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February 2020 / N° 26

OZB I N S P I R AT I O N A L L I F E S T Y L E M AGA Z I N E

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SHIP SHAPE BUILT IN TULCEA

Forever Forests, Cut Down Logging Sandra Djuvara Melone, Heiress of History


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O Z I B U NĂ

Joggers Not Loggers

Douglas Williams - Publisher

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DANA TUDOSE-TIANU

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or a city like Bucharest to have such a quality resource as Baneasa forest on its doorstep is a real blessing. Baneasa forest is huge, criss crossed by myriad trails and it’s amazingly easy to get hopelessly lost in. It’s one of the first things I did in Bucharest and I’ve done it again since - great fun, highly recommended... Many, many people enjoy the forest throughout the year: joggers, dog walkers, cyclists, lovers, walkers, kids, the whole gamut of society use the forest all day, every day. Some weekends, especially with the first flush of spring, around the main entrance point near the zoo, it’s double and triple parked and literally hundreds of people are strolling, enjoying the burgeoning, verdant fecundity. And yet right now it is being chopped down by opportunists, mostly, it would seem, to make a few lei from firewood. Given the rate at which much of the rest of Romania’s forests are being logged, largely illegally, it’s enough to bring on a sense of deep, existential despair - that’s what it did for me anyway when I first encountered this crime against us all. But then I learned something that has restored my faith and brought hope - the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Costel Alexe has given Baneasa, along with Snagov and Andronache forests, protected status from March so that these logging practices will then be illegal. Ok, it takes affect in March and hopefully there won’t have been too much logging meantime but the important thing is - it’s a start and it’s a move in the right direction and it shows the government is listening and acting so credit where it’s due. Let’s hope it’s a sign of a more proactive approach to these issues from the new government and let’s encourage them to do more.

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Illegal logging is a huge problem here in Romania and it’s a crime that’s taking place in plain sight - myopic though it clearly is. Chainsaws are famously noisy, the logs produced are huge, the trucks needed to move the timber are enormous and they must travel on public roads. Try hiding a timber mill, you can’t! Travel around Romania and in a pretty short time you’ll see all of these elements some, of course, are perfectly legitimate but one must assume, given the sheer volume of timber that is being illegally logged, quite a lot of it isn’t. I cannot believe that it’s beyond the capabilities of Romanian law-enforcement to enact existing laws. If there are resourcing issues, and I understand there are, then I’m sure a strong case could be put to the EU for help. This is a national emergency. If current levels of logging continue then the great Romanian forests - along with the abundance of creatures they support - will have entirely vanished before this decade’s out. For the new government this is lowhanging fruit requiring little more than will and some re-allocation of resources and the results will be readily measurable and rightly celebrated by a grateful electorate. Ignoring is not an option. We must fervently hope that the newly appointed Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Costel Alexe, can act as decisively with regards all the nation’s forests - from those up by the Ukrainian border all the way to those by the Serbian border - as he has done with the capital’s Baneasa. O zi bună!

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Contents February Events

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Love Story

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OZB's Top Picks for Valentine's Date Night

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Lloyd’s Pub Opening Next to Universitate Metro

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Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off

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Hope for Romania's forests

OZB's Top Picks for Valentine's Date Night

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Photo Essay : Monica BommerNeuner

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Let’s Open Up a Very Sensitive Topic!

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Interview with Sandra Djuvara Melone

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The Snow Won't Slows Us Down, Summiting Piatra Craiului in Winter

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World's Greatest Super Yacht: Made in Romania

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WWF Romania's Bison Hillock Offers Adventure, Serenity & a Call to Sustainability

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The Traditional Romanian Blouse Through The Decades

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The Eminent Eminescu & His Literary Little Women Contemporary

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The Anatomy of a Kiss by Vlad Eftenie Cover photograph: View from The InterContinental Hotel by Monica Bommer-Neuner Top photograph: Photograph by Nelu Paps

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EV EN T S

February Events The snow is finally here, and Valentine’s Day along with it. Experience the best of Romania this season with OZB’s top events of the month.

Văcarești Lake Walk February 2 12pm-3pm

This natural urban hike will begin with a city walk through Bucharest’s narrowest street, head through the abandoned summer children’s palace, and through the great and extremely underrated natural beauty of Vacaresti Park. An impressively preserved piece of communist era engineering feat turned biodiverse natural habitat, Vacaresti is particularly explorable in the winter time. The tour is free, no registration, just show up at Constantin Brancoveanu Metro at 12pm. The walk will end at the Vitan Bridge by Mihai Bravu Metro.

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Snowboard Lessons from OnAdventure every weekend

Curious first timers to snowboardings eager to experience the sport can get up to five hours of group lessons plus transportation from Aurel Vlaicu to the Bucegi mountains. Rentals and ski pass not included. Email onadventure. ro@gmail.com for tickets and reservations.

Disney in Concert - Magical Music From The Movies at Circul Metropolitan Bucuresti Friday and Saturday, February 7th-8th

Disney fans must flock to the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra’s two night performance of Disney hits, directed by Alexandru Ilie, including The Lion King, Jungle Book, Aladdin,

February Events

Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, and The Little Mermaid. Did we mention the 80 visual projections and 360 degree immersive visual screen? Get your tickets soon.

Maria Geleghina Live Saturday, February 8th

This Romanian operatic legend is back for a new 2020 performance in the National Opera House in one of the most anticipated vocal performances of the month.

Teddy at the Disco Saturday, February 8th

Nothing says Saturday night in early February than this exclusive Disco party at the Radisson Blu Hotel on Bucharest’s famous interbelic boulevard. Organized by the


EV EN T S

White Mahala at the Pub Universitate

Drum and Pass Party at Subteran

Romeo and Juliet at Teatrul Mic

Universitate is increasingly the place to be for a chilled Saturday night out with cozy venues, great musical performances, and never ending beer taps. White Mahala’s unique, folksy, and fun tunes will lend to a great vibe in the pub Valentine’s weekend.

Subteran is a unique Romanian underground nightclub experience. This Valentine’s weekend classic D&B set will draw an enthusiastic and romantically inclined crowd of young Romanian contemporary music and dance fans from all over the capital for a party that is sure to last well past sunrise.

Liliana Pana directs this new take on the classic Shakespeare romantic tragedy in Romanian. The play utilizes a unique Dogma style with eye catching costumes and talented young actors seeping the audience in this emotional and expressive performance. Unfortunately there are no English subtitles available so bring your Shakespeare paperback if you can’t follow along.

Saturday, February 15th

Erotic Design Fair at Control Club February 7th-9th

Hosted by Bucharest Urban Fairs for its consecutive second year, this three day carnal pleasure themed club festival and music ought to bring out the best of the season. Expect lots of creative, new age, and sensual dance performances, along with a kinky spread of visual art, masks, and more.

Saturday, February 15th

Romanian Stand Up Comedy featuring Teo, Vio, and Costel

February 20th

A fun night is in store for those turning out to Sala Palatului Tuesday, February 18th from 8-10pm to see this comedic trio.

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VA L EN T I N E' S

Bali Temple Wellness & Spa original Balinese massage & therapies

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left Bali Temple Spa in Bucharest making a promise, on that third Saturday in January, when I first visited them. I promised myself I will be back once a month, every month. This will be a well-deserved gift that many of us, women who work, women who care for others, women who raise children, so badly need. I needed a massage, yet it wasn’t just any massage that I wanted. I needed to be in a place and a space that would also help me unwind and detach, mentally and emotionally, as well as help my body relax.

That is exactly what happened at Bali Temple. Nana, one of the gifted Balinese massage therapists at the spa, gave me the Balinese massage. It lasted approximately 1 hour and, at the end, I felt calm and strong at the same time. My body was relaxed, the tension in my neck and shoulders gone (and it’s still gone one week later), my usually restless mind was quiet, so my emotions balanced. The space itself is an authentic piece of Balinese beauty. All the wooden furniture and art, displayed in the waiting room, filling the corners and covering the walls of the spa, has been brought in from Bali. The scents are from Bali, and there are frangipani (yellow-white flowers, the signature flower of Bali) in each room. I went with a friend and we were welcomed with home-made ginger tea which was definitely the best ginger tea I had in Bucharest. We had another cup after the massage, enjoying the energy in the waiting room. There are many massage options

at the spa. The Balinese massage, which is the one I got, offers a perfect balance between body and soul. The objective of Balinese massage sessions is to stimulate energy points of the body. Once activated, these points promote blood circulation and activate the body’s immune system. The Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi massage releases tension and fatigue, and makes the skin super smooth. The Ayurvedic massage helps to harmonize the three elements that make up any being, according to the principles of Ayurveda: Vata (nervous system and hormonal), pitta (digestive system and enzymes), Kapha (blood). It is very effective in case of fatigue, insomnia, depression and stiffness. And Bali Temple offers many other types of massages. Spa Packages, which include various types of massages, spa rituals, aromatherapy and other relaxing experiences, are available on the website, and would make the most beautiful and considerate gifts.

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OZB's Top Picks for Valentine's Date Night

BALI TEMPLE WELNESS & SPA BUCHAREST www. b a li te mp le . ro Str. Ghiozdanului, nr. 6, sector 1 +4(0)734 402 266 office@balitemple.ro FaceBook & Instagram: balitemplespa


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ED I T O RI A L

Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off by Alison Mutler

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woke at just before 3am, reached for my phone and clicked on the Guardian and the Daily Mail websites. Something was afoot: the papers, which are from different ends of the political spectrum, were telling the same story. An upset of momentous proportions was on the horizon. Britain looked as if it was about to vote to leave the European Union. I went downstairs and tuned in to the BBC. Veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby was hosting the all-night program. Cool, calm and authoritative.

BREXIT

A NEW DAWN As dawn was breaking about 1,800 miles away in Kent where I grew up, Dimbleby declared to Britain and the world. “The British people have spoken, and we’re out.” It was 4.40 am in Britain and promising to be a sunny day in Bucharest. Nigel Farage, a British politician who has dedicated his life to fighting the EU, called it “Independence Day for Britain.” I admit I cried. For a decision of such historic importance, the result was close: 52% to 48%. The country was quite literally split down the middle. Hundreds of thousands marched for a second referendum, there was understandable anger from Brexiters, and all around a lot of confusion and bitterness. Almost four years 10

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later, we’re out, or we will be.

TIME FOR A DEMOCRACY REFRESH? Across the board, there has been irritation, discontent and incomprehension about why Parliament hasn’t been able to implement what seemed to be a simple question in the referendum. I have often wondered why politicians seemed incapable of coming up with a cross-party deal that would benefit most people.

Where is British pragmatism and common sense or politics, as the art of the next best thing (Otto von Bismark)? European countries would have cobbled something together; it’s how politics is done on the continent. Britain voted out, but it’s complicated. It’s also clear that many in the UK don’t understand the European Union. I have never voted in any election, except one by-election (local election) when I was 20, and I wanted to vote in the referendum. But since I had been abroad for more than 15 years, I had lost the right to

Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off

vote. As the vote directly affected my future as a British citizen living abroad, I didn’t think it was fair or particularly democratic. But as a journalist I don’t protest, and I don’t sign petitions. For the 1.2 million people born in the UK who live in other EU countries, there is predictably greater support for the EU. We live in the EU and understand its role and benefits better. There are 308,000 Britons living in Spain, followed by 254,000 in Ireland. France is third with 185,000. Some 103,000 live in Germany, and 64,000 live in Italy according to UN figures from 2015. There are currently 2,701 living in Romania. There are 3.5 million EU citizens living in Britain, who face uncertainty, stress and a lot of bureaucracy. Britain may be an established democracy, but I sometimes think it lacks the necessary flexibility that newer democratic states in Central and Eastern Europe have. They’ve been putting democracy into practice for the last 30 years, sometimes getting it wrong, sometimes getting it right. Democracy is alive and kicking and at work in Romania where I live. Democracy may be the established system in Britain, but sometimes I feel it needs to press the refresh button, listen to what people are saying, and overhaul some laws.


ED I T O RI A L

NOT QUITE EUROPEAN

According to a famous story, a 1940s headline a British newspaper once read: ‘Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off’. This is most likely an apocryphal legend, but it’s become a symbol of Britain’s individualism and sense of isolationism with regard to continental Europe, and with it the European Union. In the June 23 referendum, Britain voted to become the first country in history to leave the EU. Among the reasons cited for Brexit, were a loss of national sovereignty and rising immigration that many said put a strain on the health service, the NHS. Brexit was also part of a backlash against liberal values, followed by the election of Donald Drumpf and closer to home, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, with nationalist parties performing well elsewhere in the EU. ‘Euroskepticism,’ the suspicion and criticism of the EU has been intrinsic to British politics for decades. Winston Churchill gave an account of the relationship between Britain and the rest of Europe in a speech to the House of Commons in 1953. „We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated but not absorbed.”

EURO SKEPTICS Britain attracts workers from Europe, Asia and farther afield and its economy relies on these migrant workers, but immigration has played a role in strengthening negative feelings towards the EU over the years. One feature of British skepticism about Europe is that it has largely been bipartisan, embraced by parts of Labor and Conservatives. Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan applied for EU membership back in 1961, and another Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath oversaw Britain’s accession to what was called the EEC more than a decade later. Labour, however, viewed the European project with suspicion, as one created to benefit elite capitalists through free trade. Therefore, just two years after the accession, the Labour

government led a referendum, the predecessor to the one in 2016, asking if the UK should stay in community. The result then was 67% of voters in favour of staying. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is said to be pro-Brexit and ex-Tory Prime Minister Theresa May who failed to get Parliament to agree to a deal is said to be a Remainer at heart. It’s unclear what Boris Johnson’s views are, but his bid for prime minister was built on the man who would “get Brexit done.” He says the Brexit withdrawal agreement he signed on January 24 would “end years of argument and division” thus sealing his legacy as the British prime minister who took the country out of Europe.

WHAT NEXT? If the European Parliament also gives the green light, the UK will formally leave the EU on 31 January with a withdrawal deal, followed by a transition period that is scheduled to end on 31 December 2020. It will effectively remain in the EU’s customs union and single market, but outside the political institutions and there won’t be any British lawmakers in the European Parliament. If Britain and the EU fail to agree and ratify a trade deal by the end of the year, then we face the prospect of tariffs on exports to the EU.

PETS, PASSPORTS AND PLANES

But plenty of questions loom on the horizon, about pets, passports and plane travel. The answers depend on the outcome of forthcoming trade talks. Most reasonable people will hope that having reached this stage, British pragmatism, can-do approach and common sense will now come to the fore. I hope that good will prevails on all sides to ensure as little disruption and damage to the economies of Britain and the remaining EU countries, thus protecting people’s lives and livelihoods. •

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www.livrare-sushi.ro to see the full menu and call 0770 902 782 for delivery. Minimum order 100 lei, further conditions apply. Mention this OZB advert when you order either in person or over the phone and you will get a free soup/drink/Kapa Maki.

Yoi shokuyoku

This story first appeared on Universul.net on January 25th, 2020

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ECO

Hope for Romania’s forests by Stephen McGrath

Bucegi Forest, Photograph by Podu Stricat

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Hope for Romania's forests


ECO

Illegal Logging, Photograph by Ales Krivec

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ome to the largest proportion of old-growth forests in Europe, Romania has over the past few months become mired in a violent battle between forest defenders and those who want to steal wood from the country’s forests. Encompassing around 7 million hectares of forest cover, around half a million of which are old-growth, Romania’s forests support Europe’s biggest brown bear population, as well as other large mammals such as wolves and lynx. The death of two forest rangers in the twilight of 2019, both killed while protecting state-owned forests, led to street protests and brought the country’s logging debate into sharp focus. Gabriel Paun, of environmental NGO Agent Green, is perhaps one of Romania’s most prolific campaigners on the topic. He has spent decades fighting to save his country’s forests. He now believes that he has concocted a much-needed, long-term solution to managing production forests in Romania. “This is a result of my travels all around the world, to all continents,” says Paun. “It’s

the vision for all production forests in Romania that are not in protected areas.” Paun’s project, called “Forever Forest,” is essentially a half-dozen page guide about how to manage a production forest - cultivated for its timber - that puts nature and natural methods at its heart. Among other things, the Forever Forest scheme “Must enrich the natural biodiversity, mitigate climate change, increase welfare of local communities, contribute to the national economy, and ensure the recreation function of the forest for everyone.” While the management criteria (or guidelines) can sound idealistic (in an industrialised world, at least), pragmatism is essentially at its core. Paun, who has studied forest ecology, says that he “consulted many forestry workers around the world” to strengthen the scheme. On the technical side, rules to maintain a Forever Forest include: clear-cutting will never be permitted. “In all forests, selective single tree harvesting is the only logging practice allowed,” the guidelines suggest. Additionally, “At least

10% of the standing volume of trees in the managed forests must remain forever as snags, nest trees, biotope trees, or other functional habitats of specific species.” There are multiple guidelines on the technicalities of forest management in the six-page document, which also states some of the advantages to implementing the Forever Forest management concept. “Wood mass production, and the commercial value of the harvested timber should increase. Mature trees gain more wood mass and more valuable timber than younger trees,” is among a list of advantages. But the debate is not just about profits. As Paun notes, an important component which is missing from Romania’s logging debate is that, essentially, of the future. “In the context of combating climate change, there is no better way to preserve biodiversity,” he says, going on to say that forests act as a natural carbon storage system. Humankind is indeed living through a time of unprecedented change and degradation of the natural environment, which scientists admit is being brought about by climate change. Idealistic and pragmatic measures may be the only way to avert catastrophic changes in the not-so-distant future. Paun is standing at the perimeter of a certified Forever Forest in Transylvania, which is owned by the adjacent Zabola Estate. “In this forest natural processes prevail,” Paun says standing next to the Forever Forest sign, which briefly explains the concept. A part of the sign reads: “Wild animal and humans have

a harmonic coexistence.” Sightings of numerous large brown bears in this forest twenty minutes earlier, confirm such statements. It is at this example of a Forever Forest that the recently-appointed environment minister, Costel Alexe, came to meet Paun and the rangers who manage it. Alexe was appointed around the time that people were being murdered for defending the country’s trees. He has expressed support to combat illegal logging and improve forest management. Paun says that the minister liked what he saw at Zabola. “After, he [Alexe] said ‘we could start implementing this [Forever Forest management] in some of Romania’s forests.’” According to Paun, they are now in the stage of selecting around 1% of state-owned forests in Romania to be potentially managed in line with the Forever Forest concept. The new environment minister has so far said all the right things to quell the concerns of environmental campaigners. “The new Minister is showing signs of understanding the problem of illegal logging,” says Ciprian Gal of Greenpeace Romania. “He has publicly declared numerous times that in his mandate the SUMAL (wood traceability system) will be implemented.” However, as Gal points out, the current government does not have a parliamentary majority and elections are set for later this year. Newfound hope could be short-lived. “We are very cautious about our expectations. So far, we are witnessing a lot of talk (positive statements from the Minister) but not so much results and implementation,” he adds. •

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PH O T O ES S AY

Monica Bommer-Neuner

Monica Bommer-Neuner is originally from Austria, she has lived in Bucharest since autumn of 2016 where she works as a professional photographer. The last 20 years she has lived in 7 countries, each she describes as having “its own charm and specialties”. Monica’s really happy living in Bucharest now as it offers a lot of great opportunities to discover, explore and photograph. She really likes the Romanian people! With her photography Monica tries to capture the various elements of the country. She’s always trying to find a great angle, an interesting site or great architecture. Monica mostly works in black & white.

Cathedral Plaza Tower

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Photo Essay : Monica Bommer-Neuner


The Memorial of Rebirth

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PH O T O ES S AY

Headquarters of the Ministry for the Environment of Business, Trade and Entrepreneurship

Communist Apartment block on 13 Septembrie Street, Bucharest

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The Art DĂŠco Ambasador Hotel on Magheru Boulevard

View from the top of the Intercontinental Hotel, Bucharest

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I N T ERV I EW

er, Neagu Djuvara

Sandra Djuvara with her Grandfath

Interview with Sandra Djuvara Melone Neagu Djuvara’s Granddaughter, International Peacemaker & Founder of the Neagu Djuvara Cultural Association

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Interview with Sandra Djuvara Melone


I N T ERV I EW

in Belgium, with her husband and daughter, and is Chair of the European Board of Search for Common Ground, an international peace-building NGO, whose purpose is to end violent conflict. Dana Tudose-Tianu spoke with Sandra for our OZB readers and hopes that her story will inspire Romanians at home and abroad to take pride in their roots and history. by Dana Tudose-Tianu

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ne of the most important Romanian philosophers, journalists and literary critics, Andrei Plesu, said about Romanian historian, Neagu Djuvara, in a 2018 article published in Adevarul, that Djuvara didn’t just live through a lot during his lifetime…but that he lived through it all. Historian, diplomat and scholar, Neagu Djuvara passed away on January 25, 2018, aged 101. He had been living in Romania for 30 years, having returned from exile in 1989. At the time of his return, he was already 70 years old. As he confessed himself, in an interview for Romania Journal, he was grateful that destiny allowed him to do at 70 what he wanted to do when he was 30: teach at the university and publish books in Romanian. Neagu Djuvara’s captivating narrations of the real history of Romanians is priceless. He wrote several books about the history of Romania, and had an extraordinary understanding of geopolitics. His only granddaughter, New York-born Sandra Djuvara Melone, is the founder of the Neagu Djuvara Cultural Association. Her life story has been unfolding, as did her grandfather’s, at the crossroads of different cultures and societies. She currently lives

Your choice to work in peacemaking and conflict resolution – how much was it influenced by your international upbringing and your parents’ own professions?

For the past 25 years, I have been working in the field of conflict resolution, also known as conflict transformation, peace-building, mediation. It is something that has been a passion of mine since the very beginning, and I see that, surely, some of my roots are why conflict resolution and peace building have interested me. I come from a family which, on my mother’s side, is half Romanian and half French, and on my father’s side, American. My parents come from international backgrounds. My father was in the U.S. Diplomatic Service. My maternal grandfather is Neagu Djuvara. My grandmother herself was a member of the staff which served France in Algeria during the Algerian war of independence. My grandfather, Neagu, lived in exile the whole time of the communist regime and 23 of those years were spent in Niger. He had also received asylum in Sweden, Germany and France. My father’s big love was French-speaking Africa and we ended up living in places like Guinea and Rwanda. Search for Common

Ground , the world’s largest peace building non-governmental organization, is present in 35 countries across the globe. Here, I started by opening our first Africa program, in Burundi, during the civil war, it was during the Rwandan genocide, in 1995. I then opened Search for Common Ground Brussels and I spent 8 years there. I then ran the organization as Executive Vice-president, from Washington DC, for 10 years, and now I am chair of the European Board of Directors. My husband, our 17-year old daughter, Zoe, and I are back to Belgium. My mediation mindset did start from early childhood. I was a part of a family sharing my grandfather’s pain of not being allowed to go back in the county which he loved so dearly. It’s not easy to be in forced exile and I understood that what was happening in Romania under the communist regime, was different from the violent conflicts happening in the countries where my father and grandfather were posted. I studied history, by interest but also, I think, by admiration for my grandfather, and I was so deeply inspired by my grandfather’s journey, his journey out of Romania, and his journey back into Romania that it has always stuck with and gave me a worldview of building, rather than burning bridges.

Your grandfather loved Romania and Romanians, and he was especially hopeful that change is possible through an engaged and educated Romanian youth. How are you carrying on his work and legacy?

My grandfather was absolutely elated at the shifts that had happened in Romania, at the same time as being

disappointed in how slow the political machine was moving. That was a disappointment for him, but I feel that there are many opportunities which people can grasp to make a true national dialogue happen on real political and societal issues. Despite the number of media outlets out there, there is still very limited access to multiple facets of issues for most of the population and particularly those living outside of Bucharest. I see opportunity instead of a “ce sa facem” mentality, which some of our middle-aged friends have. Neagu was in love with the Romanian youth and he really felt that there was a vibrancy and an intellectual appetite in many of the universities and even in some of the youth groups in which he had participated in. I want to continue to honor that optimism and factual observations that Neagu made during the 30 years after he came back to Romania. We are doing that through the Neagu Djuvara Cultural Association which we started in 2018. The core principle is to honor Neagu’s intellectual and cultural legacy and to support students and researchers in Romanian and Balkanic history and to promote truth, tolerance and social harmony. My dream is to have Neagu’s short history of Romanians told to children throughout the country. He and I deeply believe in the value of education at a young age. • Note: If you’re interested in the work of Search for Common Ground then please go to www.sfcg.org or to our Facebook page. If you’re interested in the work that the Neagu Djuvara Cultural Association is doing then please join us on Facebook, Instagram or at www.neagudjuvara.ro W W W. O Z B . R O F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 0

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FEAT U RE

Tulcea Construction Port

World’s Greatest Super Yacht: Made in Romania by David McLean Shoup

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hen Ovid wrote about Tulcea from the banks of the Danube River two thousand years ago, shipbuilding traditions in the ancient city were already centuries old. It is unlikely Ovid could have imagined the sheer scale of the ocean going vessels which make their maiden voyages from the Tulcea shipyards each year, and 2019 saw Tulcea make a new mark. By year’s end, the Vard shipyard in Tulcea completed the first

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half of what will become the world’s largest state of the art research ship, the REV. The REV Ocean team estimates that the with the Romanian portion of construction finished, the ship is now 53% completed. REV Ocean’s Communications Manager Lawrence Hislop said the Vard shipyard in Tulcea offered the ideal resources for a project of this magnitude. “The Vard shipyard in Tulcea was chosen because it was the most relevant for building the main steel struc-

ture for this particular type of research vessel,” Hislop told OZB. At over 180 meters, the REV Explorer is even longer than most US guided missile cruisers, and will earn the distinction of being the largest yacht in the world when it hits the high seas next year. “This is a major milestone towards achieving our mission of achieving one healthy ocean” REV Ocean CEO Nina Jensen told Yacht Harbour when the ship arrived in one of Vard’s Norweigian shipyards after the tugboat

World's Greatest Super Yacht: Made in Romania

assisted journey from Tulcea this fall. Jensen told CNET that she first stepped onto the ship during its Tulcea construction phase and was awed by the scale of the ship. “I think daunting best describes it, but of course also quite thrilling in terms of what we can achieve with such an amazing ship.” One particularly unique aspect of the REV is its central moon pool, allowing submersibles to be lowered from within the ship directly into the ocean depths.


F EAT U RE

“We will have a world first submarine that can take up to 3 people down to approximately 2,300 meters, both to do scientific discovery, exploration, and and to take samples,” Jensen added. REV Ocean, a non profit foundation, was founded by Jensen and the financial backer behind the entire project, Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke. But this is no luxury yacht. Jensen is the former CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Norway, and Røkke commissioned the ship with one main purpose. Kjell Inge Røkke’s journey to becoming Norway’s wealthiest man is deeply intertwined with the ocean. His business life began as a fisherman in Alaska at age 18 and got fully underway when he purchased his own fishing trawler while still in

his early twenties. Now the majority shareholder in a large industrial firm specializing in maritime and oil investments, Røkke, by financing the world’s largest ocean research vessel, is giving back to the sea that helped propel him forward towards financial success. Such a project could not come at a better time. The ocean is hurting. The REV’s technological capacities far outpace any research ship today, and will allow scientists to take measurements six kilometers below the ocean’s surface, including deep beneath the ocean floor to take stock of the great mysteries that lie beneath. Significantly, the ship has a clean closed system recycling component that allows it to burn up to five tons of plastic per day. According

to the British Natural History Museum, between five million and upwards of twelve million tons of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year, so while the REV will have its work cut out for it, this is a critical start and an important component. With a capacity for nearly one hundred operators and scientists to live comfortably on the boat for up to four months at sea, Jensen said she hopes the ship will function as a place to foster innovative thinking with important players who represent varying approaches to saving marine environment. “We want to bring together scientists, NGOs, key decision makers, innovators, artists and a wide variety of people to collectively brainstorm and work on dedicated solutions for the major ocean challenges,” Jensen said.

So what’s the next move for this titan of a boat? “The construction part in Romania is now complete and the rest of the work will be done in Norway and Germany,” Hislop said. “The boat will be in Norway from now until April and then in Germany for about 10 months. The first sea trials will happen in about 2-3 months.” •

Propeller construction.

Simulation of the Ship in Arctic Conditions.

Simulation of the future ship. A parked helicopter can be seen on the ship's heliport.

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CU LT U RE

The Romanian blouse by Henri Matisse

The Traditional Romanian Blouse, the ultimate symbol of femininity - through the decades

by Dana Tudose-Tianu Celebration of traditional Romanian beauty, on Dragobete Day

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omania has its own “Love Day”, traditionally celebrated on February 24th, called Dragobete. In centuries past, the day was one where young women and men would wear their best traditional outfits and meet up in the village. There would be singing, traditional dance, and some centuries-old customs would end up indicating which couple would find “true love” on that day. In remote Romanian villages, perhaps the tradition still endures. Unknown to most urban population, the essence of the Dragobete celebra22

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tion, the pure, traditional beauty of the Romanian woman, dressed in the “ie” (the Romanian blouse), is still able to transport us back to those times – times of uncomplicated relationships, where falling in love was simple and beauty was unencumbered by the demands and expectations of the modern, industrialized and hi-tech society. To celebrate the traditional, original beauty of the Romanian woman, we are presenting a collection of photos of the Romanian blouse, worn through the past century. Romania’s own Queen Mary, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Tzar Alexander the Great, who reigned The Traditional Romanian Blouse Through The Decades

between 1914 and 1927, wore Romanian traditional blouses all the time, making them a part of her identity as Queen of all Romanians. Her three daughters shared her love for the Romanian blouse, too. Not too many people know that French painter, Henri Matisse, was one of the first to capture the beauty of the Romanian traditional blouse. His painting called “La Blouse Roumaine” is an oil-on-canvas dated 1940. It measures 92 × 73 cm and is displayed at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris. The painting is the outcome of six months’ work, according to Centre Pompidou.


CU LT U RE

Flacara magazine cover and a featured young Romanian woman wearing the "ie" Queen Mary and her daughters wearing the “ie”

Courtesy of the Paideia Publishing House – Beautiful Romanian embroidered peasant traditional outfits from the 19th and early 20th century.

The Symbols Sewn into the Romanian Blouse The Romanian “ie” truly transcended millennia, carrying symbols that are a key part of the Romanian life in the countryside. The symbols sewn into the blouse are profound, capturing elements that speak of the sun and stars, earth and flowers, the succession of seasons, the stages of human existence, and stages in the life of a people, of a nation. Some symbols capture the vitality of the Romanian dance, the “Hora”, which brings us, Romanians, together, through big distances, of geography and memory as well. One of the most important cultural, literary and artistic Romanian publications, the “Flacara” magazine, which saw the light of print in 1911, continued to be published through the communist years. It had such a big impact on the cultural identity of the Romanians, that the Communist Regime didn’t forbid its publication until 1985. Lucky enough to have one of the 1978 editions, we found a beautiful photo of a young woman dressed in the traditional “ie”, modeling traditional Romanian products for COOP, the Consumer Cooperative.

The Romanian Blouse in 2020 Anda Ene, OZB Contributor and the founder of The Romanian Blouse Platform,

has boldly taken on the mission of collecting and restoring old Romanian traditional costumes, for almost a decade now. The website, www.romanian-blouse. com, presents a very precious collection made by popular artists from different ethnographic regions of Romania. The platform and Anda’s efforts contribute to the revival of the Romanian blouse. The blouses are sewn in complex patterns and ancient techniques, and artisans recreate old masterpieces, while using contemporary models. Anda often takes the beautiful Romanian Blouse Collection internationally, giving Romanians from the diaspora, as well as admirers of the Romanian popular tradition, the opportunity to admire and purchase the beautiful blouses and outfits. Her upcoming Exposition & Sale takes place in Brussels, on February 24th, on Dragobete Day. We are now at the last generation of true artisans in România,” Ene says. “If we don’t realise the urgency or helping them pass their legacy on and do something to support the craftsmen and women, we will irremediably lose an important part of our cultural heritage and therefore an important part of ourselves.” What is the best way to support Romanian artists of these trades? “Let’s make artisans visible, appreciate their crafts, engage in a fair trade, wear and integrate their creations in our daily life,” Ene says. “And, in return, they will continue to do their work and pass down their art to the next generations, as our ancestors did.” •

THE ROMANIAN BLOUSE

Exhibition & Sale

February 24 | 6-10 PM ATELIER 29 | Food & Art Gallery Brussels | Rue Jacques de Lalaing 29

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VA L EN T I N E' S

The Anatomy of a Kiss by Vlad Eftenie

L

ector Dr. Architect & photographer Vlad Eftenie captured romantic vibrations in a suggestive collection called the Anatomy of a Kiss. A winner in the international competition Sony World Photo Awards, Open Section, Low Light category, in 2014, Vlad coordinates and organizes numerous lectures and workshops on architectural, street and urban photography.

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The Anatomy of a Kiss by Vlad Eftenie


VA L EN T I N E' S

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L I T ERAT U RE

Dan Pleșa is a Romanian editor, writer and cultural journalist. He is a graduate of the Theatre and Film Academy in Bucharest, specializing in screenwriting and film criticism. In 2019, he published the short stories volume, Stories of Love and Helplessness , (Povești de dragoste și neputintă), in Romanian. We, at OZB, reviewed it and loved it! Dan also worked in the media industry and was, for 10 years, a producer for a record house. He is one of the founders of the Vellant Publishing House and of the short prose magazine, iocan. OZB is the first magazine to publish the English translation of one of the short stories from Dan’s latest book, Stories of Love and Helplessness.

Love Story by Dan Pleșa

English translation of the “Love Story” short story by Romanian writer, Dan Plesa. The story is a part of the “Stories of love and helplessness” (Povesti de Dragoste si Neputinta) volume, published in 2019 by Vellant Publishing House in Bucharest (January 17, 2020)

D

an met Maria in college. As they were colleagues, and both quite diligent, they started exchanging notes. 26

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Because that’s how things are these days: no matter how much you try to achieve full attendance, you can’t make bosses see reality your way and sometimes you have to miss one or two classes. Her handwriting was quite legible, never missed an important idea. He didn’t miss the important ideas either, and had a tidy handwriting as well, underlining main concepts, his paragraphs reproducing, word by work, the lectures in

the amphitheatre, to a point where they looked like handbooks, but he had some abbreviations no one else used, which made Maria invite him over one night, to decipher them for her. . That was the night they became lovers. Theirs was a strong love. Both of them good-looking and studious, dependable, they each had their part-time job to help them buy the books required in the syllabus and, at the same time, to get them

Love Story

used to the demands of a job which, as we know, have nothing to do with the demands of student life - and, most importantly, to be able to enrich their bio with the crown jewel which, upon graduation, would set their résumés apart from those of their colleagues: work experience. Dan felt as if he was living a dream came true. She was beautiful. She loved him, they got along wonderfully, they liked the same music, the


L I T ERAT U RE

same movies, and when they moved in together he was happy to notice they had the same sense of tidiness and cleanliness, of an airy space, of linedup towels, of t-shirts folded neatly in the closet, , of clean and shiny coffee cups sitting on the shelf, of socks, nicely folded, two by two. But there is no perfect couple without a shadow, a threat hovering above it, like a hawk in a story about a little chick. No, this is not about the parents of either of the two, as you may be tempted to believe, expecting some dominant mother, some Oedipean father. It wasn’t about money either, as is often the case with couples when he (or she) is promoted overnight and mistakes level of income for self-worth, expecting obedience and gratitude from the partner. No, their parents lived far from the big city and they were tolerably nice when they met for the holidays. They had comparable earnings. It was Alina. Maria’s almost-best friend. Did you ever go to a party only to enter a twenty-people room and see dancing, among them, a girl in a skirt just long enough not to invite incriminatory comments, exciting, hypersexual, natural and with no interest in drawing attention, which is precisely why no one, men or women, boys or girls, could take their eyes off of her? Did you ever pass by a shampoo advertisement and felt you could fall in love with the girl in the shower? Did you ever go to mass and see a girl who gave you kinky dreams, making you laugh when you looked, alternatively, first at her face, and then at the mural depicting the Last Judgment, with the tortures and vats of boiling tar? That’s more or less what Alina looked like. No, she wasn’t a threat to Maria, Dan’s love

was steady and dependable. The few obscure thoughts sneaking into Dan’s mind were quickly cast away, because Dan loved Maria. The problem was Maria’s transformation.. Every time Alina showed up in their life, a transfer of personality took place. The warm, peaceful creature started to become increasingly uninhibited and frivolous and, what was worse, at such times she paid less and less attention to him. At first, he thought he was imagining it. But he had the same suspicion the night when, at a restaurant, sitting at a table for ten, , which included Alina, he checked his watch: it had been two and a half hours during which Maria didn’t exchange one word with him, while constantly laughing with Alina and flirting with the other guys at the table. At a party where she danced more with Alina than with him, drawing everyone’s attention. On a holiday trip the three of them took together, where Alina somehow managed to make friends with two young men, who came to the same resort for a teambuilding, whom she lured to their table, where they chatted with her and Maria long after he withdrew to their room alone, hoping Maria would at least get the hint and follow him. And he understood that he hated Alina, one night when she stayed over at their place for a second bottle of wine the three of them shared, when confessions started pouring out and Maria, provoked by Alina, admitted to sometimes faking it with Dan. That night, the three of them went out to a club together. Everyone seemed to know Alina and, to get on her good side, sort of indirectly, all the guys were flirting with Maria. The latter didn’t care about Dan, sitting on his chair,

drinking beer after beer, his face bleak as the club’s private booths. Maria was dancing between the tables, never turning down an invitation. She was always laughing, allowing herself to be steered by the arms of the men spinning her and surrounding her, waiting for a song to finish so that one of them, Alina or Maria, would become available for yet another dance. Switching from beer to wine and then to rum did didn’t help Dan. He was sitting in his corner, trying to muster the courage to leave. To trade the world of certainty surrounding him for a new, uncertain one, without Maria in it, sadder, but certainly less painful. Yet he remembered Maria during those months when Alina didn’t come visit and the sweet peace reigning between them at such times. Dan managed to keep it together that night because, at some point, the lump in his chest, which hadn’t been flushed out when he threw up ke in the toilet, made him understand that, in fact, Alina loved him. And her entire behavior was meant to get Maria out of his life and have him finally be single, so she could get her chance. He was watching the two of them dance just to draw his attention. Poor Alina, she didn’t know his heart had been promised to Maria. Maria may have had her flaws, but she was the love of his life. She definitely did have flaws, such as the fact that right now she was dancing alone, allowing herself to be squeezed and groped. She should probably be punished somehow. Since Alina wanted him so much, maybe he should sleep with her once. And, as punishment, Maria should stand beside them and watch. In fact, that could be turned into a habit. Since they’re such good friends, the two of them could

share him. No, not share him, he should be the one to choose as he sees fit. Either Alina or Maria. Or both. The two of them, submissive, should beg for his attention with their eyes. Eager to please him. To humbly fulfill his every wish. His every fantasy. They should join forces every now and then, just to pleasure him. When he wouldn’t feel like being with them, they should wait quietly, on their knees, for his lust to rekindle. Dan stood his ground that night the club and returned home with Maria. They broke up two days later. I know you’re wondering how I know this story. There’s no secret. Dan is, or used to be, one of my best friends. And Alina has been my girlfriend for a couple of years. She fulfils my every command and gladly accepts every punishment. •

The front cover of Dan Pleșa's book, which can be bought online from cărturești.ro

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NIGHTLIFE

Mugur and Florian have both worked in the insurance industry for decades, and the name Lloyd, pulled from the centuries-old insurance powerhouse Lloyd’s of London, speaks to the very heart of their business backgrounds and relates to communal drinking in unexpected ways. “Mr. Lloyd represented the beginning of insurance as we know it, and it all started in an environment like this one” says Mugur. Edward Lloyd ran a coffeehouse tavern in the 17th century that saw the coming and going of ship captains and crew heading in every direction. “He knew all the ship captains and owners and would tell these guys before they’d head off ‘Hey I’ll subscribe two pennies to your ship and supplies. And then others in the pub would say ‘I’ll be the underwriter’ and add their signatures. These were some of the first instances of insurance policies in the modern era.”

Lloyd’s Pub Opening Next to Universitate Metro by David McLean Shoup

A

new underground pub will soon be opening just around the corner from the Universitate Metro and across the street from Bucharest’s historic old town. Lloyd’s Pub is co-owned by cousins Mugur Prundea and radio DJ Alex Craciun for Radio 7 and Mugur’s co-worker Florian Barac. The trio hopes to net a wide ranging scene of pub lovers both young and old attracted by a warm underground scene, affordable drinks, and themed evenings with live events throughout the week. Lloyd’s Pub is located in the cellar of 18 Strada Coltei, right next to the monumental Coltea Hospital. Anticipating a grand opening at the end of February or beginning of March, the bar’s interior brick arcade cellar is already finished, complete with dim mood lighting and decor which offers a glimpse into the bar’s namesake.

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In recognition of these nearly four centuries of insurance history in Europe, Mugur plans to add a collection of old framed insurance policies along the brick walled interior. As of now, Mugur says that Lloyd’s Pub will feature a weekly events schedule, with theater performances on the cellar’s central stage Sunday and Monday evenings designed to highlight the works of up and coming performers in Romania. Tuesday evenings will see live jazz, while Wednesdays will perk up with stand up comedy and karaoke. Thursday nights will feature Romanian folk music, including some well known names already lined up, such as Eugen Avram, Mircea Bodolan, and Marius Batu. Fridays and Saturdays will see Lloyd’s open late for clubbing nights, with drink discounts for students! With a great venue, owners who are close to the artistic and bohemian pulse underlying the city of Bucharest, and a packed schedule of entertainment and relaxation, Lloyd’s Pub could very well be the hottest new spot in the capital. Come March 1st, we’ll see you there. •

Address​: Str. Pescarilor nr.11, bl.36, sc.1, ap.113, Sect.2 Bucureşti tel. ​: 0722-517 699 e-mail ​: cristian.goia@byt.ro

Maximum professionalism - more than 20 years in the car industry with a team of trained and experienced mechanics Maximum convenience - your car collected and delivered, good English spoken, very responsive Maximum peace of mind - transparent and honest pricing Cristi can help you with buying or selling your car, with servicing or repairing your car, with tyre changes, valeting, basically everything and anything to do with cars. No job too big or too small. Many testimonials available. Contract driving jobs - executive car or 8 seat van.

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address : Str. Pescarilor nr.11, bl.36, sc.1, ap.113, Sector 2, Bucharest phone : 0722-517 699 e-mail : cristian.goia@byt.ro

Lloyd’s Pub Opening Next to Universitate Metro


VA L EN T I N E' S

Belgian Chocolates With Love Messages. available in Park Lake Mall, Bucharest facebook.com/timcudragoste

OZB's Top Picks for Valentine's Date Night

L

et OZB into your [love] life with some pointers for the ideal Valentine’s meal in Bucharest this 2020. Whether you’re a high rolling finance exec thumbing through this magazine in the top floor waiting room, a free loading English teacher drunkenly happening upon this page after a ground floor break from karaoke upstairs, or a Romanian embarrassed to have gotten this far in the article, we have got a reasonable plethora spread of options to suit different budgets and styles. The Bank Bruiser (but not Buster) Noa Restoclub Calea Victoriei 26 This trendy and comfortable restaurant is great for couple’s nights with a quiet crowd and a very smooth playlist. While the Big Texas burger (54 Ron) is insanely delicious, for those seeking lighter Valentine’s Day tastes the duck salad with goat cheese mousse and mango (39 Ron) is sure to please. Noa is located right around the corner from the Macca Vilacrosse Passage, the beautiful Interbelic vibing bar wonderland in case hookah is on the after-dinner menu. The Full Pink Cismigiu Bistro la Etaj

38 Regina Elisabeta Boulevard, Hotel Cismigiu This French restaurant is a slight price step up from our previous entry but with the added benefit of literally being all pink. The Foie Gras Terrine (44 Ron) is a good starter while ducks still roam the planet, and Bistro la Etaj also offers a simple but classic appetizer menu for two offerings, a good pick for a date night starter. On the diverse mains menu, the crispy salmon (46 Ron) and Croque Madame (36 Ron) are standouts. The desserts will especially delight in this well lit, Little Paris recreation ideal for a Valentine’s Day lunch or early dinner before or after a nice stroll through Cismigiu Park (which actually filled in for a Paris scene in the recent Regina Maria film). The Cheap Date Bucatarasul cel Dibaci Strada Olteni NR3 Money isn’t everything, and if your date feels the same way, give Bucatarasul cel Dibaci a go. This local favorite is clean, affordable, and offers high quality cuisine for a very reasonable price. I suspect the low prices are due more to the restaurant’s location a bit farther removed from the Old Town, but it doesn’t shortchange OZB's Top Picks for Valentine's Date Night

anybody when it comes to the food, which is always tasty, authentic, and accompanied by great service. The grilled pork sirloin is a mouthwatering entree for under 20 Ron. Pescetarians may prefer the Carp brine with polenta (29 Ron). Tucked away in the heart of the charming and underrated Old Jewish Quarter, you can walk to Piata Unirii in five minutes. This is a good spot for an early dinner so you can have plenty of time to take part in the evening’s Valentine’s festivities after dessert. The Banker Deluxe Kaiamo Str. Ermil Pangratti 30A This experimental dining restaurant known for its artistic flare is one of the best locations in the city to impress any date. Take a romantic aperitif walk at nearby King Michael Park in the evening before heading a few blocks south to Kaiamo (but reservations ahead of time are a must). The chic interior will pair well with the finely tuned takes on local cuisine, such as the Romanian beef tartare and algae caviar (for a shockingly reasonable 65 Ron before you burn your checking account on a bottle of wine) or charred octopus, bean spread and grilled onion (70 Ron).

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S O CI ET Y

Let’s Open Up a Very Sensitive Topic! by Alison Mutler First published on Universul.net Translated from Romanian

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arch 15th marks a national holiday in Hungary, recognition of the 1848 revolution and a date which signifies a critical step in forming Hungarians’ sense of national identity. And it won’t just be celebrated in Hungary. The party representing the interests of some 1.2 million Hungarians in Romania started after the revolution as a European party, with pro-European politicians supporting democracy and consolidating the pro-European path and values in Romania. By the 1990s, the UDMR was considered a reformist group, even an engine for progress in that troubled period. Naturally, this idea was promoted by the UDMR, the media, but also by the other parties in Romania. It was a win-win situation for everyone. No one thought or dared to oppose it. Though nobody uttered it, the underlying idea was: „If we have Hungarians in the government, we will show the world that we are tolerant.” Moreover, the UDMR politicians were not criticized or investigated for alleged acts of corruption like their Romanian colleagues. They enjoyed the advantage of being part of a minority and as such deserving special, even preferential, treatment. The UDMR is a party that represents the interests of an ethnic group,

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but has not contributed as much as it should have to the reforms in Romania. The party supported all the government coalitions and remained a currency of exchange in Romanian politics. It has been in power for years and years, enjoying all the benefits. Hungarian politicians were „helped” by Corneliu Vadim Tudor who was foaming with rage against them. It could be inferred: if the CVT is against them, it means that they may be persecuted. All political parties were complicit in this situation. Parties founded on ethnic criteria are an anomaly in Europe, almost an anachronism. During communism, governments gave minority representatives rights and positions in central and local administration, so that nobody could claim that minorities were oppressed and there should be no dissatisfaction among minorities. See the cases of Richard Winter, a Romanian politician, a Saxon minority citizen, who was a minister and the first secretary of the county of Sibiu, or Ludovik Fazekas, who was a member of the Grand National Assembly for 32 years. Based on this philosophy there were born the „ethnic” parties in Romania and Bulgaria. Currently, there are 17 seats for ethnic minorities in Romania, a generous figure. In other European countries, such as France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, politicians belonging to an ethnic minority become members of parties that share their political beliefs. Exceptions are Bulgaria, where the Movement for Rights and Freedom (a Turkish party) has 36 seats in the Parliament, and in Finland, where the Swedish People’s Party of Finland has 10 seats in the Parliament. The Serbian minority has three seats in the Croatian Parliament. Ethnic minorities make up about 10 percent of Romania’s population. The Hungarians are (officially) the largest group, followed by Roma and Germans. Obviously, it is good for minorities to know their mother tongue, but if we talk about equal opportunities, it is important that every child has the opportunity to develop skills in the country and in the society where he/she lives, not just in isolated places where minorities live. I was delighted by my visits to HarLet’s Open Up a Very Sensitive Topic!

ghita, Mures and Covasna, beautiful areas, with a different language, a different culture, a different cuisine, where I had the opportunity to talk to many people. By far, the happiest and most adapted to today’s society were those who spoke both languages and could interact with all the citizens of the country. Romania has a law that allows the use of the mother tongue in the administrative-territorial units in which the citizens belonging to a national minority have a share of more than 20% of the inhabitants, the normative decisions are communicated to the citizens belonging to the respective minority in their mother tongue too, and those of individual character are communicated, on request, in their mother tongue. The Hungarians ask the Romanian state for territorial, local and cultural autonomy. I honestly do not think that the demand for territorial autonomy is realistic or constitutional. Cultural autonomy sounds rather vague and not at all European. However, some Hungarians consider that they do not have enough privileges and rights. Outside the borders, the situation is seen differently. During the 1999 air strikes against Serbia, former US President Bill Clinton highlighted Romania as „a state that has built a democracy and respects the rights of the ethnic minority”. Romania has been a member of the European Union for 12 years, it has reached enough political maturity to start thinking differently. I remember a conversation with a politician from UDMR who was half Romanian, half Hungarian. He said that in 30 years’ time, it will be natural for all politicians in Transylvania to choose a party based on political criteria, not ethnic ones. There we are right now! And the topic is just being opened up. • Alison Mutler is an experienced British journalist based in Bucharest and has covered Romania, Moldova and occasionally Bulgaria and Hungary for almost 30 years. She first reported from Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova before communism ended, and was In Romania, working for British television station ITV during the 1989 anti-communist revolt. She recently left the Associated Press after 25 years. Her Twitter handle is @ AlisoNJMutler


A D V EN T U RE

The Snow Won’t Slow Us Down. Summiting Piatra Craiului in Winter

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he long dark nights and chilly temperatures of winter can always prove an easy excuse to not get out into the wilderness. But this team of recent medical school graduates can inspire all of us with their up and at ‘em approach to Romania’s natural beauty, weather be damned. Carol Davila School of Medicine graduates Dennis Ursachi, Diana Anghel and friends celebrated their successful medical residency exams with a winter’s weekend summit of the challenging but innately rewarding Piatra Craiului. The peak overshadows the village of Bran and its famed Dracula-themed castle. If travelling by train, the quickest access to the peak is from Zarnesti station. Take an early morning train in order to guarantee a successful descent before darkness. Dennis recommends beginning at Botorog Fountain and enjoying the gradual ascent towards the scenic Curmatura Chalet (where you can also spend the night for very reasonable prices if need be) and from the chalet straight up to the top of Craiului where you can walk along the magnificent peak’s crest. Do not go unprepared. Good climbing boots and cold weather hiking gear are a must, and hiking pools are highly recommended for navigating the steeper parts of the summit in winter. The long awaited winter’s snow may well be upon us soon, but don’t let it draw you indoors for long. The scenic mountains of Romania await. All photos by Dr. Dennis Ursachi

The Snow Won't Slows Us Down, Summiting Piatra Craiului in Winter

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The Hiker's Plateau

Vertical Climb

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Bison in the snow by Michel D'Oultremont

WWF Romania’s Bison Hillock Offers Adventure, Serenity & a Call to Sustainability

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cotourism is the new order of business in a world increasingly uncertain about the future of our ecology and mindful of our individual environmental footprints. When it comes to ecotourism here in Romania, look no further than our friends at the World Wildlife Fund. This past summer OZB highlighted recent efforts to bring back the bison, hunted almost to extinction over a century ago. Any season of the year now, visitors curious about the return of this beautiful creature can visit the Bison Hillock in the Tarcu Mountains, the second site in Romania where the animals have been reintroduced. Together with the organization Rewilding Europe, WWF Romania hopes to bring back the days when Romania’s pristine mountains and isolated forests were a free roaming home to the bison. Starting with 2020, WWF, through it’s global in-

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novation platform Panda Labs and with the support of the local association AMZA, will be launching a new program called We Wilder, that allows visitors to participate in the type of immersive experiences that seek to educate the public about the critical importance of conservation and species protection. We Wilder is guided by naturalists and facilitated by locals making it an authentic and unique expedition into rural and wild Romania. WWF and local partners are offering a series of fantastic visiting opportunities that allow visitors to take in the richness of the environment through new bike trails (with electric bikes available too, courtesy of WWF’s partners at the RO Mountain Bike Team) and Bison tracking with experienced guides. For the even more adventurous, visitors can also take a training and certification course in big animal tracking, as well as explore the region’s caves and take part in some serious climbing. Guests will also be in-

vited to experience traditional rural home living at Sat Bătrân, where a small village museum now offers glimpses into country life. Guests can learn to bake bread the way it has been made for centuries, use a corn mill, and take part in cooking classes focused on local cuisine. Other activities include woodworking, stone and mortar demonstrations, and even cheese-making. Beyond the support that ecotourism offers to WWF and other organizations seeking to implement positive change in our natural environment, the way that WWF’s immersive experience is set up also grants an increased standard of financial stability and contribution to local communities, through these types of immersive cultural opportunities focused on traditional living, respect for nature, and sustainability. These new opportunities can also present a boon to the local economy and culture of nearby Armeniș commune, and the Armeniș mayor is particularly hopeful. “Nature has always been

WWF Romania's Bison Hillock Offers Adventure, Serenity & a Call to Sustainability

at the basis of the Armeniș community, offering us fertile lands and rich orchards. Now, with the arrival of bison, the people truly see the importance of wild nature and more and more families are involved in ecotourism,” said Armeniș Mayor Ioan-Cristian Vela. “We have households who plant vegetables, cooks who prepare meals, people who transport and host tourists from near and far. In the old villages of Sat Bătrân and Sub Margine we are investing in infrastructure necessary to offer a unique experience in an authentic rural landscape. The tourists can enjoy not only the adventures of bison tracking but also the healthy lifestyle and traditions of our commune.” At its most basic yet serene, the Bison Hillock is home to an award winning and unique animal observatory structure, offering stunning views of the landscape and allowing visitors to appreciate the bison in their natural state through the undisturbed lens of a long distance telescope. •


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Snowy Mountains by Daniel Mirela

Tent up in Tarcu Mountains by Bogdan Comanescu

You can reach out to WWF’s local contacts at Bison Hillock for more information. Arrange a visit today! OZB will see you on the trail.

Matei Miculescu Bison Ranger and Tour Operator, WWF Romania ArmeniČ™ Bison Hillock Association magurazimbrilor@gmail.com +40 (757) 810 905 Oana Mondoc Communities Development, WWF Romania

Bison in spring

omondoc@wwfdcp.ro +40 (721) 819 595

by Sergio Pitamitz

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Lousia May Alcott ,

Mihai Eminescu,

American Novelist

Romanian Poet

The Eminent Eminescu & His Literary Little Women Contemporary by David Shoup

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his past month marked the 170th birthday of acclaimed Romanian literary sensation Mihai Eminescu, in a grand remembrance attended by the minister of culture and newly re-elected president. A hero of Romanian arts, appropriately recognized by UNESCO, Eminescu is remembered for his poetry, prose, and political journalism. An important legacy to the late writer’s name and footprint is the Mihai Eminescu Trust, which has been featured here in OZB as an important national changemaker for its role in aiding the preservation of traditional Romanian villages. Coming to theaters this month in Romania is the story (though fictionalized) of an American contemporary of Eminescu, and my home town hero in Concord, Massachusetts, Louisa May Alcott. In the sixth, and in the opinion of this author, best, film adaption 38

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of Alcott’s novel Little Women, set during a time when both Alcott and Eminescu were in their youth, a stellar cast and creative direction by Greta Gerwig brings a classic but timeless story to life. I was fortunate to catch the American premiere while back home for Christmas, and doubly fortunate to receive a behind the scenes tour of the film’s setting, the Concord Orchard House, where the Alcott family lived for many years, and which you can see in the film. My little sister Lili is a tour guide at the Orchard House, and she teared up when we saw the movie, proud that a female hero of hers could produce work that lives on time and again in new creative adaptations befitting modern society. “I felt so connected to the movie because I walk through those halls every day when I work, I see the desk where she wrote the book, I see the faces of all of her fans eager to get a glimpse of what her life was like and learn her story, not just Little Women,”

Lili told me. “It was amazing to me that a novel written for young girls in the 1800s by a female author, something which was so radical at the time, could be an amazing movie in 2019 directed by a woman.” Both of these literary icons died in between 1888 and 1889. 1888 being, oddly enough, the first year that a motion picture film was released. Could Alcott have predicted her characters would make it to the silver screen? Who knows. Alcott truly does enjoy a similar level of fame in the US that Eminescu does in Romania. Beyond their works,

there’s a certain fasciation transcending cultures with national icons who died before their time was due. One can only wonder what more great works they could have produced with a little bit more time on this earth. So if you’ve run out of original Valentine’s date night ideas this year, take your girlfriend to Little Women to show that you care (or by the other side of the same coin take your boyfriend to Little Women and show him why he should care!). And to truly honor our literary heroes like Eminescu or Alcott, let’s bring book gifting back into style this Valentine’s 2020. •

www.moorcroft.ro +40 729 166916 dean@moorcroft.ro

A company dedicated to assisting foreigners to settle in Romania. We can help with visas, permits, company set-ups, car registration, insurance, orientation tours and basically anything that a newcomer to Romania might need.

The Eminent Eminescu & His Literary Little Women Contemporary


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IN TENNIS AND SPORT, PRESSURE IS A PRIVILEGE Ashleigh Barty

superbet.ro

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Profile for Douglas Williams

OZB Magazine February 2020  

Romanian magazine in English published monthly and distributed across a wide range of Bucharest based shops, cafes and restaurants.

OZB Magazine February 2020  

Romanian magazine in English published monthly and distributed across a wide range of Bucharest based shops, cafes and restaurants.

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