Page 1

Entrepreneur: In an interview with BR, Corina Brasoveanu, general manager of FasTracKids Bucuresti 3 – Barbu Vacarescu, speaks about drawing on her professional experience to build a business positioned on a very specific market niche: leadership courses for kids »page 11


August 1 - 7, 2011 / VOLUME 16, NUMBER 28


Looking to hit the road this summer? From old-school holiday favorites and medieval merriment to epic drives, regional mini-breaks and days of wine and roses, let BR tell you where to go »pages 14-19


CULTURAL CALENDAR BR has complied a list of the places to be, events that should not be missed and things to do in Bucharest and around, for the month of August » page 22

NEWS The first self-sufficient house prototype, which boasts integrated system for water supply, sewage, heating and electricity has been launched in Bucharest » page 6 Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


COVER STORY NEWS in brief Petrom and Exxon Mobil continue exploration in Black Sea

Summer hot spots

Gas and oil producer Petrom and Exxon Mobil are expanding their exploration venture in the Black Sea, in the Neptun area, after the Romanian government decided to extend the concession contract for exploration in this area. This new phase will allow the firms to install a deep exploration well in Romania's offshore Neptun Block by the end of 2011, improving the chances of discovering viable oil deposits. Petrom and ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Romania Ltd signed a concession contract in 2008, allowing Exxon Mobil to acquire a 50 percent stake in the Neptun Block. Since then, the two companies have cooperated on a 3D seismic acquisition and an evaluation program of the area. Photo: Simona Bazavan

Business Review deployed its journalists to come up with the definitive list of travel destinations off the beaten track that combine wild landscapes and unspoiled nature with historical pedigree and a hint of adventure.

OFF TRACK Photo: Simona Bazavan

The secluded Transfagarasan and Transalpina roads, which cut their way through the rugged scenery of the Fagaras and Parang mountains, are among the experiences of a lifetime that no driver or cyclist should miss.


REGIONAL DESTINATIONS Emperor Diocletian’s palace in Split on Croatia’s stunning Dalmatian coast, Istanbul’s frenetic Grand Bazaar and Belgrade’s charming Old Town are few of the potential mini-break highlights if you’re based in Bucharest this August.

Photo: Catalin Grecu

Whether you’re a passionate oenophile or don’t know your Merlot from your Muscat, Romania’s wineries and vineyards make a vintage day out.

At June 30, Orange had 10.1 million clients, a 3 percent decrease in its customer base since the same time last year. Of its total number of clients, 3.1 million use mobile data solutions. “We are preparing to get out of the crisis by making major investments into the expansion of the 2G and 3G coverage. We will focus our efforts to discover new ways to grow and adapt our offer to the profile and demands of consumers,” said Jean-Francois Fallacher, CEO of Orange Romania.

Oasis Shopping Center Services is new administrator of Auchan Titan Shopping Center

Software producer TotalSoft announced a turnover of EUR 11.6 million in the first half of the year. Most of the revenues, 75 percent, came from projects the company had developed in Romania while the remaining portion came from abroad, through the company’s offices in Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Qatar. TotalSoft’s EBITDA reached EUR 2.3 million a 40 percent growth on the same period of last year. The firm forecasts it will post an overall annual turnover of EUR 25 million for 2011.

Oasis Shopping Center Services, the mall administration division of Oasis Development, has taken over the property management services for Iris Auchan Titan Shopping Center in Bucharest. The facility has a surface of 48,000 sqm. Through this move, Oasis Shopping Center Services extends its managed portfolio to 75,000 sqm, with projects in cities such as Reghin, Tecuci, Fagaras, Botosani, Sibiu, Roman, Adjud, Tarnaveni, Lugoj and Hunedoara. The company plans to reach 100,000 sqm by the end of the year. “Retail is the most dynamic real estate segment and malls and commercial centers will have to show openness and rapid reaction to change in order to stay at the top,” said Brigitte Schmitt, partner at Oasis Shopping Center Services.

Liquidators to sell Bucharest City Mall through direct negotiation

AFI Europe Romania signs lease agreement with Cora for Ploiesti shopping mall

After five failed auctions, the creditors of the bankrupt Bucharest shopping center City Mall have approved a plan to sell the facility through direct negotiations for an estimated price of some EUR 21 million, announced Casa de Insolventa Transilvania (CITR), the project’s judicial liquidator. The deadline for placing offers is September 16. According to the same source, several investors have shown interest in the project. City Mall’s initial price was about 36 percent higher, at around EUR 33 million. The new price reflects market conditions and the failed auctions, said CITR representatives. City Mall entered insolvency in November 2010 after its owner, Victoria Holding, which is part of the APN European Retail Trust, an Australian investment fund, could no longer pay the loan it had taken out in 2006 to buy the shopping center.

AFI Europe Romania has signed a lease agreement with Cora Romania to rent 12,500 sqm in the future AFI Palace Ploiesti shopping mall. The facility, which will be built in downtown Ploiesti, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012. The project will require a EUR 35 million investment, company representatives previously announced. AFI Palace Ploiesti shopping mall will be located 800 m from the city center, along the main entrance road to the city from the north-east. Construction will start in the last quarter of 2011, according to the company. The project will include a total of 26,000 sqm of leasable area on two floors plus 900 parking places, aboveground and underground.

TotalSoft posts EUR 11.6 mln turnover in H1

Orange Romania posts EUR 457 mln in H1, down 5.6 percent y-o-y Orange Romania posted revenues of EUR 457 million in the first half of the year, a 5.6 percent decrease on the same period of last year. The company had revenues of EUR 235 million in the second quarter of 2011, a 4.9 percent decrease on the same period in 2010. However, the operator’s revenues in Q2, 2011, were 6 percent up on the first quarter of this year.

Ursus Breweries sees sales dip 3 percent in first quarter Ursus Breweries, the Romanian subsidiary of SABMiller, sold 3 percent less beer during the first fiscal quarter of this year, ended 30 June 2011. “Our volumes in Romania declined by 3 percent as the market continued to suffer the effects of a fragile economic environment and government austerity measures,” stated the company’s financial report. Overall, lager volumes were up 5 percent in Europe. Volumes increased by 4 percent in Poland and the Czech Republic and 11 percent in Russia. Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


Healthcare arrears spark debate P

Photo: Laurentiu Obae

resident Traian Basescu has called for payment arrears for free and subsidized medicine to be halted until the drug purchase system, in hospitals and via pharmacies, is regulated. This has led to several pharmacies across the country no longer providing subsidized medication and family doctors charging patients for every examination. Basescu added that the issue had to be discussed by the National Health Insurance Agency (Casa Nationala de Asigurari de Sanatate, CNAS) and the Ministry of Health, and that if agreement is not reached it could result in some resignations. “We have  serious problems with the procurement of drugs. Perhaps the drug  suppliers’  lobby is so  powerful, that no one has managed to put an end to this ‘joy’ of arrears from drugs,” said Basescu, alluding to a recent EC report. On Monday, speaking on a show on TVR, the national television channel, the Romanian president declared that in the last trimester of 2010, the government had diverted money that had been allocated to other domains and paid RON 2.5 billion to meet its healthcare debts. Since then, however, the debt has risen to RON 2 billion, which, he added, is most-

President Basescu: “Perhaps the drug suppliers’ lobby is so powerful, that no one has managed to put an end to this ‘joy’ of arrears from drugs”

ly due to cost control issues. This is why, added the president, investment money will no longer go to the National Health Insurance Agency. This will not, however, affect certain healthcare expenditure, such as cancer patients’ treatment.

Basescu urged the National Health Insurance Agency to get a better grasp of medication costs. “The auctions that were held for drug purchases should become more visible, the IT system within every pharmacy should be checked, and

the recipients of subsidized prescriptions should be examined every once in a while to gauge the level of his or her ailment, which is the responsibility of family doctors. This can all be done through the electronic verification of state expenditure,” he added. If the National Health Insurance Agency and the Ministry of Health do not come to an agreement, one of the heads of the two bodies might have to resign, said Basescu, adding that he had already discussed this with the prime minister. This will take place right after members of Parliament return from vacation. The president admitted that people undergoing medical treatment could be inconvenienced by the stand-off. “I’m not saying that patients will not be affected by this decision, but we cannot keep taking money from funds allocated to creating new jobs and pouring them into firms which, besides paying VAT, just give the money to their parent companies,” Basescu said. RON 300 million will be allocated to Romanian hospitals, which will be distributed depending on priorities, it has been announced. ∫ Corina Dumitrescu


ANCOM delays national broadband license allocation by two years


Courtesy of Ancom

he National Authority for Administration and Regulation in Communication (ANCOM) is pushing back the granting of some national broadband licenses to 2014, two years later than the original timeframe. “Following the public consultation process, ANCOM has decided that the selection procedure for the national licenses relating to the 3410-3800 MHz bandwidth will start in 2014, instead of 2012, as initially proposed,” said the telecom regulator in a press release. The two-year postponement came following discussions between representatives of ANCOM and the industry on July 22. On this occasion, the representatives analyzed all the contributions received during the public consultation for the Strategy Document Regarding the Implementation and Development of

Catalin Marinescu

BWA (Broadband Wireless Access) Systems at National Level in the 3400-3800 MHz bandwidth for 2011-2020. “This solution was proposed by some of the respondents on the grounds that the available technologies for BWA systems in the relevant bandwidth are not mature yet,” Catalin Marinescu, president of ANCOM, told BR. In other words, there is not yet a sufficient diversity of radio equipment and handsets to ensure the development of financially viable networks. Another reason was the need to align the solution adopted by the authority regarding this particular bandwidth to other decisions that must be made later by ANCOM for other radio frequencies such as 790-862 MHz and 2500-2690 MHz, Marinescu added. The radio-supported internet con-

nection solution provided by the 3410-3800 MHz bandwidth will be complementary to others that exist at this point. According to the president of ANCOM, this two-year delay in granting the licenses will not have a negative effect on Romania, which is under pressure from the European Union to improve public internet access. “The delay has a sound technical foundation and does not affect the fulfillment of Romania’s obligations imposed by the European Union to ensure a higher degree of access to internet for its citizens. In fact, the equipment currently available in the 3400-3800 MHz bandwidth is more suitable for usage by companies and less by individuals given the financial implications,” said Marinescu. ∫ Otilia Haraga


LSRS members help shape Romania's future development


he League of Romanian Students Abroad (LSRS) will bring together two generations of recognized experts and young specialists to come up with viable solutions for Romania’s most pressing problems. The Romania Juna Forum, held from August 12-14 at the Romanian Banking Institute under the patronage of the National Bank and its governor Mugur Isarescu, will organize the participants into 11 work groups. Democracy and

Justice, and National Identity are two of the themes to be debated by the established generation and young academic and professional achievers. Specialists from publishing and academia will moderate the discussions. Graduates and PhD students from Harvard University, Oxford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and London School of Economics (LSE) have already confirmed their participation in the forum. Top

graduates and PhD students from the LSRS Gala 2011 will also attend. The forum will end with the compilation of the Romania Jună Program, a document that will set out the main development drivers for Romania over 2011-2030. It will be followed by a pilgrimage to Putna, on August 15, celebrating 140 years from the Great Putna Manifestation and the First Congress of Romanian Students throughout the World – events

that marked the creation of the Romanian Modern State. Young people from across Romania are invited to join the demonstration. The LSRS is the official forum for Romanian students and graduates of foreign universities. It promotes solidarity among its members, as valuable representatives of their country, and a positive attitude toward their return to Romania in the long term. ∫ Ovidiu Posirca

6 NEWS Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


How to Web to teach entrepreneurship in November


founder of Soundcloud; Miki Devic, founder of HTTPool; Adam Somlai-Fischer, founder of; Branko Milutinovic, founder and CEO of Nordeus; Thai Tran, founder of Lightbox; and others.

B2B projects are the trend

Courtesy of Wembrio

ow to Web, one of the most comprehensives events on Eastern European web entrepreneurship, will take place on November 9 and 10 at the Crystal Palace Ballrooms. The event, now on its third run, will gather 35 international speakers to debate topics such as the future of the Web, Eastern Europe's entrepreneurs, how to's, entrepreneurship, business development, financing and developing mobile apps, web technologies, cloud technologies and mobile development will be on the agenda. In total, there will be 24 presentations and 12 workshops on web entrepreneurship and technologies, as well as an exhibition area where more than 25 start-ups and companies in the technology field are expected. The list of guest speakers includes Carlos Espinal and Reshma Sohoni, partners in Seedcamp; Alex Hoye, business angel and tech advisor; Jon Bradford, managing director of Springboard; Alastair Mitchell, founder and CEO of Huddle; Eric Wahlforss,

Bogdan Iordache

“Until now, Romanian projects that have been successful on external markets have been services in the B2B area and it appears this trend will continue both in Romania and throughout Eastern Europe,” Bogdan Iordache, managing partner of the organizing company Wembrio, told BR. Such projects include UberVU, Brainient, and FlairBuilder, while local projects that have made it big on the Romanian market include Trilulilu, Autovit, BestJobs and eJobs, added the partner. Successful projects in Romania can be split into two categories: “projects that moved services from the offline into the online domain (such as eJobs) and projects with user-generated content (Neogen and,” said Iordache. Financing opportunities are more numerous than they were two-three years ago, he added. Investment funds such as Seedmoney have been opened; VentureConnect, an initiative that connects entrepreneurs with investors, has appeared; and a series of business angels from outside Romania have started to make investments here in local and international projects. “Nevertheless, there is a certain lack of financing for ideas that are at the beginning, which require smaller sums of money but also involve higher risks,” noted Iordache. The financing issue is sometimes viewed wrongly by entrepreneurs, who often seek to obtain financing for a business much too soon. “A simple concept, an idea on paper, will never be as convincing as a functional prototype, a coherent team and the existence of two-three clients,” concluded the partner. ∫ Otilia Haraga


Self-sufficient house prototype launched in Bucharest


Courtesy of Active Home

n investment of EUR 18,411 is enough to have a house in the middle of nowhere with all the necessary services, according to Impact Developer & Contractor and Destiny Wheel, two local companies that last week launched the Active Home concept, which gives householders independence from utilities suppliers. The concept is an integrated system that comes with solutions for water supply, sewage, heating and electricity. “Active Home was designed to meet the needs of all those who live or would like to build a house in areas that for different reasons don’t have access to utilities, as well as for those who are not satisfied with their suppliers or would like to get rid of monthly bills,” said company representatives. The companies hope to get 20 clients for the solutions by the end of this year, Dan Ioan Popp, general director of Impact Developer & Contractor, told BR. “Afterwards we will set a new target for next year based on the feedback we get from our users,” he added.

Home comforts: The complete system costs just under EUR 18,500 Access to water is provided through a 60 m well attached to a 0.37 kw pump which maintains water pressure. The house also comes with a domestic

wastewater treatment plant using active mud technology. Electricity is provided by solar panels on the roof.

The cost of implementing the system for a house with a surface of 120 sqm and using equipment with increased parameters to meet the requirements of an average family is EUR 18,411, compared to EUR 16,500, which is the cost of connecting the same house to conventional utilities suppliers, say the two companies. While monthly bills for conventional utilities reach RON 647 for a family of four, with the Active Home system the sum can decrease to RON 350, according to the firms. In ten years, a family can therefore save about RON 28,000 (approximately EUR 6,500) from this price difference alone. Also, the price of land without access to utilities has been up to 50 percent cheaper in Bucharest in the past six months say the companies’ representatives, who add that this is another argument in favor of using this kind of self-sufficient system. A prototype of the Active Home house has been set up on Padurea Neagra Street in Bucharest. ∫ Simona Bazavan


Romanian labor market improves, but pressure mounts on public sector


fficial data released by the Ministry “road to slavery”. Romania’s current unemployment of Employment, Family and Social rate stands at 4.8 percent (436,000 peoProtection last week reveal that ple of working age), while the EU-27 avover 735,000 new work contracts have erage is 9.3 percent. Sebastian Lazaroiu, been signed and almost 130,000 lapsed minister for employment, said in a press between May 1 and July 28. During this conference in Alba Iulia two weeks ago period, the new Labor Code came into that Romania’s ten-year objective was to force, aiming to cut bureaucracy beincrease the level of economic activity tween employer and employee and introduce better evaluation criteria. Furamong the working-age population from thermore, the new employment legisla63 to 70 percent. He also pronounced the tion makes it easier for companies to hire unemployment level reasonable. On the new workers on a temporary contract, bright side, European structural funds for which can later be extended. Labor improving human resources (POSDRU) unions have voiced concerns about the reached a 19 percent absorption rate, new Labor Code, denouncing it as the against an average absorption of struc-

tural and cohesion funds of a mere 12 percent. Meanwhile, Spain, whose jobless total is running at 21 percent, has recently imposed restrictions on new migrant workers from Romania in an effort to secure employment for Spanish citizens. This protectionist measure will not affect the 850,000 Romanian migrants who are already established in the peninsula, only new job-seekers. The European Commission will decide whether the temporary restriction is permissible. Lazaroiu, who has described the measure as unprecedented, will meet with his Spanish counterpart Valeriano

Gomez this week to discuss the restrictions adopted by the Spanish government. Back home, the Romanian government is trying to combat inefficiency in the public sector and has decided to lay off 1,300 employees in three state-owned energy companies as part of the restructuring process agreed with the IMF. The energy firms will have private managers from 2012 and an international search will get under way this fall. Further cuts are expected in the Ministry of Administration and Interior, where approximately 10,000 employees are likely to lose their jobs. ∫ Ovidiu Posirca

NEWS / PROPERTY 7 Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


Praktiker Romania sees sales drop 29 percent in first semester

Courtesy of Praktiker

Tough times on the DIY market


he local subsidiary of German DIY retailer Praktiker has seen its sales fall again in the second quarter by 28.3 percent, reaching an overall 28.8 percent decline for the first six months of 2011. The retailer’s net sales for the first semester were EUR 68.7 million. 2010 also saw weak trading, with sales slumping 21.8 percent. According to the company’s financial report for the first semester, the local market will continue its downward trend at least on the short term. “Countries such as Greece and Romania were massively shak-

en by general economic and fiscal problems. As a result, private consumer spending – and with it demand for DIY products – diminished substantially. Moreover, there is no short-term improvement in sight,” reads the document. Praktiker Romania has a network of 27 stores. The retailer is also present in Luxembourg, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Albania. Overall, the group’s net sales sank by 9.2 percent in the first semester. Earlier this month, Wolfgang Werner, Praktiker’s CEO, resigned, the announcement of which caused the company’s shares to rise by 9 percent. Alongside French rival Bricostore, Praktiker was among the first international DIY players to come to Romania. The local DIY market had been growing by as much as 30 percent year on year prior to the crisis. The situation changed dramatically afterwards, as construction and real estate froze and even small-scale home improvement projects were postponed. In 2009 the market was worth an estimated EUR 2 billion, but had plummeted by approximately 25 percent against the previous year. 2010 wasn’t any better, local retailers say, with the drop being estimated at around 15 percent. So far, the market has shown no consistent signs of recovery. The recession also brought fewer new openings. The local Dedeman network, however, which is owned by Adrian and Dragos Paval, has managed to double its number of stores from 12 to 24 in the past two and a half years by investing an estimated EUR 150 million. ∫ Simona Bazavan


Local real estate investment plummets 87 percent in Q2, DTZ


round EUR 23.5 million was transacted on the residential and office sectors of the Romanian property market during Q2, an 87 percent decrease from the first quarter of 2011, according to DTZ Research data. For the whole first semester, investment volumes totaled EUR 213.94 million, up 14 percent year-on-year. Investment volumes in Romania are expected to surpass EUR 500 million by the end of the year, according to real estate adviser DTZ. “We foresee a steady improvement in the market throughout the second half of 2011 with activity mainly from investors who already have assets in Romania. We do not expect to see significant new capital entering the local market until 2012,” said Bogdan Sergentu, head of valuations and consulting with DTZ Research. Investment in commercial real estate across Europe in the second quarter of 2011 reached EUR 25.4 billion, up 14 percent from EUR 22.4 billion in Q1, according to DTZ Research in its latest Investment Market Update report. Investment volumes have averaged EUR 27.1 billion over the past four quarters com-

pared with EUR 20.7 billion in the same period a year ago. This is the seventh consecutive quarter of growth in this indicator and underscores a steady growth in activity. The office sector accounted for the largest proportion of Q2 activity with EUR 9.8 billion invested, representing 39 percent of total volumes. Activity also remained buoyant in the retail sector with volumes totaling EUR 9 billion, driven in particular by shopping centers. The industrial sector saw a significant decrease in investments over the quarter, falling 45 percent to EUR 1.7 billion and equating to a market share of just 7 percent. The report also reveals that the share of activity from overseas investors (29 percent) fell to its lowest level since 2002, reaching EUR 7.5 billion in Q2 2011. Both inter and intra-regional investors were less active during this quarter with those outside Europe the least active. By contrast, domestic investment rose 28 percent in Q2 to EUR 17.9 billion. Activity by global investors nearly doubled this quarter to EUR 1.4 billion from EUR 0.8 billion in Q1. ∫ Simona Bazavan

OPINION Second generation of residential developments marks new era The times when you could just sit at a desk, set a price and “await people who come to give you their money” is history (thank God, if you ask me…).

Ilias Papageorgiadis

Three years after the official start of the crisis and four since the market practically froze (autumn-winter 2007), everything has changed for good. The world of Romanian real estate is different nowadays, leaving behind just a few market players who continue using the same strategy, methods and approach they had during 2006-2008. The best way to understand the new environment we are living in is to study the second generation of residential developments in Romania. The first one was part of the market explosion in 2005-2008. It started as a project for Romanian clients, but very soon it turned out to be a game for foreigners only. Losing the connection with the needs of the Romanian middle class caused bankruptcy or financial blockage for many developers. While the generations of residential developments around Europe typically last 10-15 years, in Romania we are entering the second one very quickly. Why? Because everything has had to be adjusted to the reality we are living in: l The vast majority of people either cannot purchase an apartment or can only buy something with the state’s help (Prima Casa). l More than 90 percent of Romanians who buy a property simply buy “the one that they can afford”. l The majority of foreign speculators are gone and they are not expected to come back anytime soon. Even when they do, investments in expensive apartments will be their last priority, after thousands lost money in the previous years. l The banks are not lending, or are doing so very carefully. l Most of all, buyers demand services, quality, seriousness and respect.

In this environment, developers are the first to adjust. I know of more than 10-15 new residential developments, plus many more which are in the planning stage. All of them have some common characteristics. They: l Are developed inside the city. l Mainly contain apartments of onethree rooms, with surfaces that are 25-40 percent smaller than in the past. l Are designed with the smallest possible communal spaces and balconies. l Take advantage of lower construction costs and the 50-75 percent cheaper land. l Try to create a project with the minimum possible maintenance costs. l Are much smaller than in the recent past. Projects of 500-2,000 apartments are not expected to appear in the following two-three years, at least. This new generation shows us the direction that the Romanian real estate market will take. Anyone who develops something else will have to be prepared to prove the added value, if they want to sell it for more than EUR 800-1,200 per sqm. Developers have made the first step, along with architects and contractors. Now the ball is in the real estate consultants’ court. They have to prove that they can also advance and match clients’ demands. The era of easy money and “real estate agent = taxi driver” is fading out, making space for educated, serious, well trained and respectful professionals. “Should I invest in an apartment?” lots of foreigners keep asking. l Yes, if you need to cover your housing needs. l Yes, if you have found an opportunity which combines location, quality and price. l Yes, if you will be treated with respect, as you deserve. l Yes, if you don’t expect high returns and yields. l No, if you choose a property with an unjustified price. The world is changing, Romania and its real estate market as well. The new generation of residential developments that are more down to earth shows us the way. Are we ready to adjust to the new expectations? What is your opinion? Ilias Papageorgiadis is the CEO of More Real Estate Services and initiator of the campaign Real Estate is Good

8 ANALYSIS Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011

Slaughtering the sacred cows of Romanian agriculture What do Romanian agriculture, tourism and football have in common? Firstly, every Romanian male of voting age is an expert in these areas. Secondly, the country does rather badly at all of them. Thirdly, there are few other fields, if any, where people are so fascinated by the word “potential”. If we could only achieve Romania’s agricultural/touristic/football potential… lots of good things would happen. ∫ CATALIN DIMOFTE


Fields of gold: Romanian agriculture has potential, it is often said, but something is holding it back more Bulgarian arable land is consolidated in bigger farms than in France. And even Romania is superior to Poland in this respect. Then perhaps market orientation is the ultimate, indisputable argument? Yes, it is… sort of. The difference between France and the other four nations analyzed is indeed overwhelming in this respect. Yet these four are quite similar amongst themselves. Some 99 percent of Romania’s farms are subsistence and semi-subsistence farms. That’s certainly not good, but then more than 90 percent of Hungarian farms and nearly as many Polish ones are in the same ignoble categories… Adding insult to injury, although 90 percent of the country’s arable land is in large, market-size farms, pretty close to the ideal situation, Bulgaria’s agriculture is miles behind France’s… What is one to make of all these statistical conundrums and apparently incongruent sets of data? It is this author’s belief that there is at least one other indicator that could be a much better proxy for agricultural performance in EU countries. That indicator, decisive for either consigning the Romanian agricultural model to the trash bin of history, or, on the contrary,

Source: Eurostat

As a worthy representative of the abovementioned category (Romanian; male; well past voting age), this author is no exception to the rule and is a firm believer in the potential of Romanian agriculture. Therefore, the headline of the position paper recently released by a BCR-Erste team – Agriculture: Romania’s huge potential is still waiting to be unlocked – sounded like a familiar old tune. Likewise, the main issues, from the bankers’ perspective, are the same old ones: land fragmentation, small size of the farms, lack of capital, poor, obsolete or no equipment at all, insufficient irrigation, elderly farmers with little specific formal education, and a focus on subsistence and own consumption, rather than on market demand. Overall the team did a fine job of assembling and attractively presenting a sizable corpus of data that enable the reader to draw her own conclusions based on facts, rather than fiction; just what’s required from a reference document. Data from the EU’s official statistics bureau, Eurostat, which form the bulk of BCR-Erste’s document, overwhelmingly support the abovementioned truths about Romanian agriculture. Or do they? At a closer look, some of the “sacred cow” truths appear less convincing, whilst others are actually rather questionable and counterintuitive. To an astonishing degree the numbers stubbornly refuse to confirm the theory. There’s no question about the productivity of the typical Romanian peasant/farmer being low – but why is that, and how do things look in context? Firstly, low as it clearly is, local farmers’ productivity is roughly on a par with those of their Bulgarian and Polish peers. And things just keep getting worse. A lot worse. Secondly “it’s the machinery (and irrigation), stupid,” one could say. Hmmm, not really. By comparison, the typical Polish farm seems remarkably wellequipped with machinery; Bulgaria, on the other hand, is not that far behind the French in terms of irrigation equipment and irrigated land. Yet neither machinery nor irrigation equipment seem to be of much help, as both these countries have per employee productivities broadly comparable to Romania’s and relatively similar agricultural yields per hectare for most crops. Thirdly, if neither machinery, nor irrigation can satisfactorily explain the differences, then surely land fragmentation must be the answer? Well… no, not quite. Amazingly as it may seem, considerably

suggesting that certain essential lessons still lie in the dust behind the poor Romanian peasant’s horse-driven cart, is, of course, the level of subsidization. According to Eurostat’s data, the overall subsidies paid in 2009 to farmers in the five agricultural economies studied are shown in the chart below. The argument is indeed methodologically inexact to some extent, because not all subsidies are paid directly to farmers; yet the chart is a

fair indication of the cash flows funneled through the agricultural industries of these countries. Over-simplifying, perhaps, it can be said that the European taxpayer in 2009 invested EUR 80 in the Romanian hectare of arable land – and nearly seven times as much in le hectare français (even though things may well have changed significantly in 2010 and 2011). That probably explains more than a few things. Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


Recession hangover as Romanian beer market shows no signs of frothing Romanians love their beer, especially on a scorching summer’s day, but so far it looks like not even the torrid weather will help brewers defy the droop of recent years. The local beer market fell by 3.5 percent in 2010 and another 2 percent in the first quarter of 2011, forcing local brewers to adapt to the sober new conditions. ∫ SIMONA BAZAVAN

“Ask any bartender and he will tell you that two years ago the average Joe used to order three beers, and now he’s eking out a single beer for an entire day. This is pretty much what has happened – a drastic decline in consumption,” Tiberiu Mercurian, marketing director of Bergenbier SA Beer consumption per capita fell to 78 liters in 2010, continuing the decline that started in 2009, further evidence that the economic climate has affected consumers and their consumption habits, according to the association. In terms of packaging, drinkers’ preferences remained constant in 2010 – PET (49.3 percent), glass bottle (31.7

Courtesy of URBB

Summer is a busy time for brewers, when sales usually go up by about 25 percent compared to the average of the rest of the year, Constantin Bratu, general director of the Brewers of Romania Association, told Business Review, adding that it is too early to make estimations for this year’s hot season.“One thing is for sure, this summer’s results will depend on two factors – purchasing power and the weather,” Bratu said. A pick-up would be more than welcome given how sales have decreased in the past couple of years. The Romanian beer market shrank by 3.5 percent last year, falling to a volume of 17 million hectoliters, according to the Brewers of Romania Association. Over the past two years it has declined by 16 percent against 2008, the year when the volume of beer sales reached a peak of 20.2 million hectoliters. About 99 percent of the beer consumed in Romania comes from local production, according to the Brewers of Romania Association. The five members of the association – Bergenbier, Heineken Romania, Romaqua Group, United Romanian Breweries Bereprod (URBB) and Ursus Breweries – invested EUR 51 million in 2010, while their contribution to the state budget through various taxes amounted to EUR 270 million, up by EUR 7 million compared with 2009, according to data from the association. 2010 also saw the closure of several factories due to harsher market conditions. Ursus, Heineken and Bergenbier each shut down one production unit last year.

Flat market: brewers are hoping for rising purchasing power and hot weather percent), can (16 percent) and draught (3 percent). Shrinking personal budgets have meant that Romanian consumers have both drunk and also spent less, switching to cheaper brands. Reducing the time spent out has also impacted sales volumes. “Ask any bartender and he will tell you that two years ago the average Joe used to order three beers, and now he’s eking out a single beer for an entire day. This is pretty much what has happened – a drastic decline in consumption,” Tiberiu Mercurian, marketing director of Bergenbier SA, told Business Review. So far, 2011 hasn’t significantly changed the trends, with the market declining by another 2 percent in the first quarter against the same period of last year, according to Bratu. “Our estimation for 2011 is from flat to a small, single-digit decrease. Consumer confidence is improving; however, the conservative shopping habits that consumers have learned during the last two years are still there and we have yet to see a return to previous behavior. On premise sales are particularly affected as people now

go out less frequently to bars and restaurants,” said Grant McKenzie, marketing vice-president at Ursus Breweries. The prospects of higher sales means that summer is that time of the year when brewers throw big money at promoting their brands. From launching new products to sponsoring music festivals and sports teams, brewers aggressively promote their products in order to boost sales. “The summer contributes a higher percentage of annual sales volume: three hot summer months can count for about 40 percent of a brand’s sales,” Doron Zilberstein, marketing VP at URBB, told Business Review. He added that the company’s business strategy during this period has focused on investments in marketing and increasing market presence for a better adaptation to consumer behavior. In 2010 URBB also entered a new market segment, mineral water, by launching the Bilbor brand. “This year we will continue investments in the Bilbor plant and the exploitation of new sources in the area, investments in the distribution system

and other operational investments to improve the bottling lines for beer and juice, as well as in the IT system,” added Zilberstein. The company’s campaign for the beer segment focused on the Skol, Carlsberg and Tuborg brands. “Our latest research, conducted in June, shows that the three criteria that influence consumers' purchasing decisions when buying beer are, in order: brand preference, choosing one of the available brands but cold, and preference for a particular type of packaging,” he added. Regarding the packaging choice, no changes have occurred from previous years, the order of popularity being PET, followed by glass bottle, can and draught. This year URBB hopes to see an increase both in volume and sales compared to 2010. “In the first half of this year our company recorded positive results. These are however interim results – sales in the summer months will influence our turnover expectations this year,” the VP concluded. “In the first half, the market continued to decline, but at a much slower pace than last year. We expect that 2011 will end with a slight decrease from last year, the main reason being the low incomes,” said Mercurian. Last year the company chose to invest more in its Bergenbier brand and resumed communication for the Beck's and Noroc beers. “We started the year with a brand relaunch for Noroc, we continued with the Man’s Day campaign and summer brought the launch of three new products: Bergenbier Nefiltrata din Grau, Bergenbier Fresh and Staropramen,” added Mercurian. Without disclosing the actual promotion budget for 2011, Mercurian said Bergenbier had “considerably” increased this year’s budget. At Ursus Breweries the marketing budget for this year is similar to figure for last year, said McKenzie. “In fact it has remained stable through the ‘crisis years’. The costs of marketing have reduced over this period so we now get more for our money,” he added. This summer the company focused on campaigns for the Ursus, Timisoreana, Redd’s, Peroni and Grolsch brands. “Beer market sales in July and August can be close to double the sales in January and February,” he added.

2% the decrease in the local beer market in the first quarter of 2011 Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


Photo: Laurentiu Obae

Starting tomorrow’s leaders off on the right track Corina Brasoveanu, general manager of FasTracKids Bucuresti 3 – Barbu Vacarescu, has mined her extensive professional experience to build a business positioned on a very specific market niche: leadership courses for kids. ∫ ANDA SEBESI Corina Brasoveanu decided to set up her own business, FasTracKids Bucuresti 3, in 2008. Her professional background played a crucial role in starting her on her entrepreneurial path, as she had worked for many multinational and major local companies in Romania. Her first job was assistant manager at ABB Romania, back in 1997. But while she believes that it was and still is a strong multinational company, Brasoveanu decided two years later to move on, taking up a position at the Austrian retailer Billa as cash manager. “It was the first large food retailer on the Romanian market at that time. I soon became junior controller and within three years of being hired I was promoted to senior controller,” remembers the entrepreneur. But her professional journey didn’t stop here. Her next job was at Mobilux, the furniture manufacturer. After two years as group controller, Brasoveanu was appointed financial manager at the Bucharest manufacturing unit. “It was also a good education because I learned a lot of things that helped me later. The company put me in charge of making a plan that generated about EUR 1 million of annual savings,” says the businesswoman. The idea to set up her own business came by chance after her young daughter had the opportunity to participate in a FasTracKids demonstrative lesson. “She

was very excited about it and talked for two hours about her experience – she had never talked so much and so enthusiastically about the ordinary kindergarten she was going to. My husband was on an MBA program and one of his colleagues was an entrepreneur who had a franchise brokerage services company. Because we knew and trusted him we acquired the FasTracKids franchise,” says Brasoveanu. “I decided to set up this business because I had a small child and I wanted to develop something I could fall back on, on the long term.” According to Brasoveanu, her center was the most dynamic one in Bucharest in terms of the number of registered children in the fifth month from its official launch on the market. She also says that the support from the Area Developer in Romania played a key role in the future success of her business. The franchise is composed of a series of educational programs devised to develop the personal side of kids aged from six months to eight years old. At present FasTracKids Bucuresti 3 – Barbu Vacarescu offers the Core program for three- to eight-year-olds, Signing for babies aged six to twenty-four months and Explorers in English for two- to four-year-olds. The Core program prepares children for their future lives, extending their general knowledge and developing their essential skills through public speaking and teamwork on different projects. It is available

in Romanian, English and soon German. “We will launch the German version of this program with native speaker teachers this autumn. It is designed for children taking the entrance examination for Goethe German High school,” says Brasoveanu. The Signing program teaches babies to communicate with their relatives who also attend the course. Last but not least, Explorers covers socializing, general knowledge, music and dance, and was especially created for young children. Asked about the most difficult moment her business has faced, she says it relates to the seasonality of her enterprise. “That’s why it is a real challenge to get through the summer,” says the general manager. But she has a strong and detailed strategy for her company in order to survive the quiet periods. Brasoveanu has created programs that in addition to

COMPANY PROFILE FasTracKids Bucuresti 3 Established: 2008 2010 estimated turnover: RON 372,000 Number of employees: 4 full-time and 3 collaborators Initial investment: EUR 45,750

FasTracKids courses are meant to contribute to children’s development. “For this summer we have come up with a program that includes swimming twice a week, tennis once a week and different trips, so that children can have a varied program for the whole day” says the entrepreneur. Another challenge in this field comes from her customers, who are very sensitive to the quality of the services they are getting. “We need to communicate with parents all the time. They receive reports about the developments of their kids and films of the training sessions in order to make them fully aware of their children’s development,” says the businesswoman. Although Brasoveanu chose a specific niche on the educational market, there is plenty of space to develop, as she believes that there is no direct competition for FasTracKids courses. “The competition is indirect and takes the form of other activities for small children. We compete over the time of kids’ parents rather than with other players,” says the entrepreneur. As for future plans, she reveals that her company will launch FasTracKids Music for two- to four-year-olds this fall, a program designed to create a musical culture and to help the children practise their English. “We are also thinking of acquiring FasTracKids English, which we hope to launch in October,” she concludes.

12 LINKS Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011

A class apart: can e-learning replace conventional training? The e-learning market has been boosted by frugal companies slashing their training budgets and seeking cheaper options than bringing a tutor to their premises. But can e-learning really be a viable alternative to traditional on-site courses? BR reviews the pros and cons. ∫ OTILIA HARAGA


“At international level, there is more talk about lifelong learning, which requires the development of new skills or enhancement of existing skills anytime and anywhere,” Alexandru Cosbuc, VP of international sales at Siveco Romania, tells BR. Globally, the e-learning market reached USD 29 billion in 2009, of which over USD 17 billion went on corporate training, according to data from Siveco. Analysts predict the global market to grow to USD 47 billion by 2014. North America remains the top buyer, while in Europe, the UK is the market posting the most dynamic growth. In the long term, analysts predict Asia will become the second largest market for elearning. Other key areas are Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In Romania, it is very difficult to isolate a value. “I don’t think the e-learning market in Romania exceeds 5-10 percent of the total training market. I truly believe that elearning can be as effective as many classroom sessions, especially when applied in blended learning processes. Therefore I expect at least a doubling of the e-learning market in the next two years,” Richard Reese, partner at Imparta South-Eastern Europe, tells BR. To date, training in Romania has mostly been classroom based, says Reese. Only in some “truly international” companies, Class division: e-learning allows students to learn from remote locations, bringing cost savings where people work regularly at international level, has e-learning always been used to some extent. “Recently however, particularly cost-efficient when a fairly especially in the field of formal education. and training managers, it is easier to measlarge number of participants in geographthere have been more enquiries about eFor a firm that wants to train its staff, ure results and link them to involvement, due to the online monitoring systems in ically disparate locations are involved. there are certainly a few advantages in learning – though customers have not place,” says Reese. However, the very necessarily decided to go for it yet – so we “The more there are of them, the lower the choosing e-learning, especially in these thing that makes e-learning so convenient are seeing that the interest and awareness, training cost per person, which is prestraitened times. Flexibility is the key: cisely the opposite of classroom training,” participants do not have to be on the spot. is also the crux of its shortcomings. For one as the first steps in the buying process, have Miki Ionescu, Trainart consultant, tells “Several short sessions can be organized, thing, e-learning students are more prone increased,” says Reese. to distraction. “In online sessions, particBR. The real advantage is the degree of In the meantime, individual coaching still involving all participants. In general, a ipants are by definition connected to the flexibility it affords. The training process has become more virtual. “I estimate that few short sessions have a stronger impact internet, which usually means that ecan take place online or via the student’s 15-20 percent of all coaching happening in than one long session,” says Reese. mails and other communications are flowpersonal computer, mobile phone or othRomania is not face-to-face, but either by The logistics aspect, or more preciseing in during the session. A facilitator has phone or over the internet – via Skype, er electronic devices. ly the lack of logistical problems, is another to be aware of this and requires special “We can define success depending on messenger, etc,” he added. key advantage. Participants can be “preskills to keep participants focused,” warns the perspective we choose. If we take the The crisis has acted as a propeller for sent” in the training session from wherever Reese. expansion rate or geographical distribution the e-learning industry. The growth in they are, which does not have to be the Also, a key element in any training sesacross the world, e-learning seems to be demand for e-learning has mainly been training venue. Which also leads to another sion, exercises, are hard to perform in an growing fast, becoming a serious comtriggered by the lower overheads. “Many advantage: the savings. “Fees on the othe-learning environment. “In online sespetitor or complement to traditional learnof the companies have slashed their trainer hand – as I said before, the training sessions it can be a challenge to make people ing,” Rares Manolescu, senior trainer at Huing budgets, but the need for training has sions are delivered by a trainer – will not work together on exercises and case studman Invest, tells BR. From the process remained the same, so funds have been necessarily be reduced by replacing classies. Role-plays are nearly impossible bepoint of view, e-learning has proved its remuch more efficiently invested,” argues room sessions with virtual sessions,” says tween participants who are not physicalliability and usefulness in areas such as: Cosbuc. Reese. Online sessions can be more effecly together, other than role-plays involvregulation compliance training (health & This means that instead of organizing tive than classroom training, as it is easiing online cases,” he adds. safety, food & drugs, environment, labor), er to organize preparation work, such as traditional training sessions that involve And there is the technical issue of incertification training (IT, financial, contransportation, companies have used a online learning, reading an e-book or ternet connection. “E-learning is by defitinuing educational requirements, other complex and flexible e-learning platform watching an educational video, and postnition dependent on high quality internet professional certifications) and specific that should allow both assisted training and course activities, such as working on a (virbusiness demands (cost savings, high learning from a distance. “By using etual) project, and measuring online impact, connections. Otherwise understanding and sharing can be seriously affected,” turnover, multiple facilities and so on),says learning programs instead of traditional for example through exams and sharing says the Imparta partner. Manolescu. However, e-learning is betraining, the costs are reduced by 20 peroutcomes, argues Reese. coming a solution that complements, cent,” says Cosbuc. Another advantage is management rather than replaces, traditional learning, monitoring. “For managers, including HR Industry players say that e-learning is Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


Neura producer: ‘You can’t manufacture this kind of tablet in Romania’


TABLETS Evolio Neura OS: Android 2.2/3.0; Processor: NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual Core; 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Camera front; Internal SSD memory: 16 GB; Battery autonomy: 6-10 hours; Size: 25x19x1.4 cm ; Weight: 780 grams (the 3G version); 760 grams (the Wi-Fi version) Price: RON 1,500 (the wi-fi version); RON 1,900 (the 3G version)

Courtesy of Evolio

omanian company Televoice officially launched last week under its Evolio brand the Neura tablet which it is positioning as a serious competitor for the Apple iPad. “Our tablet is an iPad killer since it offers more at a similar size and for a fair price. This proves that Romanians too can launch a high technology product with exceptional performance onto the market,” said Liviu Nistoran, CEO of Evolio. The tablet runs on the Android 2.2 operating system and is now available in local retail stores at a recommended sale price of RON 1,499 for the wi-fi version and RON 1,899 for the 3G version. “We estimate sales of 4,000-5,000 Neura units in Romania by the end of the year. We will reach approximately half of the iPad market share, with the prospect of exceeding this level in December,” said Nistoran. “We are in discussions with retail outlets in Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland to distribute the tablet.” The website has received orders from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa and Venezuela. “We hope we will sell another 5,000 units on markets in Central and Eastern Europe,” said the CEO. The overall investment in the project was in excess of USD 1 million. USD 144,711 went into the software, customization and promotion of the tablet while USD 900,000 went on stocks. The device was designed in Romania.

Liviu Nistoran, CEO of Evolio, has high hopes for the Neura However, the hardware was manufactured in the same industrial region where the iPad is made, Shenzen in China. “This is the region where more than 80 percent of the electronic products in the world are manufactured. Production costs are 30 percent lower than if they were produced in Korea or Taiwan. In Romania, you cannot manufacture this kind of tablet because the necessary

technology does not exist. The creation of such a production line and the assimilation of the respective technology would cost more than USD 20 million which is not economically sustainable except via state aid,” commented Nistoran. In 2010, Televoice posted sales of EUR 3 million. Company estimates are that turnover will reach EUR 5.5 million this year. ∫ Otilia Haraga

Apple iPad 2 64 GB OS: IOS 4; Processor: Dual-core A5 1 GHz; Wireless, Bluetooth, 3G; Internal flash memory: 64 GB or 16 GB Battery autonomy: up to 10 hours; Size: 18.57 x 8.8 x 24.12 cm; Weight: 613 grams (the 64 GB 3G version); 601 grams (the other two versions); Price: RON 3,600 (the 64 GB 3G version); RON 3,000 (the 64 GB version); RON 2,100 (the 16 GB version) Samsung Galaxy Tab OS: Android 3.1 Honeycomb Processor: NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual Core 1 GHz; Bluetooth, wireless; Internal memory: 32 GB; Size: 256.5 x 175.2 x 8.63 mm; Weight: 560 grams Price: RON 2,700 Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


Summer hot spots City life can be tiring when the mercury rises, and locals desert Bucharest in droves. But the old days of “seaside or mountains?” are gone. Today’s holidaymaker has a range of choices, from the Black Sea Coast and Medieval Romania to health resorts and the driving holiday of a lifetime. Read on for all this, plus our pick of regional mini-break destinations.

Photo: Simona Bazavan

Queen Marie’s Palace and its botanical gardens are a highlight of Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast

Black Sea Coast Balchik Since Vama Veche is so close to the border between Romania and Bulgaria, a visit to the neighboring Balchik could easily be factored in. Located in Dobrich Oblast, the town is 60 km from Vama Veche and 42 km from Varna, a prominent Bulgarian seaside resort. Its geography impresses through a mixture of hills and its seaside location. After the Second Balkan War in 1913, the town, styled Balcic, became part of the Kingdom of Romania. It was regained by Bulgaria during World War I (1916-1919), but Romania restored its authority when hostilities in the region ceased. In 1940, just before the outbreak of World War II in the region, Romania ceded Balchik to Bulgaria under the terms of the Craiova Treaty. During Romania's administration, Balchik Palace was the favorite summer residence of Queen Marie of Romania and her immediate family. The town hence

hosts Queen Marie's Oriental villa, the place where her heart was kept, in accordance with her last wishes, until 1940 (when the Treaty of Craiova awarded the region back to Bulgaria). It was then moved to Bran Castle, in central Romania, and nowadays may be found in Bucharest’s History Museum (which upsets the many who want to bring the queen’s heart back to Bran). Today, Balchik Palace and the adjacent Balchik Botanical Garden are the town's most popular landmarks. Currently, three 18-hole golf courses are being developed around the town. During the inter-war period, Balchik was also a favorite destination for Romanian avant-garde painters, lending its name to an informal school of post-impressionist painters – the Balchik School of Painting which is central in the development of Romanian 20th century painting. Many works of the artists in the group depict the town's houses and the exotic Tatar inhabitants, as well as the sea.

Vama Veche Romanian coastal resort Vama Veche is most commonly associated with the younger, uninhibited generations, although age is not the most important criterion. Vama Veche, which translates as the Old Customs Point, is actually a Romanian village that forms part of the Limanu commune on the Black Sea coast, near the border with Bulgaria. Even during communism, the resort had a reputation as an alternative tourist destination, which has only grown since the Romanian Revolution of 1989. During the communist era, concern for border patrol sight lines spared Vama Veche the development that took hold in other Romanian Black Sea resorts. It became a hangout for intellectuals, and for reasons that are not exactly clear, the generally repressive regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu chose to tolerate this countercultural oasis, as long as people had their identity papers with them. Accommodation consisted of tents or

rooms rented from peasants or fishermen. While camping is theoretically not permitted, to this day many visitors and semi-permanent residents still stay in tents on the beach. Some of Vama Veche’s most famous attractions are its nudist beach, as well as local restaurants and pubs Papa La Soni, La Mitocanu and Corsarul, which offer large portions of local food at accessible prices. Stufstock festival is another local highlight. The ninth Stufstock will take place between August 21 and 29, bringing rock, jazz, blues, reggae, indie, fusion and electro music under the same umbrella with movies, photography, literature and theater. Meanwhile the Newcomers competition will give twelve bands the chance of their big break. The name Stufstock is an allusion to Woodstock, the famous hippie festival of the 1960s, incorporating the word “stuf” (reed), which refers to the event’s seaside setting.

continued on page 16 Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


Romania’s wine country has a nose for a grape time Romania has an abundant crop of wineries, so no matter where you decide to spend your holiday this summer there will surely be at least one place in the area for oenophiles. ∫ SIMONA BAZAVAN

Courtesy of Halewood Vineyards

Courtesy of Halewood

Photo: Catalin Grecu / Cotnari

Photo: Simona Bazavan

Photo: Catalin Grecu / Cotnari

Photo: Simona Bazavan

Photo: Catalin Grecu / Cotnari

Courtesy of Halewood Vineyards

What does Dealu Mare have in common with Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion or the Tuscan vineyards? The region finds itself on the 45th parallel, along with these more famous names in European winemaking. It also enjoys similar weather conditions. There are a few places in the region that the wine lover should not miss, one of which is the Lacerta Winery, officially opened earlier this year by a group of Austrian investors, in Fintesti, Buzau County. Tours must be booked in advance and visitors can choose between several types of tasting sessions. On the first impressions tour, guests choose three of nine available varieties of wine for RON 29. Intensive tasting offers six varieties of wine, at RON 49. Upon request, visits to the winery where the barriques (wine barrels) are kept, the wine cellar or the estate can also be organized. The vineyard is open for visits every week, Thursday to Sunday, between 10.00 and 17.00. Other options include the organization of seminars, team building sessions, corporate tastings and other corporate events.If you’re passing through the Prahova Valley this summer, try the Halewood wine varieties at the Rhein Azuga Cellar and Pension or the Urlateanu Manor. At Rhein Azuga, for RON 18 you will visit the cellars and learn about the history of the place and the technology used to produce sparkling wine by natural fermentation inside the bottle, as well as sample three types of sparkling wine. Appointment is required for visits  outside the hours of 09.00-17.00. The pension has 15 rooms and prices start at RON 125 for a double. And because good wine is best enjoyed with good food, you should also try the restaurant – especially the trout dishes as the fish is freshly supplied from a nearby aquafarm.Urlateanu Manor is located in the village of Urlati, about 90 km from the capital. Wine tastings can be arranged on a daily basis and the vinification process is explained by the staff. Tours cost RON 18 and include seeing the manor and a presentation of its history, exploring the wine cellar and learning about the ageing methods in Romanian and French oak barrels, an initiation into wine tasting and sampling five types of bottled wine. Other places that should be on the todo list of any wine lover are the Tohani Wine Cellar, the Rotenberg Cellars, Varfu cu Dor Winery and Seciu Winery, all of which are in Prahova County.

Plenty of choice: Local wineries are not yet prominent on the local tourist map but this makes them even more appealing If you head out to Moldova to visit the monasteries there are also plenty of wine hotspots in the vicinity. In the Iasi area alone are some seven wineries and a wine museum. Those who are “religious” about their wine may wish to know that the monasteries themselves

often produce their own varieties, socalled liturgical wine, which makes for an interesting choice. Wineries in the area include the Vinia Cellars, Bucium, Casa Olteanu and Cotnari, where prices vary between EUR 35 and EUR 55. Other facilities around the country in-

clude the Vincon Vrancea winery and Beciul Domnesc Cellar in Vrancea County, the Murfatlar Winery and Restaurant in Constanta County, which also features a wine museum, plus those of Jidvei and Recas in Transylvania. And there are plenty more to sample. Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011

16 TRAVEL continued from page 14

the actual resort and unearthed Roman statues of Esculap and Egeea look out over tourists. For the health-seeking visitor, Geoagiu Bai boasts an eight-hectare nature reserve that hosts thermal water springs, the ancient Roman Thermal Baths as well as three pools with thermal waters. Visitors may also be enticed by the well preserved roman road between Geoagiu-Bai resort and Poienari village, or the “rotunda” type church built in the 11th century. The mezothermal mineral waters have healing effects for sufferers of respiratory disease. As an interesting historical aside, Sigismund Zapolya, a 16th-century Hungarian king, is said to have used the health-promoting water in this area.

Transylvania Kalnoky Castle Kalnoky Castle is currently being administered by Count Tibor Kalnoky, who is responsible for HRH Prince Charles of Wales’ properties in Romania. The castle, located in Miclosoara, was first mentioned in 1211AD as a border fortress between the territory donated to the Knights of the Teutonic Order and the rest of the Kingdom of Hungary. Today's structure came into being in the 1500s as a hunting manor for the family and still contains many Renaissance elements, like painted wall decorations. It has lain abandoned for the last fifty years and is currently undergoing restoration. In the vicinity of the castle are guesthouses, most of which date from the 1800s or even earlier, but have of course been restored. Moreover, in the village of Viscri, the Prince of Wales owns a traditional Saxon house that also provides accommodation.

Getting there: The closest airport is Tirgu Mures (TGM), less than 150 km away, with flights from Bucharest available. Other possible airports are Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca. By car, Miclosoara is approximately three to three and a half hours from Otopeni International Airport in Bucharest.


Getting there: By car, Sibiu is a nearly 300 kilometer journey from Bucharest, so it

is within reach in just 5 hours by car. You can also catch a train from Gara de Nord to Sibiu station.

Wellness resorts Sovata

Sighisoara Although the Sighisoara Medieval Festival finished at the end of July, the town is a tourist attraction at any time of year. One of the few authentic medieval citadels left in Europe, it has survived vicious attacks and two outbreaks of the plague that wreaked havoc among the town’s population. Sighisoara is also the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, the notorious Romanian ruler who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Have we got your attention yet? Sighisoara could well be called the Town of Many Towers, as each guild that was established in this city had a tower that survives to this day: the Tanners, Gold Diggers, Tin Craftsmen, Ropers, Butchers, Weavers, Tailors, Shoe Makers, Locksmiths, Blacksmiths, Coopers and the Furriers. In addition, there is the famous Clock Tower, a 64 m-tall building that was a place of torture and imprisonment as well as the headquarters of the city hall in the Middle Ages. Getting there: By car, Sighisoara is a five-six hour drive from Bucharest. If you are going by train, it is a 126 km journey from Brasov and 39 km from Medias.

Saxon Villages


Sibiu is a must-see stop-off on your Medieval Tour. In recent years, by virtue of being chosen European Capital in 2007, the city has undergone a great deal of renovation, which has revealed the splendor beneath its once shabby appearance. One of the most picturesque places in the old town is the Passage of the Stairs, which connects the upper and lower parts of the city. They were visited by Jose Manuel Barosso, president of the European Commission, in 2007. Close by is a short bridge with a long history: the Bridge of Lies which is, just like a lie, beautifully embellished. The bridge links two sectors of the Small Square in Sibiu and is a romantic place where lovers used to meet. Meanwhile, the Thick Tower is a medieval landmark which dates back to 1540 and has a platform that once bore canons. Inside this tower is the Thalia Room, the first ever theater hall in Romania, which hosted its first show in July 1788. The Evangelical Church has the tallest tower in Transylvania, over 73 m high, and houses a baroque organ that is the biggest in South-Eastern Europe.

Baile Felix resort is famous for its thermal water

If they were good enough for Prince Charles, the Saxon Villages must be good enough for our Medieval Tour. Apold, Biertan, Malancrav, Homorod, Rupea and Viscri are just some of the Saxon villages established since the 12th century. Some of these villages have been declared Heritage Sites by UNESCO, as they are among the few places in Europe where life still goes on as it did hundreds of years ago.

Location: Hunedoara County, Transylvania. 18 km from Orastie and 46 km from Deva municipality. Getting there: Road: Sibiu-Deva-Arad to Geoagiu Halta intersection and a further 16 km to the resort. Train: Geoagiu Halta Station, Orastie Station, Simeria Station. Then take a taxi to the resorts. Air: Sibiu airport

A year-round resort, Sovata was first mentioned as a healing area in a document from 1597, but did not officially become a spa resort until 1850. It is famous for its lakes, Ursu (46,000 sqm), Alunis (9,000 sqm), and Verde (5,000 sqm). The Baile Herculane health benefits of this resort come from Roman Emperor Traian laid the foundanatural factors like the mineral waters, tion for this resort in 102 AD. Ever since, sapropelic mud and heliothermic effects Roman culture has flourished here, as of the lakes due to heat from the sun. In temples, baths, monuments and statues effect, this means that on the surface of for Hercules and Aesculap were estabthe lake, the water temperature ranges lished. The thermal springs, with their between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius, while miraculous healing effects, were dubbed at depths of 1 m and more, it goes from 30 “God’s gifts”. The modern features of the degrees to 60 degrees Celsius. There’s a resort allow traditional balneotherapy, range of accommodation. while contemporary treatments like physiotherapy and electrotherapy are said to Location: Mures County, Transylvania help soothe rheumatism, respiratory and Getting there: Road: DN 13 Odorheiul Se- metabolic diseases. Political figures cuiesc-Tg. Mures, 51 km. from Tg. Mures. through history have come here in search Train: Sovata Station on the Medias- of healing, including Franz Josef, Austria’s Praid line. Emperor, who considered Baile HercuAir: Targu Mures Airport. lane the best resort on the continent.

Baile Felix Baile Felix is the largest non-stop resort in Romania, offering 7,000 accommodation spaces, located at the foot of Padurea Craiului Mountain. Thermal springs in this area have been treating people since the year 1,000AD, whilst the first buildings emerged around 1711. The resort has lakes with lilies and lotus flowers, the thermal water Apollo pool and the oldest pool with waves, May 1 Baths, approximately 107 years old. It hosts modern pensions and villas that meet international tourism standards. Culture seekers can visit Haieu Chapel, a 14th-century medieval church, as well as the Sanifarm building, a former monastery built in the baroque style, from the 18th century. Location: Bihor County, Transylvania. 8 km from Oradea municipality Getting there: Road: Bucharest-Oradea on the E60 and Oradea-Baile Felix on the E66, Satu Mare-Oradea on the DN 19; Timisoara-Oradea on the E71. Train: Bucharest-Oradea (650 km), Satu Mare-Oradea (135 km.), Timisoara-Oradea (178 km). From Oradea to Baile Felix (9 km); taxis are available. Air: Oradea Airport (15 km), daily flights from Bucharest.

Geoagiu Bai During the Roman rule this area was known as Thermae Germisara. The Roman thermal baths are located inside

Location: Caras-Severin county, Banat. 25 km from the border with Serbia. Getting there: Road: 5km from the DN 6 (E70) – the road connecting Bucharest to western Romania. Train: international rail route BucharestTimisoara-Budapest, Herculane Station. Air: closest airports: Caransebes (80 km), Craiova (160 km), Timisoara (170 km).

Cocor Spa For people unimpressed by traditional balneary resorts, the Romanian seaside offers an alternative, a facility opened in 2009. Located in Neptun-Olimp, the three-storey Cocor Spa Center offers tourists wellness and detoxification treatments, massages, hydrocolon therapies, facial and exfoliation treatments. The first floor is for medical spa treatment, while the second and third are dedicated to wellness services. The Wellness Oasis program includes oriental massages, sensory and face and body treatments. The Clinique section runs programs including balneary and rehabilitation, detoxification, slimming and healthy aging. Location: Neptun-Olimp resort, Constanta County. Getting there: Road: E87 from Constanta, then the 39C, towards Olimp resort Train: Bucharest-Mangalia, from where you can take a bus to Cocor Hotel Air: Mihail Kogalniceanu International Airport. Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


The long and winding road: a spectacular driving holiday Infrastructure is not the country’s strong suit to say the least, but there are two roads in Romania so spectacular that they deserve the label of tourist destinations in their own right. Whether you are a driver, biker or cyclist, the Transfagarasan and the Transalpina roads are an experience that should not be missed. You will “cut through the clouds”!

Photo: Simona Bazavan

Witnessing the transhumance: the Transfagarasan cuts its way through rugged scenery

∫ SIMONA BAZAVAN “From above it looks like every great corner from every great race track in the world has been knitted together to create an unbroken gray ribbon of automotive perfection. This is the best road in the world!” enthused Jeremy Clarkson of the Transfagarasan two years ago, during the only episode of Top Gear, the popular British driving show, ever filmed in Romania. The Transfagarasan is also known as the road that cuts through the clouds. On its most spectacular section, it offers breathtakingly sharp descents, steep hairpin turns and long S-curves. And all this comes at an altitude that peaks at 2,034 m. The route was built between 1970 and 1974 by Nicolae Ceausescu out of pure ambition, some say. About 6,000 tons of dynamite were used to break through the mountain, at a cost of 40 human lives, according to official records. But witnesses speak of hundreds of soldiers and workers having died on the project in reality. The Transfagarasan cuts through the Fagaras Mountains, probably the most inaccessible in the country, connecting the

southern part of Romania with Transylvania. Part of the National Road 7C (DN7C), it begins in Bascov, a village near Pitesti, and at the other end it connects with the National Road (DN1) between Brasov and Sibiu, with a total length of 151 km. The road is in good condition, except for a segment of about 15 km after the Vidraru Dam which is in a deplorable state. Attractions along the route are the Poenari Fortress, where there are 1,480 steps to climb in order to admire the view, the Vidraru Dam, Capra Waterfall, Balea glacial lake, where an ice hotel is built every winter, and the Balea Waterfall. The speed limit for the Transfagarasan is 40 km/h. Less popular than the Transfagarasan but even more spectacular, the Transalpina is actually the highest road in Romania. It reaches an altitude of 2,145 m at its peak, the Urdele Pass. The road crosses the Parang Mountains from north to south, connecting the Transylvania and Oltenia regions. The most amazing segment consists of about 30 km (between Obarsia Lotrului and the Ranca resort) out of a total of 120 km, where the road winds in tight curves on alpine pastures and scythes through mountain peaks and valleys. It is an amazing and

almost alien experience to simply drive though the clouds in the midst of this savage landscape! And what makes it even more chilling is the fact that its highest section the road has no safety barrier whatsoever. The Transalpina, also known as the Devil’s Path or the King’s Road, was most likely used from ancient times by local shepherds. According to some sources it was first built by the Romans during the wars against the Dacians in the second century AD. In the 1930s, under the regime of King Carol II, the road was paved with rock and later refurbished by the Germans during the Second World War. In the following decades it was neglected and pretty much forgotten. Nowadays it is a national road (DN67c) and in 2009, for the first time ever, it was paved with asphalt concrete. About 113 km out of a total of 120 km (between Jina and Novaci) are in a perfect condition and the rest should be finished by the end of this year. You can stop anywhere along the road to admire the landscape and if you find yourself there, another two must-see attractions are the Polovragi and Muierii Caves which are close to Novaci.

Before you start your journey, do check that the roads are open. Sections of the Transfagarasan and Transalpina can be closed during wintertime as well as for several months in spring and autumn due to weather conditions.

Getting there Either of the two roads can be a destination for a weekend break in Romania. If you want to reach the Transfagarasan you can start from Bucharest and head for Pitesti on the A1 highway and then onto Bascov. The journey is just over 120 km. You can find accommodation in Sibiu or Brasov which are 47 km and 95 km respectively from Arpasu de Jos, the village where the Transfagarasan ends. For the Transalpina, beginning from Sibiu you continue to Sebes. The road will end in Novaci, about 45 km from Targu Jiu, where you can take in three of Constantin Brancusi’s iconic creations – The Endless Column, The Table of Silence and The Gate of the Kiss. And if you like variety, you can end your journey on the banks of the Danube in Orsova, 112 km away from Targu Jiu. From there, the journey back to Bucharest is about 370 km. Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


Regional respite: recharge your batteries with a long weekend When the Bucharest heat gets too much, but work demands or geographical constraints preclude a longer trip home or summer holiday, fret not: there are plenty of destinations accessible enough for a weekend or mini-break but different enough from here to revitalize and refresh. Business Review scanned the region to bring you a selection of the best long weekends in the vicinity. Sleeping: Right on the Danube, Kempinski Hotel River Park ( is stylish and comfortable.





Walking around the sophisticated Serbian capital, it is often hard to believe that little more than a decade ago it was in the midst of a brutal war. However, turn a corner and you might still see the bomb damage or bullet holes that serve as a tangible reminder of how far Belgrade has come since those dark days. Today, the city’s alive with chic restaurants, galleries and boutiques, fuelled perhaps by the inhabitants’ carpe diem attitude after what they have been through. The center of interest is the Old Town, and in particular the pedestrianized Romanera streets around Kneza Mihaila, where many of the city’s best shops, eateries and museums are located, and the bohemian gastronomic hub Skadarlija. The museums run the gamut from African art to local football side Red Star Belgrade via President Tito, whose mausoleum displays the colorful array of gifts he was given when in office. The flagship building is perhaps the sixth-century Kalemegdan Fortress, whose attendant park is a delightful green space popular with families, couples and promenaders, and which now has the sad distinction of having played host to Amy Winehouse’s shambolic last concert. The nearby town of Novi Sad makes a pleasant excursion. A pescatorial scene at Nessebur, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast Formalities. No visas needed for EU citizens. Sleeping: Situated in Novi Beograd, the five-star Hyatt Regency Belgrade ( has an eye-catchingly modern exterior and tastefully decorated rooms.

Bratislava Photo: VASILE SZAKACS

St Sava’s Church in Belgrade Getting there: The drive from Bucharest will take the best part of a day. Tarom ( runs flights to Nikola Tesla Airport, 12 km west of central Belgrade.

Though not as popular as Prague or Vienna, the Slovakian capital is a charming, slow-paced town in which to spend a weekend, with many of the advantages of higher profile Central European destinations. Tourists mostly head for the medieval inner city, a place of cobbled, winding streets and pleasant little cafes. There’s the usual gamut of pretty churches and smart public buildings, which lend Bratislava the leisurely feel of a Brasov or a Sibiu. The more modern, Communist parts of the city, though fascinating to Westerners, are a known quantity to anyone who has lived in Romania and could be skipped. Individual

attractions include the City Museum, which is inside the Town Hall, St Martin’s Cathedral and Bratislava Castle. Make time to stroll the old center, whose compactness is ideal for exploration, taking in the architecture – art nouveau and secession are among the styles on view. Its location at the foothills of the Little Carpathians means there are forests nearby, and Bratislava has its fair whack of green space. It’s also on the Danube so a boat trip is another option – if you have time, take the hydrofoil to Vienna for the day. Getting there: Since the demise of Sky Europe it is not currently possible to fly directly to Bratislava from Bucharest. However, Austrian Airlines (, Niki ( and Tarom all serve Vienna, from where Bratislava is a short train journey. Formalities. No visas needed for EU citizens.

Long confused with Bucharest by visiting rock stars, this is harder to do once you have visited Budapest, which many consider to be Central Europe’s most beautiful city. Its serene metropolitan feel is a world away from the chaos of home. The Hungarian capital’s appeal lies in its architecture – which spans baroque, neoclassical, eclectic and art nouveau – its abundant green areas, the river, the culture and the nightlife. Divided into two halves – unsurprisingly Buda and Pest – by the Danube, of the most interest to visitors is Buda, the hilly, old part of town. Castle Hill, the city’s district one, contains several of the top attractions, including the Royal Palace, which houses the National Gallery, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, as well as half a dozen other museums. Pop over to Pest to check out the Parliament Building, St Stephen’s Basilica and the Great Synagogue. A boat trip on the Danube gives another perspective. There’s also pleasure to be had in simply wandering – or, Budapest being a forward-thinking type of place – you can cycle. And the quintessentially Hungarian phenomenon of baths, with a nod to the city’s Turkish inheritance, is a wonderfully relaxing experience. When it gets hot, stop for one of the city’s gloriously refreshing lemonades. Getting there: Both Malev ( and Tarom fly between Bucharest and Budapest. There are frequent trains but the journey takes up to 14 hours. Formalities. No visas needed for EU citizens. Sleeping: The elegant Kempinski Hotel Corvinus comes with all the luxury and attention to detail you would expect.

Bulgarian Black Sea Coast Savvy Romanians have long since been snubbing their own overpriced and under-serviced section of the Black Sea Coast and heading down to Bulgaria, where value for money and a more serene atmosphere prevail. The main town on the coast is Varna, though people visit more for the shopping, cultural and gastronomic options than for the beach. If you’re after typical seaside fun, the top resorts are Sunny Beach towards the south and Golden Sands further north. These are something like Bulgaria’s answer to Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011

Chisinau Moldova has been more associated in the press with political uprisings than tourism in recent years, but its place off the beaten track is only further argument to visit now, before this amiable capital plays hosts to tour parties and Starbucks. The capital of Chisinau has a laidback vibe that gives it a markedly different feel from the frenetic energy of Bucharest. That the country’s national language is Romanian – though Russian is also widely spoken – will be of help to anyone who has a basic grasp from their time living here. Part of the pleasure of visiting is simply wandering the wide avenues and admiring the more elegant buildings and green spaces – something that takes many visitors by surprise. The city doesn’t have flagship attractions such as the People’s Palace; the fun is more about unexpected finds, like wandering into a quirky bookshop and coming out with a clutch of Soviet-era postcards. But there are a few monuments and attractions, such as the Arch of Triumph, Stefan Cel Mare monument and Pushkin Museum. There’s also a dynamic nightlife, and if you’re an oenophile, Chisinau is a good base for from which to take a trip into wine country. Getting there: Daily buses and trains run between Bucharest and Chisinau, taking a minimum of 12 hours. Reasonably priced flights, taking about an hour and ten minutes, are operated by Tarom and Air Moldova ( Formalities: Visas no longer required for EU citizens for stays of less than 90 days. Sleeping: Less than ten years old, the Flowers Hotel ( has bright and spacious rooms that boast works by local artists.

Dalmatian Coast If you’re tired of spending every summer at the Black Sea and want something a little different from the Greek islands, try the rugged Dalmatian Coast. The azure waters of the Adriatic are ideal for swimming, not to mention sailing – island hopping is a popular way of seeing the fabulous Croatian coastline, replete with its crags and channels. The Mediter-

George Bernard Shaw about the 12th-century walled city: “If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik.” ranean climate should ensure pleasantly balmy weather during your visit. And there’s naturally plenty of seafood to enjoy en route. Two major historical towns along the coast are worth visiting. The main attraction of Split, whose old center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is Diocletian’s Palace, a well preserved limestone and marble structure that in its day held 9,000 people. Further to the south is Dubrovnik, which has been inspiring artists for a long time (George Bernard Shaw said, “If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik.”) The 12th-century walled city offers a wealth of admirable architecture – churches, palaces and monasteries – and there are marble-paved squares in which to sit and enjoy the atmosphere. The city’s elevation also results is glorious views over the Adriatic. Getting there: Tarom operates seasonal flights to Dubrovnik. The distances involved rule out land transport for a short trip. Formalities. No visas needed for EU citizens.

Istanbul Straddling two continents either side of the Bosporus River, Istanbul is a thriving hive of activity, history, culture and leisure, whose size and gamut of joys will persuade you to return again and again. Though there are attractions aplenty, the megacity has an earthy authenticity that will appeal to anyone who considers him or herself a traveler rather than a tourist. Many of the top sites are in close proximity, with the iconic Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace all around Sultanahmet Square, which should be your starting point if your trip is brief. If you’re planning on doing some shopping, the Grand Bazaar, a labyrinthine covered market selling everything from cups to coats to carpets, should meet most needs; it’s also worth visiting for the cultural experience. Other quintessentially Turkish activities include smoking a nargile, the national water pipe, and visiting a hamam, a Turkish bath house, for the massage of your life. It’s also fun wandering aimlessly and taking in the energy of this dynamic city, which has survived on trade on its journey from Byzantium to Constantinople to Istanbul. The contrast between the Western style goods being enthusiastically promoted by local entrepreneurs and the headscarf-clad Muslim women sums up the mix of east and west.

Soviet-era public buildings and Orthodox churches familiar. The main tourist drag is on and around Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard, which hosts the National Assemble of Bulgaria, the National Art Gallery and Ethnographic Museum, which share the premises of the former royal palace, and the eye-catching Russian Church. On a short trip, make this area your starting point. If time allows the Boyana Church, with its 13th-century frescoes, make a fascinating trip from the center. The city is also home to a thriving café culture, so sitting on a terrace with a glass of wine is recommended. And for some reason, sushi is also hugely popular in Sofia, thanks in part to the refreshingly low prices. The Central Sofia Market Hall, near the synagogue, is the place to get all your holiday shopping done.

Getting there: Both Tarom and Turkish Airlines ( operate daily flights which take less than an hour and a half. Formalities: Visas are required but can be bought on arrival at the airport. Sleeping: The neoclassical Four Seasons ( has changed a lot since its former incarnation as a prison, and enjoys a central spot at Sultanahmet.


Getting there: It’s possible, but not straightforward, to reach Varna by train. Most people traveling from Bucharest opt to drive; you’ll be there in about five hours. Formalities. No visas needed for EU citizens.


Mamaia, with a surfeit of restaurants and pubs, all geared up for foreign holidaymakers. However, for history and culture as well as sun and sand, head for either Balchik or Nessebur. The former, an easy drive from the Romanian border, is home to Queen Marie’s Palace, which stands in beautiful Botanical Gardens. Though this understandably brings in the visitors, the rest of the resort has a welcome tranquility to it. A drive up the coast brings you to Cape Kaliakra, a windswept headland with a fort and nature reserve, teeming with legends and from where you can sometimes spot dolphins. The ancient town of Nessebur has been protected from unsympathetic development by its peninsula position, and hosts a clutch of lovely old buildings, though can get busy at peak hours when the day-trippers are in town.


Rome Known variously as Caput Mundi (Capital of the World). l'Urbe (The City), and la Città Eterna (The Eternal City), Rome’s place in world culture, history and civilization is unsurpassed, and makes the Italian capital one of the three most visited cities in the European Union (after London and Paris). A couple of days here is enough for just a flavor of this great metropolis. Most of the top attractions will already be familiar to the visitor from fiction, film and perhaps school history lessons. They could easily fill up a week, but if you’re on a short trip the priorities should include the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Pantheon and Vatican City, of course a separate country in its own right. A clutch of other churches, palaces, monuments and ruins can easily fill any leftover time, though part of the fun is meandering amid the Latin buzz. Then there are the classic Italian experiences – anyone for a tour on a Vespa, the iconic Italian scooter? And that is not to forget the food and drink, from the pizza and pasta to sipping an espresso at a sidewalk café. Getting there: Alitalia ( and Tarom run regular flights between Otopeni and Rome-Fiumicino, 35 km from town, while low-cost operator Wizz Air uses Rome-Ciampino, 12 km from central Rome, operating out of Baneasa. Formalities: No visas needed for EU citizens. Sleeping: The luxurious St Regis ( features individually decorated rooms and suites and all the class associated with the Starwood brand.

Sofia A more compact and less hectic version of Bucharest, Sofia is a great place to wind down, not to mention to stock up on well priced Bulgarian red wines. Its proximity to the Romanian capital makes it a viable destination even if you have just a couple of days and prefer not to fly. Residents of Bucharest will find the smart,

Getting there: There are twice daily trains from Bucharest, taking 10-11 hours, while buses are cheaper and quicker. Sofia is also an easy, four-five hour drive from the Romanian capital, which means that few choose to fly, but if you prefer to travel that way Tarom serves the city. Formalities. No visas needed for EU citizens. Sleeping: It’s a toss-up between the central and plush Grand Hotel Sofia ( and the fabulous Kempinski Hotel Zografski as to which is Sofia’s best hotel.

Veliko Turnovo The capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, it is the combination of extraordinary architecture and its position on three hills, with the resulting views, that recommend Veliko Turnovo, which is not yet on the mainstream travel map. The big-hitting cultural site is the Tsarevets fortress, now in ruins, the former royal seat. There is also a small army of churches, a few museums, and many buildings showcasing the Bulgarian National Revival (the term given to the renaissance under Ottoman rule) style. Fresh mountain air and the verdant environment make the place a refreshing escape from the urban thrum, while its status as a university town ensures a thriving nightlife and laidback atmosphere. The sound and light show is worth catching; check local adverts. Getting there: From Bucharest, take the bus to Ruse and then switch to another bus or train, if you’re travelling under your own steam. A more convenient way is to drive (count on at least five or six hours), or visit the town as part of a wider Bulgarian holiday. Formalities. No visas needed for EU citizens. Sleeping: The affordable Interhotel ( has superb gorge views and quiet, comfortable rooms. Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011


Summer terraces Despite Bucharest’s pollution, broken streets and animal bad manners by drivers, the city has one crowning glory, which is the population’s obsession with eating al fresco. So the owners of bars, restaurants and hotels have been quick to cash in on the demand for open-aired dining to such a point that it has become de rigueur to have a terrace, albeit of any size – nothing is too small. Radisson Pool Side Grill Terrace The most notable feature of this glittering hotel is its pool, surrounding area and bar. It is best seen at Sunday brunch where if you dine, you can swim in the open air pool – and if you are early enough, you get a pool sun lounger. If you choose not to brunch, no matter, as you can drink at the pool bar, or the larger second bar around the dining tables. During weekdays, it is still stunning, a taste of ‘Bucharest Beach’. It is best experienced whilst there is still some sun, or daylight. Photo: Laurentiu Obae

Embassy terrace - a crowded location in Piata Lahovary


Il Calcio Situated beside the Atheneum, this terrace is big. It has had several owners over the years, but it is now held by Il Calcio, so you can expect indifferent socalled Italian food. Every table is shaded with an umbrella, which is just as well because there are no trees or shrubs to lower the temperature. Its greatest virtue is its size, so this adds to its popularity. Address: 1-3 Str. Franklin Reservations: 0732 528 140 Beer: RON 11

L’Escargot In an area off Eminescu, and surrounded by other restaurants (Chinese, Spanish, Indian, Mexican) this place stands out as the best. It is a bistro style dump inside, but it has a charming small terrace at the rear. It is crowned with giant fig trees (but I think the neighbors have pinched all the figs) and apricot trees full of fruit which occasionally drop onto your table. Pricy (but good) French food.

be a simple BBQ menu last year, but now it has been upgraded to a full a la carte Mediterranean menu which is surprisingly inexpensive. It’s well worth a shot. Old Bucharest hands will be surprised at the changes they have made since last year. There is a range of beers. Address: Hilton Hotel Reservations: 021 303 3777 Beer: from RON 15

Embassy Terrace The small chain of Embassy bars/restaurants has been the success story of the year. By word of mouth and without advertising, this terrace, in a dingy location, has become a raging success. It positively heaves with beautiful (and I mean beautiful) young things, drinking and rocking (in their seats) through the night. Slow, slow service, so get there early. Address: 8 Piata Lahovari. Reservations: 0733 500 300 Beer: RON 9

Lipscani district

La Strada

Here we have an area where it is a 365 days a year, permanent Oktoberfest. It is all beer swilling, fun loving, non-violent fun, with a few restaurants interspersed between the bars. Suffice it to say that every owner in Lipscani must have a terrace, but that terrace can only be on the pavement.

This terrace has become an institution in this city. It has undergone a huge renovation and has to be the ‘greenest’ terrace (literally) in town. There used to

Beer: RON 6-8 Nearest metro station: Unirii, Universitate

Address: 101 Str. Toamnei. Reservations: 021 201 7133 Beer: RON 9

Address: 63 – 81 Calea Victoriei Reservations: 021 311 9000 Beer: from RON 15

Centre Ville Le Bistro This beauty is seamlessly attached to the Radisson pool. So enter it from Luterana and go upstairs, or just walk through the Radisson pool and you will see it at the end of the Rad. It differs from the Rad in as much as it is ‘green’, surrounded by a potted flower, tree and shrub garden. They also have live music from time to time. Their menu is ’mid Med’ and very good.

better still, the alternative is one of the best Lebanese restaurants in town. Enter from the Lipscani end, or alternatively use the Unirii entrance entitled ‘restaurant Manuc’, and then go upstairs to their terrace. Address: Piata Unirii/Lipscani. Reservations: 021.313.14.11 Beer: RON 7

Oliviers Restaurant and Astrodom Terrace Oliviers offers fine organic food in a secluded yet heart-of-the-city location, part of Residence Hotel. The restaurant serves a variety of healthy courses, all created with organic products from the company's own crops. The menu is renewed every season with more delightful dishes and is accompanied by a wide selection of wines. The cuisine embraces both Mediterranean aromas and traditional Romanian dishes. Specialties include: “Foie gras de canard”, “Involtini alla parmigiana”, “Papardelle al tartufo”, “Caviar d'ólive”, “Grilled octopus” and homemade “Petit Four.” Open: Monday-Sunday, 12:0023:30.

Address: 4 Luterana, at Centre Ville Aparthotel Reservations: 0040 21 312 70 70 Beer: RON 12

Prices vary from affordable (RON 10.50, caviar d’olives) to expensive (RON 99, mixed grill). Address: 19 Clucerului Street Reservations: 0733 109 137


SkyBar Dorobanti

This lovely place is eccentrically attractive inside, but in addition it boasts a delightfully, leafy ‘green’ terrace on the fringes of Parcul Icoanei. In fact, the little terrace has better maintained grassy and shrub areas than the park. It is best visited for lunch or dinner, as it is not a place you would chill out at with nothing but a cold beer. So look over their menu and go there to dine, as it is well recommended.

This café with a bar’s name has brought a new concept to the Bucharest leisure scene: a roof bar, inspired by similar locations in Los Angeles. The eclectic music menu includes chill-out sessions during the daytime and cocktail-appropriate rhythms later at night. Situated in Bucharest’s poshest neighborhood, Dorobanti, SkyBar uses location and design as its key differentiators. With the latter by Mihnea Ghildus, the venue boasts branded decor and futuristic facilities. It also has its very own catering firm and focuses on natural ingredients. Skybar is open daily, from 10.00 until the last customer.

Address: 69 Jean Louis Calderon, Parcul Icoanei Reservations: 0722 702 560

Hanul Lui Manuc What a delightful surprise this place is. This fabled 16th century coaching inn was (until now) the haunt of tourists and pensioners reliving their communist past. But those days are gone. Now it is as vibrant and cool as the rest of Lipscani. The entire interior is one giant courtyard, which constitutes its terrace. The food is either Romanian, or

Prices vary from affordable to average (an espresso is RON 9, a frappe RON 21) Address: Calea Dorobanti 155, 5th floor Reservations: 0724 SKYBAR (0724 759 227) Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011



SUMMER MOVIES From blockbusters to avant garde art films, BR surveys the pick of the summer flicks

Must see

August premieres

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

July 29

Super 8 (Mystery / Sci-fi) Directed by: JJ Abrams Starring: Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka and Kyle Chandler After witnessing a mysterious train crash in the summer of 1979, a group of friends begin noticing strange things going on around their small town, and decide to investigate the creepy phenomenon. July 29

Green Lantern (Action / Sci-Fi)

Directed by: David Yates Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint On at: Cinema City Cotroceni, Cinema City Sun Plaza, CinemaPro, Cityplex, Hollywood Multiplex, Movieplex Cinema, Samsung Imax Cotroceni, The Light Animal attraction: Zookeeper Kevin James catches the eye of Rosario Dawson


So, the boy wizard is finally becoming a man wizard. After years of sorcery, and philosopher’s stones, and chambers of secrets, and prisoners of Azkaban, and billions of pounds of takings, Harry Potter is set to hang up his wand. Facing off against their old enemy Voldemort, how will our trio – Harry, Hermione (the clever one) and Ron (the ginger one) – fare?

Directed by: Martin Campbell Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard, Blake Lively A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership of an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe. August 5

Cars 2 (animation) Directed by: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry The Cable Guy, Michael Caine Star race car Lightning McQueen and his pal Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix. But the road to the championship gets rocky as Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. August 8

Captain America (Action / Sci-Fi) Directed by: Frank Coraci Starring: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb On at: Movieplex Cinema Plaza, The Light Cinema, Hollywood Multiplex, Cityplex, Corso, Cinema City Cotroceni, Cinema City Sun Plaza, Baneasa Drive-In Cinema

∫ DEBBIE STOWE Set your faces to stunned, because animals can speak! Yes, every night, Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo becomes a veritable talking shop as lions, monkeys, giraffes, elephants and their jungle chums let themselves out of their enclosures and gab away until dawn. Who knew? Not Griffin Keyes, titular zookeeper (Kevin James). The zoo creatures don’t want humans to know they can talk, see, so they observe a vow of silence, an omerta of the animal kingdom. Think of the movie as a zoo-based sub-Night at the Museum, to which it clearly aspires. However, everything changes when Griffin contemplates quitting his job, leaving the zoo inmates at the mercy of cruel zookeeper Shane (Donnie Wahlberg), who is Mean To Animals. (This being Hollywood, there are not many sins that outrank being Mean To Animals, so the alert viewer may quickly deduce that Shane is destined for an unhappy ending.) The reason behind the sundering of Griffin and the zoo is, of course, lurve. Because gals just don’t dig zookeepers. Griffin’s stunning-yet-shallow girlfriend Stephanie

(Leslie Bibb) callously dumps him over his lack of prospects, and he concludes that the only way to win her back is to take a more glamorous job selling sports cars for his brother. So, the zoo animals start dispensing comical relationship advice to Griffin, which, after being mildly shocked for about thirty seconds, he soon takes in his stride and follows. Meanwhile, his stunning-and-not-shallow-as-she’s-wearing-a-lab-coat veterinary zoo colleague Kate, complicit in Griffin’s plan to make Stephanie jealous, begins to develop feelings for the zookeeper. Ooh, how will it end? It has to be said that the film’s central premise is utterly unbelievable. Not that animals can talk, but that two beautiful women like Dawson and Bibb would both be chasing this guy. James’s last main role was as a “mall cop” and he’s now playing a zookeeper, which should tell observant readers that he is no Brad Pitt. The movie is also vague on why selling cars is a copout career choice when helping keep wild animals in captivity so charmless kids can gawp at them is noble. So, it’s utterly preposterous, morally questionable and as predictable as the sun rising. But, gosh darn it, didn’t Zookeeper start to work its silly charm on me. The ordinary Joe likeability of Kevin James – how many other 100kg-plus actors are playing romantic leads? – some funny lines and an endearing daftness make this summer flick childishly entertaining.


Directed by: Joe Johnston Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L Jackson After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero devoted to defending America's ideals. August 8

Horrible Bosses (Comedy) Directed by: Seth Gordon Starring: Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness. Directed by: Joe Wright Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana On at: Cinema City Cotroceni, Cinema City Cotroceni - Sala VIP, Cinema City Sun Plaza First, a warning: do not confuse this film with Hannah Montana. If you pitch up expecting to see a fluffy flick about Miley Cyrus living a double life as a pop star, this blood-soaked tale of a teenage assassin is likely to surprise you and possibly scar your children for life. Joe Wright’s film is edgy, stylish and captivating. It’s unusual to hang a serious film on a teenager and to make both protagonist and antagonist in an action movie female. Joe Wright has done both with aplomb. Hanna is a killer film, in both senses.

The New Cinema of the Romanian Director Ginger Group documentaries: “Holy Wars” (2010), directed by Stephen Marshall, August 3, 21:30 “You don't like the truth – 4 days inside Guantànamo” (2010), directed by Luc Coté and Patricio Henriquez, August 17, 21:30 “The Sun Beyond the Clouds: Tinet's Struggle for Freedom” (2009), directed by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam; “The Palestinian life” (2009), directed by Philip Rizk, August 31, 21:30 Goethe Institut, projections directed by Wim Wenders Paris, Texas, guest: Irina Margareta Nistor, August 2, 19:00 The cinema is located in the Romanian Peasant Museum, Business Review | August 1 - 7, 2011

22 IN TOUCH AUGUST CULTURAL AND LEISURE CALENDAR Classical Music By September 25 Dreaming of Summer Symphonies This summer, through to September 25, various symphonic ensembles are performing in downtown Bucharest, at Coltea Park on Piata Universitate, every weekend. They will feature the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Strauss, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, Piotr Ilici Ceaikovski, Henry Purcell, Thomas Bateson, Melchior Frank, Valentin Haubmann, Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig Maurer and Franz Joseph Haydn. Concerts are usually held in the evening, between 19.45 and 21.00.


Acclaimed DJ and musician Moby is returning to Romania in August, as part of The Mission Dance Weekend at seaside hotspot, Navodari. Moby has been to Romania twice before, in both cases to Bucharest: in 1996, when he played at Sala Polivalent and in 2009, at B’estfest.

Dance August 13, September 24 Room 1306 (I Am Myself) The new spectacle from director Cosmin Manolescu consists of a marathon 12-hour performance at the Intercontinental Hotel. The play is about a couple who have been together for ten


Festivals August 13, 14 Summer Well Buftea (near Bucharest) The inaugural Summer Well Festival has confirmed its lineup and will host one of the most high profile indie rock bands of the moment, Interpol, at Domeniul Stirbey. Other top acts who will appear at the festival include Plan B, the Noisettes, Mystery Jets, Graffiti6, Chew Lips, the Raveonettes, The Wombats, Chapel Club and Alex Clare. Twoday tickets cost RON 99 and are available at, and from Orange shops. August 21-29 Stufstock The ninth Stuftsock will take place between August 21 and 29 in Vama Veche, bringing rock, jazz, blues, reggae, indie, fusion and electro music under the same umbrella with movies, photography, literature and theater. Meanwhile the Newcomers competition will give twelve bands the chance of their big break. August 8-14 Sibiu ArtMania This year’s heavy rock celebration will features acts such as Helloween, Lacuna Coil, Lacrimas Profundere, Nevermore and Sonata Arctica, while artist Tarja Turunen and punk rock band Republica will make special appearances

at Piata Mare and Piata Mica, in Sibiu. Tickets are available from the Eventim network, at Diverta, Germanos, Carturesti and online at, and Prices vary from RON 60-100 for one-day tickets, and RON 90-180 for subscriptions.

place at the Comic Book Museum include film projections held by the Austrian Cultural Forum and the Czech Center in July and an exhibition by Portuguese artist Eugenio Silva. Autumn will also bring a series of events organized by the British Council.

August 13 Bucharest Alternative Day The Deftones have included Romania in their European tour and will perform in Bucharest as part of Alternative Summer Day at Arenele Romane. Opening for the Deftones will be local hiphop outfit Parazitii, alternative band Luna Amara and hardcore groups Implant Pentru Refuz and White Walls. Tickets, which can be purchased in the Eventim network, and online on, cost RON 90 until July 31, RON 110 between August 1 and 12, and RON 130 on the concert day.


August 25-28 Peninsula Punk rock legend Iggy Pop has been confirmed to perform at Tuborg Green Fest Peninsula in Targu Mures. Iggy and the Stooges will play some of the singer’s best known tracks, including those from the album Raw Power, announced Peninsula officials. Tickets can be purchased from the Eventim chain or online at One-day tickets cost RON 80 (until August 25) and RON 100 (from August 25 at 16.00). Between July 16 and August 24, subscriptions cost RON 199. This rises to RON 240 on the door.

Museums June 16 – October 16 Contemporary Art Museum, 4th floor Romanian Comic Book Museum The international events that will take

August 10 National Arena inaugural match, Romania versus World 11


August 6 Moby (The Mission Dance Weekend)

months and are spending their first holiday together. The interactive and innovative show features actors Catrinel Catana and Cosmin Manolescu. Public access is via a reservation made at least a day in advance, at, on 0740 300 124 or Facebook – Eu sunt Eu. Tickets cost RON 20 per hour or RON 50 per three hours.

Bucharest will have a brand new 55,000-seater stadium, built on the foundation of the former Lia Manoliu ground. The inaugural event will be a friendly international football match between Romania and a World 11, which may feature some international stars. July 16 – September 4 Bucharest, Summer District For the third year in a row, the Bucharest Summer District is hosting plays and open-air concerts in various parks across Bucharest, including Cişmigiu, Herastrau, Lumea Copiilor, Sebastian and Moghioros. Shows start at 10.00 and 20.00, while in Cismigiu they begin at 17.00. From August 20, evening performances begin at 19.00. Magic shows, comedies, classical and children’s plays are all part of the program. The event is organized by ArCub in partnership with several other institutions.

26 July-August 3 Aspire Academy is organizing a summer school that unites professors from Harvard University and Romanian experts with students from Romania and East Europe at Poiana Brasov. By invitation only. For detailed information visit

12-14 August The League of Romanian Students Abroad (LSRS) is organizing Romania Jună Forum under the aegis of Romanian National Bank. Specialists from 11 expertise groups will debate Romania’s most pressing problems and compile a document with suggested solutions for the 2011-2030, at the National Banking Institute. By invitation only. For detailed information visit

14-27 August The Business and Economy Students Association is organizing a Summer School under the aegis of the World Bank. BCR CEO Dominic Bruynseels and Andrei Hagiu, professor at Harvard Business School, will be among the guest speakers in Sibiu. By invitation only. For detailed information visit

24-26 August The Romanian Patent Chamber (OSIM) is organizing a seminar entitled “Patent – necessity or opportunity” at Afrodita Hotel, in Venus resort. Legal experts and OSIM specialists will attend. Only 50 positions are open for participants. For detailed information visit

ISSN No. 1453 - 729X

FOUNDING EDITOR Bill Avery EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Simona Fodor SENIOR JOURNALIST Otilia Haraga JOURNALISTS Simona Bazavan, Corina Dumitrescu, Ovidiu Posirca COPY EDITOR Debbie Stowe COLLABORATORS Anda Sebesi, Michael Barclay, Catalin Dimofte ART DIRECTOR Alexandru Oriean PHOTOGRAPHER Laurentiu Obae LAYOUT Beatrice Gheorghiu


ADDRESS No. 10 Italiana St., 2nd floor, ap. 3 Bucharest, Romania LANDLINE Editorial: Office: Fax: EMAILS Editorial: Sales: Events:

Business Review No. 28, August 1 - 7  

Looking to hit the road this summer? From old-school holiday favorites and medieval merriment to epic drives, regional mini-breaks and days...

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