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Content 1 Introducing Romania.............................. page 3 2 Frequently used...................................... page 7 3 Payments and banking in Romania ....... page 10 4 Transport ............................................... page 18 5 Main tourist attractions ......................... page 22 6 Sports and fun ....................................... page 36 7 Customs and traditions ......................... page 39 8 Food....................................................... page 44

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Introducing Romania Are you a newcomer to Romania or already living here for some years but still have a lot of things to find out? It’s our pleasure to guide you through Romania and show you its beautiful customs, traditions and more. We will make sure that everything is at your hand, and moreover, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank’s team will offer you assistance, providing you the right solutions regarding your payments, savings and more.

Intesa Sanpaolo Bank welcomes you to Romania!

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Introducing Romania

1.1. SHORT HISTORY OF ROMANIA In the ancient times, the land between the Danube, the Black Sea and the Carpathian Mountains was inhabited by the Dacians, who lived on a territory called Dacia. In 106 A.D. Dacia became part of the Roman Empire. At that time, the Dacians were extremely rich and one of the most advanced civilizations on the territory that is currently occupied by Europe. The newly formed people, the Daco-Romans are the ancestors of Romanians. Throughout time, the Romanian rich and resourceful territory has always been a high point of interest in the area.

GOOD TO KNOW Romanians are very passionate about history, and you can still find people who participated in the Second World War. Listen to their stories! Enjoy their life experiences!

Gradually, our culture has blossomed by embracing parts of different civilizations that crossed our territory and sometimes established in Romania: German people settled in Transylvania during the Middle Ages, building castles and fortified cities The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were formed in the 14th century, but were soon brought under domination of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire The principality of Transylvania, in the Western part of today’s Romania was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary between the 10th –16th centuries Romania became an independent kingdom in 1878 In 1918, on 1st of December (National Day), all the territories still under foreign occupation united with Romania

The Soviet Union extended its influence after the 2nd World War, which led Romania to a Communist republic in 1947 Dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu ruled the country from 1965 until he was overthrown and executed in 1989 as a result of the Romanian Revolution After the fall of the Communist regime, Romania adopted a new Constitution and started the economic and political reforms Romania joined NATO on March 29th 2004 and is also a member of the Latin Union, of the Francophonie and of OSCE On January 1st 2007, Romania joined the European Union

Bucovina Village Museum Fortress (Rareș Negrea)

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Craiului Mountains (Mădălina Ogică)


Introducing Romania

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I.C. Brătianu Blvd, Bucharest (Ludmila Artin)

1.2. ROMANIA TODAY Today, Romania has a population of 21,400,000 inhabitants composed of various ethnic groups: Romanians 89.4%, Hungarians 7.1%, Ukrainians 0.3%, Germans 0.3%, Russians 0.2%, others 2.76%, being the seventh largest population in the EU. Bucharest is the capital of Romania, with over 2 million inhabitants. The largest city of the country lies on the banks of Dâmbovița River being the industrial, cultural and financial center of Romania. Between the two World Wars, due to the city’s elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite, Bucharest was given the name of “Little Paris of the East” (Micul Paris). The official language is Romanian. However, in some parts of the country you can hear people also speaking Hungarian and German. Romanian is a Latin language and has many similarities with French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Romania’s currency is leu (RON). 1 leu is divided into 100 bani. Notes come in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1 leu (plural lei). These are supplemented by 50, 10 and 5 bani (singular ban) coins. Romania plans to adopt the EURO at a future date. Romania is in the Eastern European Time Zone: GMT +2 hours. When in Bucharest it is 12:00 PM, in Italy it is 11:00 AM, 10:00 AM in London, 5:00 AM in New York. Romania has a typical continental climate, experiencing four distinct seasons. The average annual temperature is 11˚ C in the south and 8˚ C in the north. Warmest month: July / August Coldest month: January

No matter the weather be ready to enjoy Romania! 5


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Introducing Romania

1.3. POLITICAL FRAMEWORK Romania is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic whereby the Prime Minister of Romania is the head of government (based at Victoria Palace, Bucharest) and the President of Romania (who resides at Cotroceni Palace, Bucharest) exercises the function of head of state. The state organization is based on the principle of separation of power: legislative, executive and juridical. The right to vote is granted to all citizens being at least 18 years old. The President is elected by popular vote for a 5-years period (starting with the constitutional amendment of 2003). The president nominates the Prime Minister, following consultations with the party that is in the majority in the Parliament. The legislative branch of the government, collectively known as the Parliament (‘’Parlamentul României’’), consists of two chambers – the Senate (‘’Senat’’) and the Chamber of Deputies (‘’Camera Deputaţilor’’). The members of both chambers are elected every four years by means of a uninominal representation system. The country’s accession into the European Union has had a significant influence on its domestic politics. Main political parties are: PD-L (Democratic Liberals), PSD (Social Democrats), PNL (Liberal Party), UDMR (Hungarian Nationalists).

The Government, Bucharest (Ludmila Artin)

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Frequently used 2.1. HOME BASICS We do not know if you had the chance to discover Romania “as it is”, so we are trying to shed some light on you, especially on the home basics topic. What can “the country of contrasts” offer you when it is time for you to rent or buy a house and connect to home utilities?

Well, let’s make a long story short!

You can find solutions for both single individuals and families.

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Frequently used

Start with what you need Whether you want to feel the city’s heartbeat or you like the peace and quietness of the suburbs, Romania can offer you good solutions for everything you need! So, you can choose to rent or buy an apartment in the city or a nice and cozy house in the suburbs. Recently, the residential segment has developed a lot in Romania so you have a variety of choices, depending on your budget. The majority of real estate companies offer a complete range of services for buying or renting a place, including assistance on the documents and contracts that have to be signed. Usually, the commission paid to the real estate company is from 1% to 3% of the price of the dwelling to be bought. In case of rentals, the commission varies between half and one month rent. The price of both rent and houses for sale is advertised and negotiated in euro. Additionally, when you sign the rental contract you will be asked to deposit a cash guarantee in Lei or Euro that varies between two to five rents, money that will be held in the owner’s account until the expiry date of the contract you signed. If you have children, you have to know that baby care and education are affordable in Romania and there are a lot of institutions providing these types of services. Ok, you’ve got a place to live and bills start to pile up, or you bought a house and you have to sign the contracts for utilities… Most of the Romanian utilities providers are not from the private sector, but from the public sector.

Is your house rented? If you rent a place, you should open a current account and subscribe to Internet Banking or activate the direct debit service. Make sure you have the money in your account on the direct debit processing date. You can also choose to pay the invoices in Intesa Sanpaolo Bank branches.

GOOD TO KNOW If you choose Lider package from Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Romania, the payment of utilities via Internet Banking is free of charge!

You bought a place… This is when things become really interesting! First of all you have to choose the utilities provider. Some have restrictions in respect to the areas they provide to, so you can find out that you only have a limited number of alternatives.

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OUR RECOMMENDATION Better ask one of your colleagues for advice. We are sure that they will share with you their experiences regarding the utilities providers.


Frequently used

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Here is a list of some utilities providers and their websites, by category:

Utilities: Electricity: www.electrica.ro www.enel.ro Gas: www.distrigaz.ro Running water and sewage: www.apanovabucuresti.ro Sanitation: www.rebu.ro www.rosal.ro www.urbansa.ro www.romprest.ro

Cable television: www.rcs-rds.ro www.upc.ro www.romtelecom.ro (Dolce TV) Internet access: www.rcs-rds.ro www.upc.ro www.romtelecom.ro Mobile phone: www.vodafone.ro www.orange.ro www.cosmote.ro Land phone: www.romtelecom.ro www.rcs-rds.ro www.upc.ro

2.2. STAYING SAFE AND HEALTHY In Romania the health services are at lower prices than the ones normally practiced in the EU. Some of the Public Hospitals and most of the Private clinics from Bucharest are equipped with modern technology, providing both diagnosis and treatment options at high standards. However, only a limited number of investigations or surgeries can be performed in private hospitals. That is why public ones are usually extremely crowded and require appointment. If you are a European citizen and have the EU insurance card you shouldn’t have any problems. If you want additional safety you can always apply for a private health insurance that will cover all risks. For any appointment to a specialist doctor, you need to have a written recommendation from your doctor. In the unfortunate case you need hospitalization you should provide a certificate to prove your employment.

OUR RECOMMENDATION Find a private clinic that satisfies your needs and make a subscription that will generally offer medical care for you and your family members.

GOOD TO KNOW 112 is the emergency number for ambulance, firemen or police.

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Payments and banking in Romania

There are 42 banks currently operating in Romania, out of which 2 have state controlled capital, 4 with majority private Romanian capital, 25 banks having international capital, 10 branches of foreign banks and 1 credit cooperative.

Intesa Sanpaolo is one of the most important financial groups in the world, known for its stability and strength that develops business globally. Intesa Sanpaolo is the leading Italian bank, operates in over 30 countries and has a significant presence both in Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean area. One of the strategic objectives of Intesa Sanpaolo Group targets global growth and the continuous improvement of services on the retail and corporate market, aiming to consolidate its position as one of the most important financial players. Intesa Sanpaolo Bank has been present on the Romanian market since 1996.

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Payments and banking in Romania

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Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, Branch Unirii, Bucharest (Č˜tefan Micsik)

Solutions from Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Romania Whatever you want to do, a nice escape from home or a diversification in your career, you will undoubtedly need a reliable partner who will give you professional advice in managing financial resources. Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Romania is specialized in offering international banking services designed to meet your specific needs. Moreover, in most of our branches you will be met by specialized staff, speakers of English / Italian, who will gladly answer to your questions. Intesa Sanpaolo Bank recommends the following banking options for expats:

3.1. OPENING A CURRENT ACCOUNT Opening a current account is a rather easy thing to do! Documents required: a) For resident individuals: identification cards issued in Romania b) For nonresident individuals: Passport, or any other ID, according to the laws of the country of residence.

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Payments and banking in Romania

Lider Package Lider is one of the best products and services package useful for an efficient management of your financial resources, saving time and enjoying a lot of benefits with only one monthly fee. Products and services included in Lider Package: 1.Current Account in Lei and Euro: 0% commission for account opening 0% commission on cash withdrawal at bank’s counters up to the monthly limit of 30,000 Lei/ 8,000 Euro 0% commission on domestic incoming 0% commission on international incoming Attractive interest for the current account amounts

GOOD TO KNOW 0% commission on cash withdrawal on any ATM in the world.

2. Debit card: 0% commission on cash withdrawal from all the ATMs in Romania and all around the world, at any bank 0% commission for all payments made at merchants in Romania and all around the world 0% commission on card issuing and management

3. Internet Banking: Easy management of your resources from anywhere around the world using a computer connected to the Internet 0% commission for subscription and management 0% commission on domestic payments 0% commission on SEPA international payments NOTE: International payments in the European Union are made through SEPA transfers if the beneficiary’s bank is SEPA member. Every time you want to make an international payment, we will first check if the beneficiary bank is SEPA member and try to direct for you all your payments through SEPA.

In addition to LIDER Package, we also offer to you Standard current account - the right solution if you work with currencies like USD, CHF, HUF, GBP and others. Through Standard current account you will have access to Internet Banking and a debit card attached for you to make all the necessary transactions in no time.

LIDER PACKAGE

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Payments and banking in Romania

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3.2. SAVING MONEY Intesa Sanpaolo Bank offers you a wide range of saving products: Certificates of Deposit with discount Accumulation Plan Progressive Interest Term Deposits Variable Interest Term Deposits Standard Term Deposits Treasury Bonds

GOOD TO KNOW Your savings can benefit from a higher interest rate in Romania than in the EU.

Certificates of Deposit The certificates of deposit offer attractive fixed interest rates for a certain maturity. They are purchased with discount to the nominal value, which is reached at maturity. The Certificates of deposit are issued in Lei or Euro, with a wide variety of maturities, adapted to any of your plans. To open a certificate of deposit, you should take into consideration the following additional benefits: Fixed interest on the entire period for which they are issued No withdrawal commission on the day of maturity Possibility to make anticipated repayment, case in which you will also receive good interest You can purchase Certificates of deposit with the following nominal values:

Accumulation Plan The Accumulation Plan is a saving product allowing an accumulation of money in time. Functioning like a piggy bank which you have to feed monthly with a constant amount, in addition, you can benefit from one of the best interest rates on the market. Starting from small amounts, it can represent the best instrument if you want to teach your child to save money. The Accumulation Plan gives you the opportunity to save in Lei and Euro on long or short term. How does Accumulation Plan work? A product perfectly adapted to you, leaving you to decide on: - The monthly amount you can save - The period of saving - When you want to withdraw your money you have permanent access to your savings No effort from your side, the transfer is performed automatically in the saving account Very accessible: saving minimum 40 lei/10 Euro monthly

ACCUMULATION PLAN

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Payments and banking in Romania

Term Deposits Progressive Interest Deposit A type of deposit with step-up interest that rewards you on every prolongation: Lei and Euro deposit 3, 6, 9, 12 months tenor The interest rate can be paid at maturity or can be capitalized. Moreover, for deposits opened in lei, the interest rate can be paid monthly as an additional option Fixed interest for the entire period

GOOD TO KNOW The Progressive Interest Deposit combines the advantages of 3 deposits into one. Within the 12 months tenor, every 3 months can be considered a maturity.

0% withdrawal commission on maturity date

Variable Interest Deposit The Variable Interest Deposit is a unique product on the Romanian market with interest variable according to Euribor and Robor indexes: Lei and Euro deposit 3, 6, 9, 12 months tenor 0% withdrawal commission on maturity date Possibility to receive the interest on a monthly basis without capitalization or at maturity without capitalization The interest is actualized on a monthly basis, offering a product of maximum transparency

Instead of making comparisons and calculations to find the best offer, the Variable Interest Deposit guarantees that you receive a transparent interest rate, linked to a public index reflecting the real cost of money. Standard Term Deposit If you want to open a term deposit with fixed interest rate that will not require your presence at the bank each time it reaches maturity and still benefit from a good interest rate, the Standard Term Deposit answers your needs: Lei, Euro and USD deposit 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12 months tenor You can choose to make the deposit with or without automatic prolongation The interest rate can be paid monthly, at maturity or can be capitalized Fixed interest rate

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TERM DEPOSITS


Payments and banking in Romania

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Choose the best solution for you from the following wide offer: Saving product

Accumulation Plan

Certificate of deposit

Progressive Interest Deposit

Variable Interest Deposit

Standard Term Deposit

Description

Saving account in which you choose the amount to be saved monthly, for any period you would like, at the same time offering permanent access to the amount saved

Saving alternative to a term deposit, available on certain nominal values that can be purchased with discount

A deposit with increasing interest that rewards you on every prolongation

This is a unique deposit on the Romanian market with interest variable according to Euribor and Robor indexes

For those who like to combine the benefits of fixed interest rates with the advantages offered by a wide range of options on maturity and on the payment of interest

Currency

Lei, Euro

Lei, Euro

Lei, Euro

Lei, Euro

Lei, Euro, USD

Type of interest

Variable

Fixed

Fixed

Variable on EURIBOR and ROBOR 1M

Fixed

Maturity

No maturity

3, 6, 12 and 18 months

3, 6, 9 and 12 months

3, 6, 9 and 12 months

1, 2, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months

No automatic prolongation

Automatic prolongation

No automatic prolongation

You can choose between automatic prolongation and payment of deposit on maturity.

Purchased with discounts from the nominal value, which is reached at maturity

You can choose between:

You can choose between:

You can choose between:

Monthly payment of interest (available only on lei)

Monthly payment of interest

Monthly payment of interest

Payment of interest on maturity

Payment of interest on maturity

Option on maturity

Option of interest payment

Interest rate will be capitalized to the account

Payment of interest on maturity

Capitalization of interest

Capitalization of interest OPENING COSTS

No opening cost

No opening cost

No opening cost

No opening cost

No opening cost

Advantages

Designed for the saving of small amounts. You can teach your children the importance of saving

You can choose to redeem only a part of your certificates before maturity, case in which you will also receive good interest

Within the 12 months tenor, every 3 months can be considered maturity

The variable interest deposit assures you of receiving a transparent interest rate, linked to a public index reflecting the real cost of money

Classic term deposit product, bringing a lot of benefits in terms of flexibility. Your money will work for you and bring interest, even when you do not have time to come to the bank

0% withdrawal commission on maturity date

0% withdrawal commission on maturity date

0% withdrawal commission on maturity date

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Payments and banking in Romania

Treasury Bonds For those who want to try their “spirit of investor” in bonds, our specialists from Intesa Sanpaolo branches will offer their support all along the way. You only have to visit one of our branches, open a current account and an account for Treasury bonds. You will be able to buy/sell bonds on the secondary market, investing according to your needs in the short, medium and long term.

3.3. CREDIT CARDS MasterCard Platinum – a card for Premium customers, which, besides standard services and an insurance package, offers exclusive advantages like Concierge service, Priority Pass program, special offers to a wide range of Shops, Hotels and Restaurants all over the World MasterCard Gold with a generous credit line up to 7,500 Euros and Benefits Package (Insurance, Access to VIP lounges all over the world) MasterCard Standard Key benefits of Intesa Sanpaolo Bank’s credit cards: One of the lowest interest rates on the market Grace period both for Cash withdrawal (ATM) and Merchant transactions (POS), meaning no interest up to 45 days Its double functionality, both credit and debit, is among the fewest cards on the market allowing the usage of your own money and a credit line Enhanced security with Chip & Pin and the MasterCard 3D Secure program which reduces the online card fraud almost to 0

For more details regarding our products and services please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to offer you guidance and information.

CREDIT CARD 16


Payments and banking in Romania

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MORTGA GE LOAN 3.4. LOANS Personal

Needs Loan with Mortgage – an efficient loan available also for non-residents, allowing you to make all your dreams come true

Mortgage

Loan – a reliable financial lending solution for the expats interested in increasing own financial wellness through real estate investments in Romania

3.5. FUNDS GUARANTEE Intesa Sanpaolo Bank is a member of the National Fund of Deposit Guarantee (NFDG), therefore the amounts deposited in a current account, deposit, certificate of deposit, saving account, card account, and other similar products are guaranteed under the conditions and limits stipulated by the specific law. The guaranteed ceiling per depositor and per bank is established on a yearly basis. The guaranteed ceiling is now the equivalent of 50,000 Euro and it will increase to equivalent 100,000 Euro at the beginning of 2011. For any details, we kindly recommend you to ask our specialists from Intesa Sanpaolo Bank branches.

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Transport In Romania the usage of cars is so well spread that you’ll think everybody is driving one! Romania has standard driving regulations. The most important rules are to drive on the right side of the road and overtake on the left side. If you intend to leave the city you’ll have to obtain a road toll badge called “Rovinieta” which can be bought at any postal office and most gas stations. The price varies depending on the type of car you drive.

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Transport You are legally required to have your driving license around while driving as well as the insurance and registration documents. If you do not have a driving license issued in Romania, an international valid driving license is necessary. Radars can be often found on the public ways and the Romanian Traffic Police could fine you if you overspeed. There are plenty of gas stations that can usually be found on the main roads departing or entering a city/town. Some of them has small cafes inside so you can drink a coffee or buy a snack. The traffic is an issue in big cities. The honking noise might be annoying at the beginning but you will get used to it. In Bucharest all drivers are in a big hurry regardless of the time of day or night!

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GOOD TO KNOW Luckily, the Romanian drivers help each other when it comes to radars. So, if you see that the cars from the opposite direction are flashing, it means they’ve just passed radar or a police car, so you should slow down.

You are safe on the roads, but take into account that the infrastructure is not one of the most modern ones.

4.2. PUBLIC TRANSPORT Public transport is an option in Romania only if you are a short term visitor. It’s cheap but usually extremely crowded. For every trip you must buy a ticket before boarding, from the small booths that you might find near the bus station. Be aware that you cannot buy a ticket from the driver!

GOOD TO KNOW Public transport operates from 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

Children under the age of 7 travel for free on all means of public transport.

Surface transportation On this matter, the offer is large. You can use the bus, trolley and tram for internal routes. The same kind of ticket is valid on all three means of transport. It is an affordable way to get around the city, but often a very crowded one. Try at least once a trip with the trolley or the tram. They are almost on the point of extinction in many parts of Europe. You will probably notice the lack of network maps on the system but you can ask any person on the street for directions.

OUR RECOMMENDATION Avoid rush hours as you might not be able to get inside the bus/metro wagon. Rush hours are considered in the morning from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM and in the afternoon from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM.

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Transport

Trains / railways Romania has one of the best rail networks (4th in Europe) in coverage, but unfortunately not the same thing can be said about its quality. You can reach almost any destination in Romania by train. The most comfortable types of trains are Intercity and Săgeata Albastră (Blue Arrow). They operate between major Romanian cities. Always travel first class. Tickets can be bought at the railway station (make sure you get there on time), at a CFR agency located in city centers and can also be booked online at https://bileteonline.cfrcalatori.ro You can easily check the train schedule by using CFR’s website at: www.cfrcalatori.ro For longer distances, you can choose the airplane, since there are airports in the main big cities and the cost of the flight can be comparable to that of the train.

Taxi Taxies are affordable in Romania. It costs about 0.50 eurocents per km or slightly more. Be careful to look at the price posted on the doors of the taxi and then look at the meter to see that you are being charged the same. If the price isn’t posted on the door you’d better ask before getting in the taxi. They may end up being very expensive. Be aware that in some cities there are special prices for night trips or outer city trips. Taxis can be usually taken from street corners or taxi ranks where they wait for customers. Even so, calling a taxi company is always the best idea! Just look for the phone number posted on the taxis passing by and call!

Bikes Cycling is becoming more and more popular, so it’s developing really fast. The number of bike sharing programs in Bucharest is growing due to people’s increasing interest in a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, proper bike lanes are still scarce. Moreover, if you think about going on the streets, be careful as drivers have a faint idea of how to avoid the bikers. However, you can use the bike in the parks (e.g. Herăstrău Park in Bucharest) where you can borrow a bike only with your ID card.

Underground transportation - Subway Bucharest is the only city in Romania with a system of underground transportation. The system consists of 4 lines covering 49 stops, but it still does not cover all city areas. The main connection points are Piața Victoriei, Eroilor and Piața Unirii. To use the subway, you will have to buy a magnetic card you can get a card valid for either two rides, ten rides, or a monthly card - from a metro station or use the “Activ” card, valid for both underground and surface transportation. Check the underground map for routes and stops. More information here: www.metrorex.ro

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OUR RECOMMENDATION If you are in a terrible hurry, use the subway! It’s the fastest way to get around Bucharest!


Transport

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4.3. AIRPORTS There are several international airports in Romania, but the most important is Henri Coandă (Otopeni) Airport in Bucharest. Otopeni is the largest airport in Romania, located near Otopeni city (16 km north of Bucharest). Inside the airport there are banks, bars and restaurants. Transportation to the city center can be made by bus or by car. Bucharest has a second airport named Băneasa that usually serves low-cost flights. Băneasa Airport is much closer to the city than Otopeni. There are airports in the following cities: Bucharest, Timișoara, Constanța, Cluj Napoca, Arad, Sibiu, Târgu Mureș, Bacău, Baia Mare, Oradea, Suceava, Iași, Tulcea, Satu Mare, Craiova.

GOOD TO KNOW At Baneasa airport you can find an Intesa Sanpaolo Branch with ATM and currency exchange machine. Our colleagues will be glad to help you regarding any banking service. (Weekdays program: 8:30 AM- 5:00 PM)

OUR RECOMMENDATION When you arrive, go to the departures door and take a taxi that leaves somebody there or arrange for someone to give you a lift.

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Main tourist attractions

As you are moving to Romania, we would also like to guide you to the beautiful sights of this country. Romania is about 238,391 square kilometers of splendid mountains, hills, and impressive forests, plains with black and fertile land, rivers, lakes and sea. The Carpathian Mountains, our “king� territory, cover a third of the territory, crossing the centre of the country. Forests cover over one quarter of the territory and are the home of rare species of birds and animals like bears, deer, lynx and wolves. Another third of the country is covered with hills and plateaus, where the vineyards and orchards catch the eye of the ones passing through the area. The third place is taken by the plains, largely dedicated to agriculture. Romania is famous for agro-tourism. When you visit the country, look for accommodation in the countryside. It will give you a real feeling about Romania. You can find a lot of guest houses on the Internet, since most of them have websites. Be sure to ask the hosts to cook for you some traditional organic food (Eco)! We want to give you the chance to know Romania as Romanians do! We begin our trip from Bucharest and continue with other points of interest throughout the country.

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Main tourist attractions

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Calea Victoriei, Bucharest (Ludmila Artin)

5.1. BUCHAREST The legend says that the city was built on the banks of Dâmbovița River by a shepherd named Bucur – name meaning “joy”. We try to keep the legend alive and maintain Bucharest a capital full of life and joyful people. The history of Bucharest was written beginning with the 15th century, when the city hosted the court of Vlad Țepes (also known as Dracula). Bucharest has been capital of Romania since 1862, a charming place where you can find impressive buildings famous for the high life families who once lived there, a dazzling mix of old and new, nice people, lots of green areas and much more. Back in the late 1800s, Bucharest was reconstructed by French architects from buildings to streets, from monuments to parks. Due to that remodeling nowadays we have our own Arch of Triumph that can be found standing proudly on Kiseleff Street. When you walk the streets of Bucharest, take a minute and try to see beyond the dusty surface of the buildings. You will find true architectural treasures just waiting for you to feel like being in the 19th century.

Discover the city once called “Little Paris”!

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Main tourist attractions

Places to see: Old City Center – Lipscani Adress: the old city stretches between Calea Victoriei, Blvd. Brătianu, Blvd. Regina Elisabeta and the Dâmbovița River. In the 1400s it was the most important commercial center of Bucharest and it is located near the old Princely Court. The area was named after Leipzig (Lipsca in the 17th century) and each street had a specific type of traders. That is why, even nowadays the streets bear names of trades (Blănari = Furriers’ street, Şelari = Saddle makers’ street, etc). You can still find shops specialized in glass work, handmade accessories, local designers’ clothes and more. Today, the area is lively and active, bars, restaurants, clubs and disco’s animating the air of the restless days and nights of Lipscani. Take your time to discover not only some of the most beautiful architectural jewelries of Bucharest that are located in Lipscani area (Old Princely Court & Church, Manuc’s Inn, Caru’ cu bere Restaurant (The Beer Cart), National Bank of Romania, Stavropoleos Church, CEC Palace, National History Museum), but also the Romanian cuisine and night life.

If you want to feel the spirit of one nation, take a walk on the streets! Village Museum Adress: 28-30 Sos. Kiseleff

Opened in 1936, the museum is located in Herăstrău Park and is an open air museum giving a complete image of the Romanian village life. The museum has 100,000 square meters and 272 houses and farms from all over Romania. Exhibits of agricultural tools, carpets, icons, furniture, photographs and films build up a beautiful picture of Romanian folk culture, making it a very popular and visited spot.

Village Museum, Bucharest (Carla Tibacu)

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Village Museum, Bucharest (Ludmila Artin)


Main tourist attractions

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Parliament Palace, Bucharest (Carla Tibacu)

Parliament Palace Address: 1 Calea 13 Septembrie The Palace is a multi-purpose building designed by Nicolae Ceaușescu, containing both chambers of the Romanian Parliament, measuring 270 m by 240 m, 86 m high, and 92 m under ground. It has 1,100 rooms, 2 underground parking garages and it is 12 stories high, with four additional underground levels currently available for the general public and in use, and another four in different stages of completion (only 60% of the Palace is used). For the construction of the building there were used:

1,000,000 m3 of marble 5,500 tons of cement 7,000 tons of steel 20,000 tons of sand 1,000 tones of basalt 900,000 m3 of wood essences

3,500 tons of crystal 200,000 m3 of glass 2,800 chandeliers 220,000 m2 of carpets 3,500 m2 of leather

According to the Guiness Book, The Palace of Parliament is the biggest administrative building in the world, the most expensive and the heaviest, entering the Guiness Book of Records three times.

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Main tourist attractions

Green places: Cișmigiu Park Address: Blvd. Regina Elisabeta Short History: Designed in 1845 by the German landscape architect Carl Meyer, the garden opened to the public in 1860. The name, Cișmigiu, comes from the Turkish “cișmea”, meaning “public fountain.” More than 30,000 trees and plants were brought from the Romanian mountains, while exotic plants were imported from the botanical gardens in Vienna. Cișmigiu is Bucharest’s oldest and most beautiful park. Botanical Garden Address: 32 Sos. Cotroceni (across from Cotroceni Palace) Short History: Opened in 1891, the garden has over 5,000 varieties of plants from Romania and all around the world. The garden is home to a beautiful building in the Brancovenesc architectural style, housing the Botanical Garden Museum. Herastrau Park Address: 32 Sos. Kiseleff Short History: Spread over some 400 acres, from the Arch of Triumph to the Băneasa Bridge, the park is home to numerous attractions, including a boat rental complex and tennis courts. The park is also the host of the Village Museum. The area surrounding the park holds even greater treasures. The streets between Mircea Eliade Boulevard and Kiseleff Street display extraordinarily beautiful houses in architectural styles ranging from 19th century neoclassical to 20th century art nouveau and modern luxury villas. This is where Bucharest’s elite once lived - and still does today.

Cișmigiu Park, Bucharest (Ludmila Artin)

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Rhododendron flower (Mădălina Ogică)

Herăstrău Park, Bucharest (Irina Carasopol)


Main tourist attractions

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Gura Portiței, Danube Delta (Ludmila Artin)

5.2. DANUBE DELTA The legendary Danube River finds its way home into the Black Sea, leaving as testimony of its journey one of the best preserved wetlands in the world and an UNESCO heritage, the Danube Delta. The approximate surface is 4,152 km2, of which 3,446 km2 are in Romania. The Danube splits into three main channels into the Delta: Chilia, Sulina and Sfântul Gheorghe. About 20,000 people live on the Romanian side, out of which 4,600 in the port of Sulina, with a density of approximately 2 inhabitants per km2. There are only 27 villages in the area and their inhabitants can offer you an unforgettable experience.

OUR RECOMMENDATION Organize your visit well and hire a guide from the beginning of the trip, so that you will not get lost in the vast Delta area.

If you decide to make a trip you need at least 3 days to explore the sites, observe some 300 species of birds, taste old wine and fish dishes and watch a sunset that you will always remember. You can find accommodation in hotels or for a better experience on floating hotels in the following locations: Chilia Veche, Crișan, Dunavățu de Jos, Gura Portiței, Isaceea, Mahmudia, Maliuc, Murighiol, Mila 23, Samova, Sf. Gheorghe, Sulina, Tulcea, Turcoaia, Uzlina. If you visit the Danube Delta, you should definitely try the traditional Romanian fish dishes: “saramură” (grilled carp in brine), “scrumbie la grătar” (grilled herring). Route: Bucharest – Călărași – Tulcea – Danube Delta Before you go exploring the Danube Delta, be sure to pack a strong mosquito repellent!

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5.3. BLACK SEA The rich waters of the Black Sea stretch between Europe and Asia and have a surface of 423,488 km2. On the Romanian side, there are modern beaches beginning with Constanța as far as Vama Veche, but also wild and almost untouched areas of sand if you want to smell and feel the nature at its best. The main beaches of Romania are: Mamaia, Eforie, Neptun, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and Mangalia, places that offer nice resorts and hotels, sports and entertainment for any taste.

GOOD TO KNOW The beach season starts in mid May and lasts until late September, when average daytime temperatures are 25 to 30° Celsius (78 to 86° Fahrenheit). The water is warm until late autumn.

The Black Sea is known to have natural resources to treat both rheumatic and stress disorders. Eforie Nord and Mangalia are specialized in mud baths and rejuvenation treatments with local cosmetics.

The famous black mud is taken from the salty lake Techirghiol. Legend says that once upon a time a crippled man named Tekir and his old donkey reached the muddy area of the lake presently called Techirghiol. The stubborn donkey went into the mud and in the attempt to take the animal out of the lake, the old man healed and began walking again. Ever since, the lake has made history treating numerous affections and helping people who reach its shores. Romania’s most popular resort is Mamaia, a place where you can rest and relax during the day, take sun baths, swim, practice aquatic sports, etc. and party all night long in private clubs. Route: Bucharest – Constanța – Mamaia – Eforie Nord – Eforie Sud – Costinești – Neptun – Olimp – Jupiter – Venus – Saturn – Mangalia – 2 Mai – Vama Veche And because we know that information about modern beaches can be found everywhere, we decided to recommend you an unusual seaside destination named Gura Portiței, a resort located on a small island between Golovița Lake and the Black Sea. It is such a calm and peaceful place that one could think they are at “the beginning of times”. From Gura Portiței you can make daily trips to Danube Delta and discover the miracle of taking a bath in the sea with dolphins within reach. It is a blessed place offering tranquility to the urban inhabitants, fresh air and the best fish dishes ever. So, if you want to forget all about the city life visit this resort and you will dream of its tranquility long after returning home. And for sure the sunset will remain with you forever.

Gura Portiței, Danube Delta (Ludmila Artin)

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Main tourist attractions

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Bucura Lake, Retezat Mountains (Gabriel Faur)

5.4. CARPATHIAN MOUNTAINS The Carpathian Mountains are a chain of 1,500 km long that cross Central and Eastern Europe, being the largest mountain range in Europe. Habitat for 6,000 brown bears, 2,500 wolves and some 1,750 lynx, chamois, as well as over one third of all European plant species (1,350 species, among which 116 are endemic), the Carpathians will give you a journey full of natural wonders. If you are a fan of outdoor experiences do not lose more time. Take a map, make a plan, pack up your bags and have fun!

Here are some ideas! National Parks Cheile Bicazului Ceahlău Cozia Piatra Craiului Retezat Munții Rodnei

Nature Parks Apuseni Bucegi Grădistea Muncelului-Cioclovina Munții Maramureșului

With diverse landscapes, Romania’s Carpathians are an ideal place for outdoor activities: climbing, rafting, horse back riding, extreme biking, skiing and hiking. Just name it and you will find it!

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Main tourist attractions

Hiking Mountain routes are numerous and are marked with specific signs, landscape varying and ranging from hardwood forests to coniferous forests as you gain altitude. First, you have to decide what routes you want to take, considering distance and time. The routes on the mountains are marked with distinct signs. If you are a camping fan you have the possibility to lodge in a hut or in your tent. We recommend you lodging in a tent next to a hut from the end of spring until early autumn. You should lodge in a hut during winter, but be sure to carry a good sleeping bag with you because most of the huts don’t gave gas heating and only wood heating or nothing else if you choose to camp in a refuge. Take note that in hut it is not possible to take a bath and sometimes you might not find anything to eat, but the magnificent views make you forget all these little inconveniences. Besides hiking, you can practice climbing and mountain biking all year round. You can find more (maps, clubs, climbing routes, etc.) here: www.alpinet.ro The highest peak in Romania is Moldoveanu (2,544 meters) in the Făgăraș Mountains of the Southern Carpathians. You can get there from Sâmbăta de Sus, a beautiful village close to Făgăraș town, Brașov County. For your safety or if you have problems in the mountains, contact: SALVAMONT 0725-826 668 (0-SALVAMONT) Carpathians adventure is all about: Walking and climbing just anywhere you want Surprise life in its natural habitat Fresh air Admire stones formations See the caves and their wonderful colors Smile and relax

Bucegi Mountains (Mădălina Ogică)

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Main tourist attractions

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Peleș Castle, Sinaia (Iulia Sima)

5.5. CASTLES AND PALACES Living legends, the castles and palaces of Romania tell us Romania’s history between the 12th and 20th centuries emphasizing different architectural styles of a country where the west meets the east in an explosion of diversity: Baroque, Renaissance, Gothic, Rococo and Brancovenesc.

Peles Castle Built in German renaissance architectural style, Peleș Castle was made between 1873 and 1914 and about 100 men of various nationalities worked constantly on the construction site. It is located in Sinaia, surrounded by forests. In Queen Elizabeth of Romania’s diary it is written: “Italians were masons, Romanians were building terraces, and the Gypsies were coolies. Albanians and Greeks worked in stone, Germans and Hungarians were carpenters. Turks were burning brick. Engineers were Polish and the stone carvers were Czech. The Frenchmen were drawing, the Englishmen were measuring, and so was then when you could see hundreds of national costumes and fourteen languages in which they spoke, sang, cursed and quarreled on all dialects and tones, a joyful mix of men, horses, cart oxen and domestic buffaloes.” Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows and Cordoba leather-covered walls. Route from Bucharest: Bucharest – Ploiești – Sinaia

Bran Castle Commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle”, the castle was first used in 1378 in defense against the Ottoman Empire and later became a customs point on the mountain pass between Transylvania and Wallachia. Vlad Țepes (The Impaler) used Bran Castle as headquarters for his incursions into Transylvania. It is located in Bran town, at 30 km distance from Brașov, between the Bucegi Mountains and Piatra Craiului Mountains offering magnificent views due to its hilltop position. The castle contains a beautiful collection of 14th-15th century’s furniture and an ethnographic museum with houses from several areas of Romania. Route from Bucharest: Bucharest – Ploiești – Predeal – Pârâul Rece – Bran

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Sighișoara Citadel Birthplace of Vlad III the Impaler, Sighișoara is a citadel of medieval German architecture that was assigned the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 850-year-old testament to the history and culture of the Transylvanian Saxons. It was built in the 12th century by Saxon colonists. If you are in Romania in August don’t miss the “Medieval Art and Theatre Festival” that takes place in the citadel of Sighisoara every year for one week. Actors wearing medieval clothes play drama in the citadel and music bands play on an installed stage in the center of the city. During the festival, beer and “mici” (traditionally prepared meat) are provided by all the brand name beer factories in Romania. These are only a few of the architectural and cultural jewelries Romania has, but we invite you to keep on looking and discovering other sites! Route from Bucharest: Bucharest – Ploiești – Breaza – Sinaia – Brașov – Sibiu – Sighișoara

Hunyad Castle (Castelul Huniazilor) The Hunyad Castle was built between 1443 and 1447 by John Hunyadi on the ruins of the old royal castle dating from the 14th century (built during the reign of Charles of Anjou). The castle served as a fortress until mid 14th century when it became the residence of Iancu de Hunedoara, Transylvania’s ruler who renewed the castle and made it known as the most beautiful castle in Transylvania. Route from Bucharest: Bucharest – Pitești – Râmnicu Vâlcea – Sibiu – Sebeș – Deva – Hunedoara

Hunyard Castle, Hunedoara (Cristina Iancu)

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Main tourist attractions

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Probota Monastery, Bucovina (Alexandra Vulpe)

5.6. ROMANIAN MONASTERIES Some of the greatest artistic monuments in Europe and among the most picturesque treasures in Romania, the Orthodox monasteries from the northern part of the country are incredible masterpieces of Byzantine art. The exterior walls of the monasteries tell us the stories from the Bible in images of angels, demons and saints. Colors and nature mix into one, offering visitors a unique sight. Seven of these monasteries have been on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage since 1993, being the most important and best preserved ones: Voroneț Humor Sucevița Pătrăuți

Probota Moldovița Suceava

The history of Bucovina’s monasteries starts with Stephen the Great (Ștefan cel Mare) who ruled between 1457 and 1504. Each time he fought back the Turks, he built churches and monasteries throughout Moldavia to praise God for allowing him to win, building one monastery after each of his battles. His descendant, Petru Rareș, continued his work by setting the foundations for many other famous monasteries. There are 48 monasteries in total, some with fortified walls for protection against invaders. These unique monasteries and Byzantine churches with their exceptional exterior frescoes are some of the most fascinating sights in Romania. It is a territory with simple and untouched nature, forests and imposing hills coming down from the Carpathians, with houses scattered here and there, gardens with flowers and a life inviting one to lie down in the grass and admire the clouds. Route from Bucharest: Bucharest – Urziceni – Buzău – Focșani – Bacău – Suceava

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5.7. MARAMUREȘ Maramureș County is the land where time stopped: wooden churches, ancient customs, beautiful landscapes and people who live in the old style, preserving culture and traditions just like in the medieval times. Being close to the geographic centre of Europe, this region has traditionally been inhabited by a variety of peoples including Romanians, Ukrainians, and Hungarians, their culture being reflected in the way they dress, the food they cook and their architecture. Things to do and places to see: Wooden Churches Village Museum of Sighet Visiting a craftsman Take a tour with “Mocănița” forestry train Learn traditional dances Taste traditional food

Do not miss Săpânța Merry Cemetery!

Painted in vivid colors, this particular work of art, Săpânța Merry Cemetery catches the lifetime attitude of the ones who once lived there, leaving funny testimonies of their lives written in creative poems. Route from Bucharest: Bucharest – Ploiești – Miercurea Ciuc – Târgu Mureș – Bistrița – Sighet Alternative route: Bucharest – Pitești – Râmnicu Vâlcea – Târgu Jiu – Deva – Alba Iulia – Cluj Napoca – Baia Mare –Maramureș Villages Recommended trip: A trip by “MOCĂNIȚA”, a forestry train – one experience you will not want to miss! The mocănița line was built between 1930-1933, connecting Vișeu and Izvorul Comanului (situated at 2 km from the border with Ukraine) and has a length of 56 km. The highest point it reaches is 1,100 meters above the sea level. Being a forestry train, it has no fixed schedule. It usually leaves early in the morning (around 8:00 a.m). Try to arrive one day in advance at Vișeul de Sus (Satu Mare County) and be sure to plan your trip with mocanita on a sunny day. The entire trip takes around 6-7 hours and it is the only way to access some remote villages you will pass by. For prices and exact timetable check this link: http://www.cffviseu.ro/en/fahrplan.html

Săpânța Cemetery, Maramureș (Gabriel Faur)

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Wooden Church, Surdești, Maramureș (Alexandra Vulpe)


Main tourist attractions

Sighișoara (Ileana Toma)

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Transfăgărășan Road (Constantin Lira)

5.8. TAILOR-MADE TOURS OF ROMANIA BY CAR Additionally, we happily recommend you some tailor-made trips: Route: Bucharest – Pitești – Câmpulung – Vidraru Lake – Transfăgărașan – Bâlea Lake Return: Transfăgărașan – Bran – Brașov – Bucharest Recommended Duration: 3 days Transfăgărașan road is open only during the hot season, from 1st July to 1st October and it is one of the most impressive mountain roads in the world. Route: Bucharest – Sinaia – Predeal – Brașov – Sighișoara – Sibiu Recommended Duration: 4 days This route is interesting both in summer and winter time as you can visit different sights and even skiing if you would like. Route: Bucharest - Suceava - Sighișoara - Brașov – Sinaia Recommended Duration: 5 days Make sure that you will visit also Bucovina monasteries. Route: Bucharest – Pitești – Turnu Severin – Porțile de Fier – Timișoara Return: Drobeta Turnu Severin – Târgu Jiu – Râmnicu Vâlcea – Pitești – Bucharest Recommended Duration: 5 days Stop: at Porțile de Fier Stop: at Târgu Jiu to see the early works of the worldwide famous sculptor Constantin Brâncuși: Coloana Infinitului (The Column without End), Masa Tăcerii (The Table of Silence).

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Sports and fun Football is considered the most popular game in Romania probably because of its simple rules and minimum equipment, allowing all kinds of “fans� to play: from young people improvising the ground and the defensive gates, to people who pursue their hobby by organizing competitions on rented grounds in their spare time. If you want to see a live game on the stadium, buy your ticket from the stadium pay desk. There is no online ticket system for football games.

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Milan Junior Camp (Mihai Constantineanu)

Tennis is very present on the Romanian sports fields, the Romanian Federation of Tennis (FRT) organizing a lot of competitions starting with 1907. Romanian Open is a very important competition with international guests, a real sports performance taking place every autumn usually in September at The NBR Arena (Arenele BNR). Rugby is not so popular nowadays, although the national team is maintaining its reputable level, playing in competitions like Nations Cup and Rugby World Cup. It is also a powerful European team, but it is not supported in the same way as football in our country.

DID YOU KNOW?

OUR RECOMMENDATION Though there are a lot of tennis courts where you can play, we recommend you to book yours for the whole season (6 months) to get a good offer or at least make a reservation before going to the court.

Romania participated in all the editions of the Rugby World Cup, bringing us our first Olympic medal in 1924. Rugby was sustained by the communist leaders because it represented a very good way of training the military staff for secret purposes.

Handball is present in all school programs, being a very powerful tool in the education of secondary school and high school students, allowing them to assimilate and cultivate leadership, team spirit and hard work in order to achieve their goals.

DID YOU KNOW?

Our masculine team has been 4 time world champion. Women team “Oltchim” won the second place at the European Champions Cup in 2010.

Gymnastics made us proud and confident year after year, bringing us a lot of medals, titles and true admiration of the entire world and helping us to create tradition in this sport.

DID YOU KNOW?

Nadia Comăneci achieved excellence by receiving the first ever perfect score (10) during her routine on uneven bars at Montreal in 1976.

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Sports and fun

Ski: During winter, you can ski on the Prahova Valley slopes, but if you are familiar with the ones from France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria… you will find our slopes to be too short and too crowded. However, the advantage is that lately you can ski in Romania until late March or April. The most important slopes in Romania are located in: Poiana Brașov, Sinaia, Predeal, Bușteni, Baia Mare etc. Other sports such as: Athletics, Polo, Volleyball, Basketball, Hockey, and Box are practiced in Romania, but with small impact on sports fans, maybe because of our lack of tradition regarding them.

DID YOU KNOW?

Ghiță Mureșan is one of the tallest basketball players having ever played in the NBA. Romania has 3 boxers who won world titles: Leonard Doroftei, Mihai Leu and Lucian Bute. The boxer Lucian Bute has remained undefeated for 4 times in a row. At 38 years old, Constantina-Diță Tomescu became the oldest Olympic marathon champion in history, after winning the women’s marathon at the 2008 Summer Olympics in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 44 seconds.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU TRY? Well, if you love water, you can try boating or water skiing on the lakes around Bucharest like Snagov, or in downtown Herăstrău, Cișmigiu. Also, if you like practicing sports every day you can try biking on the park tracks, golf, jogging or go for something with more adrenaline like bungee jumping, skydiving, paragliding.

Bucegi Mountains, Sinaia Slopes (Ileana Toma)

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Customs and traditions It is said that Romanians know how to have fun! Hardly a week goes by without a religious or secular festival someplace in Romania. The countryside is definitively the heart of Romania. Here you can experience a way of life which vanished from the urban existence a century ago. People in the villages have changed their lifestyle very little over the years.

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Customs and traditions

The traditional Romanian way of welcoming new guests or visitors is with a plate of bread and salt. Apparently, in the old times these two elements were considered essential for a minimal way of living. Nowadays, the Romanian welcoming ceremony represents a gesture of deep respect and friendship. We have our own Valentine’s Day. It is called Dragobete and we celebrate it on the 24th of February. We don’t really follow specific traditions during this day; we just use it as a reason for showing our feelings for the loved ones. Romanians celebrate the beginning of the spring with a lot of joy. Mărțișor (not too easy to be pronounced by foreigners; a diminutive deriving from the word “Martie” – which is the Romanian word for “March”) is our traditional way of showing that the whole universe is coming back to life after the cold winter. Therefore, 1st of March is the day when men offer women a lucky charm gift called Mărțișor, consisting of a small decoration tied to a red and white string. It is said that the one who wears it, will be powerful and healthy all year long. On the 8th of March we celebrate Women and Mother’s Day. It’s the day children give presents and flowers to their mothers and men offer flowers to their wives in order to show their admiration and love.

Flowers (Mihai Constantineanu)

A day later, on the 9th of March, the religious holiday of “Mucenici”, a kind of All Saints’ Day, is celebrated in memory of the 40 martyrs killed because of their religion – Christianity – more than 1500 years ago. Housewives prepare pretzels shaped as the number 8 and put them in a kind of sweet soup with sugar, nuts, cinnamon. The tradition says that the men should drink 44 glasses of wine.

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Horezu Pottery, Vâlcea (Mădălina Ogică)

Among all the religious holidays, Christmas and Easter are the most beloved. On Easter, painted eggs are one of the main symbols of this holiday. This art is quite developed in certain regions of the country. Among the most frequent motifs used in the egg paintings you can find: animal representations, plants, home and field tools, different ornaments. However, most of the painted eggs are usually red. On the first day of Easter, one egg is placed in a pot of water next to some fresh basil. All members of the family will wash their faces with this water for keeping them healthy all year long. On Easter day, each family member “knocks” painted eggs, by saying “Christ has risen” and answering “He is truly raised”. If you have the chance to celebrate Easter in Romania, besides painted eggs choose a traditional meal that includes drob (special dish which contains internal organs of lamb and fresh green vegetables), pască (traditional round cake with a cross-shaped middle braid, made of cheese and raisins) and red wine. Another important date is December 6, when St. Nicholas brings small gifts to the young children who have polished their shoes and placed them in front of a window/ the entrance door of their home. The Christmas celebration starts with a sixweek fast prior to the holiday. The orthodox fasting pattern excludes from the meals any animal food products such as meat, eggs, fish, milk or cheese.

Christmas Tree (Ludmila Artin)

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Customs and traditions

The most spread cake during this period is the cozonac. It is obtained by mixing wheat flour, yeast, milk and butter. In the resulted dough we add nuts, raisins, and nowadays, cocoa and sometimes, Turkish delight. The mixture is portioned and baked in the oven.

Cozonac

In winter, if you love pork, we recommend you to try our Christmas specialties: homemade sausages (cârnați), pork aspic (piftie), hog’s pudding (tobă) and cabbage rolls with pork (sarmale). Serve all these pork dishes with red wine and our traditional brandy (țuică ). The celebration of the New Year is another period of festivities. The variety of carols is wide. Besides ritual songs such as Plugușor (little plough), Capra (goat dance), Ursul (bear dance), we have carols for all individuals within our community and for each profession or specific geographic regions. Along with singing Christmas carols, groups of people go from door to door to bring positive energy and happy thoughts, and wish happiness to the hosts in a special way, with the help of traditional songs and poems. Sorcova is a traditional custom that takes place on the first days of January, being considered the enjoyment of the children. Little boys and girls carrying the “sorcova” – a small wooden stick ornamented with paper flowers of various colors – go to their relatives and neighbors wishing them good luck, health, prosperity and happiness for the year to come. In return, they receive money, gifts or sweets. You must attend a Romanian wedding to discover some very well preserved traditions together with the more modern ones. In order to be prepared for this special event we’ll tell you about some of the most important events. When the wedding starts, the bride attaches wedding flowers to the shirts and dresses of all the guests.

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The most important wedding traditions: Stealing the bride has unknown origins. Some participants at the wedding take advantage of the careless groom and steal the bride from the wedding. Therefore, the groom and the godfather have to find her or to pay a ransom for her safe return. For the amusement of the guests the groom is often asked to perform certain hilarious tasks in order to have his bride next to him for the rest of the night. Taking off the veil is a custom that represents the metaphorical change that the bride must go through. Near the end of the wedding, the godmother removes the veil from the bride’s head and puts on a scarf, symbolizing the transition from girl to wife. The bride’s veil is then put on the head of an unmarried girl, usually the one who caught the bouquet. Singing songs represents an essential component to all Romanian celebrations. The songs reveal all aspects of the Romanians’ sensitive hearts. You have to listen to “Doine” or songs of sorrow, melancholy, love or rebellion. Alongside with this you have to see the Romanian traditional costume. Richly embroidered, full of colors and worn with pride… we are sure that it will amaze you! Whether you want to see the customs of the ancient festivals related to various celebrations throughout the year, the origins of which are centuries old, or, conversely, modern performances, Romania is the place to be!

Wedding Ring (Mihai Constantineanu)

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Food

Romanian food was influenced by Turkish, Hungarian and other cuisines and each region has something delicious and unique to offer. If you travel around the country, you’ll have the chance to experience different flavors and a variety of traditional specialties, such as: bean and smoked meat soup in bread, fish borsch or Moldavian stew. In the countryside, you can taste freshly picked vegetables, homemade cheese and bread, fresh milk or meat.

What makes Romanian traditional food so good? The natural ingredients and the passion for cooking. 44


Food

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Bucharest Days (Irina Carasopol)

To feel the real taste of Romania you should definitely try the dishes from the “do not miss” list: Mici – grilled rolls of minced beef and lamb Romanian pork shank served with steamed cabbage, polenta, Horseradish and chili pepper. Mămăliga – ground corn dish, often combined with cheese and sour cream Bulz – traditional roasted polenta filled with cheese, bacon and fried egg Sarmale – vine or pickled cabbage leaves stuffed with a mix of minced meat, rice and spices Tocăniță or tochitură – meat stew seasoned with onions and/ or spices Ghiveci – vegetables cooked in oil Zacuscă – very popular dish made of vegetables; the main ingredients are eggplants, tomatoes, red peppers and onions; it is usually eaten on a slice of bread Eggplant salad (salată de vinete) – salad made from mixing grilled and chopped eggplants, onions and sunflower oil Salată boef – chopped boiled vegetables and beef meat salad, usually topped with mayo and decorated with egg-white, olives and red pepper

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Festive Dinner (Valentin Petcu)

Soups Ciorbă de perișoare (meatball soup) Ciorbă țărănească (vegetable soup, with or without meat) Ciorbă de burtă (tripe soup)

Dessert Papanași (cottage cheese doughnuts, topped with sour cream and fruit preserve) Clătite cu brânză (crepes filled with cottage cheese and raisins)

Drinks A traditional drink served before meal, with appetizers, is “țuica” (made of plums, containing 40% pure alcohol), which varies in strength, dryness and bouquet according to the production area. Palinca is the strongest drink, containing 60% pure alcohol. Romania is a big wine producer, ranking 10th place by volume in the “Top 12 Wine Producers”. Some of the best wineries are Murfatlar, Cotnari, Bohotin, Jidvei and Odobești, dignified rivals of French wineries, offering different types of wines, from dry, sparkling whites to rich, aromatic, purplish reds.

GOOD TO KNOW The corresponding Romanian expression for “Cheers!” is “Noroc!” and it means “Good luck!” For 54% of Romanians the favorite drink is beer, while 31% of consumers choose wine and only 10% of them spirits.

Beer in Romania is cheap. Famoust Romanian brands are: Ursus,Timișoreana, Bergenbier and they are very appreciated by their consumers. There are also many international brands produced locally making beer the best selling alcoholic drink in Romania.

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Here we end our “journey”, but take into consideration that this guide contains only some parts of what Romania is all about. There are a lot of other things that are worth seeing and that wait for you to discover and take pleasure in.  Welcome to Romania! Enjoy it!

Semenic Mountains (Ileana Toma)

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Intesa Sanpaolo Bank International Clients Guide