JUNE 2018| NÂ° 9 | FREE MAGAZINE
I N S P I R AT I O N A L L I F E S T Y L E M AGA Z I N E
d e a l S u m m e r C o c k ta i l s
A ndrei B otescu
y c l o c i t y
W W W. O Z B . R O
Hello, bună, and welcome to OZB, your new lifestyle magazine all about Romania, in English.
DOUGLAS WILLIAMS Co-owner/Editorial Director, email@example.com ARABELLA McINTYRE-BROWN Consultant Editor MARCEL DE ROODE Co-owner/Commercial Director, 0768 971 647, firstname.lastname@example.org FULVIA MEIROŞU Marketing Director and Website Manager, email@example.com OANA VIȘOIU-CUŢUCACHE Art provider for OZB via Renaissance Art Gallery JIM HENDRY Business Development Consultant ADA POPESCU Art Director ALEXANDRU HĂMURARU Distribution Manager
You can get a hard copy of OZB magazine at the following distribution points: International Schools, Ted's Coffee Shops, restaurants and bars in the Old Town– Van Gogh, Café Klein, Mojo; World Class, AFI Palace, Starbucks Băneasa, Starbucks Pipera Plaza and Starbucks Iancu Nicolae, the restaurants on Iancu Nicolae St, hotels - Sheraton, Hilton, Pullman, Marriott, Intercontinental; Embassies, Chambers of Commerce.
Douglas Williams - FOUNDER
2 wheels better than 4 There are changes that are happening to Bucharest and they’re visible, welcome and they make me happy. Firstly, this is a beautiful city with superb parks and boulevards, some wonderful architecture and a rich soul but it’s clogged with cars. The Romanian capital is in a chronic and near permanent state of cardiac arrest and it’s official - this city has the worst traffic in Europe. Cars are everywhere, parked, stationary, whizzing past, impossible to get away from and they detract markedly and immeasurably. It’s not just a safety or pollution thing, though these are not insignificant factors. It’s not even the noise thing either, it’s more the state of mind that cars induce. There’s driver impotence, stuck in the never-ending, reasonless jams, the desperation to get ahead when traffic moves, even just a car length will do, and there’s the status BS woven into it all - my car’s bigger, faster, blacker than yours. I seem to spend half my life driving, I know. And this is all before we get into the business of it often taking longer to get places by car than by walking. But it seems Bucharest has reached peak car. More and more people are switching from four wheels to two - you just need to walk down Calea Victoriei to see the blizzard of cyclists. Up around Herăstrău bikes are everywhere, all shapes and sizes, colours and styles serious to hip to seriously hip, retro classics. Motobécane! And now adding to the i-Velo and Raiffeisen bikes for hire there are the red Apebikes which you can’t have failed to notice cropping up all across the city. These are set to double in number so get used to them, better still, register, get the app, and get using them. I’ve said it before but Bucharest is as flat as a pancake therefore easy to cycle about especially if you can use some of the cycle path networks which work well. Once you’ve experienced using these cycle lanes-on one of the hire bikes
perhaps - then it’s entirely conceivable that you’ll want to get your very own bike and there are no shortage of options. It would be churlish to denigrate the mighty Decathlon especially as I class myself as a huge fan, democratising outdoor pursuits (and indoor for that matter). There’s a local bike brand, however, called Pegas that has been resuscitated by a smart young entrepreneur and they make bikes that are as cool as they are practical. Read more about Andrei Botescu and Pegas in this magazine. That man has vision. As a partially reformed chef myself Anthony Bourdain’s untimely passing grieved me and got me to thinking about the importance of food and how much I missed Asian food. So, what to do here in Bucharest, something of an Asian cuisine desert? Well, Google naturally. “Nearest Asian restaurant to me”. And that took me to Rocca by the Jar, a short 5 minute cycle from the perennially wonderful Eden bar. Kimchi! Tom Yam! Green curry! Heaven! They even have their own beer which is mighty fine too. BTW, not Asian but if you haven’t tried Maya Fresh’s Mexican on the corner of Piata Amzei do yourself a lunchtime, take-away favour and yes, those guys are twins. Saturday there I cycled into town from the Pipera burbs down past Herăstrau and rows and rows of buses and amassing stooges and then down towards Victoriei which was in a state of some tumult with an abundance of law enforcement but zero traffic so it was lovely-ish. And just in time to catch the Pride march which was a vibrant explosion of colour and noise all down Calea Victoriei - happy, modern, people, young and old celebrating tolerance and respect, the hallmarks of a civilised, progressive society. For sure there are dark clouds aplenty but they’re clearing, you just need to look and believe.
Young entrepreneurs talking serious business–coffee and bikes
30 10 Artist Irina Neacșu's botanical paintings
Gărâna Jazz Festival– 20 th edition taking place in the same unconventional place
Correspondent Stephen McGrath's first Transylvanian diary episode
Wagner Arte–two sisters transforming the art and business of hand painted porcelain Rum cocktails to try this summer
Visiting the neighbours with Julia Leescu–Kiev
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Renting a home as an expa t Finding a good house or apartment to rent is hard work, but it gets even harder when language barriers and foreign laws are involved. There are a few things that every tenant, and especially an expat, should be careful about in order to have a pleasant and legal stay in Romania.
By Ruxandra Vișoiu an we skip the paperwork?
Renting a property should only be based on a written contract, signed by the landlord and the tenant, which contains all the rental conditions. The contract should mention the identity of the parties, details about the location of the property, rights and obligations of the parties and conditions for terminating the lease. It is not mandatory to have it authorized by a notary or lawyer, but in all cases we strongly advise to have the contract in writing, not only based on a verbal agreement. It will be very helpful if anything goes wrong, such as the owner not making the necessary repairs or trying to terminate your lease before the agreed term. English, please? One of the most important things that we advise our clients is to either have a bilingual contract, both in Romanian and English, or have a translator to help them understand the contract written in Romanian. There are many cases when landlords or real estate agents rush tenants into signing all-Romanian contracts, without even understanding what they get themselves into. A contract is not even legally binding if a party did not understand what she signed - for example, if it was written in a language she doesn’t speak. Who’s signing? Another important thing is making sure that the person who signs the contract as landlord is indeed the owner of the
property or a proxy. Before signing the lease, the landlord should present the tenant some proof of ownership, such as copies of the deed. If the documents are signed by another person on behalf of the owner, the landlord should also present a power-of-attorney. If the landlord refuses to offer such proof, it’s possible that he does not have the right to lease - for example, he is a tenant himself with no right to sub-lease, and the true owner could later evict the sub-tenant from the premises. What about ANAF? According to the law, the landlord should register the rental contract with ANAF (Romanian Tax Authorities) and present the tenant a copy of the contract stamped by the authorities. While this is generally made just for tax purposes, registering the rental contract is an extra assurance for the tenant that all the documents are in order and the landlord had the legal capacity to lease the property. What’s in the apartment? A property can be leased either furnished or unfurnished, fact that should be mentioned in the contract. If the property is furnished, we advise you to sign a short inventory of the goods rented along with the property, especially if some of them are not in good condition. Otherwise, the landlord could later declare that furniture was rented in perfect condition, even if they were damaged from the beginning, and refuse to return the tenant’s deposit. The deposit usually amounts to one month’s rent.
Receipt, please? The tenant should always receive proof of payment from the landlord when paying the rent. This protects the tenant from a possible bad-faith landlord, who could later say that the tenant missed payments and therefore ask him for additional costs or refuse to return the deposit. If the payment is made by bank transfer, the tenant should make a clear payment description and mention the month for which the rent is paid, so the owner cannot later pretend that the tenant missed one or more payments on the way. Who pays for repairs? One of the most frequent lease problems that clients call us for, besides assistance with drafting the rental contract itself, is asking what to do when something is damaged in the apartment. Who is responsible to pay for the repairs, the tenant or the landlord? By law, general small repairs should be covered by the tenant, if they result from normal use of the home. For example, if a lightbulb has to be changed, the costs are normally covered by the tenant. But for major damage, such as a broken boiler, cracks in the wall or broken pipes, the tenant should immediately contact the landlord and ask him to pay for repairs. ▪
R&R Partners Bucharest is a boutique law firm specialized in immigration and commercial law 9
New Pe ns i ons
by Clare Nuttall in Bucharest
t must have been every civil servant’s worst nightmare; publishing a document on a ministry website that gave unwelcome insights into the Romanian government’s intentions towards the country’s pensions system, created a furore among fund managers and the wider investment community, and sent the local stock exchange plummeting. Specifically, the document included a proposal to suspend contributions to the second pillar of the Romanian pension system, where at present mandatory contributions are made into pension funds, in the second half of this year. Since it was published on May 20, and immediately widely reported in the Romanian media, officials have pointed out that it is merely a proposal and doesn’t represent government policy. Yet following other changes already indicating a lack of government support for the second pillar, that was enough to send investors reeling. Romania’s current pensions system dates back to 2008, when the country introduced a multi-pillar pension system. The second pillar, where mandatory contributions from workers and employers are gathered in privately managed pension funds, stands alongside the state pension system (the first pillar), and the voluntary third pillar. When the new system was adopted there were plans to gradually
increase the share of gross salaries directed into second pillar funds to 6%, in the hope of averting a pensions time bomb caused by the country’s ageing population. For more than a year, however, rumours have been swirling that the government planned to do away with the second pillar. Romania’s then prime minister Mihai Tudose commented in September 2017 that there were plans to make contributions to pension funds voluntary from this year; two months later the government used an emergency decree to cut the contribution rate from 5.1% to 3.75% of gross wages effective from 2018. The most likely reason for that change — and the government’s latest plans — is to reduce the fiscal deficit, which international financial institutions warn will soar above the 3% of GDP threshold set by the European Commission (EC) this year. Commenting on the decision to cut the contribution rate in its March country report on Romania, the EC noted that while the move would reduce the fiscal deficit in the short term, “that fiscal gain would dissipate in the long term as the social contributions diverted from the second pillar would be accompanied by an obligation to pay old age pensions in the future. In addition, this reversal will result in less diversified retirement income.” A temporary diversion of funds (that many suspect will become permanent) from the second to the first pillar looks like a parallel effort to replenish government
coffers and rein in the deficit. The most immediate impact has been on the local capital market. A couple of months ago I wrote a column for OZB about the recent strong performance of the Bucharest Stock Exchange, which is not only attracting a growing number of new listings (including the recent IPO of Purcari Winery from neighbouring Moldova) but also saw its main index soar at the beginning of this year. By April the BVB’s blue chip BET index was outperforming all its peers across the EU. But that all changed when the plans for the pensions system were revealed. Local pension funds are important investors on the BVB; according to the private pensions association (APAPR) pension funds currently hold around 20% of the freely traded shares on the exchange with a value of around €1.9bn. Fears (even before the document surfaced) of a government assault on the second pillar caused an abrupt slide in the BET in mid May. And there are more important long-term consequences. With Romania’s population ageing, and many working age Romanians leaving the country to live in other EU member states, pensions sustainability is already a concern — as in many other East European countries. UN data indicates that the country’s population will seen a further dramatic decline by the middle of the century, while the old-age dependency ratio is expected to rise in line with that in other EU members. This makes keeping a sustainable second pillar pension system to complement the state pensions highly important for Romanians’ futures.
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 11
One Price Fits All that I love, one that my father received when I was born, a gorgeous, soothing and colourful marine scene! When you were growing up and as a younger man what were your main aspirations? What were the things that drove you and where did your artistry and creativity fit in with these aspirations?
Radu Savopol is the man behind
the 5 to Go chain of mini coffee shop franchises sweeping Bucharest, Romania and soon Europe with its stunningly simple business format of good coffee, at an affordable price and available in convenient locations just about everywhere. OZB caught up with Radu for a double espresso (5 lei) and a chat.
I spent my first 7 years with my grandparents’. I grew up in the Rahova and Fundeni neighbourhoods of Bucharest and this is something that has proved to be very useful through my life! I was always ambitious and usually succeeded with my plans, no matter if that was a game that had to be completed, or if it was getting something that I wanted. I did small jobs through the holidays to make the money to afford things. There was a distinct atmosphere in my family–I grew up amongst artists and cultured people– and I think this had a lot to do with developing my taste for creativity and my appreciation of beauty. I’ve always wanted to do things slightly differently!
You've talked in the past about how influential your mariner/artist grandfather was over all your family, tell us about him and what you learned from him and are there any of his paintings that you particularly like?
There's a modernity that's matched only by the functionality of 5 to Go. How emblematic of modern Romania do you think 5 to Go is? What do you think the success of 5 to Go says about today's Romania both in terms of the customer and the franchisees?
Yes, my grandfather was an emblem for me and for our family, he was a commander in the royal navy, after this he continued working as a painter, painting mostly sea and marine landscapes! I have some paintings of his
5 to Go is a very functional business and it’s absolutely necessary for those who wake up in the morning and want to go to work, school, college with a smile on their face and a good coffee in their hand, our coffee that is served as fast as
possible! This functionality has become a landmark in the food and beverage industry within the last 3 years. Many similar businesses are referencing 5 to Go’s design - our functionality, products and our overall concept! Romania needed a fresh brand, a Romanian brand with people being directly involved and a business approach addressing the business areas in town. Franchisees must have a feel for their business but they also get a great backing from us starting at the planning stage and through to the implementation, the location etc. Clients are happy, they love the concept, they enjoy the openness and the convenience and they enjoy the characters that are on the glasses but I think they especially enjoy the quality-price ratio! I read that parents are electing to buy a 5 to Go franchise for their kids rather than cover their college fees (can you give us an example please?), while fast tracked corporate people are sacking their jobs to buy a a 5 to Go franchise, such is the appeal of running their own business and the appeal of such a simple yet tried and tested and highly effective franchise. What do you think are the factors behind this (personal and macro with particular focus on Romania and Romanians today)? Yes, among our first franchisees were parents who bought the franchise for their 19-year-old son to take charge so that he could see real life, the good and the bad. This family are still franchisees, the father went on to buy a franchise for each of his 3 children! There are other examples here in Bucharest but also in Brașov that I am very proud of! We also have young people who
Additionally, I understand that you are now looking at doing something similar but with a bar—Dialog—tell us about the idea behind this from the point of view of both customers and potential franchisees.
have quit their high flying jobs in a multinational, have taken the bull by the horns and have bought their own franchise and are now doing things really well. They understand the franchise and they understand the benefits of being part of a chain of cafes like ours and they know about business here in Romania. Was there a key point when you realised that 5 to Go wasn't just going to succeed but it was going to fly and expand very quickly? If yes when was this and how did you feel then? Any comments on the key elements behind the success of 5 to Go? I still do not think that way, I believe that if you respect your vision, mentors, partners and suppliers you have the whole framework to make your business a success! I had moments of joy like when I was won awards and it was like wow! But the next day I went straight back to work again like nothing had happened. Today there are 80 locations where you can find 5 to Go. In the back office there are people who work every day from 07.00 into to the evening and are connected to everything that happens behind this 5 to Go phenomenon. And I have sacrificed much of my personal life, but that matters less today. Going forward you now have franchises in Poland and in the Czech Republic, are there plans to roll out further and further afield?
I have not yet completed the Poland developments, but there are many ongoing discussions, it is an important step and I do not want to get it wrong. Last week I was at a coffee conference in London and I had the first discussions about a partnership with an operator from the UK. Dialogue Social Bar is a 5 to Go flagship. This is a place where we can show that we can do something different and on another level. It is a place we found when we were looking for locations for 5 to Go!It’s already ready for franchising. Dialog is a concept - I want to bring new places to the surface and create a network of places to socialize! As a successful businessman entrepreneur what do you think about the balance between creative thinking and the bottom line, bean counting, accountancy element? How do you balance the two? At first it was harder, now I'm 50-50, creativity is my advantage, it's what makes me never bored in this business, whether I create interior design or graphic design, or marketing campaigns. Figures are the basis of this business and I allocate weekly time to find new methods and new high yield products for the franchise! Monday's weekly meeting is divided 50/50 creativity and financial! There's an audacity to 5 to Go, a playful simplicity that's almost cheeky and it's fresh and refreshing to see things simplified as much as possible in an age of over-complications. Can you outline your thinking on this?
Yes, it was a natural thing. I came to Bucharest in 2015 after a period in Sinaia and I wanted to do something else, something at a very different speed. I simplified the concept from the beginning and outsourced as much as I could, as we still do today! I studied the big chains every day and not only in Romania, there were hours of observation all over. We have a unique
philosophy and style, that I try to unravel, basically I understand what makes them different! (Right now I’m happy because I’m in a 25sqm location and there are 20 people queuing. Franchisees (Geanina and Lucian) working side by side with their employees and to me these are the beautiful moments and I am happy for 5 to Go and for all the people involved in this concept customers and franchisees!) What would be your ideal day, what do you like to do when you are not working, how do you occupy yourself when you are not working? When I do not work I like to walk around Bucharest going through art shops and galleries, but generally I run off to Sinaia or to the seaside! I would like to paint but I haven’t in a long time... ▪ 13
Bi K e BoY By Douglas Williams
ndrei Botescu sits astride what is fast becoming one of Romania’s most iconic brands–Pegas. The bicycle company had, for all intents and purposes, expired following the revolution but Andrei breathed vital new life into it and now Pegas has arisen with 16,000 bikes sold last year alone. Approaching fast are a full Pegas production and assembly line here in Romania, an associated clothing line (so people can cycle to work without the need to change), a host of new bikes and even a race team. Added to that it’s crystal clear the affection Romanians have for their national bike brand Pegas bikes are seen everywhere and now, with the Aperider sharing app, Pegas is aiming to radically alter the urban landscape.
and so he set out to find and buy a new one. It wasn’t to be. His searching led only to him discovering that the Zărnești Pegas factory no longer produced bikes. The whole Romanian
bike-producing thing was, in fact, effectively dead. “So I started to think and I started asking around, asking people who really
OZB caught up with Andrei the softly spoken big brains behind Pegas, to talk bikes, brands and ketogenic diets to find out how it all began, how it’s going and where the 41-year-old intends to go in the future.
NEW BIKE So, having studied Postmodern Cultural Theory at Sweden’s University of Lund, Andrei returned to Bucharest in ‘09 with two very nice, very cool Electra bikes and some big ideas about brands and the lack of a strong Romanian brand internationally. Unfortunately the bikes were promptly stolen and this left Andrei bike-less, somewhat despondent and wondering what to do next. He remembered the beloved Pegas green chopper of his youth–the one that had allowed him to freely roam his native Bucharest–
Andrei Botescu, Pegas owner 15
knew about bikes, and I went to trade fairs like Euro-bike in Friedrichshafen and it was there that I made some important connections that led to me to be able to produce and assemble the first of the second generation, Pegas bikes,” says Andrei, a quietly thoughtful and focused individual who has travelled widely from West Papua in Indonesia to South America. The first of the next generation of Pegas bikes began to appear on the streets eight years ago - these were the banana saddle chopper bikes, retro cool to the max. Pegas had a store on Bulevardul Magheru, sales were driven largely by social media and then bolstered by Pegas having a presence at hip events across the country. Numbers produced and sold steadily increased, models increased and the brand has gone from strength to strength with all the signs indicating that the momentum is with Pegas. The focus of Pegas bikes is really “urban biking”–“conquer the city” is a key Pegas concept according to Andrei though there are Pegas mountain bikes, kids bikes, touring bikes and even electric bikes too. Andrei thinks big and he has a clear vision of the future and of course that future features bikes front and foremost. “By 2025 there will be no cars in most civilised cities. If things continue the way they are going then most cities will be completely gridlocked. Instead infrastructure and technology will gel to create a much more civilised urban environment where the bicycle is the primary mode of transport in most cities in the developed world at least. It will have to happen, otherwise people just won’t be able to move around their cities.” Andrei is another classic example of the new generation of Romanians, unfettered by bitter memories of the past and increasingly shaping this country’s future. He’s proud of Romania, he’s a proud European and an internationalist with standards and vision to match. He calls himself a “singularist” and a “transhumanist” the philosophy that the onward march
of technology and science will advance and improve the quality of human life in ways that are, as yet, impossible to even imagine. In keeping with the Ape bike app Andrei sees the “sharing economy” as the economy of the future with Uber and AirBnB being prime examples. “Currently there is far too much obsolescence, there are far too many resources that are being underused and even unused but the ‘internet of things’ has the potential to eradicate this, to hugely increase efficiency in our society.” The ‘IoT’ is when everyday appliances are connected via the internet and they store and share data thus being more efficient, economic and autonomous.
S H A R I N G PE GA S The Aperider dockless bike-sharing app is a phenomenon, readers will have seen the bikes both parked and being ridden all over the city these past few weeks. At time of writing, 1000 bikes have been sprinkled around Bucharest with a further 1000 set to go out soon. In its first three weeks Aperider experienced 25,000 adopters! See www.aperider. com for more information and to register. These bikes allow folks to get around the city cheaply, easily and conveniently and without polluting and without “docking”. Remember, dear reader, that Bucharest is flat as a pancake, easy cycling, and even easier if the “authorities” expand the cycling
photo credit Tim Sheerman-Chase
infrastructure. “We are gathering a ton of data just now about where and how the bikes are used and this is going to be invaluable in the future, we’ll be able to fine tune Aperider. We are talking with City Hall about our findings so far and this should enable them to better upgrade the infrastructure.” Andrei is currently in discussions with mayors and city planners in Budapest, Hungary; Pula, Croatia; Venice, Italy and Brugge, Belgium about expanding Aperider to these cities.
who doesn’t own a car and follows a ketogenic diet (zero carbs). “Every time I’ve had enough money to buy a car I’ve started a business instead. Bicycles have a civilizing effect as well as being good for the health of the individual and the city. Pegas is a fashion statement and a
statement of individuality for both the young and the young minded. And here in Romania I hope Pegas can be a brand that we can be really proud of.” For more information about Pegas see: www.bicicletapegas.ro
The old Pegas factory in Zărnești is set to open next year producing high quality bikes and providing high quality jobs–up to 80. Currently frames are manufactured under licence in Taiwan. “The tide is turning and the reality is that soon, driving a car will be useless, owning a car will be very inefficient,” says Andrei, 17
By Liviu Bugu It all started with a childhood dream. I was 13-14 years old and I would skip school and go down to ConstanČ›aâ€™s Tomis Harbor. I really enjoyed seeing the boats and the yachts there. They made me dream and inspired in me feelings of freedom. Above all, I dreamed of buying an old sailing boat, reconditioning it and setting off on a long sea voyage. I tried this, but it was impossible for many reasons: work, space, time, money, parental pressure, etc. For many years I remained on land and just dreamt about the sea and the ocean and sailing. Over the years though, those dreams gelled and they led me to establish Setsail Yachting School. My maritime adventure had properly began. An innocent child's dream had come true. The cruises that we offer are not only for those who just want to enjoy moments of relaxation offshore, away from everyday stress, but for those who want to experience sailing properly. What could be more relaxing than lying in the sun, the waves rocking you, the cooling sea breeze, a glass of chilled white and the shore just barely visible on the horizon? Besides relaxing, you can also be an active member of the crew, so you can learn the navigation techniques. Nothing compares to the pleasure of travelling by the power of the wind alone, in perfect silence, without the stress of an engine. Our packages begin at 3 hours and can last up to 3 days with accommodation and meals aboard the boat. Our yachts have 4 rooms for 2 people in each, living room with kitchen, stove, oven, refrigerator, audio system, 2 toilets with showers and hot water.
3 hours - Mamaia
Departing from Tomis harbor, we will sail along Modern Beach, and then parallel to Mamaia resort up to the Năvodari camp. For those eager to take a swim in the sea, we can make a stop. Of course, anyone interested in learning how to sail can participate as an active crew member. This 3 hour cruise will be just enough to "taste" the pleasure of sailing. Many dolphins visit us on this route. | Price - 100 lei/person
6 hours - Corbu Beach
Corbu beach is the newest beach on the Romanian Black Sea coast, located only a short distance from the famous resorts of Mamaia and Năvodari to the south and the Danube Delta in the North. This beach is a secluded, wild and pristine, the sand is fine and the water is clean. This beach is a favourite with tourists looking for an oasis of peace there are no loudspeakers pumping out dance music, no clubs or beach parties or five-star hotels, the only noise is that of the waves lapping. Departure is again from the port of Tomis and we’ll sail along the Mamaia resort, passed the former Năvodari camp and the Rompetrol refinery, after which we anchor in the area of C orbu beach for one hour, during which you can swim, lounge in the sun or enjoy a cold beer on the yacht. With luck we will also see dolphins who regularly appear near our boats. | Price - 150 lei/person
6 hours - Costinești
Costinești Station is an the extension of the village with the same name, about 30 km away from the city of Constanța, between Tuzla (north) and Olimp (south). Known as the resort of the youth, Costinești welcomes its guests with a joyful and animated atmosphere. The beach of the resort is watched by the two symbols of Costinești - the
Obelisk and the wreck of the Evangelia Ship, sunken in 1960. Departing from Tomis harbor, we will head south, leaving behind the Casino the symbol of Constanța and then along the Constanța and Agigea harbors. We will anchor for a lunch break near the famous wreck. | Price - 150 lei/person
1 day - Vadu
Departure from the port will be at 09.00. On our route we will navigate in parallel with Mamaia resort and Năvodari camp, we pass the Rompetrol refinery and Corbu beach and around lunch time we get to Vadu. Here we’ll anchor and go ashore with th dinghy. Guests can dine at the resort's restaurant, renowned for its fish specialties or you can enjoy the beach. The break will be two hours. We will return to the port around 7 pm. | Price - 200 lei/person
1 day - Limanu
This cruise is one of the most beautiful one at the Romanian seaside. We navigate in parallel with all seaside resorts, we see Cap Tuzla, stop at the famous wreck of the Evanghelia ship in Costinești, cross the Aurora Head and enter the Mangalia naval yard in what appears to be a fiord - Lake Limanu. This area has been declared an Avifaunistic Special Protection Zone of and is especially beautiful. After 30 minutes of sailing on this lakeside, we reach the most beautiful marina in the country - Marina Limanu, a special place
for sailing lovers. The seafood restaurant offers some of the best seafood in the country. On the return leg, we’ll stop for a swim in the sea. | Price - 250 lei/person
2 days - Balcic (Bulgaria)
Balchik is a town on the Black Sea coast, in the Dobrich region of northeast Bulgaria, located 42 km from Varna. It is currently one of Bulgaria's Black Sea biggest tourist attractions. Between 1913 and 1940, it belonged to the Kingdom of Romania, along with the rest of Southern Dobrogea, following the Second Balkan War (June-August 1913). In 1940, the Cadrilater, including Balchik, was regained by Bulgaria. Here, the Balchik Castle can be found, Queen Mary's favorite summer residence, surrounded by the most famous botanical garden in Central and Eastern Europe, especially due to the cactus collection. Because of the limestone slopes in its perimeter, the town was named the White City. The whole area was called the Silver Coast for the same reason. Departure from the port will be at 8 am after the completion of the exit formalities in the country. On our route we will navigate parallel to the southern resorts: Eforie, Costinești (where you can admire the famous wreck), Neptun, Vama Veche. In Bulgaria, we sail near the shore to enjoy the spectacular cliffs between Cape Shabla and Cape Kaliakra. In the evening we arrive to Balchik where there are many restaurants and tavernas that offer a menu rich in fish and seafood. There is a distinctly Greek island feel. It is the only resort on the Romanian and Bulgarian seaside with a truly Mediterranean air. Clubs in Balchik are very welcoming and animated so that the lovers of decibels and agitation will feel great. For those who prefer peace, a glass of wine served aboard the yacht will remain a memory sure to entice your return. The next morning we "weigh anchor" and head back to Tomis. We will arrive around 20-21.00. Contact: 0724384850 | www.haipeiaht.ro firstname.lastname@example.org
“Readers have no idea how many people it takes to produce a book. Authors just write the words, but theirs is the only name on the book cover. They get all the credit and none of us get a look-in.” By Arabella McIntyre-Brown
he coffee shop at Bookfest is a good place for gossip. Publishers take a few minutes away from their stand to brag modestly about sales, swap hearsay about deals, who’s signed up which authors; they moan about high levels of VAT on books, about the public not realising how ridiculously cheap books are, about kids not reading, about authors needing a dose of reality, about booksellers being useless at stock control and payments. The spring book fair in Bucharest draws well over 100,000 readers to the hundreds of book launches, debates, book signings and interviews over five days at Romexpo’s airy new pavilion. Bookfest is bookworm paradise, with
Romania’s publishers going all out to entice readers to browse and buy; discounts, special offers, bumper packages and super-cheap sales lure them to the cash tills laden with shiny new titles among the bargains. For authors it’s a buzz to see their books being plucked off the shelves and bought; for publishers it’s one of the most critical events in the year, second only to Gaudeamus, Bucharest’s even bigger book bunfight every autumn. AN ISLAND IN A SEA OF SAND Unlike Europe’s huge book industry trade shows such as London, Frankfurt,
or Bologna, where thousands of deals worth umpteen millions of euros are signed, Romania’s book fairs are selling events, with thousands of volumes flogged to an eager public enthused by the chance of meeting a favourite author or listening to famous names locked in full and frank discussions with rivals and critics. Of course Bookfest and Gaudeamus are business events too, when the Romanian publishing world negotiates to exploit the talent in their catalogue. It’s true that people don’t generally know how much of a bargain a book is. What else can you get for 40 lei? Two or three designer coffees, downed in ten
minutes; a bottle of cheap gin, drunk and chucked in the bin. A book can last lifetimes; at least it provides hours of full-on escapism or fascination, and at best can change lives. It’s also true that a scary proportion of people think that an author taps away for a few days to produce a manuscript, hands it to the publisher, and with a whisk of a wand, the book magics itself on to the book shop shelf. Even some authors don’t realise the effort involved and whinge that they should be getting the lion’s share of the lei paid by their devoted readership instead of the pittance they are given. But the truth is that the whole process starts with the author’s idea. No manuscript, nothing to work with. In Romania, one of the book world’s problems is finding and nurturing new writers. Good writers. Back in the Bookfest café, one tired editor snorted at the idea that Romania needed new writers. ‘Hah. There are writers. Everyone’s a writer. But very few are any good.’ Alexandru Arion, who runs the Crime Scene Press, said much the same. ‘Of course we’re always searching for new talent. We’ve done a lot to foster young writers. We’ve run contests in schools and universities, with a publishing contract as the top prize for the best novella. We couldn’t award a prize, because the standard wasn’t high enough. There was nothing good enough to publish.’ Crime Scene Press is Romania’s only crime fiction specialist publisher; their top home-grown writers are George Arion, Bogdan Hrib and Oana Muja-Stoica, but 60-65% of their sales come from award-winning foreign writers in translation: Ann Cleeves, Lawrence Block, Antonin Varenne, Sandrone Dazieri among others. ‘I always want to publish Romanian writers, but for now, the quality of manuscripts we see is not quite there. On the edge, but not there,’ says Arion. One who was – but sadly not with
Crime Scene, was Eugen Chirovici. He’d published eleven novels in Romania, the first of which sold over 100,000 copies (mammoth numbers for this market) but still couldn’t make a living from fiction. When he moved to the UK, his first novel in English – The Book of Mirrors – caused a bit of a stir, sold to over 30 countries and is set to earn Chirovici a seven-figure sum. Another crime writer, about to hit the English-speaking market, is Igor Bergler. His first novel, The Lost Bible, broke records on the home market, according to his publisher, RAO; the rights have now been acquired by Trident in New York. The prequel, The Testament of Abraham, is set to do even better, and there is a third in the series coming out in 2019.
grammar, writing essays. Writing anything more isn’t encouraged.’ But given even the sliver of a chance, there are plenty of passionate would-be writers at school. Running Freemagination workshops for children and teens in Bucharest and Brașov, I’ve been bowled over by their drive to write, and the depth of imagination that explodes from them. It takes their teachers by surprise, too. They have no problem in finding ideas, characters and stories. They need to develop technique and style, and above all they need to build their confidence. A British author – even an unknown and unglamorous one – turning up to school in person was an unmissable event, according to 15-year old Maria. ‘You don’t understand – you’re like…. unicorns,’ she said. Rare, exotic and magical. Okay, I’ll take that. And if being a unicorn gives her a push to take her writing seriously, that’s fine. If the Romanian book world is to grow beyond the country’s borders, it needs more than new writing talent.
Every Romanian publisher is looking for the next Chirovici or Bergler – a writer who can sell in the global market. But unless more is done to bring on young writers, it’ll be a long wait. BUILDING UP WRITERS AND EDITORS Based in Timișoara, Gabriela Drasovean runs the NaNoWriMo (National Novel WrIting Month) Romanian group as a way of supporting writers. NaNoWriMo runs through November each year, and cheers on writers to get 50,000 words written during the month. ‘Writers don’t pop out of nowhere,’ said Drasovean. ‘They need support and encouragement. So let’s talk about it, switch from writing in secret to writing for publication.’ Writing isn’t encouraged in schools, she explains. ‘It’s barely mentioned. The focus is on reading literature, studying 21
Manuscripts need editors, and the Romanian literary culture is not to muck about with a writer’s work. Finding errors, questioning consistency, yes. But the point of an editor is to test the book, pull it apart if necessary, and make the author change what doesn’t work, cut the padding, strengthen weak plots and feeble characters, and end up with a better book. ‘The publishing industry trusted writers, and writers didn’t want to have their work challenged and changed,’ said Elena Marcu of Black Button Books. Editing is a highly skilled and expert role; if writers are ever to trust an editor to help improve their work, editors need experience and training. But, said Marcu, ‘Until very recently there were no editing courses in Romanian universities.’
‘Businesswise, it’s not very smart,’ she said. ‘But if we fail, I’d rather live with that failure than not to try. We were expecting a bumpy road, and our editorial ‘car’ is not very speedy. I would like to go a little faster, and I’d like to find new Romanian talent – we are certainly open to it. But there are only two of us on the editorial side, editing, translating, doing promotion, sorting out copyright and logistics – everything. We just don’t have the time to bring on new authors. When we are more secure, then yes.’ Marcu echoes the gossip from the Bookfest café, about what the government could do to help the publishing industry grow and thrive. ‘I would like to see Romania follow other countries and put a zero rate of VAT on books. And a tiny company like ours, with three employees, pays the same rate of tax as a giant like Petrom. That’s a general problem, not just for publishers, but it’s unfair on small enterprises.’ RETAIL DISARRAY
Black Button Books
She found a writer she wanted to sign to Black Button, and was sent her manuscript before its final edit. ‘The author was mortified to learn that I’d seen the book before it was ready. After its final edit, the manuscript was 100 pages shorter and way better,’ she said. ‘If Romania produces better books, we will be better represented abroad,’ said Marcu. ‘There are not many Romanian authors in translation, but I hope things will change.’ Marcu and her partners Ana Murray and Anca Dumitrescu set up the publishing house in 2016, after some years thinking about it. ‘Our unique factor is illogical,’ she said with a dry laugh. ‘We try not to put the commercial aspect first. We go against trends in the Romanian market: that short stories don’t sell, feminism doesn’t sell, no LGBTQ, thanks. We read a lot to see what deserves to be published. 22
Another problem is common to many book markets, not just in Romania – the practice of retailers taking books on sale or return. ‘Bookshops are the only retailers who can stock their shelves without paying,’ said Marcu. ‘How can that be fair?’ Bookfest chatter extended this complaint saying that too many
booksellers used no management software, so had poor control of stock, didn’t know what had sold or what needed to be reordered, and were very slow to pay. There is certainly an independent bookshop in Brașov that looks like a candidate – the shop is chaotic, stuffed with books, the staff glum and reluctant to help. Even the shopfront is dismal, in dire need of an update and deeply uninviting. It’s easy to imagine their accounting systems are equally underwhelming. The bright, revamped chains such as Cărturești and Humanitas have taken on a sleek, well-designed look, with cafes in store, overpriced and irresistible gizmos and gifts scattered among the books, a range of languages other than Romanian, and well-informed, friendly staff. One hopes that their back office operations are as shiny and efficient. Authors not being paid whatever few royalties they’re owed is not conducive to getting on with the next book. Such issues are often what puts authors off trying to find a book deal with a mainstream publisher. Marina Costa has published three novels, historical adventures for young adults; she didn’t bother talking to the big boys but went straight to a small press, even though it meant carrying the cost of production and print. She preferred to hang on to her copyright and keep some control. ‘I chose small presses who offered decent support. They have literary events every month, they organise launches,
to hunt out
The big national chains – Cărturești, Humanitas, Librarium, Diverta – have livened up their offer with attractive venues, good ranges of Romanian and foreign titles, helpful and well-informed staff, and extras such as gifts, gimmicks and cafes in store. But there are independent locals, too. Search them out to discover what more they can offer. Sibiu: Erasmus Book Cafe, Habitus Vama Veche: The book beach Brașov: English Culture Centre at the George Barițiu (university) library Timișoara: Librarea Cartea de Nisip, La două bufnițe Cluj: Bookstory, Koffer Iași: Tafrali, Book House
Book clubs Regular or occasional meetings of bookworms, reading and discussing a broad spectrum of books, usually over food and drink. You can sound all these out and ask to join, on Facebook. Cluj: Cluj-Napoca Book Club (Meet-up) Brașov: So many books, so little time Bucharest: English Book Club of Bucharest, Bucharest Classical Literature and Cafes The Commons Book Club CEO Clubs International participation at the book fairs, and reviews.’ Although she knew that she was unlikely to get rich from book sales, and she publishes for the love of it, and for people’s enjoyment, ‘but I’m frustrated that I haven’t yet recovered my costs.’ The Romanian market is not only a fraction of the size of, say, the UK in terms of population, but in terms of the amount of money spent on books. In 2011, 70% of the population read no books, and only 3% read more than 10 books that year. People who don’t like reading won’t buy books. Let alone write them. If Romania can make reading sexy, all the other obstacles will begin to shrink. Publishers and booksellers can make inroads on internal problems, authors and editors can raise their game. But unless we can all work together on growing our readership, more bestsellers will be unicorns – a beautiful fantasy. ▪
Where your 40 lei goes
The publishing production line runs from the author beating her head on the desk to the occult process of turning an imperfect manuscript into a saleable book – and onwards through the fun and games of getting books into shops and persuading readers to part with their cash. Bits of the publishing process that few readers see range from the choice of typeface, the space between lines of text, the width of margins and gutters, umpteen options for the paper – all of which can make reading more or less of a pleasure. Then there’s the complex set of decisions about cover design:
illustration or photo, graphic elements, what goes on the spine, back cover blurb, and a dozen more subtle details. All this takes skill, training and experience – but these experts stay strictly behind the scenes. Let’s not even go into marketing, finance, logistics, stock control and rights. Not to mention the precision skills of the book printers and binders. Everything affects eventual sales, the publisher’s reputation, and the author’s career. Compare books to films, where loaders, best boys, catering staff, drivers, special effects dudes and animal wranglers get their names up on the screen. You can at least see where the money went on a film production. Books… not even the editor gets a mention. The author gets all the credit.
By Mike Ormsby The bell in the village church bongs to the faithful and here they come: pretty girls with posies, boisterous lads in straw hats, farmers and their wives. Three elderly women shuffle along, clad in black; they plod up limestone steps and into the cemetery. We’re here to honour brave soldiers who fell in some corner of a foreign field that will be forever Romania. It’s Heroes’ Day. The youngsters get time off school to come and sing sad songs. Two boys try to jump the queue on the steps, but a stiff-backed, wrinkled fellow in a dark suit raises his walking cane. His genial glare says it all: Wait. We gather before a marble memorial. The priest chants mournful litanies to the dead. Birds chorus from silver birch trees. A fellow in a jumper swings a pot of incense. I bow my head and muse on the poor souls beneath us who perished in conflict. The service ends after about an hour and the gloomy atmosphere lifts. Little kids romp in the cemetery. Teenagers clamber aboard a horse-drawn cart. The old gent with a cane chats to a friend. They wear old military medals. I ask if I may take a photo; the men click heels
and stand to attention - shoulders back and chins up. Snap. The shorter fellow asks if I’m German. “Pass for a German, you would. And I should know. I served in Operation Barbarossa.” I notice a speck of blood on his shaven neck. He’s lucky to have a neck after Barbarossa. “And how about you, sir?” I ask the taller fellow. “Stalingrad.” He explains, in a rasping voice, how the Romanian army helped the Hungarians to protect the German army. But then the Russians launched Operation Uranus. “November 19, 1942. Fifth Tank Army got us. Pincer, like a crab.” He gestures with wiry fingers. Crab. “I was twenty-one. The Russians captured thousands of us. Brutes, they were.”
He must be, what, around ninety-five? He survived, when more than three hundred and fifty thousand Romanians did not, once the Russians got hold of them. “Lucky to make it home,” he adds, moving on.
Our friend Doamna Diţa drops by our house, bearing milk from her cow. My wife Angela stashes the milk and I fill the kettle. Diţa glances around our home, as if to make sure. Of what, I’m never sure. We tell her about Heroes’ Day. She seems unmoved. “Uh-huh.” Her weather-beaten face is criss-crossed with lines. She’s frail but formidable. Eighty-six years old and still gathering mushrooms, despite bears. I show her my photos from the church. She knows all the kids, perhaps because it takes a village to raise a child, especially when so many parents are picking sprouts in Italy. I show her my prize shot of the two elderly men. She jabs a finger. “Him and his medals.” Angela brings cups, saucers, and chocolate biscuits. “How do you mean, him and his medals?” “He fought at Stalingrad, Diţa, did you know?” I add. Diţa munches a biscuit. “I know he was a brute. Taught us in the village school.” Angela dips a biscuit into her tea. Our guest raises an eyebrow. “Doesn’t the chocolate melt?” “Not if you’re quick,” says Angela. Diţa dips a biscuit. “Like this?” I gaze again at the photo, baffled. “A brute?” Diţa nods. “Tyrant! Beat us with a ruler. Poked his knuckles in my shoulder. Pinched the skin under our chins. It hurt so much, one girl would pee herself. He called her Pişăcioasa - Little Pisser. He’d mock her, Let’s ask Little Pisser! She would weep all the way home. We hated school. No wonder I’m so dim. He should have stayed in bloody Russia. What are these biscuits called?” ▪
This story is from ‘Palincashire - Tales of Transylvania’. Mike is the author of bestseller 'Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania.' Literary critics dubbed him 'The British Caragiale’. 25
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
Lisa Kraineva is a nomad by nature, she simply loves travel, nature and adventure. Lisa worked in an event agency, she had an effect but she quit to go seek more action in her life. Throughout the past ten years she has been travelling constantly, her best was 15 countries in one month. Originally from Russia, she now calls Romania and Greece her homes. She came to Romania to organise an event and fell in love. Indeed, twice: with the country and with a man. Today they work together to share their passion for Romania’s charms with travellers from all over the world. She loves moments when her pictures dazel local friends, and they ask: “Is that in MY country?” For more information see: adventure-romania.com 27
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
Artist of the Month:
rina Neacșu’s latest project took place at the Botanical Garden of the Bucharest University, between the 17thof May and the 10th of June, the botanic illustration exhibition named “Life of Bulbs” was an exhibition put together by Renaissance Art Gallery– renaissance-artgallery.com.
Asked what she wanted to show to the public with this exhibition Irina replied simply: “A watercolour story about the
most beloved spring garden flowers; a story of love, time and ephemeral beauty; a story with no beginning and no end.” KNOWLEDGE, EMOTION AND CHOICE Irina Neacșu focuses on the botanical realm and she endeavours to acknowledge beauty in all its ages and sharing emotions that go way beyond science.
Irina explains that her watercolour botanical illustrations are an art form that represents plants in their natural scale, 1:1. The artist uses both life size flowers and scientific sketches as the basis of her work. The exhibition brought together the artist’s most recent work and reveals her fascination with the botanical world. The flower portraits illustrate the beauty of flowers in a decorative manner, focusing on observation as admiration and as a state of mind that creates the main access gate towards gratitude and blessing. On an even deeper level, the botanical watercolor paintings talk about the passage of time, about the understanding and acceptance of the withered flowers and the wider meaning of the ephemeral existence and mortality itself. The artist decided to present each flower in two stages within two separate works in watercolours that took the artist between 20 and 60 hours to produce! The one on the left presents different stages of a flower before it withers
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
and the one on the right presents the flower or a detail from it after it has withered, when it’s dead according to our normal perception. But the artist Irina Neacșu strives to demonstrate that beauty is everywhere, and a dead flower can be incredibly beautiful even when it’s dead. The exhibition “Life of Bulbs” was part of Romanian Design Week and it involved 26 botanical illustrations representing flowers. One illustration presents an endangered species of tulip—Fritillaria meleagris. Also, the exhibition presented the artist HERBARIUM and T shirts with graphic prints made by the artist based upon Irina’s botanical art. Both can make great summer presents for your loved ones. On the last day of the exhibition, Sunday 10th of June, at the “Casa Roșie”–Botanical Garden of Bucharest, Irina gave her Masterclass in botanical drawing. She then packed her works ready for her next exhibition at the Botanical Garden in Cluj. For more information on Irina Neacșu’s work please contact Oana Vișoiu at: email@example.com or call 0722381325.
ne Ode to the F e m i n iSpirit Ande Ene spoke with fashion designer Adrian Oianu who is in love with and in awe of the traditional Romanian costumes and is recreating them in his craft.
drian Oianu, you are a well known brand, a highly recognized and praised designer. How is it to be a fashion designer in Romania? Being a designer in Romania? An adventure, considering the fact that I’ve chosen from the very start not to follow the trends. Unlike what we see in magazines, the fashion business is less glamour and more work. But it definitely pays off and I love every single part of it. Over the years, you’ve always had a constant and ardent relationship with your cultural roots, all your collections have this red thread in their DNA. Did the inspiration come from tradition, did it find you or you found it? How was the meeting and when? The relationship with my ethnic roots wasn’t always the same. I recall living in LA, California and assuming that someday, when I’ll have children of my own and they will ask where I come from, I will vaguely say that I am from Central Europe. That’s where the “meeting” took place–I was living across the Ocean and was successfully blending in. Until I realized what I really wanted was to stand out. Moreover, I wanted to BELONG. I started by re-establishing contact with my ethnic and cultural background,
contact that had faded through the years I spent abroad. At the moment, I am helping others to do the exact same: to re-establish their connections with their own roots.
Last but not least, I believe in sustainability and craftsmanship as opposed to mass production. There is a lot of meaning under the seemingly trendy saying “Buy local!”
You reinterpreted in a very creative and surprising manner, the traditional Romanian blouse. Besides the star of the national costume repertoire, what other pieces from the national costumes, inspire you and can we find them in your collections?
Clientele is capricious and volatile, how do you manage to keep the interest of your customer, in this era of fast fashion? Have you created your own tribe?
The traditional apron (a.k.a. “fota”), the peasant’s winter coat, the short vest–“ilic”. There will certainly be more to come. And they all have one thing in common– every single item is a perfect day-to-day piece. Your collections always have the power to amaze, to leave us open-mouthed, because your clothes seem to be created for another world, a world of magic, spectacular and pure. What story are you telling us? And on a more contemporary note, what is your brand philosophy? I craft traditional-inspired clothes for contemporary wear. I believe in staying true to our culture and traditions and that’s pretty much everything about it. I think femininity is above all a weapon with which you can conquer even the unexpected and I like to think of my work as an ode to the feminine spirit.
While I don’t think of my customers as a tribe, I find a lot of crucial answers in the fact that the vast majority of them come back to us again & again… More relevant, what has contributed to my consistency has been finding a niche of consumers– to which the mass-market doesn’t deliver accordingly– and catering to these consumers to this day. That is the story of my last decade. If you were a foreigner visiting Romania or an expat who is just about to leave after a few years of living here, what are the 3 objects you would choose to take with you? A seashell from the Black Sea, a bottle of locally produced wine and–most of all– a vintage Romanian Blouse. ▪
Bespoke B ags
OZB met designer Anca Irina Lefter in her office on Luigi Cazzavilan St, a creative space hosting several other creative people – an architecture office, a tattoo artist, a designer and a Romanian brands only shop (CZVL12). We talked about bags and leather accessories–the main activity of the AIL brand that Anca has been running since 2012, about the ups and downs that her business has been through, all in the sporadic company of her excitable beagle. By Ada Popescu
REWIND, START Born in Tulcea, Anca moved to art school Nicolae Toniza in Bucharest aged 16, where she studied mural art – sgraffito, grafito, fresco – but also stained glass and painting. She dreamt of attending Lorenzo de Medici art school in Italy but real life took her on a detour and she worked in sales and real estate for a while, motivated by earning the money that would allow her to go to Italy. Eventually she returned to art and design and attended “The European Institute of Design” in Barcelona, Accessory Design Section and she also studied leather design and processing at “The European Institute of Design” in Florence and “Santa Croce – The Leather School in Florence”. AIL is not the first brand name she has started under. In 2009 she presented her designs under the name of Little Artist and the world was at her feet. When anyone would ask her what it was like to be a designer she would say it was fun and easy. Everyone seemed to be willing to help and lend a hand, she 34
would leave her bags here and there and soon the phone started ringing. So much so that she thought it was ringing too much and so she disappeared under the radar, losing in one year all that she had built before. Anca says she needed around three years to start recovering from what she now calls a decline caused by letting things go to her head, an important lesson that she now values and can talk about with detachment.
AIL–BAGS WITH A TWIST These days Anca is planning to reopen a workshop that will allow her to play with and test her designs more easily. Her latest collection is called Saga and is a reinterpretation of the famous 90s waist bag that will trigger memories of summer vacations, seaside trips and travelling. The bags come in two sizes and a few different colours and also have a shoulder strap. AIL’s signature bags though are the vinyl ones, but music lovers should not be horrified–no living records
were injured in this process, all vinyls used were already scratched and useless for musical purposes. One of the bags that draws attention is the Canvas Bag, a handbag created in collaboration with painter Marcel Thiele, using special resins on canvas. Another is the handcuffs bag, a triangular shaped creation inspired by the #Rezist protests, a bag that unfolds into an hourglass shape, with a tongue in cheek concept of portraying ”the way time passes in Romania”. Anca Irina Lefter is a complete designer and entrepreneur, selling her designs to other brands (such as Tudor–Personal Taylor) and also creating bespoke bags. If you want her to create something just for you, she will ask you a few questions and the final product will reflect your personality as it transpired from the conversation. Anca’s designs are available in stores such as moja.ro, etsy.com and her personal website: www.ancairinalefter.com. ▪
FASHION | WOMEN POWER
Light T H R O U G H .
Wa g n e r A r t e
Hand Painted Porcelain world’s good customs, Wagner Arte has started collaborations with other artists, for an enhanced creative experience, artists such as painter Ștefan Câlția–who was not only the teacher of Vadim Crețu but Ana Wagner’s teacher too, when she was a student at the National Arts University in Bucharest. Wagner Arte keeps developing and adapting to both the economical environment, such as the 2008 crisis, and the particularities of their public in Romania–a little more challenging that the one outside the country. A more planned development seems possible nowadays, compared to a more organic one as it was in the early days.
agner Arte started in 2005 when artist Ana Wagner released to the public her hand painted porcelain cups and teapots for the first time, in a little shop on Carol I Boulevard. Her sister Irina Wagner was by her side as business manager, after leaving behind a corporate job, and they’ve worked together ever since. OZB met the sisters in the Wagner Arte showroom in Cotroceni, a bright place, sunny and brimming with artworks. One of the latest collections, “Deep in the heart of the garden”, signed by painter Vadim Crețu was the centrepiece in the first room, with beautifully painted birds on white porcelain. Aligned to the design
During the first years, interior design products followed the tableware collections and the brand kept growing around the central, signature style of hand painting the translucent, noble material. The carefully crafted tableware became known and coveted, so much so that brands such as Mini, Peroni, Dior, Wella, Carrefour, BRD, Unilever, P&G, Vichy, to name a few, ordered special collections. The latest collection however is about jewelry, a branch that the artist naturally explored over the past few years due to her love for miniature painting. The new collection, launched on June 6th, is called The Journey.Childhood and is about revisiting the early years and the feeling of unconditional love, an exploration using symbols such as the Circle, the House, the Sphere, the faceted Stone, the Heart. Today, the Wagner Arte showroom area is home not only to many wonderful and delicate artworks that you can admire and buy, but you can also go there for a porcelain painting class, to try something new in a welcoming environment and company. To find out more about this outstanding art and all the collections visit www.wagnerarte.ro ▪ 35
Wedd in g D res s Trends for
By Georgiana Florentina Dogaru
The whole world had eyes on Meghan Markle’s wedding dress and we all rediscovered the beauty that is to be found in simplicity. Nothing can be more inspiring for a future bride than a princess and I am sure that Meghan has created a trend with her beautiful gown, but designers also have their own versions of the perfect gown. We’ve all dreamt of being Cinderella, and on our wedding day, we are the princesses of our fairytale, so let’s see how we can be a trendy Cinderella. Don’t worry if you haven’t been to Brides Fashion Week, we brought you the latest trends for 2018, to inspire you and make the choice easier. There are models for every bride, from bold and nonconformist to traditional and classic, so you will definitely find your perfect dress if you will be a bride this year. By Georgiana Dogaru
Princess cape You are neither Meghan Markle nor Grace Kelly, but you are definitely the princess of your own story, so why not look like one? If you want to be different, but still look stylish, replace the train or veil with a sophisticated cape that will give you a romantic fairy tale look. Regardless of the length of your dress, adding a cape will make you chic and it will be a good way to transform your dress by taking it off at your reception. This way, you will be formal at your ceremony wearing the cape and look quite different at the reception without it.
Detached sleeves From bouffant to tight-fitting and lacy, detached sleeves can be a distinctive accent in your outfit. They also look like a fairy tale detail, so if you are a romantic girl, you can consider picking a dress with detachable sleeves. They are an important trend this year and they can make magic, transforming your whole dress in a second.
Mid-length If you like the vintage style but you also want to be trendy, the mid-length is the one for you. Audrey Hepburn’s
wedding dress in “Funny Face” is iconic for this type of gown, designers brought it back this season, so if you love vintage clothes, you are free to pick a mid-length dress.
Colourful shades Most brides wear white and this will always be the top choice for weddings, but if you want to stand out from the crowd, this is the perfect time to take a risk on colours. Pink, blue, gold and nude can colour your day and put a fresh twist on the most beautiful moment of our life.
Wedding trousers If you are not a traditional girl and you do everything differently, you should be yourself even on your wedding day. Designers have thought of girls like you and they have created wedding outfits with trousers. Dresses will always be the top pic, but you can look chic and comfortable in jumpsuits and pantsuits without being out of fashion. Adding a train, you will be dressy enough for the ceremony and also keep a nonconformist appearance.
Bows Bows are a classic detail, they have been in fashion for many seasons and
they seem like they’re not going to go anywhere too soon. They are in all shapes and sizes, proving that a traditional element can be transformed and adapted to all tastes. They are the oldest and most classical adornment to put on a wedding dress. They are not any more that classy detail for the back or for the waistline. You can have bows on your shoulders, on the chest, or wherever you want, and you will be in vogue. Romanian designers naturally follow the international trends but they are also good at maintaining a traditional note. If you are a bride to be in Romania, then you shouldn’t be worried about your dress. You can find beautiful outfits that are classy, modern, traditional or rebellious, just the way you are. Every girl is different, and her wedding dress should show that. You should always follow the trends, but your own personality and taste should not be neglected. The element that makes the dress perfect is to feel yourself wearing it. Trends change every season (more or less), but elegance and refinement will always be trendy. Remember that happy girls are the most beautiful girls and don’t forget to add the magic ingredient to your perfect wedding look: a pretty, happy smile that will make your face glow with beauty. ▪
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. 36
Trains and Planes By Giles Eldridge the computer console but you do get to look on in wonder at the Lilliputian locomotives. What I like about this place is the alternative entrance from the far platform at Gara de Nord station; you can spot it easily with the cute steam engine outside. It means that if you have some time on your hands, waiting for your train, then you can just drop in for peek, it’s only 4 lei.
hat to say about museums in Bucharest? Some are actually rather good, others are, let’s say, medium good. The point is that, historically, Romania has never been a country of looters and tomb raiders filling purpose built repositories with stolen goods and foreign treasure, neither does it appear to have been a country of obsessive collectors and hoarders. Thus the very idea of the large museum seems not to have been developed as much as other European places. If you think about it too much the notion of a museum is a bit strange but really we should just give in and admit that it’s good to simply look at things, no matter what they are. The smaller museum may lack the grandeur and awe of the monster collections of the world but they make up for in charm and atmosphere. The first small gem is the Railway Museum. There are just 3 rooms but they are packed full of models and railway paraphernalia. I suppose if you are a train fanatic you’re going to get even more out of this place than the merely curious but nonetheless it is a tremendous display of train associated things - I particularly liked the telegram machine with a keyboard that resembles a small piano more than a typewriter and of course the highlight, the diorama, i.e. a giant train set. Apparently put together by volunteers and train obsessives spending they weekends producing the largest train set in South East Europe. You don’t get to play with it; that is left to the serious man with
Now, you can take the CFR museum in your stride compared to the Aviation Museum, which is something else. Be prepared for filmic time travel with this display of Communist era aviation flotsam and jetsam. It is just a 10 minute walk from the clean chaos of the Promenada Mall at the top end of Calea Floreasca. The first part pf the collection is outside and it is mostly helicopters, some civilian light aircraft and lots of MiGs; the ubiquitous Russian jet fighter. There are many examples of this particular fighting machine from the 1940’s onwards. As a pacifist I’m never going to appreciate their function however one can’t help but admire the design and look of a MiG with the jet engine housed within the fuselage they have the quirky appearance of a Basking shark. During my visit and in the heat of the day the attendant was taking a snooze and why not, what am I going to do, steal an aeroplane? The ambiance is like a film set and the whole thing is made more strange with the relatively recent addition of a Maramureș style wooden church set among the rusting remnants of other military hardware. Inside the museum building it’s a little different as you are plunged into near total darkness - is the intention to produce an installation of an abandoned airfield at night? I think that this might actually be the case but it’s not clear. At any event your eyes get used to it and there are some good displays amongst some difficult to see items. There is a beautiful reconstruction of Traian Vuia’s flying contraption the Vuia 1 from 1906. After this some models of other pioneers
of flight, then some light aircraft and various associated items like a jet pack and personal helicopter backpack. A short walk through an endearing wartime street scene leads to another hangar for more MiG action etc. Again the knowledgeable aeronautic head is going to appreciate the finer details of the engineering and rarity whilst the more poetic soul is always going to love the Tarkovsky atmosphere of this place.
Muzeul Căilor Ferate Române Romanian Railway Museum Calea Grivitei 193 Weds. to Sun. 10am-4pm 4 Lei entrance and13 Lei for photography. Muzeul National Al Aviatiei Române National Aviation Museum Strada Fabrica de Glucoza 2-4 Tues. to Fri. 9am-4pm Sat. Sun. 10am-5pm 20 Lei entrance and10 Lei for photography
J a z z in the W i l d Behind the scenes of one of the most prestigious open-air jazz festivals in Eastern and Central Europe–Gărâna Jazz Festival By Oana Vasiliu
here is a small village in Romania, hidden in the Carpathian Mountains, about which every jazz lover in the world knows: Gărâna. Why? Organisers say they have three ingredients that make up its uniqueness: the music, the place, the people. Up until now, over 50.000 music lovers and hundreds of internationally acclaimed artists have shared the experience of live music in the heart of our Carpathian Mountains. Eberhard Weber, Mike Stern, Jan Garbarek, Charles Lloyd, Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Jordan, John Abercrombie, Miroslav Vitous, Zakir Hussain, Magnus Ostrom, Bugge Wesseltoft, Lars Danielsson, Avishay Cohen, Nils Petter Molvaer and many others brought joy and energy to the crowds of jazz lovers. Gărâna Jazz Festival has memorable performances featuring Nordic jazz, American jazz, Eastern European jazz and Oriental Jazz in three wonderful venues: Wolf’s Meadow–the main stage, in the courtyard of the La Răscruce Inn–during the day, and in the Catholic Church in Văliug village. How come? Marius Giura, the director of the festival which takes place July 12-15, explains for OZB readers.
The beginnings The festival started in the backyard of a small inn, Hanul La Răscruce, and then you moved to a bigger 40
space, the place you currently use. What was your initial model for this festival? How did you imagine it? I did not have a model. I wanted three things: to be in an outdoor location in order to allow the listener to breathe and to move, to look at the sky from time to time, to smoke if he wants to, to get out when he or she feels the need for a break. The second thing was bringing great musicians and good music and, third, to show that something good could be done in Romania that would cause those from “outside” to talk about us in a positive light. And yes, maybe the nostalgia of youth and Woodstock… When did you start to realise that it could be an international jazz festival? Those who founded the festival baptised it as international. I pushed things further in the sense that I wanted to bring artists who are already known on the international jazz stage. Who was the first international jazz person who came to Gărâna? How did you convince them? What a memory... Eberhard Weber. I just wrote him an email. Without really believing he would answer me. When the answer came - that he agreed to participate to our festival, my hands were shaking. The great Weber at Gărâna! It sounded incredible. We talked about the money. For me it was a huge amount. An old friend told me
he knew Mrs. Monica Tatoiu and called her. I will never forget: she was at the beach, somewhere by the sea, and she told him she would return his call in 10 minutes. That's how it was. She gave us the phone number of the marketing director and in half an hour I had the fee for Weber confirmed. It was one of the happiest days in my life. Weber then told me that he did not even know where he was coming to, that he was on the serpentine, climbing to Gărâna, had doubts, but told Reto Weber: “Come on, nothing bad will happen to us”. And so, the international adventure began.
The festival Among the connoisseurs it is known that at this festival, you will come to discover incredible Nordic jazz, among others. When and how did you discover Nordic jazz? It’s Nordic jazz that I feel the closest to. I fell in love with Garbarek's music many years ago. He was the first! I think I’m structured like this. For me jazz is not an intellectual activity but a visceral one. Nordic jazz fulfils me. Which artists have not yet made it to Garana Jazz Festival? First of all, Keith Jarrett, John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, Santana, Marsalis and many others. Some I can’t afford financially, with others I can not match the dates. Gărâna Jazz Festival overlaps with several other major festivals in the world.
For the 20th edition, you did a rebranding of the festival and most of the photos were black & white. Why did you choose this type of communication? It was the 20th anniversary, a balance edition, mentioning both good things and bad things. The black and white. My daughter, Simona Giura came up with the idea and we all embraced it. The great Charles Lloyd composed Gărâna Woods at the festival. Are there any other artists who were inspired by your great festival? Yes, Raul Kusak, Liviu Butoi and others. Some have remained to compose. Others have returned. Gărâna leaves a strong impression.
Now What is absolutely not to be missed this year? I think all the bands are great. I've been trying to get the best of all three scenes. I really can not recommend one band instead of the other. Everything is wisely chosen: new names and old names with new projects. What’s your advice for someone who is coming to the festival for the first time? To come rested. 24 bands on the stage of Wolf’s Meadow, 6 bands on the stage of La Răscruce Inn and 3 at the Văliug Church. Plus vinyls, book launches, exhibitions, lakes where you can swim, woods where you can explore. At Gărâna, the day should have 36 hours.
Gărâna Jazz Festival 2018 must see July 12-15, Gărâna, Semenic Mountains, Caraș Severin County Stanley Clarke Band (USA) With a career spanning 40 years, 4 Grammys, over 20 solo albums and tens of others as co-leader and sideman, Stanley Clarke is truly a living legend among jazz musicians. He returns to Gărâna Jazz Festival with a band of exceptional young musicians–Beka Gochiashvili on piano, Caleb Sean McCampbell on keyboards and voice and Shariq Tucker on drums.
Festival he will present a project that seems tailor-made for the audience of the festival: an exciting and harmonious combination of jazz, rock & roll, groove and psychedelica. Ekalavya (India) Indian violinist Abhijith PS Nair and the new star of India, young bass player Mohini Dey, will bring on stage the colours and stories of India. They will mix funk jazz, world music and classical Carnatic music from the south of India in an electrifying show, infused with oriental harmonies. Pink Freud (Poland) Pink Freud is considered one of the most original voices in contemporary jazz. Their music, mainly a fusion of jazz, punk and rock, has conquered audiences, especially the younger members.
Sly & Robbie with Nils Petter Molvær, Eivind Aarset, Vladislav Delay (Jamaica, Norway, Finland) Two legendary stars of reggae music, Sly & Robbie, will be star guests of the festival. Their innovative project, Nordub, includes Norwegian musicians Nils Petter Molvær–on trumpet and Eivind Aarset–on electric guitar, as well as Vladislav Delay–a much appreciated Finnish electronic music artist.
Elena Mîndru Finnection & Adam Bałdych Polish violinist Adam Bałdych is the special guest of Elenei Mîndru’s band that won over the Garana Jazz Festival audience in 2014–Elena Mîndru Finnection. With this new project, the singer invites the listener on an exotic musical journey alongside an acoustic jazz quartet that also includes the violin, an instrument that brings a distinctive and special element to their music.
Avishai Cohen’s Big Vicious (Israel) Extravagant, lyrical, rebellious and contemplative, the versatile Israeli trumpet player Avishai Cohen is considered one of the best trumpet players of our time. At Gărâna Jazz
Mircea Tiberian The Romanian pianist Mircea Tiberian will present the project La Classe operaia va in Paradiso alongside Claudio Puntin, Daniel Erdmann, Chris Dahlgren and Tilo Weber.
photo credit: Gărâna Jazz Festival
For four days each summer, a village in the Western Carpathians becomes the Mecca for the Romanian jazz fans, and an ever-growing number of Europeans”– All about jazz portal After celebrating two decades of live music, Gărâna will continue to nurture the passion for jazz and nature along with the freedom of bringing these two elements together in a unique festival experience” – Europe Jazz Network For more information see www.garana-jazz.ro
Youn Sun Nah
Tourism in Romania By Rupert Wolfe Murray
ur understanding of tourism is out of date. Most people still think of tourism as a mass operation, when the workers down tools, board trains and head for resorts on the beach. Like many things, it all started in Victorian Britain where the new railways made it possible to shift whole populations of people from city to beach. It spread across the modern world and even the Communist regimes followed suit, with resorts around the Black Sea becoming a magnet for tired socialist workers. And then came the internet. Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world, and it's changing fast. New opportunities surround us, but not enough business people know how to take advantage. Until recently, most tourists were dependent on their local travel agency for offers of two weeks in the sun, or a ski holiday. Now anyone with a smartphone can book a cottage in the Carpathians with Airbnb and get a cheap flight, and hire a car, via Skyscanner. Now a small guesthouse 42
in Moldavia, or a guide in Zărnești, can inform clients all over the world about the unspoilt, traditional scenes that surround most rural locations in Romania. Having seen most of Romania, as well as much of Europe, I can confirm that it is one of the most interesting countries to visit. So what’s the problem? Despite having unspoilt villages, massive mountain ranges and friendly people Romania does worse in the tourism market than Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary. This is because those neighbouring countries have better national strategies and manage the process of mass tourism better. When I lived in Romania and worked as an PR consultant to the Romanian government I used to despair at their consistent failure to take advantage of the greatest brand
the world has ever seen—Dracula. But now I realise that it’s pointless lobbying government as they have other priorities. I also realise that not having mass tourism in Romania may be a blessing in disguise; if you go to counties like Vaslui or Caraș Severin you really can find villages where people still live as in ancient times. This is how Arabella McIntyre Brown, an English writer living in Romania, describes her village in A Stake in Transylvania (a most compelling memoir): “Măgura is one of the most popular villages in the country... Măgura is a lodestone for nature lovers, hikers, climbers, birdwatchers, botanists and bear fans, and the guesthouses are rammed... In Măgura the proportion of guesthouses to family houses is pretty high compared to most Romanian villages, and they can soak up hundreds of incomers every night. During the day, you see very few of them around the village, as they are all dispersed amongst the forest, the meadows and the crags. The village is nothing like a resort, with only the eccentric bar La Ciocolata as an option for the nightly intake of
alcohol. Romanians love a fire, a tent and a barbecue out under the stars, especially with a car boot clinking with beer bottles, so camping areas and enterprising villagers’ fields are studded with tents and smoking fires.” I have a positive message for anyone in Romania with a guest house, a tourist business or even a village to promote - all the online tools are readily available for you to make an awesome website that could attract visitors from all over the world. All you have to do is try to understand how your target audience thinks and then create great material for your website. Easier said than done Although everyone can speak coherently and write properly, very few seem able to put together a decent website. There’s something about writing for websites that turns us into public officials or lawyers writing to other lawyers; we write cold and unfriendly words that fail to capture the spirit of the place. It’s not just
individuals who have this problem -companies and institutions are just as bad and their websites tend to be either desperately boring or (if they’re paying an expensive ad agency in the capital) written in the supercilious tone of a surfer dude. There is also a money problem. Businesses don’t seem to have a problem paying for advertising but they do have a problem paying for a website editor. This is a false economy as even Google makes it clear that what they’re looking for when ranking websites is good, clear copy, relevant images and evidence that someone is editing and updating it. That’s it. What’s the best way to seize this opportunity? For me it’s clear what small businesses and individual tourist operators need to do to compete in the global tourism market -- create a decent website. Before even looking at images and technical solutions the most important person needed is a proper English writer. And
I’ve already mentioned one writer -- Arabella -- who lives in the shadow of the staggering 27km Piatra Craiului ridge. If I had a tourism business in Romania I would be knocking on her door as I’m sure she’d charge less, and do far more, than any advertising agency. Once you’ve recruited your writer all you need to do is tell them who you want to communicate with. In the extract above, Arabella mentions “nature lovers, hikers, climbers, birdwatchers, botanists,” and these niche groups are ideal target audiences as they’re small and easy to reach. As a tourism promotion strategy the best approach is to target small niche groups like these, as it’s now possible to address them directly via the internet. No longer must you be the poor man at the table with your little guest house, competing against a big hotel; maybe you’re the only B&B in a village where the forest and the wildlife are still undiscovered. ▪
Rupert Wolfe Murray lived in Romania for 17 years and now lives on a houseboat on the River Thames. He would appreciate it if you followed him on Twitter @wolfemurray.
Transylvanian Diaries PART 1
ast summer my wife and I bought a house. It was a large Saxon peasant house in a dilapidated state after being unlived in for 18 years. Its last owners had moved to Germany in the early '90s, as part of the Saxon mass migration following the downfall of communism, and rarely returned. We’d thrown our limited resources into buying the property, and now had the task of bringing it back to life. With little experience in doing up houses, from electrics to plumbing to drainage systems – not to mention a huge garden to manage – the task ahead was both exciting and daunting. A shoestring budget, a busy work schedule and an active small child wouldn’t help. But the house possessed some irresistible features: immaculate ceiling beams and wooden floors throughout, a large summer kitchen that would be perfect for hosting guests, and stone-walled cellars that could make for a perfect double bedroom and adjacent reading room. The village of Criș, where we bought our home, is a short drive from Sighișoara, but it could be another world. Many of the houses are empty, and those that aren’t are mostly occupied by old residents who’ve lived in the village for decades. It’s not exactly an obvious place for a young, multinational family to base itself. Still, it drew us in. Aspirations aside, the first leg of the
By Stephen McGrath project was clear enough: to cut back the garden overgrowth – including the previous owners’ enthusiasm for wire fencing – and to clear out the junk that had accumulated over several generations of apparent hoarders. The sheer volume of blankets, sheets and furniture the family kept was startling in the extreme. Of course, we kept anything of historic value. My favourite find was the land deeds, dated 1906 and written beautifully in Hungarian. I still need to get them translated, but with no running water and 30-cubic-metres of damp soil to excavate from the cellars, there are more pressing tasks at hand. Like most sizeable home restoration projects, and especially in a country like Romania, there are moments of joy and despair, and the key is reaching a point where you can live comfortably with the basic amenities. Currently, it’s a lot like luxury camping, which always becomes a drag on the third day when the novelty wears off. We converted the future living room into a large bedroom, stripped some old furniture and had a bed made by a young carpenter in Cluj; we keep that space immaculate to ensure we have a restful place at the end of a hard day of manual labour. This type of old architecture is not ideal when it comes to installing modern water and heating, but we must enter the 21st century.
As a journalist, I’ve written much about Romania’s migration problem, and the resulting skilled-labour shortage, but only when I tried to find builders (at least around these parts), did I truly feel the impact. Finding workers – not to mention quality, trustworthy builders – for smallish one-off jobs is difficult when larger contracts await them. However, I have two arms and legs and I enjoy physical work – so I’ve resigned myself to any jobs that merely requires hard labour. Slowly, we are making progress. It’s hard to believe that just two months ago a thick snowfall covered the courtyard white, and the wood burners were crackling, occasionally filling the room with acrid-smelling smoke. This week I found myself planting flowers in the stone bases of our decades-old vines, to add some colour and a sense of optimism to what is slowly becoming a family home. Next door’s old chained-up dog is barking, roosters are crowing, village tractors are rumbling by and the male frogs are croaking in the stream, competing for female attention. As the sun casts shadows across the spacious courtyard and the moody clouds gather for some afternoon rain, Tommy, my son, is searching for snails to put in his little plastic wheelbarrow. I can think of worse places to sit and write. ▪
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. 45
By Julia Leescu “Those baristas are looking at me like I did not catch up with reality.” “Well, you left Ukraine exactly 16 years ago”–says my mom, finishing her Grand Blueberry Latte, looking at the cat monument from the window. My Kiev of 2018 is a city of coffee and cats. Morning coffee keeps its inhabitants optimistic and ready for whatever life can throw at them. Cat motives as well as street cats are an ingrained part of the city landscape probably since Mihail Bulgakov, a proud Kievite, created his famous black Behemoth “Master and Margarita”. Cities like this one do change fast. When you are born in the city of almost 3 million people, it’s impossible to leave and return to find it exactly the way it was. Over the last four years Kiev seems to have finally parted with its ugly communist past–most of the numerous statues of Lenin and other communist symbols are gone. The Ukrainian capital has become an interesting mix of authentic local culture and things adopted from other European countries–open balconies with coffee tables, solar-powered benches
and many cosy bars that are open 24/7. Kyiv in the summer offers lots of essential tourist experiences like river cruises, tasty meals, festivals, cinemas, theatres and museums. When my Romanian friends ask me whether they should travel to the Ukrainian capital in 2018, I say that there’s no better time to do it. And yes, it’s now officially become the cheapest European capital. Considering your summer or autumn trip to Kiev? Most of my friends from Romania are asking the same questions about my hometown, so I’ll just list my answers here:
How do I get there? Your best option is to take a direct “Bucharest–Kiev” flight operated by Windrose Airlines (windrose.aero/eng). Alternatively, check Expedia.com for current round trip deals offered by LOT or Turkish airlines (all those flights are with 1 stop). Do people speak English there? The majority of city inhabitants younger than 40 can speak enough English to help you in most of situations. With older folks you may need to rely on the language of gestures. Most street signs, metropolitan schemes and public transport schemes are created in two languages anyway: Ukrainian and English.
Is it safe to travel to Ukraine? Yes, most of the Ukrainian territory is now safe to visit. Just avoid going to the territories where the war still goes on (most of Donetsk oblast and Luhansk oblast) and the occupied territories. How safe is Kyiv? I think it is as safe as any big European city. However, unlike in Bucharest, which is one of the safest cities of Europe, one has to pay attention to the surroundings and people a little bit more.
How expensive is it? In my experience, Kiev for a tourist is about half the price of Bucharest. For costs of living see Expatistan website: www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/ comparison/bucharest/kiev
What do I take with me to Kyiv? Some money on your card (use trustworthy cash machines from the likes of Private Bank to withdraw it) and enough cash in USD or in EURO. There is no easy or painless (cheap) way to exchange Romanian Lei into Ukrainian Hryvnya, please keep this in mind. Most things can be found in the supermarkets–from food for a specific diet to various gadgets. I find AirBnb a great tool for finding an apartment in Kiev–from small studios in the centre to huge 5-roomed places which will accommodate all of your friends. If you are not a fan of AirBnb deals, Booking.com is your trustworthy
tool for finding a nice hotel. What else should I mention? You will see a lot stunning people on the Kiev streets. While the stereotypes about the beautiful women of Ukraine are true, the local men are lately trying to catch up and look as awesome as the girls and, it has to b reported that they are largely succeeding in this. In the early morning you will find many of the parks full of dedicated guys working out. It’s time to get to the main point though. Here are just some of summer adventures that you can take in Kiev. I’ve road-tested them all this May: ◊ From any place in the historic centre, walk to Andriyivskyy Descent street to get yourself great souvenirs, created by local craftsmen and artists. I’d give this activity a day: you won’t regret it.
wouldn’t see otherwise. The longest cruise that I’ve seen advertised lasts for about 3-4 hours. ◊ Visit the National Opera of Ukraine, try to do it at least once: www.opera.com. ua/en ◊ Orthodox churches. Even if you are not particularly religious, those buildings are stunning, inside and outside: beinsideukraine.com/activity/ kiev-orthodox/ ◊ Take a tour to former president’s Yanukovich residence, Mezhyhirya: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezhyhirya_ Residence. Tasteless luxury and other ridiculous things you will see in this place might make you understand why Ukrainians decided to get rid of their little dictator. And why they eventually did it.
◊ Go to Kontraktova Square (use Kiev metro - it’s the easiest way) to ride the beautiful Ferris wheel that they’ve just installed there. Take your smartphone or camera with you!
Looking for more good ideas?
◊ Walk from Kontraktova Square to Poshtova Square, visiting some of those many cafes and restaurants on your way. If you are fan of trying things which you probably haven’t tried before, it’s a good idea to pick Ukrainian, Georgian or Central Asian places - places that don’t exist in Bucharest.
For more daring things, try these colourful suggestions by “Atlas Obscura”: atlasobscura.com/things-to-do/ kyiv-ukraine
◊ Take a metro to Poshtova Square. There you will find Kiev River Port. Take one of the short cruises to see the beautiful river Dniepr, see the little islands and the views of Kiev you
• HANDMADE •
Lonely Planet’s list dedicated to Kiev can be really useful here: lonelyplanet.com/ ukraine/kyiv
If you’re still not sure about how to plan your trip to Kiev, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can give you some more tips. This May was probably the first time that I’ve heard a couple of tourists speaking Romanian at one of outside café tables in Kyiv. I think it’s about time we made Romanian tourists less rare in Ukraine and I’ll be genuinely happy if this article helps. The visa situation couldn’t be more straightforward, Romanians don’t need a visa, the list of countries who need a visa to enter the Ukraine is short, the list of those who don’t need a visa is very long. Check online. ▪
Not just another blouse in your wardrobe, but a masterpiece designed to last a lifetime
www.romanian-blouse.com tel: 0723 700 600
Fa r from H o m e Maria Thereza Petrogiannis is a British citizen, originally from Suceava, Romania. Through unpredicted circumstances, she moved to London 17 years ago, in 2001, at a time when Romania was going through tumultuous changes. After qualifying as a primary school teacher in Suceava and then as a journalist, at the Faculty of Jounalism and Communication Sciences in Bucharest, with training at Romania Liberă and Jurnalul National, her career took a completely different turn and now she finds herself teaching English and Functional Skills in… London. At the present moment, she is a single mother of two, a boy of 12 and a girl of 7 years old. Now in her 40s, she is trying to make the most of all the accumulated experience as a professional and to be of help to adults that try to improve their English, to access further education or work, or simply upgrade their chances to integration in UK. When and why did you decide to leave Romania?
I went back into education and evolved professionally.
I used to travel a lot to many countries, especially to Belgium, where we have close family friends. Opportunities to travel were always there through my profession as a journalist. When I left Romania, in 2001, it wasn't because I had actually made that decision, like so many of us did. It was simply because I happened to have been offered a job, during a holiday, at the company where my sister was working as a representative, in the UK. She had planned to live in Canada and invited me for a holiday to London one year before she left. So that was the starting point.
What were you doing here and what do you do there?
What were your expectations about the UK? When I arrived in the UK, I travelled around for a while visiting cities and historic places. Other than London, I like Margate a lot. Coming from a Latin type of country, I was used to temperamental people, noisy and vivacious, I was expecting to see exactly the opposite in the UK, and I did. What I admire the most about the English people is their calmness and the elegance in their ways of treating each other, always considering the next in line as capable as oneself. To me personally, this is the highest sign of respect, and I never felt prayed on as a woman or disconsidered in any way. Although I have been a home mum for a few years, 48
I am now working as an English teacher. My previous training, in Romania, as a primary school teacher and journalist, enabled me to attend a post-graduate course in education and now I am teaching English as a second language and literacy. My learners are mostly adults of other nationalities as well as UK natives, looking into developing their functional skills or accessing higher education. Both qualifications obtained in Romania, with Bachelor Degree, are highly regarded in the UK and I recommend our nationals not to abandon their education once they come here. How is life in London? What are the biggest differences between Bucharest and London? Life in London brings a lot of challenges, especially when you are a working, single mother of two. I am part of a strong Romanian community that migrated massively to the UK. I do not feel at all uprooted because we have many opportunities to celebrate and feel Romanian in London. We get together for all sorts of events, like we would do back home – weddings, christenings, different parties through which we keep our customs alive. Other
than that, I have strong connections with the Greek community, through family connections and the fact we live in an area predominantly populated by Greeks. What I like the most about living in London is exactly the fact that we have representatives of all countries and I consider this a privilege. It is cosmopolitan and interesting at the level of mentalities, especially enriching for any human being interested in anthropology, like myself. I am also happy to be able to educate my children in the UK, where they can benefit from all of these aspects and they can grow up open minded as well as confident within themselves. What do you miss from Romania? What food/drinks do you miss most? Do you visit Romania often? I go back home to Romania at least once a year, I miss my family dearly, especially my parents, now retired teachers, but we keep in touch all the time. We grew up the old fashioned way, like a very strong unit, and the best of times for me were during my holidays - those spent together with my parents, aunties, cousins and so on. We like to get together for barbecues, eat “mici” and we drink our beer, made in Romania, of course… Ha ha ha! I also miss Bucharest, it is the city I love the most because I have so many memories as a student there and I always feel the same young, enthusiastic professional every time I go back there! ▪
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S u n s h i n e in a G l a s s By Robert Marshall With the chilly winter months truly behind us there is no better way to enjoy the long, lion days of summer than with a glass of rum, but where to start? Rum is the most diverse category of all the spirits encompassing a range of styles from easily accessible and affordable commercial Cuban white rums, to aromatic rich, spiced infused rums and, for those who wish to sip and savour, refined matured rums that rival the complexity and price of the finest Scotch single-malt whiskies.
The genesis of rum has far from illustrious origins. In the 17th century sugar cane was the driving force behind the wealth of the large imperialist nations. Almost 1.5 million African slaves were transported to the British West Indies from 1672 -1775 to work on the sugar plantations. The first proto-rums were rough, course spirits distilled from molasses, a byproduct of refining sugar. However the potential of this seductive, sweet elixir was noted by the sugar barons and slave owners and, by the 18th century, industrial production methods had been introduced and rum had become an important trading commodity between the seafaring nations.
Rum is produced throughout the world, from Australia to Venezuela, and, when aged in oak barrels, matures at a much faster rate in hot climatic conditions. White rums are almost always un-aged, although they can be aged and have the colour filtered out, and remain firm favourites in simple cocktails like Cuba Libra (rum and coke). Spiced rums are, as the name suggests, flavoured with spices and work well in cocktails when balanced with the right ingredients. Finally, aged rums are matured in casks which allow the spirit to interact with the wood and air to create smooth and rich rums that are best sipped with a single block of ice or neat.
Ian Barbour - The sugar cane fields of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa 50
3 photo credit: Meng He
FOOD & DRINKS
Classic Rum cocktails
to try, buy or make at home Dark ‘n’ Stormy This nautically named summer drink is an easy cocktail to start with. You will need a decent dark rum (the stronger the better), a good ginger beer (the fierier the better), plenty of ice, a lime wedge and a Collins glass. Pour the ginger beer over ice and add a good few slugs of dark rum and watch the clouds form at the top of the glass and slowly fuse to create a perfect storm of rich treacle, spicy, sweet ginger with a lime citrus kick. For the best results use Navy strength rum of 54.5% ABV- a specific alcohol level that historically refers to the spirit’s ‘proof’. On the long sea voyages, and during naval battles, it was quite common for the rum casks to break, spill their contents and mix with the gunpowder. Therefore rum was barrelled at Navy Strength, so if upsets occurred the gunpowder could still ignite, whilst the rum remained a daily dose of pleasure for the crew – an interesting fact to contemplate as you leisurely make yourself a second Dark ‘n’ Stormy.
photo credit: collectmoments
A true classic and a must if you want to explore the cannon of cocktails. The Daiquri family is large and elements can be adapted and replaced but rum always remains the core ingredient, balanced, most frequently, with a citrus juice (usually lime) and a sweetener (usually sugar syrup). The cocktails exact origins are debatable; it may take its name from a Cuban beach named Daiquiri. What is certain is that it became a hit in the New York nightclubs of the early 20th century and by the 40s was firmly established. Ernest Hemingway loved Daiquiris so much he created his own version called the papa doble.
Daiquiris pack a punch as big as Hemingway’s ego; you will need a good sized shaker and plenty of ice. Commercial white rum will suffice (9 parts), combined with freshly squeezed lime juice (5 parts) and sugar syrup (3 parts). Shake and double strain into a chilled Martini glass.
Mai Tai Tiki Culture exploded onto the American hospitality scene in the 1930s and with it a colourful array of exotic cocktails with the Mai Tai being, perhaps, the most famous and enduring. A chap named Trader Vic (real name Victor J. Bergeron) is credited with inventing the drink, and ‘Mai Tai’! roughly translates as ‘good’ in Tahitian. Whilst other kitschy cocktails have fallen out of favour, the Mai Tai has remained a staple on cocktail menus throughout the world. Combine fresh lime juice, sugar syrup, orgeat almond syrup (most supermarkets will stock this, with Monin being the most popular brand), Cointreau and make sure to use a quality premium aged rum (e.g. 12 yrs) to add complexity. Shake with ice and serve into a chilled tumbler glass and garnish with lime peel and a fresh sprig of mint. ▪ 51
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L a w in a Glass Of
Wi n e … Shall we have a d r i n k ? By Andreea Micu, Partner and Ramona Bădescu, Associate– Stoica & Associates
The history of wine goes back thousands of years, when it was considered a sacred drink protected by gods such as the famous Dionysus – the Greek god of the grapes, harvest, wine-making and fertility - or the well-known Bacchus – the Roman god of wine, wineries and agriculture. Over the years, wine has been associated with art, philosophy, music and religion, due to its excellent cultural potential. But how about wine and law? The answer is nowadays simple: law defines the wine in our glasses. From the manner of selecting the plots for planting the grapes to the bottling of the drink itself and its distribution on the hypermarket shelves, wine is regulated by numerous provisions, for the purpose of protecting the consumers’ health as well as for ensuring the observance of a variety of quality standards. In recent years, one of the most important and debated subjects in relation to wine law is the protection of designations of origin (PDOs) and geographical indications (PGIs). 52
European symbols for wine protected designations of origin and wine protected geographical indications. According to the European and national law, there are four types of wine: wine with protected designation of origin (label: AOP or DOC or PDO etc.), wine with protected geographical indication (label: IG or PGI etc.), varietal wine (label: type of grape, e.g. merlot) and simple wine (label: wine). Since we live in a consumerist era, where each hypermarket offers an enormous diversity of wines from all over the world, it is natural to have difficulty when choosing the bottle of wine which suits best our interests and tastes. Indeed, the criteria for the basis upon which everyone can make their
own selection of wines are complex, but one of them certainly stands out from the crowd: the existence of a protected geographical denomination. PDOs and PGIs are not simply indicators of the geographical origin of the wine, but they are also instruments for measuring the quality of the wine itself. How do we know that? Well, there are many legal provisions at international, European and national level that impose severe conditions for the production of wine with PDOs and PGIs and, in case such rules are broken, several sanctions are applicable. According to the European and national
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legislation, the protected designation of origin is the name of a geographical region, local territory or even country, used for the description of certain types of wine, expressly mentioned by law, provided that the following conditions are met: the quality and the characteristics of the wine are entirely or mainly the result of specific geographic and human factors of the territory in question; the grapes originate entirely from the territory in question; the production takes place in the territory in question and the wine is obtained from Vitis vinifera grapes. As well, according to the European and national legislation, the protected geographical indication is the name of a geographical region, local territory or even country, used for the description of certain types of wine, expressly mentioned by law, provided that the following conditions are met: the quality, the reputation or other characteristics of the wine may be attributed to the territory in question; at least 85% of the grapes originate from the territory in question; the production takes place in the territory in question and the wine is obtained from Vitis vinifera grapes or from Vitis vinifera grapes crossed with other Vitis grapes. To summarize, in the case of both PDO
and PGI wines, the connection with the territory of origin is essential. However, the standards of quality related to PDOs are higher, given that the grapes must originate exclusively from the territory in question and the fact that the wine’s quality must depend to a higher degree on the characteristics of the said territory. Unlike varietal wines and simple wines, which can be made up of grapes from one territory, produced in another territory and bottled even in another territory, the PDO and the PGI wines make it possible for the consumer to follow the path of the wine – its traceability - and to understand the connection of the wine with its place of birth. The connection of the wine with its place of origin is called, in a French manner, terroir, a word with no translation in other languages. The terroir is composed of geographical factors (such as landforms, rivers, sea), as well as climatic (average rainfall, snow, wind etc.) and human factors (such as traditions in the wine-making processes). In other words, the terroir determines the personality of the wine. From the producers’ perspective, the PDOs and PGIs are industrial
property rights, similar to trademarks, which make it possible for the wine producers developing their business in a certain geographical region to distinguish their wines from the ones produced in other territories. If necessary, it is possible to file a claim against another entity which produces and bottles wine that do not originate from the protected geographical region or that does not fulfill the strict quality conditions imposed in relation to the right to use the denomination of origin. For instance, last year, the French authorities discovered the counterfeit of a massive quantity of wine under the PDOs Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The associations of wine producers from the two geographical regions filed a civil action against the counterfeiter for the illegal selling of 66.5 million bottles of wine under the PDOs Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The French authorities estimate that approximately 15% of the annual sales of these two types of wine in the period 2013 - 2016 were counterfeit. The litigation is still pending. In order to be able to produce PDO or PGI wines, the producers must submit their wine to several controls made by the national authorities throughout the production process as well as to obtain certain specific authorizations. In addition, according to both European and national law, the labelling of a PDO or a PGI wine must contain the designation “PDO” or “PGI” together with the name of the specific geographical region. In Romania, PDO can be encountered on the label as “DOP” – Denumire de origine protejată or “D.O.C.” – Denumire de origine controlată.
Wine laws and regulations have a strong influence on the wine that we pour into our glasses and they can provide valuable information when choosing the perfect wine for our taste. At the end of this article what is there left to say? Relax and enjoy your wine wisely! Cheers! ▪ 53
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Dessert as Theatre product 11 points out of 10 during a testing ceremony, which makes me very proud. This plated dessert is a feast and an explosion of tastes combining a smooth and fluffy, airy mousse which gets an extra flavour boost from the beloved Bailey’s Irish Cream, a crunchy chocolate base and a divine dark chocolate mirror glaze.
he dish that I propose for this month’s OZB is a Bailey’s Mousse with Rhubarb Strawberries Jelly, an extremely tasty and fine pastry product, from a pretty old recipe that I have been using for
Pastry Chef Mihaela Dima
11 years. I am very attached to this recipe and its presentation, due to the elegant taste that will for sure impress your guests. Moreover, I would like to mention that the Ambassador of Ireland to Bucharest gave this pastry
BAILEY’S MOUSSE WITH Bailey’s Mousse 150g Bailey’s 45g milk 45g egg yolks 110g milk chocolate 45g dark chocolate 120g heavy cream 9g gelatin sheets
Rh� ba rb
1. Soak gelatin in ice cold water until hydrated, squeeze out excess water and set aside. 2. In a pot, bring milk to a boil, pour it over the egg yolks and return the mixture to the cooker until it reaches 82 C. Stir in gelatin to dissolve. 3. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and stir well until it is completely melted and emulsified. 4. When the mixture is cooled down, incorporate the Bailey’s and the whipped cream. Note: Pour in the desired molds a layer of Bailey’s Mousse, the Rhubarb and strawberries jelly (recipe will follow below), and another layer of Bailey’s Mousse. Freeze it before glazing. 54
The decoration, the dessert’s final touch, consists of subtly presented components as indispensable as the queen’s crown. Chocolate decorations, edible flowers, strawberry pieces are all actors that will complete this plated dessert which can successfully be compared with a theatre piece with several acts. Each and every bite will lead you to the magnificent world of chocolate, the ingredient which constitutes the narrative thread of our sublime story. Please, find in the following its components and the methodology of preparation. 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 experience in the hospitality industry and she devouted her passion and expertise to the hotel for the last 20 years, creating spectacular desserts.
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Dark chocolate mirror glaze
165g butter (room temperature) 402g Valrhona milk chocolate Caramelia 36% 387,5g cornflakes 885g Praline paste 65%
22,5g gelatin sheets 225g sugar 125g water 225g glucose syrup 215g dark chocolate 150g condensed milk 80g neutral glaze
1. Melt the chocolate and emulsify it together with the butter. 2. Incorporate the cornflakes. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix everything 2-3 minutes until you have a fine granulated crunch. 3. Place on a baking mat and reserve it in the refrigerator. 4. Cut it in desired rectangles. Note: Since the cornflakes in bigger sizes generally absorb humidity, for a nice and crunchy effect, it is recommended to mix them with the chocolate and butter mixture until you get a finer granulation.
1. Soak gelatin in ice cold water until softened, squeeze out excess water and set aside. 2. In a medium size pot, boil water, sugar and glucose. 3. Stir in the gelatin. 4. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and emulsify. 5. Stir in the condensed milk and the neutral glaze. 6. Allow it cool to 35 C until glazing the cakes.
Assembly 1. Crunch base 2. Baileyâ€™s Mousse with Rhubarb Strawberries Jelly 3. Dark chocolate mirror glaze 4. Chocolate decorations, edible flowers and fruits
Rhubarb Strawberries Jelly 1kg rhubarb 100g sugar 200g strawberries cut in small pieces 1. Put the rhubarb with a small amount of water in a pot and let it slowly cook. 2. When ready, pour in the sugar and stir it well until dissolved. 3. Pour it in a container and freeze it. 4. Cut it in perfect strips to insert them between the mousse layers. 5. Put the strawberries pieces over the rhubarb jelly. Note: This is a jelly which doesnâ€™t require gelatin due to the texture of cooked rhubarb. The strawberries pieces will stick to the jelly without the risk of being slippery on it, since no gelatin content. 55
FOOD & DRINKS
Ca le a Vi c tor i e i – Once Again
the Place to Be
photo by Felix on flickr
By Alan Clark
ne of the things I love about Bucharest, is the choice of outdoor events during the Summer months. It's often hard to choose which event to support, and since summer came early this year, the festival season is in full swing. I always check the drinks available, and if I am undecided, the availability of craft beer or cider will tip the scales for me. The first weekend of June we got the bikes out and cycled to the “Femei pe Mătăsari”. Bucharest seemed deserted as the Black Sea resorts were reportedly full. A collection of hand-made jewellery, clothing, and other items interspersed by the occasional food truck and drinks bar, was waiting for us there. My family, and especially the
kids, enjoy the creativity and quality of food trucks in Romania. So a lunch stop was in order here. After some serious browsing, we headed off again, next stop Calea Victorie where pedestrian Sunday was under way. When I first got to know Calea Victoriei in the early noughties, it was suffering from serious neglect and decay, and there were no significant hedonistic attractions. As we cruised down Calea Victorie, I was reminded that times have changed, as we passed some of my favourite locations which are best enjoyed when the bike is left at home. A 5 minute walk down Calea Victoriei from Piața Victoriei in the North,
I recommend to stop at the elegant townhouse at number 210, current location of Bucharest’s only Absintherie Sixtina, with its excellent terrace and stunning interior. The Absintherie, formerly an art gallery, has a good selection of craft beers and cider, and its Facebook page will publicise forthcoming, and usually lively, events. A short stagger from there, turning first left, and 20 metres into Strada Gina Patrichi (Nr3) where you can experience Re:Modelier’s legendary burgers, washed down by one of a short but well selected list of craft beers and cider. Re:Modelier’s quality was confirmed by its entry into Romania’s first Gault et Millau edition. 57
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sidewalk terrace where you should be able to find a seat if you get there early enough.
Next recommended stop, at number 91-93, and with one of the country’s biggest selections of locally produced craft beers with 9 beers and one cider on tap and many more in bottle, is Fabrica de Bere Bună, Romanian Craft beer Bar. Opened late 2017 by pioneering craft beer producer Zăganu, the tastefully decorated bar now has a
Another favourite during the Summer months is located further South, just off Calea Victoriei, turning left after the Ateneul Roman and the car park at Piața George Enescu into Strada C.A. Rossetti, is Spațiul M60 (photo left). This spacious and relaxed open-air terrace has the largest selection of Romanian craft beers and ciders and often hosts meet-the-maker events, and is a relaxing place to rehydrate after the summer sun. It should be noted that Calea Victoriei has easily the best bike-lane system in Bucharest which gives it a permanent accessibility to cyclists. We do not, however, recommend combining cycling with exploring the above mentioned establishments.▪
Education PL AN NI NG by James Lawson This Is a key subject and one that’s often the source of heavy debate. Where do we want our children to be educated? Where are the best schools and teachers? What type of education do we want to be able to provide and more importantly, how much will it cost? As parents we want the best education for our children and we want to be able to afford it. Yet, when we consider the costs it can be a bit of a shock. Education costs have been on the rise for years and this trend is not set to shift anytime soon. However, the significance of education has not diminished in the slightest.
Early planning minimises the impact of the investment and provides peace of mind that this essential aspect of your child’s future is in hand. Additionally, regular contributions to a tax efficient savings vehicle can make the cost of quality education much more affordable. The cost of education will also vary considerably depending on the location in which you are working. While developing countries often offer lower cost education options it is important to check that they meet the standards of a properly accredited international body to give your children the best education.
TAX ADVANTAGES FOR AN OVERSEAS EDUCATION Whilst the cost of educating your children abroad can be higher, there may be tax advantages which help to offset these costs. Depending on your circumstances there may be specific investment vehicles which are highly tax efficient and in some cases incur no tax.
HOW MUCH DOES UNIVERSITY COST AS AN EXPAT? If you do not qualify for “home status” your children will be classified into tiers which determine how much you pay. There are NO limits to the charges universities can apply to overseas students. Even if you are lucky enough to achieve home status, the fees remain far from cheap, leaving many students in debt.
PLANNING At the moment it’s not how much but when. The cost of delaying by even a couple of years can considerably increase how much you need to save each month in the future.
AFFORDABILITY This is the key question posed by most parents and it can be answered with a frank discussion with a qualified and experienced financial advisor. It does after all require setting aside a fund or funds for a set period of time but it doesn’t have to be painful. Think of it simply as a commitment to your child’s future.
James Lawson is Partner of Berkeley Wealth Management based in Bucharest. If you have any more questions or would like to arrange a confidential discussion, contact him at email@example.com or direct on 0736 805574. 59
Burno u t : time of Renewal or Self-destruction?
The choice is yours By Anda Ene
In these times, we are often overwhelmed by the many duties and choices we have to make every single day, the incredible, massive influx of data we receive and perceive and struggle to process, the instability of what we create in the present and the uncertainty of the future. Yes, life is very rich and we all experience a high amount of stress as participants (or just components?) in this ever growing and complex living system. As a mother of three boys (one is a teenager…:), with a professional coaching career on the rise, with a small business to run, mostly single-handedly, and a part time job which is not a labour of love, I feel the pressure coming from all directions. And this makes me think of the expression burnout, burnout, burnout… According to the US National Library of Medicine, the term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger and “is a consequence of severe stress and high ideals” seen extra-especially in the so called “helping professions” like doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers of people with special needs, counseling (psychologist, schools, community). In this modern world, many professions engender a perfect storm to enable their employees’ burnout. Even at home, there are myriad reasons for burnout. It may be true, burnout is connected with the professional life but burnout also has its roots in your personal life. Anybody can be affected by this modern “syndrome” without even knowing it. That’s why I think it’s important to check for the signs. It builds slowly over time, so that you don’t realize what it is. First it’s an apathy, moments of frustration and impatience show increasingly often, fatigue is a permanent
companion. Dissatisfaction, stays with you, not only occasionally. It might become a generalized state, because you are overworked or underchallenged and family life, friendships and your social interactions might be affected. Bit by bit, a cloud starts to spread a dark shadow over you, consuming your energy, enthusiasm, creativity, hope, even your pleasure in life and living. You may feel like you have been taken hostage by an invisible enemy who is disturbing you at the mental and emotional level. Does any of this resonate with you? If not, I’m happy for you. Apparently, you are doing good work to manage your life, but nevertheless be aware of the signs which can be very elusive and easy to ignore, especially in the beginning. For the rest of us, let’s take a look and see. Do you have a tendency to neglect yourself, your needs, especially your feelings? Is self-sacrifice a permanent attitude? Living with high stress, under the permanent pressure of time, the pressure to excel, overworked or staying in a boring and routine job, all these factors might induce physical and psychological exhaustion. Becoming cynical and
detached is not a good option either, these are also markers from the same constellations. Whatever our life circumstances, we must consciously assume that it’s our creation, although forces outside of our control will have interfered too. Sometimes we get clear signs that our life is not heading in the right, good direction and burnout catches us out exactly when we are at our most vulnerable, when we are least able to make decisions. To really go for a change in our lives, we have to reject the illusion that somebody else will fix it or will save us. If you are religious and faithfully trust that the God or the Universe will work its metaphysical plan and do the magic, beware! I would only repeat, what a famous monk said once: “Pray as if everything is up to God, act as if everything is up to you”. When you are in a down phase of your life, is it always good to remember that there is always an alternation between good and bad periods in the seasons of our lives. Remember, that you possess the same qualities and you are the same person as the one who excelled and thrived in a another period. What life throws at you, it doesn’t matter, that is out of your control, but it matters a lot to know that what you value is intangible and unchangeable, regardless of what is happening in the present moment. You can take a 100 euro bill, squeeze it in your hand, scrunch it up, throw it in the mud, step on it… It doesn’t matter how awful it might be looking, it still has the same value. To put your life back on track, it’s important to start loving and treating yourself with gentleness. Be your best supporter and stop with the criticism. Do more of what makes you feel better, stronger, younger. Go out in the fresh air, take long walks, learn something new or whatever inspires you. “Burnout” is a wonderful opportunity for personal renewal and that’s much better than a self-destructive programme. It’s up to you. ▪
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 60
L et the
S h i n e By Claire Melinte Asociația Bunul Samaritean is based in the village of Nicorești, in the Galați County. It was founded when a group of Irish volunteers came out to volunteer, just after the revolution, in the local orphanage where hundreds of babies and children had been abandoned in awful conditions. Those first volunteers (who today are still our biggest sponsors!) quickly realised that the only way to help the sickest of these children was by building a home for them, so in 2003 Casa Bridget was opened! 2018 is a very special year for us as we celebrate 15 years since Casa Bridget opened its doors to our first residents! We don’t often talk about the past, but sometimes it’s important to reflect on how things were, so we can appreciate how much things have changed. It’s difficult to imagine that 16 years ago, our happy, fun-loving, cheeky residents were living in sub-humane conditions: some were chained to beds without mattresses; others were left for hours in their own faeces; ALL were subject to terrible abuse and neglect. Many volunteers from the orphanage talk about the horrific smell and unbearable coldness in the rooms, the desperation in the children’s eyes and the rows of babies lying in silence, having learnt the futility of crying. 15 years on and our residents are happy, safe and very much loved! We have a wonderful team of staff (trained by English and Irish specialists) that care for them every day, offer them both educational and fun activities and push them to be as independent and as happy as possible. Our guys have thrived in different ways, some have 62
learnt to walk, to feed themselves, others have learnt to communicate or to show affection. Sadly, some are no longer with us, but we know we made their last few years as happy as possible. We NEVER stop striving to offer our residents the very best care possible. Here is the story of one our residents; Valeria (name has been changed to protect her dignity), with hundreds of others, was discovered in shocking conditions in the Nicorești Orphanage. Valeria was terrifyingly skinny, and her bones were twisted from spending days/ weeks/months/years in a cot. Valeria was unable to walk and only got fed when someone took pity on her. As one of the weakest, she was vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Valeria lived in a small room where the smell alone would make visitors vomit. The good news is that Valeria’s story didn’t end there, we at Asociația Bunul Samaritean quickly built a home for her and 15 other children with severe disabilities. In 2003 they moved in and have thrived ever since. Valeria can now walk, she is in good health and although she cannot talk, she understands everything and has found her own way to communicate! Valeria thrives on routine, likes going for walks and loves helping round the house. Valeria, and the rest of the gang are well looked after by trained, loving staff. Valeria has her own bedroom, eats her meals in the kitchen as a family, showers every day, has daily walks and has access to our medical assistant and our massage therapist. In the summer Valeria enjoys
doing puzzles in our large garden, paddling in our pool and relaxing in our sensory garden. In the winter Valeria enjoys socializing in our playroom, relaxing in our Sensory room or doing crafts in our schoolroom. Most importantly, Valeria feels happy, safe and secure, her horrific past is well behind her! From the beginning it was clear that poverty was a huge problem; many homes are overcrowded and without running water or indoor bathroom facilities. There are still homes without electricity and horse and carts are still commonplace. Unemployment is high in our village and common problems include alcoholism, domestic violence, teenage pregnancies and delinquent behaviour. The children in our village face several different problems. Many parents (who were often teenagers themselves when they became parents) move abroad looking for jobs, often leaving their children with elderly grandparents or neighbours. Many parents are illiterate so are unable to help their children with their homework. There are families with 7, 8 or even more children and the elder children are often kept home from school to help with the little ones, or to go to work in the fields. Schools in rural areas also face real problems with funding, equipment and attracting qualified teachers. So, in 2007, we set up a Day Centre to tackle the problem of education for our youngsters. Since opening over 300 children have had their basic needs taken care of and quality educational programming. The Centre
provides children from families with a wide variety of problems and challenges with extra schooling, hot meals, hot showers, play time and a safe, loving atmosphere. We also offer non-formal educational workshops in various topics/areas such as; woodwork, sewing, gardening, internet safety, cooking, human trafficking prevention, and domestic violence. We give these children a safe environment whilst encouraging them to choose a different future for themselves! Here is a story of just one of our Day Centre children. Ana (name has been changed to protect her dignity) was abandoned by her mum and her dad is an alcoholic. She was raised by her elderly grandmother in a simple, one roomed house with no running water. Her granny has a small pension which is not enough to feed them, clothe them, pay for medicines and bills. Many nights Ana went to bed hungry, unable to sleep due to stomach cramps. The next day she would go to school (of course, without having had breakfast) where she would struggle to concentrate due to hunger and exhaustion. After school, Ana had nobody to help her with her homework, her gran being illiterate and preferring Ana to help around the house and yard. Some days Ana would not have clean clothes, so she preferred to miss school rather than be teased. Ana was very withdrawn and had few friends. The wonderful news is that Ana now attends our Day Centre (alongside 40 other children, each with their own story). Ana comes every day, after school, where she is greeted with kindness and a hot, healthy meal. After swapping stories about her day, Ana has a hot shower and puts on some clean clothes before going to play with her friends. At 2pm the teacher arrives to help the children do their homework. After lessons, the children are given another meal and then have more play time before the bus arrives to take them home. When Ana has a problem, she has access to our psychologist or our
medical assistant. Once a month the children have a party to celebrate who had a birthday that month (before attending the Day Centre, Ana didn’t even know when her birthday was!) Ana also participates in different workshops: sewing, cooking, gardening, computing, personal hygiene etc. Ana, and all the other children, also help with the cooking, cleaning and tidying in order to teach them pride and responsibility. Ana is now a different girl; her grades have improved, she enjoys school, she is more confident and she has learnt how to play. She has got her childhood back! And we also have a project to prevent children dropping out of school early which is another big problem, especially in rural Romania. This project has been running since 2015 and has 4 elements: 1. We offer free Math and Romanian Tuition to every child, in class (in two different villages) to give them a better chance of passing their exams and getting into high school. We also work with their parents to help them understand how important education is for their child's future. 2. We finance teenagers to go to high school (in the next town) and university (in various cities). 3. These youngsters ALL receive counselling to help them prepare for the adjustment from village school to high school in a town. When at high school/university the counselling continues to help them resolve any problems as soon as possible. 4 All our youngsters are encouraged to volunteer in our charity in various ways – doing activities with our disabled residents or Day Centre children, organising day trips, working in the yard, sorting and distributing donations, making and selling handmade items etc. This helps to give them a sense of pride and responsibility.
operations, we regularly deliver food, toys, clothes and firewood to those in need. The vast majority of our money, every month, comes from Crosscause (Ireland) and Noiperloro (Italy) to whom we are endlessly grateful. In recent years we have seen an increase in support from local companies and we’d really like this to continue and increase. We don’t get any government funding but have paid taxes of over 400,000 Euros! To help celebrate these 15 challenging but rewarding years, you can make a donation for the next 15 years here: Banca: Raiffeisen BANK (Tecuci) Cont LEI: RO62 RZBR 0000 0600 0499 1770 CIF: 16291453
Follow us on Facebook: @Fundatiebunulsamaritean or come and visit us to meet our big, wonderful family. ▪
In those 15 years we have also set up numerous projects supporting people in our community. We have built or repaired hundreds of houses, we have connected 50 houses with electricity, we have paid for thousands of medical tests, hospital visits and essential 63
THAT WAS THE MONTH THAT WAS – M AY By Dean Edgar
And so it continues, the ongoing battle between Klaus Iohannis and Liviu Dragnea, with the latter seeming to have the upper hand. The CCR (Constitutional Court) has decided that after being asked by the Justice Minister, Toader Tudorel (an apt name if ever there was one) Klaus Iohannis has to dismiss Laura Codruța Kovesi the director of the DNA, the leader of the fight against corruption and the enemy of the PSD. The judges in the CCR are politically elected and the majority of them are PSD backed. So far, Iohannis has refused to remove Kovesi, but sooner or later the government will remove him and most likely the Senate leader Călin Popescu Tăriceanu, who is a very close ally of Dragnea, will become the president, and he will remove Kovesi. There will be no one left to fight the fight. Outstanding criminal cases against current members of the PSD will be dropped, the PSD will become stronger and stronger, which in my opinion will severely cripple this country for years to come. EU fund absorsion is almost non-existent, highways are not being built, hospitals underfunded, doctors are leaving the country, and poverty is rising. Where will it all end? Europe is paying some attention to the situation here in Romania, 64
with The Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) making strong recommendations on the application of law within Romania, it stated that Romania has regressed and changes should be made. The Justice minister, effectively told GRECO to bugger off.
Meanwhile in Costa Rica, the former protege and alleged lover of the former president, Elena Udrea, has been sentenced in Bucharest by the Supreme Court to 6 years in prison for bribe taking and fraud. An international arrest warrant has been issued and the police seem to think that they can obtain an extradition order and have her brought back to Romania to serve her sentence. If she was a member of the PSD, and not the PNL, she would probably be prime minister by now.
I have been complaining about the lack of any political opposition then up pops Victor Ponta, one time golden boy of the PSD, with his new party, Pro Romania. Several PSD MP’s have jumped the PSD ship and joined him, therefore negating PSD’s majority in parliament. New political parties spring up all the time, with MPs changing their political leanings at the drop of hat. I am not sure what the ex PSD party member will bring to Romanian politics, that is yet to be seen. However as long as there is no majority, the PSD juggernaut has been dealt a blow.
Ilie Nastase, the bad boy of tennis, misogynist, part time racist and wearer of military uniforms managed to get himself arrested, not once but twice in the same day for drunk driving. Quite a feat for anyone. When stopped the first time he refused the breathalyzer
test and started getting a little aggressive towards the police, so was taken to headquarters for a blood test. Later that day, he left Floreasca hospital on a scooter, and was stopped again by the police. Some people seem to be of the opinion that they are above the law.
Sad news on the sporting front after World Rugby announced that the Romanian Rugby team have been disqualified from next years World Cup. The World Rugby organisation has always considered Romania to be the black sheep of rugby, holding back the advancement of the national side by not allowing tests against tier 1 sides, therefore not allowing them the experience of playing against better sides. The ban came after Spain lost against Belgium. Spain blamed the Romanian referee, Vlad Iordachescu, for bias. Vlad certainly had a shocker of match, but was there was intent or bias? Either way an official investigation was started. Whilst this got underway, Russia sent an official complaint that Spain, Belgium and Romania had fielded ineligible players. After a very long time, the findings of the independent Judicial and Disputes Committee were announced: all three national teams were disqualified. Russia will go to the World Cup while Germany, a team that was defeated 85-6 by Romania on the pitch, would make the playoffs. Romania vigorously followed all the necessary protocols for checking eligibility, but have been dealt with in an extreme and bizarre manner. If the decision stands after the appeal, the union would lose more than one third of its annual budget, with disastrous consequences for the sport. It would be a shameful end of the proud tradition of the Oaks, who were the only Tier 2 nation to play in every Rugby World Cup since the start of the competition. A sad day for Romanian rugby. Until July, goodbye.
The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the writer, Dean Edgar, and not related to those of the publisher, OZB.
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By Dean Edgar Hard to imagine that just over two months ago, we were climbing mountains of snow, slip sliding our way to work, then came May the 1st and summer hit us slap bang in the chops! Being an Englishman I carry the burden of being obsessed with the weather, making observations about the rain, (I am Manchester born, so somewhat of an expert on precipitation) complaining when it’s too cold, then complaining when it is too hot, and here in Bucharest I am in my element! I don't mind the cold so much, you can layer up and down accordingly, but being a Manchester boy, 25C is a heat wave, so Bucharest summers are hard to handle with temperatures well into the 30’s and early 40’s and this year it has come early. Yes, I can find respite in the mountains or by the coast, but my work’s in Bucharest, so here I must be most of the time. The aircon going full blast, along with several electric fans, makes life a little more bearable in my office. However when it comes
to getting around town I generally use public transport even though I have a car, I find it much easier to get from A to B without having to worry about parking. And here is where the heat gets smelly. There is the Romanian phenomenon called the ‘Current’, this is the fear, and I mean a genuine fear, of a draught. When travelling on a non air conditioned bus or trolley bus, and there are several older people on you, I can guarantee that the windows will be closed, therefore ensuring that said OAP’s will not die of the plague, ebola virus, lose a limb or other such terrible ways to go. I have had several arguments with pensioners when sitting next to a window and have attempted to open it, almost causing a riot.
(the car is the ultimate status symbol) so sometimes personal hygiene is not a priority. Arms raised up to grab onto the straps gives the passengers in the vicinity a special treat as they make there way to their destination. Surely a shower and some deodorant doesn’t cost that much?
The lack of moving air brings with it another social problem, body odour. Not to be too stereotypical, if you are travelling on a bus, you probably don't own a car, and so are lower down on the Romanian socio-economic scale
So as my electric fan is blasting at me directly, I throw caution to the wind and hope to survive to write next month’s sign off.
So arriving at a meeting in an office, looking up at the air conditioning unit and praying that it is switched on, you will notice several different ways of making sure that the ‘current’ does not hit anyone directly. Bits of cardboard, plastic or whatever is at hand, are stuck under the unit diverting the flow upwards. A window maybe open, but only one, never two, so preventing a soothing, cooling breeze.
Until next time, enjoy the weather.
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.
Celebrating Modern Romania. Monthly Lifestyle Magazine.