country, not only seeing the country as a source of call centre operatives, but also employees involved in more sophisticated operations like software development. This has led to decisions like Deutsche Bank’s opening of its global technology centre — one of just four worldwide — in Bucharest back in 2014, a resounding endorsement of its confidence in the quality of Romanian tech specialists. More recently, the world’s largest online retailer Amazon is opening its new engineering centre in Bucharest in May, having initially set up its first East European R&D centre in the eastern

Romanian city of Iași. The Bucharest-based Employers’ Association of the Software and Services Industry (ANIS), lists the size of the labour force and strong language skills as the main attraction of Romania for investors, but adds that, “In addition, it is home to very capable programming talent, and many offshore/nearshore investors are using the country for their R&D operations.” For a long time though, while Romania has been seen as a source of labour and tech expertise for international firms, there has been some handwringing over what has been seen as a lack of innovation — the kind of original thinking and confidence needed to inspire the leap into creating a new business, leading in turn to the emergence of a vibrant local startup scene and home grown tech giants. The hope was that the arrival of international tech firms in Romania would equip Romanians with new skills and encourage the creation of new local high-tech businesses. There are signs this is beginning to change, however. One name that’s been around for a long time as a Romanian champion turned international player is antivirus company Bitdefender. Romania was also the home country of three companies in the latest CEE Fast 50 from Deloitte, which ranks the fastest growing tech companies in Central and Eastern Europe; systems integration company Trencadis, mobile solutions developer Qualteh and software engineering firm Tremend. Yet even Bitdefender has been recently eclipsed by a newer company, robotic

process automation (RPA) company UiPath. In March, UiPath announced it had raised $153mn from a group of international venture capital investors, a deal that valued the company at $1.1bn, making it Romania’s first “tech unicorn”. Bitdefender was valued at over $600mn after receiving a private equity investment in 2017. But can UiPath still be considered a Romanian company? The company was founded by two Romanians, Daniel Dines and Marius Tirca, and still has offices in Bucharest, but it is now an international company, headquartered in New York. Romania’s relatively small market (the population is around 20mn), and status as one of the poorest countries in the EU, mean that the potential for local expansion is limited; to become truly successful, local startups at some point need to make the leap abroad. Sometimes seen as a limiting factor, however, this was highlighted by investors from Accel, one of the backers of UiPath in its latest round of financing, as a potential advantage. Indeed, its birth away from one of the world’s main tech hotspots where companies are courted by capital seemed to be attractive to some of its backers, with one venture capital firm, Accel, talking of the “refreshing scrappiness” of startups from other parts of the world where founders “are required to think beyond their local (often smaller) market to plan for a global business from day one.” In addition to the advantages that has brought international firms to Romania, the country’s disadvantages may paradoxically have helped local firms to expand.

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. 15



ROMANIAN R E N A I S S A N C E By Douglas Williams

Lawyer by day, premium vineyard manager also by day, ambassador for Romanian wine 24/7, children’s book writer by night (mostly), mother of two small boys also 24/7, enthusiastic and energetic promoter of reading for young children in schools–it’s difficult to see how Andreea Micu fits it all in. She does, somehow, and what’s more, she’s a bubbly and thoroughly engaging individual regardless of her intense schedule. OZB caught up with Andreea at her office in Bucharest for a glass of sparkling mineral water and a chat. There’s a passion about Andreea that permeates everything she does and hence not only is the law firm founded by her parents, where she also works, one of Bucharest’s most respected, her wine among the nation’s finest and her books acclaimed, but she’s also a wonderful ambassador for modern Romania. It’s Andreea’s generation (the early 30s) that’s shaping this nation more and more and for the good. We talk about vine varietals that are indigenous to Romania. Many virtually disappeared under the communist

rule: whites like crâmpoșie (“crispy and light with a lot of personality, it’s different”), fetească regală (“delicate and sophisticated”) and reds like negru de Drăgășani (“big and powerful and masculine”). Many of these, according to Andreea, had to be imported from foreign growers in Austria, Italy and France after the revolution, sometimes at considerable cost. “The Romanian vines are part of our heritage, our history and therefore, in some ways, they define who we are as Romanians. Romanian grapes can produce very lively, exciting wines and these grapes

and vines must be maintained and preserved and enjoyed,” she says. There can be no doubting her fiery conviction. “The rebirth of Romanian wines can be seen as a reflection of the rebirth of the nation as a whole. After the collapse of the communists, many Romanian people were keen to recapture the beauty of their country as it was before. There are many people who owned land before communism and they have got their land back; now they want to revive the traditions that existed before. 17


Avincis Winery, Drăgășani

It’s not only a national identity, it’s a personal one. They want to know their personal roots, their ancestors, and Avincis is such a story - it’s a story of continuing the traditions of our family.” Andreea’s great great grandparents established the Avincis vineyard at the beginning of the last century and the wines it produces have a burgeoning international reputation, such is its quality. In terms of latitude, orientation, aspect, drainage, soil type, climate and view the 43 hectares are close to perfection in oenological terms. Over the communist period the property was largely vacant and it fell into disrepair. The neglected old vines produced rough, blended wines. Andreea’s parents knew about the property which had featured largely in the childhood of her mother through the recollections of her parents and, in 2007, they realized their long-cherished dream of re-acquiring the property in Drăgășani, to the west of Pitești. “Everything is so well balanced - the climate, the soil – and there is a tradition of planting grapes here that dates all the way back to the Dacians and the Romans. The wines from this area were winning prizes back at the end of the 19th century in international wine competitions in Paris and

Brussels, especially for the whites,” said Andreea, who first visited the villa in 2007. It was a ruin then but she was charmed nevertheless. It has come a long way since. The property was fully restored over four years, but although the villa’s traditional features were carefully maintained, the vineyard and the processing equipment are all state-of-the-art now, with a clear separation of the technological processes into different rooms. “We are a small winery: the maximum area we will grow on is 50 hectares, we don’t want to go above this as we are producing premium wines and we want to focus on the details of the production. For example, our grapes are all harvested manually, this is the first selection of the grapes, when you are taking them from the vine and putting them in the boxes, and this enables us to ensure the maximum quality of the grapes and therefore the wine,” she says. Currently, Avincis wine travels beyond Romania mainly to German, Belgian, UK and Japanese markets. “There are very good vineyards emerging here. Romanian wines can now compete against any – French, Australian, South African – we are getting very good.” Warming to her theme, she says, “Wine can be an economic indicator. It says where you are economically,

as a country. Culturally it can reflect anything – your history, your character, it’s so much more than just a beverage. It’s not like cola, or juice, it’s a cultural product in itself.” There are many opportunities within the wine industry, but there are steps that Romania must take first, according to Andreea. “We need to enhance the study opportunities for those who wish to work in the wine industry, currently we don’t have a Romanian degree in Oenology for example. We need more labs for sample analysis of our wines for export. Currently there is only one; it’s always very crowded and it takes a lot of time, it’s very inefficient. But perhaps most of all, we need a national umbrella organisation that can help us promote and more effectively market our wines around the world.” This would allow more exports and therefore generate far greater overall revenue which would naturally feed back into the Romanian economy, particularly in rural areas where it is much needed. “First we need to educate the Romanian consumers, if they have a maturity, then they become our best ambassadors. I think it’s going in the right direction, I am optimistic, more people are interested in visiting


vineyards here, both Romanians and those from abroad. There are agencies who are bringing more and more tourists here for oeno tourism and they return to espouse the quality of our wines.” Andreea divides her time between legal work and Avincis. The legal work and the wine work are a good balance to one another, according to Andreea. “Legal interests are always changing. You have to do everything because the market is always evolving and clients have different legal problems, you need to be a one stop shop.” Wine-wise, “I learn from our wonderful team there and I read exhaustively. We have one Italian and one French consultant and they help us with our wine production.” On top of all this, last year Andreea published her first children’s book which has a title – “Lunus Plinus”, that translates as “Fullish Moonish”. Two more will follow later this year part of the same, ongoing series. She runs workshops in schools to encourage reading and writing and she hopes to plant some seeds. There have been six such workshops so far this year. “I’m an artistic type in my soul and I love children and I was writing short stories when I was little. When I went to law school I promised myself that I’d return to writing at some point. Well, it was 17

years and last year I launched my first book.” Discerning, determined, hard-working and super smart, Andreea epitomises many of her generation for whom the communist regime is more a historical concept than a memory. They know what sort of country they want their Romania to be, like Andreea, they’re striving to make it reality, and their vision is of a very cool place indeed.

Avincis has some very comfortable accommodation and, besides the tours of the vineyard and just plain relaxing, there is an abundance of places to visit in the Drăgășani area. These include the Oltenia Monastery, Maldăr Mansion, the Horezu pottery, the Horezu monastery, Arnota and the Măldăreşti Cule. There is certainly plenty to keep a visitor pleasantly occupied for five days to a week. “There’s a special silence on the Vila Dobrușa family estate, you can’t hear any engines, only birdsong, it’s the perfect place to go and recharge your batteries. You can go for a couple of days and rediscover your balance, the contact with nature cleans you, it gives you a mental bath,” extols Andreea. At Avincis there are two 1-bedroom apartments, one 2-bedroom apartment, with a living room and a fully equipped kitchen and a terrace with the most sublime view over the vineyard. Then there are double rooms that have a terrace either overlooking the vines or the Olt River and some have a view of the mountains. There are various common spaces that are ideal for different event types - from the 300 capacity terrace with a view over the river and the vines, to the wine-tasting room with a screen (video projector), advanced sound system and wifi. There are also a football pitch, basketball court and tennis court for visitors to use. Visit www.avincis.ro for more information or email: avincis.vinuri@avincis.ro or crama.avincis@avincis.ro and like Avincis Winery on Facebook.– www.facebook.com/avincis.winery. 19




Insight and Future By Mru Patel, Founder and CEO ePropertyWealth.com

IT’S NO LONGER ONLY ABOUT LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION The real estate market in Romania is not much different to any other developing nation. However it has further complications largely due to the cumbersome processes and paper-based, politically supercharged overheads and the delays caused by a red tape culture. Having operated both globally and in Romania for the past 14 years, I’ve been stressing that the real estate market has to be a combination of location, location, location, coupled with technology, technology, technology. WeWork, Zoopla, Rightmove and Airbnb are a few simple examples of how real estate tech is now at the forefront of this explosion in tech investments. CUT OUT THE MIDDLEMEN I believe progress in Romania will be slower largely due to the “protectionism” of the public sector, banks, intermediaries, agents, notaries, lawyers etc. Change and attitudes towards collaborations are not encouraged by the government as their 20

own processes are so paper heavy and super time consuming. This is the case even for the simplest of processes, never mind cooperations between departments for planning related issues. This makes it very difficult for investors to calculate their return on investment over a period of time, as a lot depends on getting the approvals on time. Often the planning process and its flaws are deal breakers for investors in terms of the costs and the end result can be an expensive product for the consumer! Real-time data to enable a full end-to-end real estate transactions should be the single goal for this market and its stakeholders. People should NOT be the question here, just productivity and efficiency gains that are merit-based. Blockchain based technology across the whole of the public sector must be explored without the fear of job losses, as surely the role of the government is also to reduce costs and taxes in order to create a better quality of life for its citizens. FIND SOLUTIONS FOR EXISTING PROBLEMS A major point of concern for the market is that there is a growing lack

of skills and this will be a major factor in the increasing price of the property product. I say Romania must accept that it will not be able to entice back citizens who have left the country. I have talked to several Romanians in the UK, the USA, Dubai, Singapore etc. and their main gripe is that even if the local salaries were doubled they still wouldn’t return. This is largely due to the system which really needs to be fixed - from public sector services right through to general quality of life, infrastructure and education for families with children. So if skills are required, I recommend Romania should accept and explore opportunities to import in order to fill those gaps just as UK, USA, Germany etc. have all done i.e. bring in human resources from places like India, Korea, China, Africa, the Philippines and so on. QUALITY IS A MUST Finally developers and investors must produce and implement better quality projects that truly look at whole life costs especially ongoing maintenance and running costs through to ECO, IOT and smart sensors technology,


which will enable developers to build and implement properties that are energy efficient as well as manage stock/materials more efficiently to avoid wastage and theft during the construction phase. The future truly is about technology, technology and technology, in the most useful disruptive transformation in real estate. Applying Blockchain

in real estate is a way of simplifying the traditional ways of transacting any property deal. Blockchain real estate transactions are easy, cheaper and time effective. Digital banking in real estate allows you to be your own digital, personal bank, cutting out the middlemen that make the transactions slower and more costly. Technology allows us to raise funds for our businesses from people all over

the world, without flying to another continent. Everything is happening within the comfort of our own homes through real estate crowdfunding platforms. Technology opened the door to a bright future, where traditions are changed to make lives easier for all the parties involved in the real estate process. No more wasting of time and money – the most precious resources we have.

photo credit: FAE-Drones.com Mru Patel is a best-selling Author, having lived and worked in 4 continents, with skills and experience in IT, sales and marketing. He is a serial entrepreneur, public speaker and motivator with a passion in property & wealth creation for investors. Fast Track your Business to Success is the name of his latest book, where the Foreward is written by a NY Times top 10 best selling Author. Find out more on www.epropertywealth.com.



housing company

is helping you pay

your mortgage



You may think that A-frame houses are a thing of the past, but this housing company will convince you otherwise. ‘The A-frames were popular in the 70s, but due to insulation issues they were mainly used as summer homes,’ Mr Indrek Kuldkepp, CEO of A-frame company Avrame, explains, ‘but this has long been solved. It’s time to re-evaluate this approach.’ Kuldkepp - living in an A-frame himself - says that with his two decades operating on the international wooden housing market, one of the things he has learned is that all houses comprise mainly of three cost elements: building/purchasing costs, utility and maintenance costs. According to Kuldkepp, in nine cases out of ten, if you buy a house for a low price, you can bet its maintenance and utility costs will be high for years to come and vice versa. He calls this ‘the price seesaw’. According to Kuldkepp, the Avrame company was built around the idea that buying and owning a house should be affordable. ‘There is no reason on this green Earth why a house should be expensive,’ he says. The core idea for Avrame was namely this - remove all the ‘bells and whistles’ that simply add to the price, optimize the design, and see what you are left with. ‘Quite a lot, actually,’ Kuldkepp says. ‘By purchasing a home kit from Avrame, you’re not just getting a good purchase price, but a good maintenance price as well,’ he elaborates. ‘We don’t just sell the A-frames, but the know-how on affordable living as well. No other company normally does that,’ he adds. ‘You can, of course, ignore our tips and guidelines and add all the bells and whistles you can think of,’ he continues, ‘but that’s the beauty of it - it will be your decision. With most housing solutions you do not have that choice.’ According to Kuldkepp, the best thing about the Avrame houses is the price/quality ratio. ‘Every salesman will tell you that their houses are the best value, but in our case, that’s actually true,’ says Kuldkepp, and urges you to take competitive quotes. ‘A cost efficient house will, of course, leave you less mortgage to pay, so you might say that our company is effectively helping you pay off your mortgage quicker.’ Avrame houses are good for off-the-grid living as well. ‘Technically speaking, my home is off-grid,’ Kuldkepp says, adding that when he started building his new A-frame, the lot was nothing but forest, whereas now there stands a cozy three-story home, with its independent electricity (he uses solar panels) and water supply. ‘It’s not that there’s anything wrong with living on the grid, it’s just I’m not a huge fan of utility bills.’ When Kuldkepp is asked whether he considers himself an eccentric pioneer showing the way to affordable living, he simply replies ‘no, but anyone’s welcome to ask for advice.’ More on www.avrame.com.



MAPPING CULTURE with VALI IRINA CIOBANU Vali Irina Ciobanu was born in Valea Popii, Călărași in 1976 and is a graduate in History of Culture and Religions from the Department of Philosophy of Bucharest. An artist represented by the Renaissance Art Gallery, Vali creates a concept of modernity as an opposite of abstraction, based on a few recuperated easel practices of ancient ages, some even from the Renaissance and having the spiritual support of a cultured audience. “She creates her paintings using a very old technique, inspired by that of Leonardo da Vinci. She paints on leather (vellum) with water colors, binders and hairspray which are specific art objects in themselves.” – Tudor Octavian, art critic Asking Vali Irina Ciobanu why she prefers painting on leather (vellum) she answered: “I like all the techniques, I study them, experiment with them, try to find their secrets… it has been painted for so many years on the skin that it was imperative to try this Renaissance technique. All the time I try the long-lasting ones, the ones that have proven their durability. I’ve seen a lot of information mostly in old-school textbooks, but I’ve found more details about this technique in a book about a work that was supposed to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci. I’ve been experimenting for years to find the ideal formula so I could paint lasting and beautiful paintings 24

and themed maps on leather (vellum). What pigments to use, how to adapt the old materials to the current ones. The colour and texture of the skin require a certain subject made in a certain way. You will see paintings painted in watercolour, egg tempera, gouache, tusk or mixed techniques. All are old techniques with natural pigments that are suitable for work on natural background. In large-scale works, the leather is stretched on a chassis that has a cloth before it so that the skin is better protected. After the skin is well stretched and clean, I prepare it with a special primer. I use Arabic gum, which is a natural ingredient to prepare the support, because it is as old as painting itself, I would say. ”

prepared in advance for the protection of the leather. As for the leather base, it was prepared using primer to enhance elasticity and strengthen the leather. Moreover, the primer is based on Arabic gum (a substance also found in the color mixture) which makes for a proper overlap of pigments and the conservation of color vivacity over time. Finally, the artworks have been glazed with special kinds of varnish which do not allow for water to damage the painted surface.

This style of painting came to Vali through the brief description of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting on vellum “La Bella Principesa”, presented by Martin Kemp and Pascal Cotte in the book of the same name, where the two well-known art critics from the West emphasized the fact that Leonardo managed to prepare the vellum (leather) so well that it has lasted for centuries.

In the last 10 years Vali created on vellum exquisite custom paintings and themed maps illustrating her customers interests in various fields, or conceived for the exhibition held at the National Museum of Maps and Old Books in Bucharest, April 2017, entitled “Visual Histories around the World – from Map to Art”. Six original large scale maps painted on leather were exhibited: the Danube Delta map (earlier shown during the group exhibition “Danube Through Strength and Fragility”– at Renaissance Art Gallery in September 2017), the History of Coffee map, the History of the Automobile (cars) map, the map of Romanian Wine (Vali designed the labels of Cramele Recaș– REGNO REGAS), the History of Horses Around the World Map and the History of Sailing Vessels Map–

Vali transformed her own studio into an alchemist’s laboratory, experimenting for a long period of time to discover the right formula which would give the artwork that intense colour effervescence as well as durability. Thus, the leather was stretched on a wooden chassis with a cotton canvas

Vali Irina Ciobanu has works featured in numerous private collections around the country and abroad, exhibitions both personal and group participation in creative camps and is currently represented by Renaissance Art Gallery.


that was later donated by the Artist and Renaissance Art Gallery to be live auctioned at the Light into Europe charity Ball in February 2018. These maps were exhibited under the same theme “Visual Histories around the World- from Map to Art” at Renaissance Art Gallery in January 2018, together with three other prints of maps custom made previously: • History of Chess Map, exhibited with the framed original sketches made with watercolour & ink on paper of 20x28cm of all the 16 chess pieces (8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 knights, 2 bishops, 1 queen, 1 king); • Celestial Map and • Planisferium Celeste (Planisferio Celeste Meridionale) exhibited with 7 original leather small painting of some of the 12 zodiacal signs (Constellation Pisces, Pisces, Gemini, Libra, Leo, Constellation Aquarius, Constellation Sagittarius, Sagittarius). Renaissance Art Gallery had a very positive feedback of this new concept of introducing at Vali’s latest exhibition the possibility for the art & old maps & history lovers to acquire also copies of the already produced maps. Canvas prints varying from sizes of 35x50cm to 120x 150cm were available for sale at affordable prices and the Gallery continues to receive orders for prints. “What I like about Vali apart from being the artist of a `thousand techniques´ that she masters so well, is her positive attitude toward her clients, her students, her collaborators and towards the other artists. She is just amazing, a truly accomplished artist.”– Oana Vișoiu Cuțucache, owner of Renaissance Art Galley. Here is a link with the catalogue (only in RO) were you can see the maps– http://s.go.ro/033sqi1q. For more information on Vali’s work please contact Oana Vișoiu at oana@renaissance-artgallery.com or 0722381325.







odruţ Sebastian Neguţ is a photographer and filmmaker based in Bucharest. After living in the UK for five years, where he completed a degree in visual communication at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, he went on to work as an assistant for some of London’s best-known photography studios. Codruţ moved back to Romania in 2015 and began working for the critically acclaimed Bucharest-based Carioca Studio, which

boasts an impressive list of commercial clients. His role in the company has quickly expanded from still image post-production to assisting on international shoots—from China to Dubai—and more recently helping to launch the company’s video department. Codruţ is now preparing to launch his own commercial studio in Bucharest, where he will offer a full range of photography services, from production to post-production, to suit the needs of established and up-and-coming clients.

follow him on Instagram @codrutnegut and find more of his work on www.codrutnegut.com







SENSATIONAL SUMMER It’s become crystal clear that Romania is the place to party all summer long while, at the same time, enjoying some solid culture, from music to film to theatre among myriad other fun events. Where and when? OZB has mapped out your Romanian summer, from north to south and from west to east. By Oana Vasiliu


follow here www.tiff.ro for the entire programme.

For cine-lovers, the summer must start in Cluj Napoca, at the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF). Being a one-of-a-kind event, and Romania’s biggest film festival, it’s a must-go for film-goers. Among the thousands and thousands of movies to see, you should know that TIFF is celebrating 100 years since the birth of Ingmar Bergman, along with a series of activities such as VR, cine-concertos, thematic parties, the weekend at the castle and so on. TIFF takes place in Cluj Napoca from May 25-June 3. If you miss the event in Cluj, don't worry, all summer a TIFF caravan with a good selection of movies will be screened nationwide,

Next, Iași expects film goers at The Nights of the Romanian Movies (Serile Filmului Românesc). It’s a must, especially because over the past years, the New Wave of Film Directors have become a big deal on the international scene. And it’s also a must – so that you can experience the unmistakable Romanian sense of humour. The event happens between June 6-10, see festivalsfr.ro


At the end of June, we propose a cinematic experience deep in the Danube Delta, at Pelicam festival, a journey based on movies and eco trends. Book a place there between 21-24 June. pelicam.ro/en

From east we are going west to Timișoara, for Ceau, cinema!, currently promoting artsy movies with a communist theme for this year’s festival. Book a trip to the future capital of culture between 19-22 July. ceaucinema.ro Râșnov welcomes historic movies lovers in a cinematic experience which starts in the cinema and goes up to the famous Râșnov Fortress. The Histories and Film Festival Râșnov takes place between 20-29 July. ffir.ro/en Among the most amazing film festivals taking place this summer is again in the Danube Delta but this time at Sfantu Gheorghe. The Anonimul festival has an international reputation for being held in one of the wildest locations to host a film festival not just in Europe but the world. The event happens in a tiny village deep within the great Danube Delta. Book in advance for 6-12 August. festival-anonimul.ro/en/home-page-en




Even horror movie fans aren't neglected with an event specially for them hosted in a beautiful fortified church, in one of the most picturesque regions of Romania: Biertan, Transylvania. The

Full Moon festival happens, of course, under the moon, in a spooky, but kind of cozy atmosphere. 9-12th August: see lunaplinafestival.ro for more information. Last but not least, Divan Festival celebrates the Balkans spirit with food and movies in southern Romania: a part of the festival happens in Craiova, while the other is in Cetate, a beautiful old Danube port where a cultural hub has been implemented by our great poet, Mircea Dinescu. For the Balkan experience, book your trip to Oltenia between 24 August - 2 September. divanfilmfestival.ro


THEATRE: THE SHOW MUST GO ON For those who like the stage and the strong feelings a live performance induces, Sibiu International Theatre Festival celebrates 25 years this summer. For this anniversary, an incredible programme has been settled, with international attendees as well as a brand new performance signed by the one and only Silviu Purcarete. Take also into consideration that some of the best dance artists are also coming to the event, as well an incredible outdoor programme – basically a non stop carnival on Sibiu’s streets. Save the dates: 8-17 June. sibfest.ro In Bucharest, a very interesting festival takes place between 17-24 June: Contact Bucharest Festival. They present and teach Contact Improvisation practice as an art and dance form to professional dancers as well as for non-professional dancers, to actors and performers as well as to all curious people who want to wake up their performative and poetic side. Check them out for an out of the box experience: contactimprovisation.ro

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

Unfortunately, no news about Undercloud, the independent theatre festival which took place place for ten years in Bucharest and presented one of the most amazing theatre performances I have ever seen. It used to be organised in the last week of August, so keep an eye out for their updates. www.romanian-blouse.com tel: 0723 700 600



MUSIC: HEY MR. DJ Summer starts in Iași from 31 May to 3 June, at the Afterhills festival. Hurts, Tom Odell, Paul Van Dyk and The Crystal Method are in the lineup, so you should definitely book your ticket if you are a fan. Prices vary from 187520 RON. See afterhills.com Rock the City will bring to the Romanian stage the great concert of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which will take place in Bucharest between 19-20 June. A once in a lifetime kind of concert: you must attend. Fun guaranteed. eventim.ro

From Cluj county we suggest a return to Sibiu, for Artmania Festival. Probably the most notorious rock music festival we have in Romania, this year, the organisers have invited the one and only Steven Wilson. 27-28 July, put it in the calendar. artmania.ro Untold starts at the beginning of August and offers an incredible party that lasts four days and four nights. Cluj Napoca will be once again be in the spotlight with artists like The Prodigy, Bonobo, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren. untold.com/en

Shine Festival brings The Cat Empire, Skillet, Subcarpati, Fratii Grime, The Mono Jacks, Cred Ca Sunt Extraterestru, Fantome and Argatu to the same stage in Bucharest. June 30 to July 1 are going to be the dates for this event. Facebook for more details. One of the most anticipated festival in Romania, Neversea, happens once again at the beginning of July in Constanța. Being the small sister of Untold, Romania’s biggest musical festival with international recognition, it welcomes music fans with the lineup consisting of Axwell & Ingrosso, Hardwell, John Newman and Scooter, among others. Festival tickets costs 449 RON. neversea.com/en Electric Castle, the festival which transforms Bonțida Castle into something truly world class is happening this year between 18-22 July. This year’s lineup has, among others, London Grammar, Damian Jr Gong Marley, Quantic, Wolf Alice. Put a pair of rubber boots in your luggage, you might need them. electriccastle.ro 32

Back to Bucharest in mid-August: SummerWell has one of the best lineups of this summer’s festivals: Justice, Bastille, The Kooks, Kodaline, Cigarettes After Sex, Sofi Tukker, Rationale, Tom Grennan, HMLTD & Isaac Gracie are going to be staged in this wonderful indie & good vibes provider festival which happens near Bucharest, in Buftea. summerwell.ro Have you ever thought that a recently facelifted castle could be the place to

party in a chalet festival? Doubtful, then you must go to Awake Festival, at Teleki Castle from Gornești, Mureș county, where Wilkinson LIVE, Milky Chance, The Subways, The Parlotones, Fink, Subcarpati, Mihail, SATRA BENZ, DJ SHIVER, DJ Sauce, ANTENNA, Detour are going to entertain you. awakefestival.ro

JAZZ: ALL THAT JAZZ All summer Bucharest is booked with jazz events. It’s a pure treat for those who love the music and it provides possibilities to attract more and more lovers of this genre of this genre. Summer starts with Green Hours Jazz Fest, between 31 May and 3 June, in one of the oldest places of Bucharest where live jazz music can still be heard. Tin Men and the Telephone, Leszek Możdżer and Jasper Hoiby’s Fellow Creatures are among the bands invited to the stage. greenjazzfest.ro Jazz in the Park Cluj Napoca has grown incredibly beautiful, with more and more bands and awesome festival events for genre fans and for Cluj communities. As a premiere, an ambitious project has formed between MUSEcology - byron, Lucia, Silent Strike feat Muse Quartet will be staged. Save the dates: 21 June - 1 July. jazzinthepark.ro/en From Cluj we move west, where Timișoara celebrates with JazzTM, a free festival with some of the greatest names of international jazz: Gregory Porter, The Cinematic Orchestra and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Events take place in the last weekend of June. jazztm.ro Bucharest also has a jazz festival of its own, right in the heart of the city: Piața George Enescu. Come early to book your set between 3-9 July for Bucharest Jazz Festival. bucharestjazzfestival.ro In it’s 22nd year, Gărâna Jazz Festival takes place up in the mountains attracting the most chilled and cool people, who are coming to this event for the great vibes helped by the

SUSHI combination of the woods and the jazz. If you have to choose from this jazzy category, Gărâna Jazz Festival is definitely a once in a lifetime jazz experience. Take an extra jacket with you, it could be a bit chilly in the evenings. garana-jazz.ro One of the newest jazz festivals in Romania, Smida Jazz Festival has received much acclaim due to its very eclectic line up. It is an international event dedicated to avant-garde jazz, built on the unique concept of

blending innovative jazz styles with the raw beauty of Apuseni Mountains. The event is taking place in the open air, in Smida, a Transylvanian village located in the heart of Apuseni Natural Park. During the festival, you can enjoy music performed by international and Romanian artists by night but during the day make the most of the outdoor activities. If it sounds interesting, then book your place there between 17-19 August. smidajazz.ro/en

Oana Vasiliu has more than eight years' experience in journalism, writing constantly for several publications. She specialises in cultural journalism, and is present at the most important Romanian festivals and cultural events.

Jazz in the Park



For the best, freshest, tastiest Sushi in Bucharest, visit Sushi2Go in the Strip Mall on Iancu Nicolae, Pipera.

Or visit www.livrare-sushi.ro to see the full menu and call 0770 902 782 for delivery. Minimum order 100 lei, further conditions apply.

Smida Jazz Festival

Mention this OZB advert when you order either in person or over the phone and you will get a free soup/drink/ Kapa Maki. Yoi shokuyoku


Carving a Niche

Contemporary crafted furniture and beautifully restored woodwork from a workshop in Transylvania to Bucharest and beyond By Stephen McGrath On a sunny weekday in late April, Elek Sütö, a well-built man with cropped hair, shows me around his furniture factory situated in the small Transylvanian village of Seleuș. Sütö, 44, has every reason to feel happy. “Today is our eighteenth anniversary,” he says, standing on a tree-lined path in the factory’s grounds leading from the entrance to his office. Sütö grew up just 10km away, in the medieval UNESCO city of Sighișoara, and moved to Germany in the ‘90s as a young man. “I was in Germany and I met a guy in 1999 who owned a small furniture factory,” says Sütö, who spent that year with him learning the craft of furniture making. “He said to me, ‘Are you interested in opening a factory in Romania?’ — I said, ‘Let me try.’” 34

With limited experience, plenty of ambition and clear business smarts, Sütö did indeed try; in 2000 he opened his factory, Mobi Romantik, in Seleuș. “In the early years I employed people with lots of experience, old carpenters who then trained the younger guys,” he says. Eighteen years later, the whir of large machinery and the bustle of Sütö's 16 craftsmen is what binds together a business that exhibits at Romanian Design Week, kits out some of Bucharest’s fanciest bars and restaurants, as well as many important heritage buildings and even homes belonging to Britain’s royalty. “Three years ago we furnished Prince Charles’ home in Viscri,” says Sütö,

adding that it’s one of his proudest jobs to date. The Seleuș factory, which is sandwiched between neat rows of small houses, is a former communist deposit for hop workers, a popular crop in that part of the country. It once offered a place to eat, sleep and somewhere to kept farming machinery. As such, the grounds had enough space at the right price, with enough potential to make the business a viable venture. Sütö didn't rush ahead, he slowly built up the business to ensure his books balanced and the furniture output had the mark of quality key for long-term success. “In the beginning I bought old furniture from people from the village,


Mesange Fromagerie, Bucharest

Casa Boema, Cluj-Napoca

Sardin Restaurant, Bucharest

Moony Caffee, Bucharest

Kuzina, Bucharest

Romanian Design Week, Bucharest

Vino, Bucharest

and started restoring it. Slowly, we eventually made everything from pine, oak, and any kind of old wood — the art of using old recycled materials is something special for me,” he says. At the factory on any given day, it’s clear that the craftsmen have lots to get on with. Men are busy making everything from window frames, doors and stairs, to tables, chairs and bookshelves. In one of the on-site warehouses, a large order is waiting to be transported by truck to Croatia. Orders for Mobi Romantik furniture come from far and wide, but its main markets — about 50/50 — is Germany and Bucharest. Each month, two full lorries deliver to both destinations. However, they have a daunting commission ahead, which they’ll begin

Visci 163, Brașov

working on this autumn. “We’ve got a contract in Austria, to furnish a big hotel,” says Sütö. “It’s a big challenge, it has 27 suites, a restaurant and we’re making every piece of furniture for it.” Maintaining a balance of producing high-quality furniture, while keeping the prices reasonable, is key to the company’s success, Sütö says. His passion for using old wood, particularly for restoration jobs, is also evident: in 2012 he restored an old door for a customer in Bucharest, who had inherited a period building and thought the door was beyond repair. The result was impressive; the shabby old door was stripped and repaired using old materials and brought its

Pâine și vin, Bucharest

owner to tears. Every year since, at Christmas, she has sent Sütö a bottle of wine to thank him. “When the customers are really happy and enjoy the furniture we make, it’s more important than money,” he says. On the day of the anniversary, Sütö was busy creating metal light shades. This may, in part, be the key to his success: he’s always looking for the next thing that will go above and beyond to please his customers. 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.


Home Decor

5 Trends of 2018



By Georgiana Florentina Dogaru The way we decorate our houses is very important as our homes speak about our personalities, our state of mind and it can even have a strong influence on our daily mood. Interior design has become very popular and successful even among fashion houses with many of them launching interior design and home collections and collaborating with property developers. From the runway to our homes it was just a small step. They create beauty to embellish our homes as easily as they create beauty to embellish our bodies. Their involvement in this domain proves to us the importance of the objects we surround ourselves with. You can turn a house into a home with the right accessories. If you are ready to transform your home into a fashion statement, you must include these trends


BOTANICAL PRINTS Botanical prints are still in fashion and they bring us the feeling of being close to nature in our homes. Nature inspires feelings of joy and peace, so bringing a bit of her beauty indoors will give you more comfort in your bed or at your table. Whether it’s a bed cover or some cushions on the sofa, the beauty of nature induces happiness and calmness. Opening your eyes in the morning and seeing flowers on your bed helps start your day with a smile and gives you the energy to face your challenges and make the best of every minute.

Geometric decors are full of colour and very bold this year. If you have a taste for adventure, you can paint colourful geometric shapes on your walls or simply put a rug or some cushions that have some triangles, squares, circles or rhomboids. You can also put some tiles in your bathroom, wallpaper in your bedroom or a triangle mirror on your living room wall. This is a good way to make peace with the geometry classes that were torturing you in high school and use it in a funny way.


BOLD COLOURS Neutral colours like grey or beige are not trendy anymore this year. The best choices for 2018 are dark hues like ruby red, emerald green, navy blue or violet. You can paint your walls in these shades or pick furniture and accessories that will decorate your rooms. A red sofa in your living room, some blue curtains in your dining room or a green lamp in your bedroom will make your house en vogue. Set your imagination free and bring nature into your home.

MARBLE EFFECT Marble is a very elegant stone and we all love it. This season marble is not only for the countertops in your kitchen or the tiles of your bathroom. In 2018 it’s very trendy to have marble patterns on your home accessories as well. You can try it with your bedsheets, your dinner plates, the flower vase or the toothbrush holder.

The fringe is very stylish this spring in fashion and from the runway it leapt straight into our homes. The fringe is everywhere, from chandeliers and lamps, to mirrors, sofas, cushions and curtains. Fringes will make your home look interesting and different and if your sense of humour is there, you can match them with an outfit. After all, your home is a part of your life and you love making it look good as much as you love making yourself look pretty.

Georgiana Dogaru is a journalist and a fashion blogger. Her career highlights include experience in the mass media field as a news editor for a business newspaper and television. You can read her blog at www.stilettoandredlips.com.





Heavens Above By Mike Ormsby Our young neighbour Dragoş wobbles down the lane, strapped into a heavy rucksack almost as big as himself. Arms out for balance, he lurches along like a miniature astronaut exploring a new planet. Heaven knows what’s in that backpack - his rocket manual? Encyclopaedia Brittanica? You have to wonder, as he’s only six years old and can hardly read or write. Talk about excess baggage. Any minute now, he’ll peep through our fence, big brown eyes scanning the yard, left and right. Yards are interesting, especially other people’s. He’ll spot me kneeling with my hammer and nails and he’ll want to know why. Should I tell him the painful truth? Maybe not, he has a fertile imagination and who knows where that might lead. Then again, perhaps I will; he’s a country kid with few illusions. It might help to save a life or two. Here he comes. “Domnul Mike, what you doing down there?” “Blocking holes under our fence, Dragoş.” “Holes?” “To stop hedgehogs.” “With a hammer?” “And nails and twisty wire, see?” “Oh, I see. But why are you stopping hedgehogs?” “Because our dogs caught a big one and they woke us up at 3 a.m. They were barking a lot and trying to bite it.” “Domnul Mike.” “Yes, Dragoş?” “A hedgehog can roll into a ball. Did it roll into a ball?” “Yes, but that didn’t help.” “How do you mean?”

“I took it to the vet this morning and he put it to sleep.” “Domnul Mike.” “Yes, Dragoş?” “Hedgehogs sleep every day. So, why did it need the vet?” “Because it was hurt.” “Bad?” “Pretty bad, yes. Very bad, in fact.” “Will the hedgehog get better when it wakes up?” “No, Dragoş. When it wakes up it will be in heaven.” Dragoş frowns. No further questions. But then again. “Domnul Mike?” “Yes, Dragoş?” “That aeroplane we were talking about, last week? The one that went missing? I know what happened.” I rise from my knees and squat on my haunches. “Really?” Dragoş nods. “It crashed. Sixty-three people went to heaven.” “That’s terrible. Are you sure? Was it on the news?” “Sixty-three, Domnul Mike.” “Hmm, but I heard that plane was quite small with two seats?” Dragoş shrugs. “It must have crashed into a bus queue.” “Oh, I see. In Braşov, perhaps? Or Sibiu, do you think?” Dragoş nods. “Somewhere like that.” “Those poor people.” “Domnul Mike.” “Yes, Dragoş.” He points. “Your red cat is on the roof.” I turn to see. Dragoş is right about this, at least. Ginger-puss Roy is creeping across our garage roof and checking mud nests that cling to the eaves of our house, just above his head. “What is your cat doing up there?” says

Dragoş. “Waiting to catch a bird.” “You should tell him to come down.” “I tried, but Roy doesn’t speak Romanian or English.” “Because he’s from Azerbaijan.” Dragoş grins. “You remember.” “It’s what you told me, Domnul Mike.” “How’s your kitten, Dragoş? I hope you’ve stopped washing her. Kittens don’t need to be washed, remember? They wash themselves. I told you that, too, remember? Your kitten will catch a cold and go to heaven. How’s she doing?” “Kitten ran away, actually. ” Dragoş scratches his head, then he rubs his mouth. Body language. Very interesting, actually. “Domnul Mike.” “Yes?” “I have to go home and feed my dog, Little Bear.” “I thought you feed him in the evenings?” “Except today. Bye, then.” “Bye, Dragoş.” He lumbers away in his jetpack, but stops after a few paces. “Domnul Mike.” “Yes?” He points at the fence. “There’s a hole here. For hedgehogs.” “I’ll see to it. Thanks, Dragoş.” “Cu plăcere, la revedere.”

This story is from Mike’s book ‘Never Mind the Vampires, Here’s Transylvania’. Mike is the author of bestseller 'Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania.' Literary critics dubbed him 'The British Caragiale’. 39



Kind of


his story starts with the splendidly named Baron Barbu Bellu, who was a 19th century Judge, member of parliament and briefly a minister for both Culture and Justice. In 1853 he donated land to the local municipal administration to be used as a cemetery due to the need for more



burial sites within reach of central Bucharest. Apparently this was a purely altruistic gesture but If the intention was to allow the family name to live on forever then it seems to have worked. Actually at that time he was not yet a Baron, that title was given to him by the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef in 1866.

By Giles Eldridge

Keeping in step with its illustrious beginnings, this is no ordinary cemetery, not a simple place for burial, rather it is one of those places where extraordinary lives and stories combine with fabulous architectural monuments. It is up there with Highgate in London or Père Lachaise in Paris, in quality and range of visually intriguing tombs.

The Aromanian People Baron Barbu Bellu’s background has taught me something about regional ethnicity. Barbu Bellu was in fact from a family of Aromanian stock. Deriving from Vlachs (as in Wallachia) Aromanians are an ethnic minority previously residing in what is now Southern Romania, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria who, having somehow developed a slightly separate culture and language around 1,000 years ago, became dispersed throughout the wider region. As a latinised language and culture they became torn between this Byzantine background and an ever stronger Greek culture fighting the Ottoman empire. As a result, by the 19th century there was a movement of Aromanians (Vlachs) northward to various parts of Romania just at the same time that French ideas of nationhood and human rights were taking hold. This produced a push to maintain things like schools to preserve the Aromanian culture within and outside of Romania. A combination of Greek aggression and Romanian communism put an end to it all. The Aromanian language is now dying out and it is 50 years since the last school or church closed. This is another reminder that although Romania is not multi-cultural it is multi-ethnic, the diversity is in the history; the results being between part of the Roman Empire and Greece and Turkey - the dynamism of a heady cocktail of Byzantine and Ottoman concerns.


Toma Caragiu monument

Garden of Souls Sometimes referred to as Bellu’s Garden of Souls, the cemetery is divided into sections for the differing professions, as if from the start it set out to be a museum of lives. Initially occupying 17 hectares it is now nearly twice that size. Here are a few tombs and their stories to give an idea of the different people who are laid to rest at Cimitirul Bellu. Toma Caragiu (1925-1977) Actually born in Greece to an Aromanian family. Actor in film, television and stage known well for his comedic yet serious monologues, he was absolutely a household name back in the day. The bust at his tomb is tremendous in its depiction, being in a caricature style. However it hides the tragic fact of his premature death during the infamous 1977 earthquake that killed some 1,500 Bucharest residents. Henri Coandă (1886-1972) – Familiar to all as Bucharest airport’s dedication. He produced the Coandă 1910, an early attempt at a jet plane. Controversy surrounds this aircraft regarding its status as an actual jet engine and if it had in fact even made a flight, but it was the only plane exhibited in Paris the same year without a propellor, so it was part of the vanguard without a doubt. No one can dispute his patented discovery: the Coandă effect, which showed how jet air follows the curve of a form (leading to the production of an actual flying saucer and, more prosaically, to the production of Dyson’s blade-less fans). Aurel Vlaicu (1882-1913) Yet more airborne shenanigans as Vlaicu was an early developer of sustained monoplane flight, apparently using rubber band powered models to refine his initial designs, which went on to win numerous prizes for precision flying. He died in an attempt to fly over the Carpathians in one of his own planes. Panait Istrati (1884 -1935) Sometimes

referred to as the Maxim Gorky of the Balkans, he is someone with Greek ancestry, reminding us that Romanian history is as much Greek as it is Roman, at least in the south eastern part of the country. Istrati was an itinerate literary figure with adventures in many far off places and his stories reflect this with his use of a vagabond character, based on himself and his experiences, from house painter to hog farmer. Ștefan Luchian (1868-1916) Typically for the times a painter who, having studied in Munich, went to Paris and returned to Romania to paint in an Impressionist style with the addition of some Symbolist and Art Nouveau traits. Illness paralysed him after 1909 but he continued to paint having his brushes tied to his wrist, leading to some controversy about the provenance of some of the later works. Lia Manoliu (1932-1998) After 6 separate Olympic attempts and 2 Bronze medals she finally achieved her goal at the 1968 Olympics for the Discus event. At 35 years old and against the advice of the Romanian Athletics Federation she turned up to the games with an injured arm and her doctor’s

opinion that she would only have one opportunity to throw after which the injury would render her unfit. She made just one almighty throw and took the Gold medal. Maria Tănase (1913-1963) Always covered in flowers this simple tomb displays the huge appreciation of the fantastic singer known as Pasărea Măiastră, The Magic Bird. If her name is still unfamiliar to readers I implore you to listen. In terms of the female voice, she is as important to Romania as Édith Piaf is to France, being of exactly the same era. Hers was sadly another early death at the age of 49; with nearly a million people on the streets of Bucharest for the funeral. Of course many more stories such as these await at Bellu for what is surely a life affirming tour of Romanian culture, academia and science. 41



S N AG OV C L U B 42



f you feel like leaving the hustle and bustle of the capital behind, but you still want to enjoy 5 stars services and pampering, you don’t have to go far. The Nature Reserve Lake Snagov, on the outskirts of Bucharest is home not only to 171 protected species, but also to Snagov Club, a versatile and impressive place. Snagov Club is an excellent location for corporate events. The exterior terraces and the lake vicinity will guarantee a pleasant environment and the Versailles Garden is the ideal place for outside activities. If extravagance is what you want, the Pool Bar is available for games or activities that will energize participants. Team building activities, wine tastings and outdoor cooking are also among the activities the club can organise.

The hotel has a capacity of 22 comfortable and spacious rooms, disposed on two floors with a refined design and luxury furbishing, a Lake Pavilion (up to 250 seats), the Pier (up to 100 seats), the Versailles Garden, the Venetian Restaurant, the British Salon (40 seats) and the French Salon. There is also a SPA Center, a Game Salon and a Minigolf Course available for guests and visitors, but these are not the only activities available. At Snagov Club you can also rent bikes and kayaks, go for a boat ride, go on eco-tourism circuits or attend traditional crafts workshops. The staff of professionals with over 30 years of experience are ready to assist you in putting together a menu and organizing an event to impress even the most demanding guests. The club

is available for corporate and private events and the staff can even help with transporting guests from Bucharest to the airport and back. Due to their independent technical facilities, the restaurants, the pavilion, the garden and the pool bar can equally function as locations for such events, together or independently, depending on the number of participants and type of event. There is always so much more to things than meets the eye, the Snagov area and the Snagov Club are great for exploring and enjoying. When the heat of summer is upon the city, remember to follow the breeze and go to this place for your share of freshness–it’s not that far and worth every minute.

See more on www.snagovclub.ro




2018 FIFA WORLD CUP RUSSIA 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 E

Brazil The five time champion Selecao is of course one of the top favourites. It goes without saying that if you have top talents like Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho at your disposal, you don’t have to fear anyone. Coach Tite brought this team back where they belong, at the top. Samba football at its best! Ranking FIFA: 2 Player to watch: Neymar Odds to win tournament: 19/4

Switzerland People in Switzerland expect the team to make it to the final stages. Coach Vladimir Petković praises the excellent team spirit and a tremendous will to succeed. This team has it all, creative players like Xherdan Shaqiri, strong fullbacks like Juventus’s Stephan Lichtsteiner, and a strong central defense. A team that will be hard to beat. Ranking FIFA: 8 Player to watch: Denis Zakaria Odds to win the tournament:


Costa Rica Costa Rica was a sensation four years ago, reaching the World Cup quarter-finals.

Oscar Ramirez is the new coach, nothing really changed, they stayed in excellent shape and were hard to beat. Star players in this team are Bryan Ruiz, Celso Borges and goalkeeper Keylor Navas. They have enough quality to reach the knockout phase. Ranking FIFA: 26 Player to watch: Keylor Navas Odds to win tournament: 750/1

Serbia Serbia qualified quite easily, with only one defeat in 10 matches. New coach Mladen Krstajić brought back star midfielder Sergej Milinković. The result of all this: superb performances by Milinković and his teammates, and the message from Milinković to the non-believers that he can lead the team to victory. Interesting to see how far they will reach. Ranking FIFA: 37 Player to watch: Sergej Milinković Odds to win tournament: 250/1 GROUP F

Germany What can we say about the mighty Germans. They are always and everywhere the favourites. They qualified for the World Cup with a perfect 10 wins and a record of 43 goals. It’s enough to look at the list of top players available to understand why: Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos,

Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, and the list goes on and on. If you want a sure bet, bet on these guys! Ranking FIFA: 1 Player to watch: entire team Odds to win tournament: 5/1

Mexico Mexico had totally no problems reaching the World Cup final. At this moment the team consists of many experienced players. Players like Guillermo Ochoa, Andres Guardado, Hector Moreno and Javier Hernandez. The more offensive way of playing has changed to a more defensive style of playing, meaning a five men defence. This could bring them more stability and a bigger chance to stay longer in the tournament. Ranking FIFA: 16 Player to watch: Hirving Lozano Odds to win tournament: 125/1

Sweden The big question for Sweden is : will Zlatan play? Yes or no? During the last months the Big man himself surprised everyone around him saying maybe he would join the Swedish team. What he literally said was: “What is a World Cup without Zlatan?”. We can name here, off course, a lot of good players in the team, but without Zlatan the chances of getting to the next round will drop significantly. Ranking FIFA: 18 Player to watch: we hope Zlatan Odds to win tournament: 200/1



South Korea


Odds to win tournament: 80/1

This team struggled throughout the qualifying stage. New coach Shin Tae-Yong is not known for his brilliant tactics, but foremost he is a good motivator. Most fans were waiting for the return of former star coach Guus Hiddink, it didn’t happen. This team lacks real stars, but with the right motivation you know that this team is not easy to beat. They will stand their ground until the end. Ranking FIFA: 59 Player to watch: Kwon Chang-Hoon

After 12 years Tunisia are back at a World Cup. The way to the World Cup was paved with all kind of problems. Coach Henryk Kasperczak went and Nabil Maaloul came. This team is built on a defensive style of playing, but with full backs that are encouraged to attack. Youssef Msakni is the big star of the team. He will carry the team and lead them hopefully to a surprise victory. Ranking FIFA: 27 Player to watch: Youssef Msakni Odds to win tournament: 1000/1


Odds to win tournament: 750/1



Player to watch: Eden Hazard Odds to win tournament: 12/1

This team has some amazing statistics, they never lost a qualifying match for any major competition since October 2009. Three different managers in place in 39 games. Never a dull moment with this squad. Every tournament this question always pops up: will they make it to the final? The strongest competition in the world with the best players on this planet. But then again there is one problem, a lot of these big players are foreign stars, keeping a lot of very good English players warming the bench. They have to do it without Wayne Rooney. Which of the other players will stand up and lead this team? Ranking FIFA: 15 Player to watch: Harry Kane Odds to win tournament: 20/1



Coach Hernan Dario Gomez said he uses this tournament to learn and compete. And this is exactly what we can expect from this team, they will play with enthusiasm and they will enjoy the occasion. It’s a team built on solidity, discipline and hitting on the break. Best players in the team: Gabriel Gomez, Alberto Quintero , Gabriel Torres. Don’t expect miracles from this team. Ranking FIFA: 56 Player to watch: Gabriel Gomez


Belgium This should become the tournament of Belgium. World class players like Vincent Kompany, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard can lead this team to the final stage of the tournament. They have the right generation, the right age and the right experience. But will coach Roberto Martinez find the right defensive organization? Looking forward to see this team play at the World Cup. Ranking FIFA: 5

Odds to win the tournament:



This team always seemed certain of qualifying, winning eight of their 10 games. The captain Robert Lewandowski played a crucial part in this qualification, being responsible for a record breaking 16 goals. Poland returns to this World Cup after 12 years of absence. Other key players for this team are Wojciech Szczęsny, Kamil Grosicki , Kamil Glik. A second round should be possible for this team. Ranking FIFA: 7 Player to watch: Robert Lewandowski

This will be the second time that Senegal plays at a World Cup. Aliou Cisse, the captain of the 2002 squad lead this team through the qualifying stage. Cisse created a very strong team in all areas. From defence to attack, they have very strong and capable players. Much will be expected of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, who has been the star now for several years. A team to look forward to. Ranking FIFA: 23 Player to watch: Sadio Mane Odds to win tournament: 300/1

Colombia Colombia is eager to repeat their performance from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, reaching the quarter finals. “Qualifying was really hard” said coach Jose Pekerman, and this will be an indication that it won’t be a smooth path for Colombia getting again that far in the tournament. Star player James Rodriguez will lead the way, hopefully Radamel Falcao and David Ospina can support him in that. Hard to say how far this team can go. Ranking FIFA: 13 Player to watch: James Rodriguez Odds to win tournament: 50/1

Japan Coach Vahid Halilhodzic changed the way of playing for Japan. The more possession-based style is transformed into a counterattack game. He made some other huge changes as well, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa, until then the big stars, were dropped from the squad. These choices didn’t make him more popular in Japan. It’s a high stake game that the coach plays, leaving the best players out, thinking the team can do without them. Guess who gets the first ticket back home if this team fails. Ranking FIFA: 55 Player to watch: Yosuke Ideguchi Odds to win tournament: 500/1


EYE IN THE SKY By Douglas Williams


hose who live in North Bucharest will probably have noticed the odd helicopter or six flying above them. Kinda noisy but also kinda cool, it’s hard not to love a helicopter. And this got OZB thinking and investigating which led us to Becker Aviation, out by Balotesti, run by Cristian Becker, where wannabe helicopter pilots can turn their dreams into reality.

helicopters but not commercially, ie. remuneration is not allowed. To qualify as a commercial pilot candidates need, you’ve guessed it, a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). This is an altogether different and more difficult proposition requiring a further 280 hours of flying with 35 of those being examined and five of those examined at night. The theory is much more difficult and the cost - mainly due to the extra flying hours required - is substantially greater. Becker Aviation charges students 300 euro per hour for flying and taking the CPL exam costs in the region of 50,000 euro. To make matters worse, even upon qualifying with a CPL it is very difficult to find paid work until the pilot has

logged over 500 hours flying because of those pesky insurance critters who simply won’t entertain commercial pilots with less - no dice. Wannabe commercial pilots bolster their flight hours doing crop spraying, banner towing and pipeline work. So, once you’ve learned to drive the next step is to get a car and it’s the same with helicopters and Becker can help in this department too. He is the main local dealer for Robinson helicopters, one of the main producers of civil helicopters in the world. For more information see: www.becker-aviation.ro/en/home/

Not surprisingly, and perhaps reassuringly, first off those wishing to pilot one of these incredible machines must visit the docs. Yup, is your body up to it, your eyes? And then after that there’s the psychological profiling to ensure that there are no problems “in the top croft” before you take to the skies. Only it’s not quite as simple as that. There’s the small matter of the “theory” which occurs in conjunction with flying lessons. That’ll be 180 hours of theory covering the various subjects necessary to successfully piloting a helicopter navigation, meteorology, principles of flight etc. This is done in a combination of online and at the centre classes and takes somewhere in the vicinity of 4-5 months. This is for a Private Pilot Licence (PPL). Before the candidate sits the Federal Aviation Authority PPL exam, they must have completed the theory and have 45-50 hours of flying time under their belt. This is generally achieved in 6 months with four 90 minute lessons per week undertaken at the centre. The cost to study, fly and sit the PPL exam with Becker Aviation is 16,500 euros. The PPL allows the pilot to fly 47



G i n


By Robert Marshall

vices and virtues

No other spirit has experienced the fluctuations of fortune and infamy that gin has. Both the drink of the rich – a spirit that spearheaded the cocktail craze of the early twentieth century – and also the drink of the poor, it reached its nadir in the eighteenth century when adulterated with turpentine and sulphuric acid, it brought about the first English laws to prevent excessive drinking and control home distillation. Juniper flavoured spirits, known as Genever, originated in the Netherlands, but arrived in England with the accession of William of Orange in 1689. Its popularity quickly spread and by the following century an alcoholic binge of gin crazed debauchery was endemic in London, the largest metropolis and global trading centre of the world at that time, and ever since gin has continued to typify the vices and virtues of an urbane life. At its core is juniper which is distilled with other roots, herbs, citrus peels and spices. Many of these exotic ingredients arrived in the ports of England and Holland from the colonies and several of these core botanicals, such as orris root, coriander and angelica, remain key components in the distiller’s recipe and have helped make gin a perfect partner for many classic cocktails. Unlike whisky, brandy or rum, gin doesn’t need to be aged (although some modern producers are experimenting with barrel matured gins). This means that a new gin can be distilled, with its unique selection of botanicals, and released, with some clever marketing and storytelling, relatively quickly. Today a plethora of gins exist from all around the globe some simple, light and citrusy, others heavy, spicy and complex. My recommendation is to experiment; try different brands with different variations of mixers, cocktails and garnishes, and explore the infinite possibilities that this beguiling spirit holds.






Cocktails to buy, try or make at home

Martini Contrary to what James Bond orders, a Martini should always be stirred and not shaken and his preference for replacing gin with vodka was written to emphasise 007’s wry, idiosyncratic tastes. A great Martini should always be served as cold as possible. Make sure the iconic Martini glass, and even the gin, comes straight from the freezer. Choose a top drawer dry vermouth - Noilly Prat, Lillet Blanc or Martini Extra Dry. Opt for a ratio of quality gin to vermouth, the bigger the ratio of gin, the drier the martini, but a 4:1 mix will still allow you to taste the vermouth. Further dilution comes from stirring gently with ice (ideally spherical) in a mixing glass until freezing cold to the touch. The importance of ice in cocktails cannot be ignored and stirring allows slow and steady dilution, whilst shaking breaks shards of ice into the martini. Finally, garnish with a twist of lemon, squeezed over the surface of the drink to release its oils, or serve “dirty”, with an olive and a dash of brine. Like a silver bullet hitting your senses; Martinis are sophisticated, cool, crisp and super clean.

Gin & Tonic Probably the most popular long mixed drink in the world, gin and tonic is enjoying something of a renaissance. In the last few years diverse menus have popped up in restaurants and bars around Romania’s cities offering an array of crafted gins, tonics and garnishes. The origins of mixing withtonic water can be traced back to the British colonies. Quinine, which is extracted from cinchona bark, is thought to prevent malaria and the British took up the habit of mixing the bitter pill with more palatable gin and a dose of sugar. We have a new generation of Spanish gin drinkers to thank for the habit of serving the drink in a large copa de balon glass with a dash of tonic and a range of herbs and spices thrown in for good measure. If you are ordering, or making at home, make sure you have some decent size blocks of ice, and don’t overdo it with


the garnishes – it is important to let the original infused flavours of the gin express themselves and bind with the bitterness and crisp bite of the tonic.

Negroni The drink originates in Florence and is named after Count Camillo Negroni who is purported to have asked for his favourite cocktail, the Americano, by adding gin rather than the normal soda water topped off with an orange garnish rather than lemon. Easy to make and refreshingly bitter the Negroni delivers the perfect introduction to making serious cocktails. Made of equal parts of gin, campari and red vermouth (Martini Rosso) which, when well balanced, provides a supple blend sweet, sour and bitterness topped off with a twist of orange zest. In Italy it’s served up as the perfect aperitivo, but the Negroni is so delicious, especially when built up with chilled spirits over a huge cube of ice, that you will be tempted to skip the Chianti and continue the evening trying this classic drink with different combinations of gins, vermouths and bitters.


S e a s o n De l ig h ts With the Pastry Chef of

Athénée Palace Hilton H O T E L


A Delicious Dessert on the Terrace

Set in the heart of the city, overlooking the famous Calea Victoriei Boulevard, La Strada by Athénée Palace Hilton is your everyday escape from the hectic rhythm of city life. The terrace offers the peace and charm of a green oasis during daytime and a beautiful alfresco appeal during evenings. From the

INGREDIENTS Raspberry Sauce: 100g of boiled raspberries, passed through the sieve in order to keep the puré smooth, without seeds. Cream cheese: 150g of cream cheese mixed with 10g of honey and a drop of vanilla extract. Granola cereals: a mix of 300g of oatmeal, 50g of quinoa seeds, 50g of flax seeds, 50g of black sesame, 100g of sunflower seeds, and 150g of pumpkin seeds that are cooked at 150 degrees. Add 150g of partially dehydrated cranberries, 50g of honey heated at 56 degrees, and 25g of coconut oil. INSTRUCTIONS This dish is extremely practical and easy to make, perfect for a beautiful summer afternoon. The raspberries can also be used fresh, but for this dessert we chose the sauce in order to have no seeds. Raspberry and sugar are placed into a pot on a small fire, just enough


venue will help you relax and revive.

cozy pergola appointed with cushions and the comfy outdoor seating, to the large sun umbrellas and colourful flowers, the entire venue spreads vibes of comfort and ease. Serving refreshing drinks from the moss-decorated bar, or a delicious dessert from the new summer menu, you can be sure that the

This season, the terrace will entice you with delicious fresh desserts, such as the tempting Summer Delight presented by Mihaela Dima, the Pastry Chef of Athénée Palace Hilton hotel.

to get mixed together, and then through a sieve in order to have the seeds removed. Only after the sauce gets cold we add it at the bottom of the bowl.

a piping nozzle without smudging the bowl, and leave it in the refrigerator. The granola is added in the bowl where we prior had included the cream and the sauce, only upon serving it, so as to keep a crispy top. Ideally for such a dessert is to have a flavoured sauce, a cream for merging and something crispy. Then feel free to decorate the bowl with fresh strawberries, cranberries, blueberries or other deliciously colourful fresh fruits to delight your guests.

Next comes the cheese cream: In a bowl, weigh the honey and the amount of cheese cream with a drop of vanilla extract, and then mix them with a palette in order to get a homogeneous composition. Last but not least, the granola is as a real delight for your taste buds. The mixture of seeds offers a clean and natural taste. The seeds are to be placed in the oven for 12 minutes at a temperature of 140 degrees, just enough to dry them a little, not to fry them, so as to keep the properties in their natural state. The cranberries are not to be put in the oven, as they are already dehydrated on the outside and moist on the inside; we mix them all in a bowl. The secret of granola cereals consists in the idea of being crisp outside and moist inside. THE BOWL DECORATION Add the raspberry sauce at the bottom of the bowl and leave it in the freezer for 15 minutes just to make a little crust. Then add the cream cheese with

The dessert is made of raspberry sauce, cheese cream and granola cereals, and decorated with fresh strawberries.

Mihaela Dima, Pastry Chef Athénée Palace Hilton, is the one that adds the sweet touch to the hotel's restaurant menus. She has more than 23 years of experience in the hospitality industry and 20 years since she devoted her passion and expertise to the hotel, where she creates spectacular desserts for both Romanians, tourists, diplomats or celebrities. Throughout her career, she has prepared desserts for banquets of over 1,500 people, for large-scale events such as the Nato Summit, the George Enescu Concert, King Michael's 90th Anniversary, the Centenary of the Athénée Palace Hotel and for VIPs such as Nicolas Cage, Duffy, Roxette and the Rolling Stones.


Premium AVINCIS wines available this SEASON

grilled salmon or fruit desserts. Avincis Crâmpoșie Selecționată 2017 is a light golden yellow wine with some green reflections, perfectly suited for any occasion, with a fresh and expressive bouquet of pear and green apple. On the palate, it expresses lively citrus notes, green apple and a gentle minerality, with good persistence. We invite you to serve it well chilled, at around 6-8 °C, with any seafood or grilled fish with vegetables. Avincis Rosé–Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 is a very light, bright salmon pink rosé, with a bouquet showing notes of wild strawberries and rose petals. The palate reveals aromas of fresh cherries and a crisp dry finish. We invite you to serve it well chilled, at around 7°C, with fresh seasonal salads, stir-fries or at summer BBQs.


vincis, top wine producer in Romania, located in Vila Dobrușa, on the sunny hills of Drăgășani (Vâlcea County), kicks off the new season with a selection of quality wines created to cater for all tastes.

Avincis Merlot & Cabernet 2015 is an intense black-red hued wine, with a fresh and expressive bouquet of blackcurrant and blackberry. It is a well-structured wine with bright, juicy, crushed berry fruit and gentle rounded tannins. We invite you to serve it at around 17°C, with salami, smoked ham or lamb accompanied by a balsamic reduction.

The Vila Dobrușa collection includes five different wines, fresh and easy to drink, originating from varieties that are very well adapted to the Dragasani vineyard: Vila Dobrușa - Cabernet Sauvignon, Vila Dobrușa - Fetească Regală - Pinot Gris & Tămâioasă Românească, Vila Dobrușa - Merlot & Negru De Drăgăşani, Vila Dobrușa - Sauvignon Blanc, Vila Dobrușa Rosé - Cabernet Sauvignon & Pinot Noir. The Avincis winery was established in 2007, when Valeriu Stoica and his wife Cristiana decided to bring back to life a family manor in Dragasani and start a new chapter in the history of wine making in the region. The villa was reconditioned by architect Alexandru Beldiman, maintaining the Brancovenesc style influences from the beginning of the 20th century, whereas the winery was designed as a ship situated at the top of the Dobrușa hill, perfectly integrated into the landscape. The wines produced here have received many international prizes at top competitions in the field, such as International Wine Challenge or Decanter. Find out more about it here https://www.avincis.ro/prizes.htm.

The list of fresh Avincis wines for this Spring includes Fetească Regală 2016, Crâmpoșie Selecționată 2017, Rosé – Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Merlot & Cabernet 2015 as well as five wines from the retail range Vila Dobrușa. Avincis Fetească Regală 2016 is a bright golden hued wine, with a rich and complex bouquet, showing notes of white flowers and dried apricots and a hint of vanilla. On the palate, this wine is generous, mouth filling and well-structured, with flavors of peach and spiced pear. We invite you to serve it well chilled, at around 9 °C, with




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HAVE A GLASS By Alan Clark In Romania it sometimes seems hard to avoid short term changes to plans. And so I decided to go to Cluj at 6 days notice to promote my cider in person recently, at a “tap takeover” event at Blend Brews and Bites. This was my first trip to Cluj since 2009, a business trip on that occasion. I was eager to experience first-hand its Bohemian cafes, if not its vigorous night life (Lonely Planet). I hoped


to use the opportunity to create some interest in our Cider, which brought me in direct contact, albeit during daylight hours, with a few establishments worth passing on. Blends Brews and Bites is a lively location with a large packed terrace, and excellent food. Its also a leading promoter of made-in-Romania craft beers and now cider, and the host of the tap takeover for draught medium

dry and medium sweet cider. A keg of each was ready for sampling at 19.00 hrs Friday evening, and sampled it was: within an hour of my arrival my table included Romanian, Polish, English, Canadian and French nationals, drawn together by at least one common passion. Watch “Blend’s” Facebook page for forthcoming similar events. Next day I was ready for a full Austrian Breakfast to put me back on my feet,


and found one at the Bistro Viena, with full view of the Matthias Corvinus statue and the passing groups with their tour-guides. King Corvinus, of Hungary and Croatia, was born in Cluj 4 years after the printing press was perfected by Gutenberg, and his life overlapped with both Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. As I finished my 3rd egg in the increasing sunlight, I couldn’t help but wonder how it was to live through that period of tumultuous change and progress. Later on I visited Jaxx American restaurant, with its wonderful secluded back terrace, situated at the edge of the busy old central Cluj. Another Cluj landmark with excellent cocktails and great food, and a leaning towards

excellent rock and blues music. The Comtesse du Barry brand is synonymous with luxurious high-end produce, and the Cluj store is no exception. I received a very warm welcome from the main man, Ezechil, and was quickly co-opted into the wine tasting session under way. If you want to procure a revolution-year (1989) limited edition of Glenmorangie single malt whilst in Cluj, or a champagne that would raise James Bond’s eyebrows, it’s definitely the place to go. And, finally, en route to the airport, my Cluj whistle-stop tour at an end, I had to concur with Lonely Planet which states that most people leave Cluj wishing that they had stayed longer.

Comtesse du Barry, Cluj



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Authenticity as the Ultimate Game By Anda Ene Why is it so important to be authentic? One might say that you have to be sneaky and skillfully display a lot of roles in order to be successful, to be versatile or even leery, subtle at the limit of deceitfulness to make it in today’s world. Well, maybe these were the prerequisites of success until recent times, but more and more the collective mind is moving in another direction, where even “success” as a concept understood up until now, is questionable. I found a good definition of authenticity given by Brené Brown, in her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who you think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are”. According to the author, authenticity is “a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Quite a different point of view from the “recipe” of success that we’re taught. But who needs authenticity? Our society today needs authenticity, we all need it, more than ever. Because: we get tired of playing roles we don’t fit anymore, we get bored and depleted with the games that no longer make sense to us. We become disheartened that life has no more magic, some get depressed that they can’t find a purpose or meaning in life. Many people find life these days very complex and confusing and long for a quiet place to live. A place where they can find peace, where there isn’t change after change and so many choices to make… maybe you know what I’m talking about. But where to find this place? Everywhere we go, we carry the mindsets with us and the burdens of our lives. There is no escape, not even

on a tropical island or in a remote village on a mountain top. We find temporary relief, but then, when we’re back, we get on the same roller coaster and here we go again: getting stressed, frustrated, anxious, depleted, even depressed. The sages and some philosophers from the ancient times, found that quiet place and they invite us to find it, as the ultimate and the paramount goal of our life. That peaceful, unchangeable and unlimited space is in us and this is what we need to discover. “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are” found the prodigious psychotherapist and scholar C.G. Jung, who passed himself through the process of iindividuation, or self-actualizing, as we name this process today. If we trust Jung and the other sages that walked the way before, becoming authentic is a process of recuperating yourself and meeting yourself for the first time, not the persona that was programmed by the parents, conditioned by society and shaped by own limitations.

people behaving with you in a certain way; • Respectfully refuse, when you don’t feel like going or doing what others want you to go to or do • Accept yourself the way you are; • If you behave badly, apologise, as soon as you can; • Let yourself be seen by others, not only as a rational person, but also as an emotional being. Last, but not the least is what the wise men teach us, to receive what others tell about us, as if they show a hidden treasure. It just might be a blind spot for you. Pay attention, check, it maybe the truth… or maybe not.

Here are some ideas to start with:

“It’s not dangerous, I’m not putting myself in a position where I could lose everything?” Well, we take it smart and easy and especially in these situations, a coach can be a great companion. Is not easy “to dance to the beat of our own drum” and it’s not going to happen all of the sudden, but bit by bit, we can introduce the practice of living in authenticity. Your life circumstances may be simple or more complex. Perhaps you’re less open to drastic change, no matter how much you yearn for it. What is certain is that we can always take further steps and make changes according to our own unique life landscapes and make the thing work again for us.

• Be sincere when you pay a compliment, if you don’t really believe it, don’t say it; • “Walk your talk”, do not duplicate; • Liberate yourself from others’ opinions about you; • Say your truth or if you’re not ready yet for that, just shut up; • Let go of the expectations you have of

Authenticity asks for courage and inspires respect because it’s hard to own who you really are, good and bad, truly accepting one’s human condition. What is also true is that it’s only from our authentic selves that true connections are made and love can bloom and life can be vibrant again.

We all manifest to some extent, authenticity, but we can consciously decide to make more steps to build this muscle of authenticity, using as lifting weights, interactions and banal facts of any day.

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 57


editie bilingva engleza-romana

Who needs words?


By Arabella McIntyre-Brown There are more ways of communicating than by using the spoken word. In my latest book, which is published on Children’s Day, the four central characters all have other ways to talk to each other and make themselves understood. In Dahlia’s pet detectives (Dalia si micii detectivi) Dahlia is shy and rarely speaks, except to her best friends: a cat called Onyx, Gossip the crow, and Ciprian, the boy next door. Chip became deaf after an accident, so although he can’t hear any more, he can speak, he can lipread a bit, and he uses sign language. He’s also a talented drummer. The cat and the crow both have quite a vocabulary, but Dahlia has to watch their body language and learn what each tone and sound means to understand them. And vice versa. Kids at school think Dahlia is crazy to have a crow and a black cat as pets – everyone knows that both are bad luck… And no-one can quite work out the cool boy from Bucharest who hangs out with the weirdo girl and her little black friends. The odd quartet begin to solve mysteries in their mountain village; mysteries too trivial for the police, but annoying, even life-threatening to neighbours and visitors: these are cases for the unorthodox Village Detective Agency. This is a gentle story set in much the same entrancing mountain landscape as the one outside my window. A village like mine is a handy microcosm of the world, a different perspective around each bend in the road, up every slope and through each patch of trees. You find all sorts in the village, from the misfit Mr Wazzock to the 58

sweet Granny Florica. At a writing workshop earlier this month, ten-year old Andreea asked me why I liked writing for kids. Truth is I don’t really write for kids. I write stories about kids rather than for them. Children are just young (not stupid), with less experience and uncluttered heads, but their emotions are as strong as adults’ – if not stronger; their perceptions are often clearer, and they’re more straightforward. There’s less pretence, more honesty. I try to be careful of the language I use, keeping it fairly simple and clear – but that’s not a bad strategy for grown-up stories too. How do I know how it feels to be a kid? Another question from a young reader at a book fair. Answer: I’m still the child I was, just wrapped in more layers, carrying more baggage. We learn, with age, to damp down our feelings, but they’re all still there, even if some get muddled by adult illogic. ‘Why do you feel you must write about a deaf boy? And about animals?’ asked Cristina. Why not? I asked her back. Characters who are different are interesting. And I’m quite keen to inject a little diversity into each book, to introduce readers to novelties, strangers, oddities – to challenge a few superstitions or the occasional prejudice. Overturning the status quo is pushing it, for a little story, but at least I can poke it a bit. If my stories prompt kids to ask questions, that’s good. Curiosity might be dangerous for unwary cats, but it’s very healthy for growing children. Arabella’s book Dalia si micii detectivi (Dahlia’s pet detectives) is published on 1st June at Bookfest in Bucharest. There is a launch event at noon on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd June at the Booklet Fiction stand.

micii detectivi

Extract from Dahlia’s Pet Detectives Dahlia looks up from her drawing pad. The crow is there, tapping at the glass, so Dahlia opens the window and climbs out on to the wide ledge

outside. ‘Hi, Gossip,’ she says softly. ‘Craaaa!’ The crow caws, his head bobbing. Dahlia holds out one finger and the crow nibbles at it gently. ‘Hungry?’ Dahlia asks him. ‘Gllgurrrrr…!’ says the crow, softly. Dahlia reaches in through the window and grabs a plastic packet from her bedside table. It’s a treat for cats, but the crow loves it too. Crows eat everything. Dahlia likes buying treats. A packet costs her five lei, which is quite a lot when you’re nine, but her friends love them. The crow hops from foot to foot, gurgling and cawing, and tries to grab the smelly stick of dried meat as Dahlia pulls it from the packet. His pointy beak stabs her by mistake. ‘Oi! That was my finger, you greedy bird!’ Dahlia shakes her hand at him and the crow steps back, and caws. Dahlia breaks off a piece and the bird snatches it from her hand, his neck feathers fluffing out with pleasure. There’s a rustle of leaves from the tree close to the house, and a black kitten leaps from the nearest branch, down on to the window ledge, miaowing loudly, showing white teeth in her pink mouth, green eyes wide open. ‘Hey, Onyx! Where have you been?’ The girl holds out a piece of the treat and the young cat closes her jaws around it. She looks eager for more and gives little purring yowls. ‘Prrraow? Rrrrraoww?’ The girl knows exactly what the cat is saying. ‘I love you…! Give me another! More!’ The cat and the crow look up at Dahlia with such expressions that she giggles. ‘Who needs words?’ she thinks to herself. ‘You’d have to be pretty stupid not to understand what they’re saying. You only have to listen, and watch.’ ‘Hey!’ a voice yells up at them. It scares the crow and the cat; feathers flutter and fur stands on end. Dahlia giggles. ‘It’s only Chip,’ she whispers, putting out her hands to stroke her two friends. Chip is her neighbour and her best friend apart from the cat and the crow. ‘Hi, Dahlia!’ he calls again. ‘Can I come up?’ Dahlia nods her head and smiles, waving at him. Sixty seconds later, Chip pushes her bedroom door open and strides in. He’s tall for eleven, much taller than Dahlia. As Chip comes over to the window, the crow flaps off and the black cat leaps into the tree. ‘Ohhh!’ says Chip. ‘Come back!’



e d u c at io n , v i s i b l e r e s ult s “The crux is making early education of at-risk children a community priority.” Maria Gheorghiu, OvR cofounder.

In 2001, Maria Gheorghiu, a Romanian teacher, and Leslie Hawke, an American Peace Corp volunteer, started working with poor mothers and their children in Bacău. Three years later, in 2004, they founded Asociația OvidiuRo (OvR) and expanded the program to Bucharest’s Sector 5. Ever since, they have been working with the Romanian education system to try to narrow the knowledge gap between the poorest children and the rest of Romania’s children. In 2009, after reviewing the outcomes of children in Fiecare Copil în Școală (Every Child in School) program, Maria and Leslie realized that the outcomes were dramatically better for children who started in the education system early – and the earlier the better; that when poor children did attend preschool and kindergarten, their social skills were more advanced and they performed better academically. As a result, in 2010, OvidiuRo designed and developed, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță (FCG) program, designed to bring the poorest children to kindergarten. Ever since, OvidiuRo’s mission is to make quality early education available to every poor child so they have a chance to become active contributing members of Romanian society. The essence of the program was to make early education a local community priority and

to provide an incentive of 50 lei food coupons (per month) to poor parents who bring their 3-5 year old children to grădiniță every day. The pilot program proved to be so successful at increasing the attendance and outcomes at high-risk children that in 2015, the Romanian Parliament passed legislation financing a national program based on the Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță model.

Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță, a program that inspired a national law

Leslie Hawke and Maria Gheorghiu, cofounders of OvidiuRo, in Ponorata. Photo by Sean Gallup

Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță pilot program incentivized poor parents to send their 3-5 year old children to preschool and kindergarten (grădiniță). It targeted the poorest children – those living in overcrowded, inadequate housing in isolated areas without normal access to potable water, heating or health care, and where, in the winter, the unemployment rate was close to 100% due to the reduced need for unskilled labor, the low education level of the adults and their relative geographic isolation. From the beginning, communities saw enrollment grow and attendance skyrocket to 70-80% with the program. This initial success made FCG very attractive to local authorities who were concerned about their high dropout rates. The program grew from 13 to 43 rural communities and over 98 59


separate kindergartens by September of 2015. Food coupons, conditioned on children’s attendance in preschool, proved to be a highly effective and efficient tool to stimulate destitute, functionally illiterate parents (with an average of four years of schooling) to bring their young children to grădiniță regularly. At the end of 2015, the success of the FCG Pilot Program led the Romanian Parliament to pass the “Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță Law” (#248/2015) adopting the central mechanism OvidiuRo’s FCG pilot program: giving poor families (households where the monthly income is under 284 lei per family member) the opportunity to receive €11 per month (allocated from the state budget) in food coupons if they bring their 3-to-5-year-old children to grădiniță (preschool and kindergarten) every day. The “FCG Law” reflected the government’s recognition that early education is crucial for Romania’s most disadvantaged children if they are to have a chance to succeed in school – and thus to work their way out of multi-generational poverty.

The Agency for Early Education The Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță Law was a major step forward for Romanian education and social equity at the grassroots level. But it was just the first step. After a full year (2016) of helping local authorities and school staff all around the country translate the “Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță Law” into practice, it was clear to us that - as the absence of books and educational materials was a common problem across all poor, rural 60

communities - we needed to step in with projects focused on quality education. Maria Gheorghiu, OvidiuRo Cofounder: “It is an established axiom of child development that the number of words a child hears and when and how they are introduced fuel their cognitive development in the first five years of life. The way parents talk to their children and how much conversation occurs regularly in their households contribute not only to the brain’s development and to a rich vocabulary, but also develop skills that can better prepare children for school. Children coming from families with functionally illiterate parents are generally not exposed to intellectually enriching experiences at home. Studies show that, in the first years, poor children hear three times fewer words than their peers. This translates into an educational gap that is hard to overcome and which all too often leads to early school leaving and life-long functional illiteracy. That’s why it’s so important for our poorest children to have access to gradinita and to quality early education! And quality programs require highly qualified, committed teachers with good teaching tools”. Today, as the Agency for Early Education, OvidiuRo mobilizes public and private resources to improve the quality of early education available to

Romania’s poorest children. OvidiuRo now focuses on providing the highest quality education materials, training teachers in child-centered and literacy development methods, to optimize these new resources, and helping disadvantaged communities open new kindergarten groups so that no child is turned away due to lack of space. Leslie Hawke notes that: “Socially responsible companies are saving these children by making up for the government’s inadequate investment in early education.” Carrefour Foundation, Dedeman, NN-Romania, and Raiffeisen Bank are supporting large-scale projects, bringing thousands of picture books, educational kits, teacher trainings and other needed resources into the most disadvantaged rural villages. Hawke continues: “Most people would be astonished by how many Romanian entrepreneurs are generously supporting innovative educational initiatives right now. They know it is the key to making Romania more competitive in the coming decades.” Any individual or company that wants to help bring quality education to children living in rural Romania should visit the How to help section on OvidiuRo’s website: www.ovid.ro










Do you want to do the right thing but find yourself confused as to where to go when you want to recycle your household waste? Here 's a suggestion. By Ada Popescu SIGUREC is the most advanced household waste collecting service currently operating in Romania, with smart collecting machines that are easy to use, located in easily accessible locations (on the premises and in the parking lots of large retailers like Cora or Carrefour) and providing a home collection service – including for heavy home appliances like fridges. SIGUREC is a broad initiative, implemented after an official agreement between private companies such as the Green Group holding, the Large Retailers’ Association of

Romania (AMRCR), Ecopaper SA, Romcarbon SA, ALRO Slatina and public authorities–the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, municipalities and recyclers. A broad range of waste types can be collected: PET bottles, aluminum cans, glass bottles, WEEE, paper and cardboard, shopping bags / cling film, low and high density polyethylene containers (from cosmetics tubes to large cans), polypropylene (yogurt and sour cream pots), polystyrene (like CD cases), expanded polystyrene, Tetra Pak, batteries, light bulbs and neon lighting units. The machines also award bonuses according to waste types and quantities, that are redeemable in partner stores. For each PET bottle you will receive a 5 Bani bonus, for an aluminum can the bonus is 3 Bani and for a glass container you will receive a 1 Ban bonus. Doinița Mihai, Project Manager Sigurec says: ”Back in 2012 we launched the first Sigurec station bringing the separate collection concept closer to the citizens. The positive feedback from consumers and the great need for functional collection infrastructure in Romania encouraged us to gradually extend our network nationwide to more than 250 collection points, in 5 types of solutions, fixed and mobile. As we have a constant care to develop and adapt the collection solutions to people’s needs and lifestyle, we’ve focused on some major aspects like rewarding system, traceability of waste and innovation. We’ve implemented a

system in offering discount vouchers for shopping at retailers, even cash or the possibility to enter competitions and win prizes, while for those who are not interested in the economic benefits for themselves, we give the option to donate the value of the waste to certain social causes. But in the end, the greatest reward for our clients is that the waste they’ve collected is reaching the recycling factories and is being deviated from landfills, our number one enemy. Actually, the name SIGUREC is a Romanian acronym for the phrase for sure recycled ( SIGUR RECICLAT). And this is our daily mission and the promise to our clients.” Romania generates about 290 kilograms of waste per person every year, so a family of three throws away around 870 kilograms a year! About 220 million tons of waste are discarded every year in the EU, but most of it is recycled, in some cases completely. In Austria, for example, all plastic packagings are recycled, while Germany recycles 99.5% of them, and the Danes–99.7%. Romania is still far from recycling to that capacity, but every effort counts. With the SIGUREC App, you can call to your home SIGUREC Mobil, the first waste collection service that is also free of charge. In addition, SIGUREC will monitor your recycling performance, will calculate your contribution to reducing the carbon footprint and will award you green prizes, according to the quantity and type of waste.



Humans will be always grateful to Google Maps for one thing: free imaginary travel to oh so many places. Antarctic peninsula, Inner Mongolia, that Strange Triangle in Australia and, sometimes, something closer to Brașov. Within our Meetup group, we often get new travel inspiration from Google Maps’ browsing. We call this process “pre-exploring”.


By Julia Leescu That’s how I noticed the small village of Șona, just 5 kilometers from Făgăraș. Asking around has proven that it has three ingredients that make any trip worthwhile – something out of the ordinary (the mysterious eight pyramids nearby), people who spark our interest (Șona is the childhood home of Romanian artist Ștefan Câlția www.posibila.ro/stefan-caltia) and that restored traditional Romanian house that many of my Facebook friends are excited about. Our international group sets out on a Brașov-Făgăraș trip in our German friend’s car. Listening to a very serious English-language GPS, struggling with Romanian toponyms, we try hard not to miss the moment when we have to turn towards Șona. Someone spots the indicator before our GPS: it’s 1-0 in favour of humans.

sewing machine and the traditional loom, which still holds the unfinished rug, with the pattern specific to Șona. “Pyramids? But no local in his right mind would call them “pyramids”!” – laughs Aunt Marioara, the neighbour.

A dusty road leads us to our main destination called “Casa din Șona” - a traditional Romanian house, looking exactly like a fine Romanian village house would look years and years ago.

To see the hills that locals call “gurueții”, we follow the long village street right to its end. It seems to stretch indefinitely, especially if your group is walking in the heat. Hot weather makes us stop often and pay attention to the small things: the colours and the details of the traditional houses, stork nests, blooming trees and the river Olt, from where comes the occasional cool breeze.

Some of us will be staying in that impressive house overnight, enjoying traditional beds and pillows as well as fun challenges – the toilet and a shower are outside, which is the conscious decision taken by the owners, Viorel and Dorina Giurgiu, in order to preserve the authenticity of the experience.

I’ve heard many theories about the ‘pyramids’: they could have been raised by giants or be the graves of ancient Dacians. People also claim they have a special energy that can purify water. Or, check this one out: the food left on top of those hills won’t rot for days, but no one from our group is willing to sacrifice their sandwiches to verify this.

Although time inside the house seems to have stood still, all of the appliances and tools work: the old “Klang” radio from the 50s, a one hundred year old

Instead we enjoy the panorama of Fagaraș mountains from the top of the highest hill. While I am descending and taking some photos, my head starts to


spin: maybe there is some special energy present here, after all? Back at Casa din Șona, we are having a little chat with the owners while enjoying our traditional Romanian brunch with aubergine salad, apple pie, pork fat slices and many other things which would make any passerby hungry and jealous. More than ten years ago, Viorel convinced Dorina to buy the old house in the former Saxon village of Șona. Recreating an authentic atmosphere with carefully restored exterior, interior and antique objects was his goal but it took a lot of effort. After years of dedication, including two summer seasons of just building the stone fence, our charming couple of hosts can enjoy their timeless place. Others have started to discover it too: numerous groups from Bucharest are coming here for brunches, Instagram bloggers snap their pictures inside the huge traditional barn, photo workshops and architectural workshops are also regularly held at “Casa din Șona”. Last summer a bus full of Brazilian tourists came just to admire the location.


“At first the neighbours were skeptical, but look at what’s happening now: two of them have renovated their houses following my example,.” – says Viorel, while pouring us some house wine. The day is slowly ending and our group gathers at the outside table under the huge walnut tree. We finally switch

the old radio off: it had been working for the whole day. Instead we listen to silence and the songs of the frogs on the river Olt. It’s finally clear what I am taking back home: the feeling of inner peace and things being just right. In the morning, Viorel’sthe neighbour

of Viorel promises us a luxury tractor ride to the “pyramids” anytime we are around. I guess, I will return. P.S. If you wish to organize a traditional brunch for a bigger group or an overnight stay in Șona for a smaller group, please contact “Casa din Șona” on Facebook: is.gd/casadinsona.


MATERIALISM VERSUS SELF-ESTEEM By Anca Donișan Botez There is a saying: “Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you are being miserable.” We are indeed part of a culture of excessive consumption, focused on money, but the question is: are you ready to set yourself FREE from this matrix of overconsumption? Are you ready to pursue a more meaningful life? CAUSE Materialism does not only affect our personal life but it also has a negative, global impact on the environment. We start to crave possessions and social status while we become more anxious, depressed and insecure, not wanting the company of other people. All the waste generated by consumption kills our planet, too. Indeed, consumerism and materialism boost the economy and generates growth. The problem is, do you know when to stop

and how does this affect your self-esteem? What is “enough” in terms of the house or the car you want? Or working overtime to earn more money? We put such a high value on wealth and we focus all our energy and attention here. We value possessions more than time spent with family and friends, we put our hobbies, giving back or being part of a community to the end of our priority list. Furthermore, in this daily matrix, it becomes a challenge for us to understand the difference between our NEEDS and WANTS. Why? Because our Mind is stimulated 24/7 by manipulative advertising. Corporations spend billions per year on commercials trying to convince you to buy their products and services and they do this zillions of times per day. The solution? Turn off your TV, you are not made of stone! EFFECT People associate “buying” with happiness

and with proving their worth to themselves and to others. Studies show there is a direct relationship between self-esteem and this type of behaviour focused on materialism-consumerism. The results are encouraging too, proving that as materialism decreases in a natural way, self-esteem increases. Possessions cannot satisfy our emotional needs. Our two most important psychological needs are the need to belong (emotional connection to the family) and the need for significance (make a meaningful contribution). So switch your attention and energy towards “things” that fulfill you emotionally. Reconnect with nature. Practise gratitude. Play. Reconnect with people. Be present. And always remember, MONEY CANNOT BUY ANY OF THE ABOVE.

Anca Donișan Botez is a US certified NLP trainer, founder of mameinafacer.ro project.



THAT WAS THE MONTH THAT WAS–APRIL By Dean Edgar fraud re-heard, as not all the judges at the time signed the case off. and it is anybody's guess what the outcome will then be. Klaus Iohannis has referred the law change to the Constitutional court and also the the Venice Commission and hopefully these self serving laws will not be passed. We will see. The ongoing runaway steamroller that is the PSD’s attempt to change the criminal law shows no sign of being stopped, despite the best endeavours of one person, the de facto opposition, Klaus Iohannis. Mr Dragnea and his gang are trying to make life very difficult for the prosecutors in the criminal courts. The changes include suspects being allowed to be involved in the interviews with the accusers, how will that work in a rape case? Another change involves digital data collected from a search or wire tap that is not related to the offence being investigated, recovered based on a specific search warrant, would no longer be used in other criminal cases without a new, specific search warrant. These would include telephone recordings, which can be heard by the suspects at their request. After the case is closed, such recordings would have to be erased, unless they are subject to a new search warrant issued by another investigation. Perhaps the most heinous of changes is that any decision made by the courts has to be signed off by all the judges, if they are not then the case will have to go back to court. This can be applied retrospectively and so Liviu Dragnea will be able to get his court case for 64

It seems that the government doesn’t want to follow EU policy regarding Israel, but instead suck up to Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu. The US has recently announced that its embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, upgrading the existing consulate there to a full embassy. The PSD then announced a memorandum to start the process of moving the Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem as well. There are two issues here, firstly foreign policy is not in the parliament’s mandate, this is solely down to the President's office and secondly it flies in the face of EU policy as well. This move is incendiary, at best, and will cause friction here, in the EU and of course Israel. To further “cement” the relationship between Romania and Israel, the dynamic duo of Liviu and Viorica flew over to Israel in a private jet at a cost of €25,000. They could

quite easily have flown with Tarom or El Al, who both have daily flights to Tel Aviv, but apparently this is not how international statesmen do it.

Finally justice might be served for the many people killed and injured in the revolution of 1989 and “Minerva” (Miners Riot) in 1991. Basically Ion Iliescu, former Prime Minister Petre Roman, and former Deputy Premier Gelu Voican Voiculescu were behind a coup which they created. They had fallen out of favour with Ceausescu and wanted to hold on to power so a coup it might well have been, as opposed to a revolution. In 1991 Iliescu ordered miners from Valea Jiului to come to Bucharest to “restore order” after students came out on to the streets to hold a peaceful protest against the new government headed by Iliescu. So, Klaus Iohannis acting on a request from the General Prosecutor, has instructed the prosecution of the three individuals. Hopefully the 3 will go to prison and be out of politics for good. IN OTHER NEWS: • CFR the state railway company announced recently that train delays


over the year 2017 amounted to nearly 9 years, yes 9 years!! Absolutely incredible, the delays were mainly caused by CFR Infrastuctura, the company that deals with the management of the railway infrastructure. • If you come from the wrong side of the tracks, namely not in the PSD, you can't change the law to suit your criminal situation, the alternative is to leave the country and claim political asylum. Elena Udrea ex tourism minister and alleged girlfriend of the former president Traian Băsescu has flown to Costa Rica and claimed asylum to escape prosecution for fraud from when she was the Minister for Tourism. Her close friend Alina Bica, the former head of DIICOT is also seeking asylum in order to escape similar charges. • Whilst I am certainly no fan of the current Prime Minister, Viorica Dancila, I do take issue at cheap shots made at her by the press recently. Whilst discussing the 2020 European Football championship, where Romania will be hosting several games (Bucharest is woefully unprepared for this, by the way) she described the championship as 2020 and not two thousand and twenty. This apparently is a crime punishable by death! Her other mistake was to call to list the grounds that will be used, and named the Rapid ground and the Giulesti ground, these are the same grounds. She is clearly not up to the job but calling out a simple mistake like this is not the way to get her removed. • The much loved purveyor of kitsch, Gabriela Firea the mayor of Bucharest, has announced that she wants to expand the area of Centrul Veche, the Old Town, by another 50 streets including parts of the Jewish Quarter which is behind the Tram terminal across from the Old Town. I for one welcome this move, but surely the existing area needs cleaning up. Many buildings are falling down, and many are empty, due to excessive rent demands from the owners. The existing Old Town needs proper work, then perhaps it could grow. 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.

09/05/2018, 11*16

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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


It´s Official,

Summer is Here!

By Dean Edgar 1st May is traditionally the day that summer begins in Romania, and most of Bucharest, if not people all over Romania, head to the beach like herds of migrating wildebeest. The highway, trains and buses chock a block with people and rucksacks. This year was a bonus as 1st May fell on a Tuesday and the government gave all the public workers Monday off as well. This meant 4 days of hedonistic fun for all. There are basically 5 types of “wildebeest” and each have their own brand of resort that they attach themselves to. So going from north to south we have the resorts of Corbu and Vadu, these beaches/towns are favoured by ex Vama Veche aficionados as Vama has sold out to the corporations and capitalism and has lost the sense of barrenness and freedom. Both resorts are beautiful and unspoilt, for the moment! Next on the list is Mamaia, home of all things excessive and expensive. The first big festival of the season, Sunwaves, started off the celebrations, with five days of incomprehensible music played by DJ’s with incomprehensible names. 20,000 plus revellers attended,

kept awake by the music and various varieties of herbs and spices. One reveller was actually filmed by the news station Digi 24 enjoying a pick me up. Many of Bucharest’s night clubs open their Mamaia locations this weekend, and the Fitze swarm all over the massive beach clubs and bars. and stories have filtered back of people arriving in helicopters and bottles of €100,000 champagne being drunk. Incredible, if you’ve got it why not flaunt it! For the families heading to the beach, most head for the Communist concrete box resorts of Eforie, Neptun, Saturn etc. These are truly dire places lacking of any character, crowded, expensive and quite frankly horrible. I stayed in Neptun once, never again. The students amongst us head for Costinești. This place can be a fun party place, but can occasionally become like a convention centre for every stag and hen party in Romania. I had the pleasure of a weekend there once, and I must admit I did have a blast. Finally, as we pass Mangalia, and the

shipyard, we come across 2 Mai and Vama Veche. These are my favourites. 2 Mai for the great beach bar Micul Golf, and a couple of great seafood restaurants, and if you are in the mood, a nudist beach. Works for some, but not me. Then to Vama Veche. It is true, it is becoming very commercial (I heard rooms could only be booked for 4 days with prices of €500 for those 4 days) and the creators of the resort back in the days of Communism, must be a bit miffed. It is a 24 hour party town, with a great cross section of people, from all walks of life. Haven't booked a room, don’t worry sleep where you fall, if you can with music blasting out everywhere. If you haven't visited, I would suggest a weekday visit first, that should break you in nicely for a weekend trip. Then Tuesday evening hits and work beckons on Wednesday, the masses head back to Bucharest, the queues on the roads to the motorway get longer and longer, and sore heads begin to pound. I might see you there this summer. Until the next time…..

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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