2013 Overview – The lowdown on 2013

By Corina Chirileasa

Looking back at the year 2013, with its privatizations, street protests, gold medals and politicians sent to jail. A regular year in the life of a developing country.

The state-owned railway freight company CFR Marfa found its new owner mid-2013, after a previously failed bid. For EUR 202 million and with a promise to invest a further EUR 204 million in the company, Romanian Grup Feroviar Român (GFR), owned by Gruia Sandu, took over the majority of shares in CFR Marfă. The company is the largest railway freight carrier in Romania with a turnover of EUR 261 million in 2011 and a loss of EUR 22 million. GFR is CFR Marfă’s main competitor in Romania and the two companies together control 70 percent of the railway freight market in Romania.

Sometime mid September, the first stock exchange listing of the year took place. Electricity producer Nuclearelectrica raised EUR 63 million in funding by selling 10 percent of its shares. Nuclearelectrica runs the Cernavodă nuclear power unit, which produces 20 percent of Romania’s electricity. These listings came several months after the successful secondary public offering of Transgaz. The state raised EUR 72 million via the sale of 15 percent in the state-owned gas provider.

Elsewhere in banking, it was a good year for lenders UniCredit Bank and Raiffeisen Bank, which took over the retail portfolios of two competitors: Royal Bank of Scotland Romania and Citi, respectively.
It was, however, not the best year for American road builder Bechtel, whose highway contract with the Romanian state was canceled but, fortunately for the company, things were not all bad. The Romanian state, left with an unfinished Transylvania highway, and having already paid EUR 1.4 billion for around 50 kilometers of highway, agreed to pay additional penalties for canceling the contract. And, unfortunately for Romanians, 10 years after the contract was signed, the 412-kilometer Transylvania highway remains unfinished.

Russian steel company Mechel, which had entered Romania in 2002, sold its factories in the country to a company called Invest Nikarom, for a symbolic amount of around USD 70. Four factories, Ductil Steel S.A., Câmpia Turzii S.A., Mechel Târgoviște S.A. and Laminorul S.A were temporarily closed down however production was gradually restarted.

Mid-2013, Romania agreed with International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission on a new EUR 4 billion preventive financial deal over the next two years. The deal was to be discussed by the IMF board in fall. This will be Romania’s third agreement with the IMF since 2009. The first package was worth EUR 20 billion, out of which some EUR 13 billion came from the IMF, and helped Romania weather the financial storms. The second was signed in 2011 and was worth some EUR 5 billion, out of which EUR 3.6 billion came from the IMF, and was meant to be a precautionary credit line.

In late May, the justice system in Romania reported yet another victory: football boss and real estate mogul Gigi Becali, a former MEP, and also an MP in the Romanian Parliament was sentenced to three years in jail. The ruling came in a case involving a land exchange from the late 90s. Just before being convicted, Becali, known for his eccentric media appearances and for his fervent Orthodox belief, tried to flee the country, heading to Israel to pray.

While Becali was being jailed, former Prime Minister Adrian Năstase, who served most of his prison sentence, was enjoying the first months of freedom after his early release in March. Given a two-year jail sentence in June 2012, Năstase managed to be released on parole after displaying good behavior while serving time.

Jail time is most likely what the Romanians behind the art heist of the century face. In a scenario which has already inspired movie directors, a group of Romanians stole EUR 18 million worth of famous paintings from a Rotterdam Museum. Following the heist last year, the gang now faces a trial in Romania as well as an ongoing investigation in the Netherlands. Receiving much attention from the foreign media, the story took a twist when the mum of one of the alleged thieves declared she’d burned the paintings in her stove. Although she later retracted the statement, the paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Gaugain are still nowhere to be found, despite the alleged thieves being in Police custody.

Creating almost as much of a stir as the art heist was the opposition to Romanians aspiring to work in the UK with Brits fearing an “invasion” of Romanians and Bulgarians to the country once the labor ban is lifted from the beginning of 2014. Countless media reports both in UK and in Romania have discussed and debated the topic, arguing on the number of expected migrant workers and their impact on the UK’s social welfare systems. The debate triggered some humorous reactions as well, including a cheeky ad campaign by Romanian newspaper Gândul, which invited Britons to visit Romania, a country much enjoyed by Prince Charles.

At home, thousands of Romanians took to the streets in Bucharest and other regional cities, protesting against the planned gold exploitation at Roșia Montană. The protests began in September, following the Government’s approval of a law allowing Canadian company Gabriel Resources to dig for gold at Roșia Montană. For weeks in a row, Romanians staged daily protests calling on Parliament to vote against the proposed project, especially its use of cyanide and its impact on the area’s environment.

Almost at the same time as these protests, another group of supporters took on the streets: stray dogs lovers. After the death of a four-year old attacked by stray dogs near a Bucharest park, the Parliament decided to permit euthanasia for stray dogs which were not adopted after 14 days in municipality shelters.

But it was not all gloomy and doomy in Romania in 2013. Saving the best for last: Romania’s brains again proved to be among the best in the world, with numerous medals won at different Olympiads across the world. Romanians ranked among the first in the world for math, chemistry, physics, informatics and environmental research. There were medals all year in sports competitions too: athletics, para-cycling (Carol Novak), fencing, judo, rowing and gymnastics, to name a few. In most European and world sports competitions in 2013, Romanians got their place on the podium.

And if these did not fix Romania’s slightly tarnished image abroad, then the new episodes of the Travel Channels’ Wild Carpathia series will surely help in promoting the country as a tourist destination. After a first successful episode featuring Prince Charles in 2012 and with financing now provided by the Romanian state, the series is set to continue with a second episode aired in the fall of 2013, and a third in 2014. The second and third episodes of the documentary will feature interviews with Romania’s Princess Margareta II and rower Ivan Patzaichin, who will promote Romania.

As well as taking pride in all the amazing places presented in the documentary, Romanians can now include their Bigăr waterfall, officially, among the most amazing waterfals in the world as of 2013. The Bigăr Falls are in western Romania, on the Bigăr Reservation, which lies between the Cheile Nerei–Beușnița and the Semenic–Cheile Carașului National Parks in the Semenic Mountains.

Last but not least, Romania proved to be the home of numerous recently discovered archeological treasures unique in the world. Several bone fragments of some rare mammals that lived 10 million years ago were discovered in the village of Crețești, in Romania’s Vaslui county, during work on a local road. The important discovery showed a savanna with tropical area features once existed on what is now the region of Moldova in Northern Romania. The paleontological site, which covers some 30 sqm, is unique in Eastern Europe, as it hosts bone fragments of rare mammals. Skulls of sword fang tigers, mandibles of tridactyl horses, a hyena mandible, mandibles of antelopes and gazelles, as well as a Chalicotherium skull were all found on a hill crest after digging two and a half meters into the earth.

Another discovery turned all eyes on Romania. Archeologists investigating the site of a former Dominican monastery in Cluj uncovered a remarkable tale of love, preserved in the bones of a medieval grave. Two skeletons, of a young man and a woman, were found clearly buried together with their hands clasped for eternity. Dubbed Romeo and Juliet by the archeological team, the couple are thought to have lived between 1450 and 1550, as the grave’s position and proximity to the monastery is typical of this period.

Another discovery was more accidental. A Romanian man playing with his recently bought metal detector unearthed 47,000 15th century silver Turkish coins buried in a forest. In a gesture commended and rewarded by the Prime Minister, the man donated his discovery, the largest find of its type in Romania, to a museum. The 54-kilo treasury, which was buried 30 centimeters in the ground, is worth some EUR 0.5 million at current market prices.

Corina Chirileasa is the founder & editor-in-chief of Romania-Insider.com, the most read English-language news and features website in Romania. A business journalist and entrepreneur, Corina has also been the editor of this guide for the last three years.

The paradox of Romanian cinema

By

Mihai Chirilov

Half of 2013 has passed and one thing’s for sure: with a Golden Bear in its pocket, for Calin Netzer’s Child’s Pose, Romanian Cinema is still “in”. Then why is it still regarded as Cinderella?
How many international successes are needed for the Romanian cinema to be finally taken seriously at home? One might expect the doors should be opened and comfortable conditions granted for Romanian cinema, yet there is less and less money for one of the best cultural products the country has to offer abroad and has done for some years.
Despite the constant reputation of the New Wave directors, their films have a hard time getting financed.
This has something to do, of course, with the economic crisis, but more with corruption – since there are several questionable films and film events (non-events, to be precise) that were generously financed by state institutions and no one could do anything about it.
Take, for instance, last year’s big hit, Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills, that was shortlisted in the Foreign Film category at the Oscars.
Nobody seemed to care that, in order to stand a chance at the awards, a solid budget for promoting was essential.
Once again, Romania missed a big opportunity.
Most of the Romanian films that win awards abroad don’t find their audience at home, though, and perform poorly at the box-office – which is a shame.
It’s true there aren’t that many theaters in Romania, which is a major handicap.
There are big cities with not a single theater.
There’s no consistent or systemic strategy designed to optimize the impact and the presence of the Romanian films on the local market.
There is no law to protect the visibility of the Romanian films in the cinemas, especially in the multiplexes.
The National Film Center is a compromised and archaic institution, marked every year by scandals, anomalies and corruption.
If you’re a young and emerging filmmaker you have to stay in line for years if you want to make your first feature benefiting from state money or simply give up waiting and turn to guerilla film making, private sponsorships and alternative solutions.
If there’s one positive outcome, albeit a small and debatable one, it’s that this major frustration that Romanian cinema doesn’t deliver at the local box-office has given space to a bunch of genre films, mostly comedies of dubious quality that hit the jack pot.
At least people are back in theaters to watch Romanian films and one could say that this is a sign of normality if we really want to pretend that we have a decent film industry, rather than just having some great films that don’t quite make money.
However, this year’s biggest festival hit, the Berlinale winner Child’s Pose, took the Romanian box-office by storm.
The future looks bright – though maybe it’s just a matter of perspective. Two upcoming major festivals, Locarno and Sarajevo, feature an impressive line-up of Romanian films.
Corneliu Porumboiu’s new opus, the highly anticipated Metabolism, leads the pack, by competing in both festivals, while Sarajevo has invited, and will feature a full retrospective of work by, Cristi Puiu, the most important Romanian filmmaker.
San Sebastian and Rome festivals are also likely to screen new Romanian films in their competitions this autumn while the most important Romanian film festival abroad, Making Waves, will return en fanfare to New York’s Lincoln Center this December, fully financed by private donors, American companies and through a successful Kickstarter campaign.
But despite making front lines last year in The New York Times, Village Voice and The Wall Street Journal, no state institutions in Romania supported this year’s edition with a single penny – Cinderella, anyone?
No problem, the Romanian cinema moves forward, like it always has. Maybe one day, people in important positions will take note. One could only hope that Luminita Gheorghiu, the magnificent star of Child’s Pose, will enter the tough competition for an Oscar next year, if given solid support, like she should. Great films alone are not enough. To maximize their existing potential, they need great care.

Discovering Romania through art: painting, sculpture & cinema

by

Alexandru Bâldea

Romanian art has been enjoying great reviews lately, not just because of the many films which have won international awards in recent years and the many talented artists, but also thanks to the higher sums paid in art auctions for works by famous Romanian painters and sculptors. Romanians are very creative people and those who do not have a direct contribution to art will express their creativity in other ways. Sometimes this is in small ways such as coming up with out-of-the-box solutions for every day problems or with a different perspective to solve an issue at work. In recent years, many young Romanians, finding themselves out of jobs or with low prospects of finding jobs, became entrepreneurs and started hand crafting bracelets, earrings, clothes and shoes, among other items. The frequent artisan fairs in Bucharest will mirror the high level of creativity in Romania.
But going beyond the art of everyday life, and since you could never know a nation without knowing its culture, let’s have a look at three faces of art in Romania: painting, sculpture and cinema, and point out some of the main works on art in these areas that one should check out when trying to discover Romania.

Precipitously  developed  in  only  5  years,  the Romanian art market has increased ten times since its emergence in the late 2000s. From a small turnover, of about 2.5 million euros in 2008, it reached a turnover of 20–25 million euros from public and private sales. This  happened  in  a  delicate  time, characterized by the lack of cash and by confusion regarding the future plans of the capitalists and financiers, the main buyers and supporters of the market’s development. Certainly, the starting point of the Romanian  art  market  did  not  coincide  with  the Romanian economy’s deregulation, but came only 20 years after the change of the political regime.
The cultural need is a strong enough presence to carry an art market debut not necessarily because in 2009 someone suddenly had this brilliant idea of creating a national art market system but mainly as a natural consequence following the foundation of the first steps towards economic welfare, social structure and inward comfort.

 

Alexandru Bâldea is founder of Artmark Galleries and ArtSociety Cultural Centre in 2008, Managing Partner of Artmark Auction House, art collector since 1998, investor in national heritage art since 2003, author of the Romanian Art Market Index and associated Professor at Art History Department – Faculty of History, University of Bucharest, since 2010.

The master of sculpture

His name is equated with genius in sculpture almost everywhere in the world. He has been called “The Father of Modern Sculpture” and his works can fetch tens of millions of dollars at auction. He was born near Târgu Jiu in 1876. He studied in Bucharest initially and later in Munich and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Brâncuși worked in France and was an important part of the art scene in the early part of the 20th Century. He worked briefly in Rodin’s studio, before developing his own hugely influential abstract style. He did not gain favor with the communist regime in Romania, which criticized his works for being “bourgeois”. After gaining French citizenship, Brâncuși lived out his later years as something of an exile in France. He died in 1957 and was buried in Montparnasse Cemetery, where some of his friends’ graves were already adorned with his sculptures. Romanian authorities have been trying to repatriate his remains, with proceedings still ongoing. Brâncuși is now considered one of the most important sculptors of the last century.

His works are spread throughout the world, but the famous trio, made of the Endless Column, the Table of Silence, and the Gate of the Kiss, are to be found in the main park in Târgu Jiu and which are considered to be some of the greatest works of 20th century outdoor sculpture. The monument was commissioned by the National League of Gorj Women to honor those soldiers who had defended Târgu Jiu in 1916. Brâncuși was at the time living in Paris, but accepted the work in 1935, however refused to receive payment for it. The Endless Column stacks 17 rhomboidal modules, with a half-unit at the top, which symbolises the concept of the infinite. It was not Brâncuși’s first such work of art, an earlier version made of wood is now found in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Pundits believe Brâncuși got his inspiration for this work from the traditional grave symbols for men from his home village of Hobița.
Among his other famous works are Mmelle Pogany, Bird in Space and Sleeping Muse – the latter now found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Bike tourism

Bike tourism is an upcoming sport in Buzău county. Besides the 140 km Dealu Mare Cycling route, several one-day mountain bike trails are waiting to be discovered,  e.g. the 30 km Muddy Volcanoes mountain bike trail (starting from Berca). Bicycles can be rented at the Tourism Infopoint in Berca or at Pensiunea Luminița in Sărata Monteoru.

Extreme sports

Over the last few years, Buzău has become the European mecca for motocross, enduro and off-road car aficionados. The lakes, rivers and valleys of Buzău county allow several interesting  water  sport activities.  The Buzău  river,  which has its source at Lake Siriu, is one of the best places for rafting in Romania. Rafting in Buzău has become very popular for company team building events. Canyoning can be done in Bâsca Mare near the village of Gura Teghii. Paragliding courses are also available and offer spectacular flights over the Muddy Volcanoes.

Truffle hunting

Few know Buzău is located at the same latitude as Piedmont in Italy, which makes it ideal for truffle hunting. Truffles can be found  in Buzău  forests  between  June  and January.  Together  with  the tourism  association  TravelBuzau.com,  City Compass offers packages that include an introduction  into the world of truffles and a truffle hunting session with professional hunters, wine tasting of Dealu Mare wines, and a cooking class with an international chef, preparing a three-course dinner with truffles.

Wine region Dealu Mare

Dealu Mare is one of the most beautiful wine-growing districts in Romania and said to be the “Tuscany” of Romania. Indeed, it is situated on the same latitude as Northern Italy,  but  tourism  is  still  largely  undeveloped.  A  cultural place  with  excellent  wines  from  sunny  south  facing  hills and more than 3.000 years of settlement history. Thracians, Dacians and Romans left their traces everywhere. Places to visit: Stone church and open air sculpture camp at Năeni (with a spectacular panoramic view), vineyards at Pietroasele, Fințești, and Săhăteni.
Special  recommendation:  A  cycling  tour  through  the vineyards.   Information   about   the   Dealu   Mare   Cycling Route can be found on www.travelbuzau.com.

Access: Dealu Mare extends to around 60 km northwards of the DN 1B between Ploiești and Buzău. The best way to discover it is to leave the national road and take one of the several small parallel roads that lead through the vineyards.

„Athos” of Romania

The  cave  churches  and  settlements  of Buzău  are  no  less than the cradle of Christianity on Romanian territory — a mystical place full of legends and a cultural treasure amidst breathtaking landscape.
More than 15 cave settlements are spread over an area of more than three square kilometers and gave this region the nickname the “Athos” of Romania. Some caves are old geological forms, others are carved into the stone. Signs of the first settlement in this area date to back to the iron and bronze  ages.  Up  to the  19th century,  hermits  and  monks used these caves as places to live and to pray.

Access: DN 10  to  Pătârlagele–Colți–Aluniș.   There  is  no  direct  access by car, a 4-6 hour walking tour with a local guide is highly recommended.

Getting to Buzău

Access to Buzău is fairly easy, compared to the Prahova Valley. The closest destinations can be reached in 1 ½ to 2 hours’ drive from Bucharest.
–  From Bucharest: DN 2 Voluntari–Urziceni–Buzău (c. 110 km)
–  Alternatively: București–Ploiești Highway–DN 1B– Urlati–Buzău (c. 120 km), this route is much more attractive as it passes the Dealu Mare wine region and is faster since the opening of the new highway
– From Brașov:  DN 10–Prejmer–Întorsura Buzăului–Lake Siriu (80 km)–Buzău (180 km). The Brașov–Buzău route is one of the most beautiful Trans- Carpathian routes.

Festivals all over the year

Sibiu has become almost synonymous with culture and the city strives to preserve and strengthen its status as a cultural center by supporting a broad range of festivals, concerts and exhibitions. During the summer, the streets and squares act as open-air stages drawing thousands of spectators.

An extraordinary highlight is the annual Sibiu International Theater Festival, which is held every spring, starting at the end of May. The festival comes with a multitude of events. It stages major international  productions,  the finest productions in Romanian theater, as well as street and music  performances  from  around  the  world,  all  taking place daily in Sibiu’s historical center, in its squares and buildings, and inside the churches and medieval fortresses of Sibiu’s scenic surroundings. The festival also features dance–theater performances, puppet theater and light shows.  There  are  a  couple  of  other  festivals  such  as  the Jazz Festival in May, the Romanian-American  Music Days in June, or the Rockfestival Artmania and the Medieval Festival  both  held  in August.  The  annual  pottery  market has a long tradition and is held on the first weekend in September. A couple of years ago, Sibiu began organizing a Christmas market in December, which is modeled on those held in Western Europe. The market has proved a hit and is getting bigger every year. If staying in Sibiu at this time of the year, then we recommend drinking a hot mug of mulled wine in the snow-covered Great Square.

Get the latest information about upcoming events in the official tourist office at Piata Mare.

General information

Welcome to your new world! With the hustle and bustle of the city, the honking cars, the hasty people, and the barking stray dogs it is very likely that your first impression is far from good, but – we assure you – patience will be rewarded. The city definitely has its plusses, you may just have to dig a little deeper. Once you get to know the people, the culture and nightlife, the hotspots, the DOs and DON’Ts, you’ll experience a change of heart. The metro system is reliable and inexpensive, the English competency of the average person is pretty decent, and the specialty dishes (papanasi, sarmale and mamaliga) will get you hooked. The countryside close to Bucharest is amazing and diverse; Bulgaria is closer than you might think; and the old town Lipscani has finally started to grow and become a great area full of positive energy, ready to be explored.
First off, a few general pieces of information:

  •  Romanian time is GMT+2.
  •  Summertime starts on the last Sunday in March (03:00 becomes 04:00), and wintertime on the last Sunday in October (04:00 becomes 03:00).
  • The country telephone code is +40. Landline numbers in Bucharest begin with 021 or 031 and mobile numbers, with 07.
  •  The national currency is the Leu, and its international notation is RON (New Romanian Lei). In Romanian, it is ‘one leu’ and ‘two or more lei’.
  •  Pronunciation of the language:

Ţ or ţ is pronounced TS like ‘ts’ in ‘skits’
Ş or ş is pronounced SH like ‘shoe’
Ăă, Ââ, and Îî, are very difficult for most foreigners to master.
They sort of sound like ‘uh’ but we recommend that you just listen very closely as a Romanian pronounces them, and then practice thousands of times. Seriously! Except for above and just below (to show you what they look like in words) Romanian diacritics (Aa, Ââ, Îî, Şş, Ţţ,) are not used in our guide. This might seem culturally insensitive until you realize that they are frequently not used by many Romanians. Newspapers, magazines, and signs often don’t use them or use them incorrectly. In fact, if you have any Lei in your pocket, pull them out: they famously incorrectly display the A-caron (ǎ) instead of the correct A-breve (â) in Banca Naţională a României (The National Bank of Romania)
Phrases to get you out the door: 
‘Hello’ is Bunǎ ! (BOO-nuh) or Salut!
‘Good morning’ is Bunǎ dimineaţa (BOO-nuh dimi-ne-atsa)
‘Good day’ is Bunǎ  ziua (BOO-nuh ZEE-wah)
‘Good evening’ is Bunǎ  seara (BOO-nuh seara)
‘Goodbye’ is La revedere (LA reh-veh-der-eh) or Pa!
‘Yes’ is Da
‘No’ is Nu
‘Thank you’ is Mulţumesc or Mersi (Mool-tsoo-MEsk), (Merci)
‘Excuse me’ Scuzaţi-mǎ  (Skoo-ZATS- ma)

Conversions: 
1 in = 2.54 cm
1 m = 3.3 ft = 1.1 yd
1 mile = 1.6 km
1 kg = 2.2 lb
1 oz = 28 g
1 Imperial gallon = 4.55 L
1 US gallon = 3.78 L

Important things to remember!

  • When in crowded public places (especially in public transportation), watch your pockets.
  •  If you have an encounter with a stray dog, do not run away. While facing the dog, slowly and calmly move away. Talking to it in a friendly tone (in any language!) is also a good idea. See ‘Stray Dogs’ later in this chapter.
  •  Always check the price of a taxi (written on the side doors of the cab) BEFORE you get in, and then be careful that the driver starts the meter. Prices range from RON 1.3-3.5 per km; if the price is higher, do not take that cab!

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HINT!See the taxi section for more info! There are also many common signs you will have to learn. Here are a few of the more important ones:
ratbRATB is the symbol for public street-level transport, including buses, trolleys and trams. You will find this sign above all ticket and monthly subscription desks, signs indicating where the stops are, and their line numbers. Check out their webpage: www.ratb.ro. You’ll see this red sign posted on very old buildings. The message warns people that the building may collapse in an earthquake.

semn_strada
This is a typical street sign. As well as the street (strada) name, it also shows the sector (sector). Check the Interesting Links section of the guide for a site with an amazing bird’s-eye view map of the city.

Punctuality 

Since one always sees Romanians in a hurry, bumping into others and often not apologizing, one is entitled to believe that they are a very punctual people. The truth is quite the opposite. Romanians are often 10-15 minutes late for any kind of appointment, using the famous Romanian saying “the academic quarter of an hour”, which means that anyone is entitled to be 15 minutes late. Anything over is considered rude, but 15 minutes is within reasonable limits. Still, you will find very different attitudes to punctuality in entrepreneurial companies or those that frequently do business internationally. Also, this concept of not being precisely on time applies not only to Romanian people, but to all things Romanian: the trains and buses, the schedules of public institutions, and shops. Although, shops sometimes also have the reverse system of closing early and this can be rather frustrating.
Stray Dogs

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About stray dogs: It is said that if you dream that a dog bites you, you might fight with somebody… As you may have heard or experienced, stray dogs are sometimes a threat to public safety. If you are bitten by a dog you must immediately go to a hospital and in Bucharest the only place to get rabies shots is at

Matei Bals Institute:

Adress: 1 Calistrat Grozovici St. (Behind Colentina hospital)
Phone: +40212 010 980
Web: www.mateibals.ro (website in Romanian language)
There the vaccination costs 68 RON. The local authorities can pick stray dogs up, but there is a special department (part of City Hall) which deals with them.

Administratia pentru Supravegherea Cainilor fara Stapan

Address: 2, Selari St.
Phone: +40 21-312 95 55
Web: www.asa-bucuresti.ro/asa/ 
The website is only in Romanian, and people working at this department speak hardly any English, so you may want to have a Romanian friend make a call. You can also call “Four Paws” (or Vier Pfoten) which is a non-profit organization that takes care of (or picks up) stray dogs.

VIER PFOTEN Romania

Address: 42, Theodor Aman, St., suite 6, Sector 1
Phone: +40 21- 316 77 31
Web: www.vierpfoten.ro

Another new program through Four Paws is the Stray Animal Care project, which started in 2002 and tries to implement a project of sterilization. Contact Anca Tomescu, the coordinator of the program for more info.
Hint! You can also check out The GIA (Group Initiative for Animals Association), which offers animal care on a large scale- see the NGO section for more details!
Stray dogs are not just to be felt sorry for, however. There are other serious issues that arise from their presence as well. Attacks on people do occur and there have been some famous and fatal examples of this. For this reason we have put together a brief FAQ section here for you.

Question: How can I avoid being bitten by a dog?
Answer: Never approach an unknown dog, especially one that is tied, confined behind a fence, or in a car. Never pet a stray dog. Even if you know the owner, always let the dog sniff you first. Never turn your back to a dog and run away; a dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch you. Don’t disturb a dog while it’s sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies. Be cautious: always assume that the dog sees you as an intruder or a threat. Also, remember that dogs form packs and are more prone to attacking you than lone stray dogs.

Question: What should I do if I think a dog may attack?
Answer: If a dog that you think may attack confronts you, follow these steps:

  • Never scream and run.
  • Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
  • Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until it is out of sight.
  • If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.

Question: What should I do if I am bit by a dog?
Answer: If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, try not to panic. Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water, and contact your physician for additional care and advice.

Question: What about my children?
Answer: The most important lessons for children to learn are to avoid dogs they don’t know, and not to stare them in the eyes.

Romanian Holidays

Romanians celebrate the usual Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter (although Romania is a secular state, the vast majority of Romanians are Romanian Orthodox), as well as traditional and some newly adopted ones. For instance, Valentine’s Day is very popular, and the American Halloween is making some good headway!

List of official non-working holidays in Romania

  • 1st & 2nd January, New Year’s Day and the following day
  • April / May, Orthodox Easter and following Monday
  • 1st May, Labor Day
  • Rusaliile (Pentecost and Whit Monday), 50th and 51st days after Easter (this was instated as a national holiday in 2010).
  • 15th August, Saint Mary’s Day (Dormition of the Theotokos)
  • 1st December, Romania’s National Holiday (Great Union Day)
  • 25th & 26th December, Christmas
  • Two days for each of the two annual religious holidays, declared as such by legally recognized religions other than Christianity, for members of these religions.

Official Observances (working holidays): 

  • 24th January, Unification Day, commemorates the union of Wallachia and Moldova under Alexander Cuza and is celebrated in the city center every year.
  • 8th March, International Women’s Day, celebrating all women, especially mothers who receive many flowers on this day.
  • 1st June, Children’s Day, one can find the parks full of children playing, drawing or taking part in special activities that the city has prepared everywhere for them.
  • 26th June, is Flag Day.
  • 29th July, National Anthem Day, commemorates the first performance of the national anthem, Desteapta-te, Romane!
  • 8th December, Constitution Day, commemorates the Referendum on the Romanian Constitution, held in 1991.

Traditional Observances 

  • Many Romanians celebrate their Saint’s Name Day: St. John (7th January), St. George (23rd April), Sts. Peter & Paul (29th June), St. Mary (15th August), St. Michael (8th November) and St. Nicholas (6th December).
  • 24th February, Dragobetele, is the Romanian version of Valentine’s Day. Although it has lost popularity and Romanians have adopted its western rival, many people especially in the countryside still celebrate it. And, it is said that if you step over your lover’s foot on this day, you will gain dominance in the relationship, so watch out!
  • 1st March, Martisorul, represents the return of spring. On this day all the women receive flowers from men and a talisman called Martisor, with two strings (one red and one white) attached to the charm. Some informal mini – hints about superstitions Everyone has their own special beliefs, so don’t be surprised to find many new ones in Romania. This is not a complete list, and they tend to change with the region you’re in, but many old people especially, respect them. Here are a couple for you to remember:
  • Romanians consider whistling inside to be quite bad manners; it is also considered “singing sorrow”.
  • Many Romanians never wash their clothes on Mondays because people might hate you, and also many consider that it is a bad idea to pay bills on Monday as it means that every day of that week you’ll have to spend money.
  • A lot of Romanians tend to ask and evaluate you depending on your zodiac – you will find out a lot about astrology, if you have not done this yet. If you don’t believe in astrology yourself, then make sure you pick a good sign!
  • Never give a bouquet comprising an even number of flowers, always buy an odd number.
  • Don’t be surprised if you are asked to close a window; many Romanians believe that all sorts of ailments are caused by draughts.

Bustling Bucharest – Home Away From Home

Bustling Bucharest – Home Away From Home
By Alvin Bowden

The capital of Romania – Bucharest – is an exciting and ever-evolving enclave, where locals and tourists can enjoy the old and the new at the same time.

Transylvania is home to the world’s most intriguing mediaeval towns!

Romania is not what it used to be, and that’s a welcome change for everyone. The era of modernisation has dawned and mediaeval towns now showcase exciting modern developments in an eclectic fusion of sorts. I’ve been travelling throughout Transylvania for several years, and my fascination with this culturally rich region continues to overwhelm me. The infusion of European Union investment into Romania can easily be seen in the increasing modernisation that is taking place around the region. In spite of these development initiatives, it’s still possible to saunter into Ceausescu’s posh palace, along with scores of other relics from the Communist era. Don’t forget the iconic Transylvanian churches, monasteries and boutique hotels. I prefer the lower-cost lodgings as opposed to the inner city upscale hotels.

Touring throughout the region is a blessing to behold. You could for example traverse the Transylvanian Alps and enjoy the Carpathian Mountains, where plenty of hiking, and outdoor adventures are waiting to be had. I recall having spent a considerable amount of time in Romanian castles. These are the stuff of legend, and haunting images of Dracula and his witches still fill my mind to this very day. I recommend the quaint Transylvanian towns, including the cobbled city Brasov, or perhaps Sibiu as eye-opening encounters of the ‘real’ Romania. Whatever your fancy, it’s nice to know that you’re never too far away from modern-day life. After all this walking, blistered feet and all, perhaps I can employ some slots strategy in my casino games to pay for the next day’s sightseeing in beautiful Romania!

Practical hint: George Cosbuc flower market

Those in search of flowers and in need of plenty of choices – and of lower prices than the round the corner flower shop offers – should visit the George Cosbuc flower market. Not many foreigners know about it, and it is not that well known among Romanians either. But it is a gem. Located just opposite The Ark, on Uranus street corner with Calea Rahovei, this flower market is the place where flower shops owners from across Bucharest come to buy merchandise, and re-sell it a couple of times more expensive in the city. A must visit even if you just want to take some pictures! Best hours and flowers are very early in the morning – at 5AM.

[email protected]

Out and about in Romania

Romania is regrettably, for one reason or the other – leaving Bucharest aside – not yet blessed with too many great hotels and accommodation venues. Finding a decent and satisfactory place for the night too often remains a lottery with only a few hits and far too many miss options. You will find plenty of Casas, Penisuneas or Hotels spread all over the country; but, unfortunately too often built only for the quick buck or without any knowledge or understanding of what the traveler needs and expects. Worse even if both are the case!
By Friedrich Niemann

I love to travel in Romania and explore the country as much as I can. When doing so, I try to avoid the big and commercial hotels – which I know too well for obvious reasons – but also places without a soul and sense of place. Throughout the years I have discovered several locations, which truly have this sense of place and are not necessarily posh and so perceptibly pseudo-luxurious, much better – they are just perfect in what and where they are. If I would play it smart, I obviously kept those places to myself, as otherwise I would be running the risk that soon these hidden secrets won’t be secrets anymore and overrun by the curious traveler. However, that would neither do the locations justice nor the sophisticated traveler’s thirst for proper accommodation. Hence, below please find my four favorite spots in Romania.

The Inn on Balaban

 

No, it is no coincidence that all of these locations are in Transylvania!  I have been taking that deprived gravel road up to the hill of Balaban already for years, every time when I was in dire need of a tranquil place to rest and enjoy the stunning beauty of the Carpathian’s Southern Range. The ‘Inn on Balaban’ is uniquely located while it sits on a hill high above the village of Simon, next to Bran in Brasov County. Once up here the visitor can enjoy 360 degree views of the Carpathian Mountains; the Piatra Craiului to the west and the Bucegi mountains to the east, the famous Rucar – Bran corridor stretches to the South – scenic views as many and as lasting as you wish.

Casa Balaban is a purpose-built house that resembles a traditional Transylvanian farmhouse as exhibited in Sibiu’s village museum. That is where the owner of the house picked up the idea a few years ago, realized his dream and opened the Inn in 2006. It really puts you back in time in rural Romania. There is a large living room on the ground floor, with a fire place, comfy sofas, a library about Transylvania and its history and lots of antique and rural Romanian furniture. The six bedrooms on the ground – and the first floor are furnished with antiques or rebuilt traditional Romanian peasant furniture. The beds and their linen are so horrendously comfortable that you don’t want to get up in the morning anymore. Bathrooms have floor heating and tiny little windows allow you to enjoy those spectacular views even in the most private moments. As there is no other place for dinner in the area, the inn usually offers half board, which comprises a country style three-course dinner (the mamaliguta is outstanding), accompanied by a decent selection of fine Romanian wines. In the morning a very rich and local breakfast is served in the dining room.

Over the last years they have also added two more buildings, one being a beautifully restored old farm house from Simon and a second building, following the same architecture as the first, accommodating spacious meeting facilities as well as another two bedrooms.

To get there, while coming from Brasov, you need to pass through the village of Bran, about 1 km after passing Bran castle take a left following the signs for Simon. In Simon turn left at the church and follow the signs and the gravel road for approximately 4 km. Once there and no matter the weather, you don’t want to leave. And in winter, when the road is inaccessible by car, they come and pick you up with a sledge in Simon – being the truly romantic alternative. The Inn at Balaban is the perfect retreat for a weekend or a short vacation for those who enjoy nature, quietness, hiking and a sense of place. What I enjoyed most, apart from the stunning nature: there are no telephones or TV’s in the house – ok, they do have WiFi.  More about the inn on Balaban, here.

Count Kálnoky’s guesthouse in Miclosoara; Valea Verde resort in Cund

I suppose ‘Count Kálnoky’s Guesthouse’ in Miclosoara is no secret anymore, as this place has been in the media regularly and not only because of the occasional visits of the Prince of Wales. Miclosoara is about one hour north of Brasov in Szeklerland, Covasna County. So instead of Romanian, one is better advised to speak Hungarian with the local people.

The Kálnoky Family have returned to Transylvania after 50 years of exile and had since found ways to save their heritage and reinstate the estate to its former character. In the tiny village of Miclosoara the family has restored several farm houses, dating from the 18th century and now offers eight guest rooms in different buildings scattered around the village.

The guesthouses have been carefully restored in order to preserve their original Transylvanian charm and character and are situated within spacious gardens, with storks nesting on nearby rooftops. All rooms are amazingly comfortable, decorated in the old Transylvanian Szekler and Saxon styles. In order to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, the rooms do not have television or radio; instead, you will find plenty of interesting books on the shelves. You will also find tea and coffee making facilities and very comfy en suite bathrooms with hair dryers, floor heating and historic bathtubs. One should however avoid the room next to the sauna, as this does not have a private bath and one has to use the bathroom of the sauna, which is not really the best alternative. Right, there is also a sauna, a billiards room and equipment for badminton or table tennis in the garden. If you are staying for a few days, the guesthouse even offers to store your emptied luggage away, in order to clear space in your room.

Like on the Inn on Balaban (which we covered in a previous article here), the price usually includes dinner, which is served family style, meaning that most guests sit at long tables and enjoy good country style fare, served either in the rustic and charming wine cellar or underneath the vine arbour in the garden. The food is organic and mostly produced in the village.

Apart from the comfort of the accommodation and the overall flair of the place, it is this family atmosphere, which always attracted me most. Every time I visited the place I enjoyed unforgettable evenings, which we spent and enjoyed with total strangers (in the beginning of the night!), either playing cards for hours with a table full of British guests or getting nicely smashed with visitors from the US embassy in Sofia.

The Transylvanian Castle organizes all kinds of tours and trips during your stay, be it wildlife walking tours in the neighbouring woods or culture and history trips to Brasov or the fortified churches in the area. The place is also very famous for its riding holidays as the family too breeds its own horses in a nearby stable.

Coming from Bucharest, you have to pass through Brasov in the direction of Targu Mures until you reach the DN13. At Maierus leave the main road and turn right, following directions for Belin, Aita Mare and Baraolt. The village after Aita Mare will be Miclosoara. It will take you about fifteen minutes for the 17 km from leaving DN13. Pass the white church and go down the hill, to your right you will see a large wooden tastefully furnished old farmhouses, all with their separate entrances and large terraces as well as en suite bathrooms. All apartments are carefully furnished in order to create a relaxed, cosy and friendly atmosphere and in every living room you will find a wood-burning stove alongside the central heating to add extra warmth and comfort. For larger groups and higher demand one will find about ten other apartments in restored Saxon farmhouses scattered around the village, all preserving the simple and authentic charm of their past.

What really sets Valea Verde apart from many other rural retreats in Transylvania are Jonas’ skills at the stove. Although he had never enjoyed any kitchen education, he has become a master, offering beautifully created three – or four course dinner menus, an a la carte gourmet breakfast some five star hotels can only be dreaming about, and all accompanied by a very selective and high quality wine list. If you plan for a diet or want to stay sober; sorry this is the wrong place. But if relaxation and gourmet life aren’t everything for you; they also do offer a wide range of special recreational activities, like cycling tours, horseback riding, wood crafting or painting classes.

Getting there! Either you travel by public transportation to Sighisoara, Medias or Targu Mures and they will pick you up or by car you follow the DN13 from Brasov to Sighisoara, switch on to DN14 until you reach the town of Dumbraveni. From here it gets a bit complicated for another approx 10 km through Dumbraveni, always following the signs for Viisoara on the 142C. About one kilometer after leaving Dumbraveni, you need to take a left turn onto local route 151B. There is no sign, but you’re right when the road turns into gravel; you’re wrong when it’s still asphalt! After about 6 km you will reach Cund (asphalt again!), here you will need to turn left shortly after the church, cross a small bridge and after approx. 400 meters you will be in front of Valea Verde Resort and welcomed with a bright smile and a glass of Prosecco.

More details about the Transylvanian Castle here.   More about traveling in Transylvania, here and here.
Friedrich Niemann has been the general manager of the Athenee Palace Hilton hotel in Bucharest until 2010. He has moved to Germany to run the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Berlin. This article has been originally written for and published in City Compass’ English – language guide ‘Bucharest, Romania & Beyond’.

Sinaia, the pearl of the Carpathians

Sinaia is a must see city of Romania for its unmatched history, the former summer residence of the Royal Family and the largest number of monuments per capita that consist of beautiful buildings signed by famous Romanian and European architects.

Why should you go to Sinaia

Sinaia was a town that grew like in a fairytale. When the first king of Romania, Carol 1st visited the country for the first time, he fell in love with the surroundings and decided to establish his summer residence in the area. At that time, there was just the Monastery of Sinaia and a very small number of inhabitants in the area.

Once he had decided to build the castle, Carol I of Romania appointed an architect to develop the plans and, almost at the same time, people of culture, high rank politicians and the high-class families started building their own residences in Sinaia.

They appointed the best Romanian architects at that time, like T. Socolescu or P. Smărăndescu while some decided to work with foreign architects to make sure their properties were elegant, in style and, most importantly, unique. Sinaia was at the beginning of the 20th century the place to be, an elegant, cultural and full of life city, a special retreat for powerful families from Romania and from abroad and a year-round tourist attraction.

Sinaia is a very beautiful city, full of history, beautiful architecture and great landscapes, but, as communism has left its marks over the city, sometimes its treasures are hidden behind newly built hotels or blocks of flats. I recommend you take an organized tour of Sinaia to make sure you see the real stuff.

How to get there

Along with the modernization of the railway, the highway to Ploiești has also been upgraded, meaning you can enjoy a nice 90-minute trip either by train or by car. The only rush hours are Friday afternoon to Sinaia and Sunday afternoon on the way back. Until autumn 2014 Sinaia’s central area is undergoing massive infrastructure upgrade works so you might experience detours.

Where to stay

For accommodation I would recommend Poem Boem Villa (www.poemboem.com) which is an exclusive retreat at a very good price. It is as good for families as it is for romantic escapes. You might want to experience a more familiar place, in which case you can choose Piatra Șoimului (www.piatrasoimului.ro). I personally would avoid the big hotels as they don’t match the spirit of the city. For larger groups however, you might have to consider them.

How long should you stay in Sinaia

My advice would be to stay a week or at least 2-3 days. You really have to spend some time to feel the city. Breath the fresh air and enjoy the beautiful landscape, visit the museums, go hiking, go to the park, go to the recently re-opened casino, go swimming in one of the two local pools, get a massage, take a nice dinner, take a walk and you will be highly rewarded for your curiosity. Then schedule day trips to Babele, Cramele Rhein,Brașov, Sighișoara or Bran.

What should you see & do in Sinaia?

Peleș Castle and Pelișor – please take time to visit them inside. Peleș is one of the best preserved castles in Europe and has a mix of eclectic styles from all over the world on show in special decorated “theme” rooms which are a great joy for any visitor. You will have to be totally informal and patient at the cafeteria across from the castle, which has a help-yourself system, but recently some nice restaurants have opened nearby.

Another must see is the park of Sinaia with its beautiful casino, which holds a permanent painting exhibition and has been recently reopened to the public. The park is well maintained and is a great experience for adults and kids as well as for couples looking for a romantic escape. From the park you can also see some beautiful buildings including Hotel Palace, which will be a “treasure” when current renovations of the building are finished.

Also, you can see some old hotel landmarks of Sinaia including Hotel Caraiman and the former Hotel Parc which is now under reconstruction. You can enjoy a good tea or coffee at Cafeneaua Parcului where they also have a nice collection of pictures of Sinaia’s old houses.

A must see is Casa George Enescu – located in Cumpătu neighborhood – which is on the opposite mountain to the city center – a beautiful, quiet and elegant residential area of Sinaia. Enescu’s former residence, which was built following the great musician’s own plans and instructions, was recently renovated and offers entry tickets and audio guides (in the main foreign languages as well) at a ridiculously small price. The visit is rich in information and is also very personal as you are surrounded by Enescu’s music all the way through. If you feel like having a break after the visit, indulge yourself with a nice coffee or a lunch at Kuib Restaurant located just around the corner.

Another must see is the Tour of Sinaia organized by Asociația Redescoperă Sinaia. The organizers have done extensive research, together with a great team from Muzeul Țăranului Român (MTR). The tours will help you discover great places, architecture and monuments, but are also full of short stories which will help you absorb more of the local history and enjoy some of the well kept and untold stories of the old inhabitants. For the tour contact: [email protected] or [email protected] to see when they organize the next tour. Hiking is great in the area. You can start from Sinaia, visit Busteni and return, or vise versa. For more details you can contact Asociația Redescoperă Sinaia at [email protected] for guide recommendation.

When all is done, indulge yourself with a swim or a massage. And of course, come for ski or snowboard or for paragliding in the winter.

What can you do if you are with kids?

You can have a good time at the Playground Park in Cumpătu – near Kuib Restaurant. Then there’s the Model Railway Exhibition in Sinaia’s beautiful, but sadly rather poorly maintained, railway station. Kids will enjoy the small trains and the diorama, while the entire family can enjoy a hot chocolate.

Sinaia Park offers playgrounds for different ages and a “Tyrolean” experience when the weather allows. On rainy days, you can take the kids to the Carmen Sylva Cultural Center, where they can read and paint. Check up on the schedule as sometimes they organize guitar lessons on Saturdays.

The cable car up the mountain makes two stops: one at 1,400 m, and the next at 2,000 m. On top the view is great. Between May and September, you can enjoy a long or a short hike and from December to April or even sometimes as late as May, you can go skiing. New ski lifts need to be built at the top to manage the high weekend demand, but during the week it’s much less hectic.

Also up in the mountains, but by car (pretty bad road – almost 1 hour drive) is Stâna Regală. It is a hard drive, but once there, it’s great for kids. This summer they even had ponies and other animals. At the top, don’t miss the view from Frantz Iosif Stone – if the sky is clear you should see the entire Prahova Valley, a breathtaking view.

Finally, you can take the family to swim at Hotel New Montana or Hotel Mara, or go bowling at Hotel International Sinaia. Be aware that when the weather is bad it can be full on Friday and Saturday afternoons, so you might need to book it in advance.

Where to eat?

My favourite place by far is Kuib – www.kuib.ro located in Cumpătu area. You can have a pretty heavy traditional Romanian food at Cabana Skiori or might like to try the experience of the Italian food at Cucina Sofia.

Sometimes it is just nice to get a pizza on the go. There is a small pizzeria near Cafeneaua Parcului that is pretty good.

Good to know

In Sinaia it rains pretty often, so it’s always good to have some raincoats and proper shoes with you. Generally the showers are short and you might see the sun again very soon so don’t give up the plan for the entire day if it rains in the morning, you might have a brilliant sunny day after an hour of rain.

Take some warm clothes with you at all times, even if in Bucharest it is 38 degrees celsius, it might get very cold in Sinaia especially if it rains.

Shopping in Sinaia is very poor, I only manage to buy some bio cereals and tea from some small shops in the center so this should leave time for sight seeing tours and other experiences. I hope the shops’ offerings will improve soon as along with the heavy modernization in the central area there is a “wind of change” for better.

At 30 minutes up-north drive from Sinaia you can visit Rhein Wine Cellar in Azuga, where you can see how they produce Rein Champagne, which has been produced in Romania ever since 1889. They also have a small wine shop there from where you can buy really great award winning Romanian wines.

If you stay for a long time or want to help yourself to some food, you can find good fresh vegetables and fruits at Sinaia market, which is located on a narrow street opposite to Hotel Montana. Also, check the Angst supermarket for all the fresh and locally produced ham, cremwursts and various meat specialties for the grill. Fresh fish is hard to find in Sinaia but you can buy fresh trout from Azuga.

If you have recommendation or want to find out more, please write to [email protected] as the association focuses on the sustainable development of the city.

Go to the Sinaia listings directory for more information on the recommendations.

By Ioana Enache

 

Ioana Enache is board member of the Asociația Redescoperă Sinaia, which aims to revitalize the town of Sinaia and reestablish it as an elegant, charming and green city with a good quality of life and rich cultural offerings.

Timisoara

Timisoara, the Western gate to Romania

By Anna Lopes

One of the most striking things I learned about Timișoara is that it was the first city in Europe to have electrical street lights in 1884. This is not necessarily the reason why someone should visit the place, although the vibe of the streets in the summer seems to allude to that early invention.

It is rather the holiday feeling, finding that outdoor cafes and restaurants are almost always full, irrespective of the time of day. So, if you are looking for a chill-out weekend alone or with a partner, it is a terrific option.

It takes one hour to fly from Bucharest and up to four hours from other major cities in Europe. It is also possible to get there by car, despite what is said about Romanian infrastructure. Trains can sometimes be an option, but make sure you take an Intercity or Rapid. One downside would be that on hot summer days there will be delays that can really test the patience. I once waited for three hours on the platform in Timișoara, but was able to order pizza, which was delivered to the train station!

Republic of Moldova

Chisinau, Republic of Moldova

By Ana Mihailov
Ana Mihailov is a citizen of the Republic of Moldova and lives in Chisinau.

 

Chisinau is the capital of the Republic of Moldova and the largest city in the country. The Republic of Moldova is country that can be described as culturally ‘torn’ between Europe and Russia- a fact reflected by the political circumstances this small country. The communist party ruled the country until 2009, and they are still quite powerful. The official languages spoken there are Romanian and Russian.
Officially, approx. 4.3 million people live in the Republic of Moldova. For history enthusiasts, Chisinau offers a step back in time to the bygone days of the Soviet Union with its grid street system and typical Soviet architecture. If you live in Bucharest want to explore another country with close historical ties to Romania, then a trip to Chisinau is definitely one of the most interesting can make.
Hint! As border procedures are taken seriously when travelling there by car, make sure you take your passport along and check their Visa-policy regarding your nationality! There is a night train leaving every 2nd night from Bucharest to Chisinau; a 1st class ticket is approx. EUR 20 and the trip is amazing.
 

Places to see in Chisinau

A visit to the city of Chisinau should definitely start by visiting the statue of Stefan cel Mare, a national hero. It is situated at the entrance of the park of the same name and represents the heart of downtown, as well as the main meeting point for locals.
 
Exiting the park towards the Stefan cel Mare Boulevard and walking to the left, you arrive at the Opera and Ballet Theater, built during the Soviet era.
 
From this point one can see the imposing Presidential Palace, which overlooks another important administrative building –the Parliament. Today, both buildings are under repair after having been devastated during the events of April 2009.
 
Walking along the Stefan cel Mare Boulevard back to the statue of Stefan cel Mare and passing it by, you get to the Grand National Meeting Square (Piata Marii Adunari Nationale), the place where before the ‘90s, military parades and speeches from Communist leaders were organized.
 
The square accommodates the large House of Government of Moldova (Casa Guvernului), which during the Soviet era served as the seat of the Communist Party of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.
 
Just opposite the House of Government is the Triumphal Arch (Arcul de Triumf), built in 1840 by the architect I. Zauschevici in commemoration of the victory of the Tsar troops against the Turks.
 
Behind the Arch arises the Orthodox cathedral “Christ Birth” (Catedrala „Nasterea Domnului”) built in the classical Russian style in 1836. The cathedral is comprises a central building and a separate bell tower.
The original bell tower was destroyed a few times in various military conflicts; therefore the actual bell tower is the result of the reconstruction finished in 1997.
 
The cathedral is surrounded by another beautiful park, on one side of which, along the Banulescu-Bodoni Street, the main flower open market of the city is situated. Flower booths are lined one after the other and stretch for more than 200 meters.
 
Continuing the walk along the House of Government, the first building to mention is the Chisinau City Hall (Primaria Chisinaului), built in 1902 by the architects M. Elladi and A. Bernardazzi in the Gothic Venetian style.
 
Close to the City Hall, on Stefan cel Mare Boulevard, you can see the Central Post Office (Posta centrala), the Organ Hall (Sala cu orga) and the “Mihai Eminescu” National Theater. Just in the area there is a small and attractive park with an open handicraft market which is the best place to buy souvenirs and presents.
Continuing the walk on the boulevard up to the Armeana Street or a little further on the Tighina Street you can reach the Central Open Food Market of the city.
 
Walking back to the statue of Stefan cel Mare and then up on the Banulescu Bodoni Street until the 31st of August Street, you get to the National Museum of History of Moldova which holds around 300,000 artifacts of Moldovan history and culture.
 

Surrounding Chisinau

 

Wine Cellars

 

Milestii Mici

Phone: +373 22 382333.
Web: www.milestii-mici.md
This wine factory and cellar complex is situated 20 km south of Chisinau near a village of the same name. Its underground wine city in limestone stretches for 250 km, of which 120 km are currently in use.  Milestii Mici cellar complex is recognized to be the largest in the world. The tunnel streets, “Cabernet”, “Chardonnay”, “Feteasca”, and “Sauvignon” etc. form a transportation web in the wine city. The “Golden Collection” of Milestii Mici holds nearly two million bottles. Bookings should be made 3-4 days in advance on the phone.
 

Wine Cellar of Cricova

Phone: +373 22 44 12 04
Web: www.cricova.md
The wine cellar of Cricova is the second largest wine cellar in Moldova, after Milestii Mici and is also about 20 km distance from Chisinau. It boasts a mere 120 kilometers of labyrinthine roadways used for wine storage, named by the wines they store.
 

Northeast and Southeast

The archaeological complex of Orheiul Vechi (Old Orhei) is an open-air museum situated between the villages Trebujeni and Butuceni 60 km northeast of Chisinau. It is a system of historical monuments and natural landscapes. Its fantastic views and ancient atmosphere impress everyone. The easiest way to reach it is by car, as public transport is poorly organized.
Roughly 65 kilometers southeast of Chisinau, in Moldova’s break-away Transnistria Region. The city of Tiraspol is considered to be a living museum of Soviet culture. It can be reached both by public transport and by car.
 

Important Info

 

Telephoning Chisinau from Abroad

International Access Code +373 (country code) + 22 (area code) + telephone number (six digit number). To call for an ambulance, dial 903!

Pharmacies & Hospitals

Most of the Felicia pharmacies (farmacie) are open 24 hours a day and can be found in every district of the city.
 

Emergency Clinic Hospital (Spitalul Clinic Municipal de Urgenta din Chisinau)

Address: 1, Toma Ciorba St.
Phone: +373 22 25 08 17
 

Tourist infokiosk network Moldova

Address: 83, Stefan Cel Mare (near the City Hall
Phone: +373 22 32 59 81
Information touch-kiosk network covering Moldova and Romania touristic destinations, best deals, trip advises, free post e-cards, places to see, and special tours.
 

Getting around

Visitors to Chisinau have a number of options for getting around the city and the rest of the country including by car, bus, and taxi. A personal vehicle is the most convenient means of transportation available in Chisinau as it allows the greatest freedom and flexibility in travel. Certain rental agencies will hire drivers along with the vehicles.
 

Car rental

 

AVR Rent-a-Car

Address: 57/1, Banulescu Bodoni, off. 211
Phone: +373 22 92 20 60
Web: www.rentacar.md
There is a good public transportation network in Chisinau that consists of buses, trolley buses, and minibuses whose standard operating hours are from 6am to midnight (see www.terra.md/ro/timetable for the schedule). Taxis are a good way of getting around the immediate city; the best way to get a taxi is to call for a pick-up. Taxis can be reached by dialing any of the following numbers: 1400, 1405, 1406, 1407 or 1408. Most hotels, restaurants, and bars will be happy to make this call for you.
 

Restaurants

 

La Taifas

Address: 67, Bucuresti St.
Phone: +373 22 22 76 92
Web: www.lataifas.allmoldova.com
La Taifas restaurant provides an insight about Moldovan cuisine and national customs.
 

Pani Pit

Address: 115, 31 August St.
Phone: +373 22 24 01 27
This elegant French restaurant is situated in the very center of the town in the National Museum of Arts building, and is famous for its unique atmosphere. The aroma of real freshly ground coffee beans harmonizing with restored ancient photos create an unusually cozy and comfortable atmosphere.
 

Symposium

Address: 78 , 31 August St.
Phone: +373 22 21 13 17
Web: www.symposium.md
Symposium is one of Chisinau’s top restaurants, striving to bring its customers fresh and creative cuisine, along with fine service in a warm, classic atmosphere. It is located in historic downtown, across the National Museum and behind the Government Building. Symposium is consistently recognized by local newspapers and tourist guides as one of the city’s best restaurants.
 

Cafés and Tea Houses

 

Café de Italia

Address: 17/1, Grigore Vieru Blvd.
Phone: +373 22 24 32 32
Web: www.cafedeitalia.md
This is the place to find a big variety of specialty coffees, drinks and good music.
 

Delice d’ange

Address: 117/2, 31 and August St.
Phone: +373 22 24 14 28
This is a small, cozy two-floor café downtown. It is the best place in Chisinau to treat yourself to traditional French pastry and confectionery.
 

44 Jazz Cafe

Address: 44, Albisoara St.
This is a café where people come primarily for the sake of good music and relaxed communication. In the evening you can see local and foreign jazz or blues bands on stage.
 

Pubs & Clubs

Going out in Chisinau is a great time and we highly recommend it!
 

Robin Pub

Address: 83, Alexandru cel Bun St.
Phone: +373 22 24 11 47
Combining pub traditions with a rich restaurant menu, this place is of the British tradition where British dishes are given special attention.
 

Havana

Address: 30, Puskin St.
Phone: +373 22 22 83 50
The pub offers European food in a very cozy atmosphere where travelers can drink a glass of good beer and listen to Latin music.
 

Studio Club

Address: 66, Bucuresti St.
Phone: +373 69 04 04 04
The club is situated downtown and has a very convenient location. It is worth noting that it is a true disco club, comprising all the energy and glamour of the multi-faceted phenomenon called disco.
 

Hotels

 

VisPas Hotel

Address: 26, Lapusneanu St.
Phone: +373 22 24 21 29
Web: www.vispas.com
For over 8 years it has provided a quiet and comfortable environment, truly expanding the limits of hospitality. Due to the convenient location in the center of the city, major business offices and attractions can be reached within minutes. Prices from EUR 100-120.
 

LEOGRAND Hotel & Convention Center

Address: 77, Mitropolit Varlaam St.
Phone: +373 22 21 02 10
Web: www.leograndhotels.com
This four-star hotel, located in the center of the city is close to just about everything. The rooms are big enough and prices vary from EUR 180-230.
 

Elat Hotel

Address: 140/1, Columna St.
Phone: +373 22 29 25 74
Web: www.elathotel.md
Elat Hotel is situated in the business center of Chisinau, near the Presidential and Parliament buildings, Central Park and Theatre of Opera and Ballet. Prices from EUR 70-90.
 

Apartments

Apartments are a good alternative to hotels in Chisinau. Nice apartments centrally located can be found for relatively cheap prices. Seewww.rental.md/apartments/ to select and book.
 

Shopping

 

Handicraft market

Address: 85, Stefan Cel Mare St.
By the National Theatre on Stefan Cel Mare there is a handicraft market located in a small and attractive park. It is open daily, from 10:00 until around 17:00.
 

For constant updates and more in-depth info about Chisinau, visit our website at www.citycompass.ro or check out this link: www.allmoldova.com!

Bulgaria

Bulgaria Outdoors

By Christian Pauls
 

Rusenski Lom Nature Park (Bulgaria, Ruse County)

Sometimes people ask me if there are any nature trips you can do from Bucharest without getting into the standard traffic jam in Prahova Valley, driving many hours, or heading to Buzau Area (which I highly recommend). Well, about 90km from Bucharest, in Bulgaria, there is a stunning nature park, with plenty of hills, canyons, rivers, caves and old churches carved into the rocks above a winding river.
The Rusenski Lom national park is one of Bulgaria’s 11 national parks and is situated along the canyonlike valley of the Rusenski Lom River. It is a great area for easy walks, longer hikes, mountain biking, and the region is very suitable for families with children too.
The park is recognized as a precious site of high aesthetic value preserving beautiful riverside terraces, meanders, and high vertical rocks, areas of rich varieties of animal life, caves, rock formations, and historical monuments of national and international significance.
 

Getting there

From Bucharest take DN5/ E85 direction Giurgiu. Pass by Adunati Copaceni and after the village of Remus follow it to your left (truck road signposted to Ruse). Take care, if you do make the turn, you will have to drive through the city of Giurgiu.
Once you arrive at the Romanian – Bulgarian boarder you will see a first checkpoint where you will have to pay a tax for crossing the Bridge of Friendship (RON 30 / car). The border checkpoint is right after the bridge. After passing border control you will have to pay for the Bulgarian road tax if you intend to drive on national roads and highways. It happened to me and to several more expats from Bucharest that they were asked higher amounts for the road tax than it actually costs. Make sure you will get a receipt and keep it with you at all times. It is also a very good idea to have a good map that you understand at this point, because every road sign will be in Cyrillic lettering.
Then you will travel by the city of Ruse. Follow the road to Sofia/ Veliko Tarnovo (national road no. 5) for about 20km and turn then to the left to Ivanovo. From there you will already see road signage leading to the “rock churches” of Ivanovo.
 

Activities

Outdoor activities in the region include: walking and hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, caves, and climbing.  Also, when you are there, you must visit Ivanovo’s impressive rock churches. These UNESCO heritage sites date back to the second Bulgarian state, 12th-14th century, and have been carved into the rocks above Rusenski Lom River.
Another place of interest is the medieval village of Cherven, where you can enjoy stunning views from the castle (although the castle itself isn’t much more than a ruin now).
 

Accommodation

The region does not offer many guesthouses as tourism is not very busy there. The website Hotels Guide Bulgaria offers a complete list of accommodation offers in the region at www.hotels.guide-bulgaria.com/NC/Rousse.
Personally, I have tried out the Petrov Gueshouses in Cherven. There were two clean and neat houses with 3 double rooms each. Not suitable for families as you share the bathroom with the other guests. The food is decent, but you’d better take your own with you.
 

Deeper into Bulgaria – Veliko Turnovo

A wonderful weekend city break just 3 hours from Bucharest is Veliko Tarnovo. As a former capital of Bulgaria during the Second Empire you will find a city with plenty of history and unique architecture to discover. Its heritage ranges from medieval fortresses and Ottoman inns to the Bulgarian renaissance.
Even today, walking through the streets of the old town you will find plenty of cutlery, tannery, pottery, a carpenter’s shops and a weaving workshop, where the artisans use authentic technologies.
This free online guide about Veliko Tarnovo that should be helpful to prepare your visit: www.theoldcapital.eu.
 

How to get there

If you plan to travel by car it will be an easy 3 hour drive from Bucharest to Veliko Tarnovo. From Bucharest take DN5/ E85 direction Giurgiu, then cross the Danube-Bridge to Ruse. From Ruse follow national road no. 5 towards Sofia and follow the road-signs towards Veliko Tarnovo (Велико Търново). I do not recommend traveling by train to Veliko Tarnovo unless you are passionate about it. It may take you more than 7 hours to get there (192 km).
 

Activities

Veliko Tarnovo is a great weekend escape for all kinds of travelers. The city itself is rich in galleries, artisans and museums. Close by there are several places of interest that can be easily reached by car, including: the old village of Arbanassi; Eco-trail hikes in Emen Canyon; and several monasteries.
 

Accommodation

Veliko Tarnovo offers plenty of hotels and six hostels at reasonable prices. If you prefer high-end luxury, there are Hotel and Spa resorts in the neighbouring village of Arbanassi.
My personal recommendation in Veliko Tarnovo is the Phoenix Hostel, run by a Cathy and Nick, two British expatriates and passionate motorcyclists who settled in Veliko four years ago. From my personal point of view they run the best hostel I have ever stayed in. Just in the middle of the old town, in a wonderful old Bulgarian house that they have renovated with a lot of care and passion Nick and Cathy cater to their guests with great attention, a wonderful breakfast and spotlessly clean rooms and facilities. They are the best source of information for activities in and around Veliko Tarnovo. Book in advance!
 

PHOENIX HOSTEL

Address: Hristo Daskalov Str. 12
Phone: +359 (0)62 603 112
E-mail: [email protected]

General issues

Romania has a state-funded health system, and a slowly emerging private sector, which has seen some major changes in the last seven years. According to Euromonitor, Romania’s expenditures on medical services and goods have more than doubled since 2002, and their have been marked improvements in the system as a whole. Still, the quality of healthcare is quite low by European standards, particularly in rural areas. Additionally, a few newborn babies were killed in 2010 in a fire in a famous maternity clinic- it was a shock for the whole country!

 

In recent years, hospitals have also seen shortages of staff, which have gone to other European countries to work. Furthermore, the typical ‘informal payments’ for higher quality care, even for basic services, are very much still a reality, and many people consider doctors in public healthcare to be corrupt. But it is not only doctors; it is nurses, porters, assistants and anaesthesiologists as well. Here is one explanation to help put it in perspective: The tradition of gift-giving for good services is very old in Romania, but the average salaries in the public healthcare industry as a whole have not seen growth comparable to averages in other sectors (even specialists will sometimes only earn EUR 350 per month), and these gifts have become an expected norm. This trend of corruption and low wages also helps to explain the staff shortages, and the cycle continues.
The private healthcare system has begun to help change the situation, but only very slowly. With Romanians’ increasing incomes the private health insurance industry has started to grow, as well as the number of private clinics and hospitals; this is especially true in Bucharest where most of the growth is occurring. In most cases, you are probably not too far from a clinic that is up to ‘Western standards’.

 

The following overview gives information about general practice as well as specialty clinics.
If you are employed with a Romanian labor contract and have public insurance, new rules have been established: each person has to go to a doctor who sets up the patient’s medical file, and is responsible for everything the patient needs. Everyone is free to pick their own doctor, but must go to that doctor first for all issues, and when necessary, wait for their submission sheet for specialists and hospitals. If you are uncertain in dealing with the public healthcare system, it is best simply to ask a lot of questions. It is not the case that it is impossible to find quality healthcare in the public sector, you may just have to look a bit harder and perhaps pay a bit more.

 

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Pipera – Baneasa – Bucharest’s expat neighborhood

Pipera is an ever-changing area; home to a big community of expats (no official figures however), this Bucharest neighborhood sees new shops, services and restaurants opening up all the time.

In terms of shopping, two shopping centers are at the core of this area: Jolie Ville on the Erou Iancu Nicolae street – the street itself is the backbone of the expat neighborhood – and the Băneasa Shopping City, a larger mall and a shopping park which hosts other retailers as well.

For those who are more into traditional shopping, the Pipera market is worth a visit. You will find contact details for these places in the listings part at the end of this text.

More on Pipera below.

Shopping

Eating & Drinking

Entertainment

Health

Education

(opening photo from Olimob.ro)

 

Electricity Bill

You can pay utilities bills in Romania in various ways. For most of them you will need to have the actual paper invoice. But most of them can also be paid via bank transfer – provided you have all the needed details on your bill – client code and invoice number.

  • In cash at most banks. Check with your bank what sort of utility payments they can receive
  • In cash, at PayPoint locations –  ro-en.paypoint.com
  • Online, through your bank account
  • Online, by card, on the service providers’ website is they offer this option
  • By card, at various banks’ ATMs

 

 

On the invoices the bank account is listed on the upper left part of the bill. Many bills also have barcodes that can be used at ATM or bank branches. Check with your bank for more information on these services.
In Bucharest, the company that provides and distributes electricity is called Enel- the former state-owned Electrica Muntenia.

Every month a collector comes to read your meter and returns a few weeks later to hand you your bill, which you can pay straight away. Alternatively, you can pay your Enel bill at their payment centers, Customer Relations Centres (CRCs) with payment centers, post offices and at Citibank with a payment order.
With an account, you can pay this and other bills at various bank branches, and also through an online bank transfer.

Make sure you always write your client number and the invoice number in the subject!
Enel has also introduced a service which allows you to give the company your current meter reading by phone. Dial toll free: 0 800 07 08 09, enter your client number, which can be found in the center of the bill (“codul dvs”) , then the last month’s reading, and the new reading.

Electricity Bill Payment Offices – Sector 1
Address: 1. Braziliei Str. No.2-4 (CRC1 + payment office)
Phone: +40 21 230.18.80;
+40 21 231.86.09
Address: 2. Calea Griviei No. 198 (CRC8 + payment office)
Phone: +40 21 222.80.19;
+40 21 222.40.47

Electricity Payment Office – Sector 2
Address:  234 Stefan cel Mare St.
Phone: +40 21 210 33 01

Electricity Payment Office- Sector 3
Address: 20 Nicolae Gigorescu Blvd.
Phone: +40 21 340 07 68

Electricity Payment Office- Sector 5
Address: 127 Giurgiului St.
Phone: +40 21 450 34 87

Electricity Payment Office- Sector 6
Address: 74-92 Iuliu Maniu Blvd.
Phone: +40 21 430 09 04

EU Funding Consulting

Romania has set up a new ministry to deal with European Affairs, including EU funding. Their website is still just in Romanian, but you might find it useful www.dae.gov.ro.
The ministry recommends reading this site as well for data on financing lines (Partially in English): www.fonduri-ue.ro. The section “Calls for Proposals” highlights the main financing lines and when projects can be submitted. To read more about these in English, you can also go to www.romania-insider.com, which has a special section on European funding.

Artelia Romania SRL
Address: 14, rue Finlanda, sector 1. Bucharest Romania
Phone: +40 21 409 26 96
E-mail: [email protected]
Artelia Romania was established in 2002 and is the Romanian branch of Artelia group, a major European consulting and engineering group that conducts its assignments in nine areas of expertise: building construction, water, environment, energy, maritime, urban development, transportation, industrial facilities and multi-site projects.

 

We would recommend Teia Consult for these type of services. Please contact Roxana Mircea for an initial consultation. Contact Roxana Mircea for consulting about EU Funding possibilities of your respective domain.
Address: 127, Calea Mosilor
Phone: +40 755 04 64 34
Web: www.teia.ro

Driving in Bucharest & Road Tax

Driving in Bucharest is not the easiest task, although we heard of more hectic driving styles in other countries. The biggest problem in the city is the volume of traffic. The number of cars in Bucharest has constantly increased, but most roads have stayed the same. Some of the streets are also bad, so expect potholes. The municipality has been working on resurfacing many of them.
The rush hours – mornings and end of work day –  are sometimes impossible, while some routes are clogged with traffic all day (Splaiul Independentei, Calea Victoriei, Piata Unirii, B-dul Balcescu, B-dul Magheru, Piata Romana and Piata Victoriei).

Sometimes drivers do not respect traffic lights, nor do they see anything wrong with driving off road or parking on the pavement! The biggest challenge, apart from getting used to these in the first place, will be to stop yourself from doing the same after a while!
As a rule, we suggest that you avoid going from south to north during rush hour (mornings and afternoons). However, on weekends and the July – August summer period, the traffic is a little bit less congested.

Expect to hear a lot of honking while driving, especially during traffic jams. (You can also hear honking in the case of a funeral, this is the tradition).

Road Tax
If you are moving to Romania with your own car, or are even just driving through, you have to pay the Romanian road tax, which is called ‘Rovinieta’. The authorities will be able to check electronically whether you bought the Rovinieta or not, as cameras have been installed at city exits.
The tax can be paid for a period of one day, seven days (EUR 3), thirty days (EUR 7) and one year (EUR 28), and can be paid in lei at current exchange rates. Petrom, Rompetrol, Mol, and OMV petrol stations sell the Rovinieta, as well as all customs stations. Do not leave this purchase until you reach the  last petrol station before leaving the city, as sometimes their system does not work and you will have to find another place to buy it. Be sure to keep your receipt as you may be asked to show it to the authorities that organize road checks. Traffic police will not ask for your Rovinieta, as it is not in their jurisdiction, but if they are accompanied with the Road Authority (ARR), they can fine you if you do not present your Rovinieta.

Winter tires
It is mandatory for drivers to equip their car with winter tyres from 1st November every year. You are supposed to have these tyres at all times on your car, even if it does not snow. But you will be in more trouble if you get caught in the snow and your car is not equipped with winter tyres on. Expect queuing at car repairing and tyre shops in the last days of October, as everybody will rush there to change their tyres.

Police, emergency, security

Police and Emergency Telephone Numbers
 

112 Saves Lives, Protects Citizens and Property

 

Have you been witness to a robbery? Has there been a car accident? Are you in need of help? Don’t hesitate to call the Romanian emergency services number: 112 is a toll-free number and can be dialled from any phone, fixed or mobile. You can dial this number from a mobile phone even if the keypad is locked! According to the website (www.112.ro), English-speaking operators are available.
Call 112 when you need immediate assistance from the police, the fire department or an ambulance. When calling, have this information ready:
 

  • The type of emergency you have
  • The place of occurrence
  • Your location
  • Your name

 
Hint! For emergency Hospital numbers go to health section!
 

Romanian Police

 

Bucharest is divided into 6 sectors, each having its own police stations. To contact any specific unit, see the chart below; you can call 24/7.
If you have special issues, would like to report police misconduct, or have an issue that requires special consideration, you can schedule an audience with the Chief Inspector of your sector. Audience schedule: Monday 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and Wednesday 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

 

 

Police unit Address Phone
                        SECTOR 1
Police Unit  1 22 Lascar Catargiu Blvd. +40 21-316 56 87
Police Unit  2 15 Arhitect Ion Mincu St. +40 21-222 96 01
Police Unit  3 34 General  Mathias Berthelot St. + 40 21-313 89 02
Police Unit  4 6 Ion Neculce St. +40 21-222 41 58
Police Unit  5 54 Bucurestii Noi Blvd. +40 21-667 56 98
Police Unit 6 37 Dezrobirii St. +40 21-434 06 03
Police Unit 7 3 Teiul Doamnei St. +40 21-242 26 44
                        SECTOR 2
Police Unit 8 137 Mihai Bravu St. +40 21-316 69 79
Police Unit 9 290 Pantelimon St. +40 21-255 24 33
Police Unit 10 13-15 Stelea Spartaru St. +40 21-313 69 45
                        SECTOR 3
Police Unit 11 43 Vitan St. +40 21-321 72 12
Police Unit 12 2-4 Professor Stefan Nicolau St. +40 21-324 50 15
Police Unit 13 2 Ciucea St. +40 21-345 07 90
Police Unit 14 10  Oitelor St. +40 21-336 23 03
Police Unit 15 2A Emil Rahovita St. +40 21-461 00 71
                        SECTOR 4
Police Unit 16 103 Sg Stoian Militaru St. +40 21-332 44 34
Police Unit 17 10 Dr Grigore Taranu St. +40 21-410 90 02
Police Unit 18 14-16 Constantin Minculescu St. +40 21-335 17 57
                        SECTOR 5
Police Unit 19 17 Amurgului St. +40 21-423 38 91
Police Unit 20 52 George Mihail Zamfirescu St. +40 21-221 40 55
Police Unit 21 37 Dezrobirii St. +40 21-434 06 03
Police Unit 22 19 Brasov St. +40 21-413 10 20
Police Unit 23 52 Rodnei St. +40 21-256 05 66
Police Unit 24 20-30 Bazaltului St. +40 21-332 49 01
                        SECTOR 6
Police Unit 25 46 Raul Doamnei St. +40 21-444 19 06
Police Unit 26 89 Metalurgiei Blvd. +40 21-683 21 08

 

 

Private Security Companies

 

If you live in a shady part of town, have a lot of neat and expensive things, or just have extra money to spend, you might be interested in the offerings of a private security company.
 

Starguard Security Team

Address: 104, Basarabia Blvd, building A4, Suite 2
Phone:+40 21 32 72 371
E-mail: [email protected]
 

Millennium Security Team

Address: 18, Theodor Pallady Blvd., building M5A, B entrance, Suite 48
Phone: +40 21 67 34 073
E-mail: [email protected]
 

Phoenix Guard Group

Address: 564, Iuliu Maniu St.,
Phone: +40 21-434 00 52
Web: www.pgg.ro
 

BGS  

Address: 67, Cuza Voda
Phone: +40 21.9507
Web: www.bgs.ro
 

 

Emergency hospitals


 

Hospital Name Speciality Contact
Emergency Hospital
Floreasca St. 8
Internal medicine, cardiology, gastroenterology,
clinical toxicology, neurology, general surgery,
plastic surgery, cardiac surgery, children, neurosurgery,
orthopedics, intensive care, ENT, ophthalmology,
gynecology, dermatology, and psychiatry
www.urgentafloreasca.ro
+40 021 59 92 300
Children’s Hospital
“Grigore Alexandrescu”
Blvd. Iancu de Hunedoara,
30-32
All specialties for children www.spitaluldecopii.ro
+40 021 21 29 372
Colentina Hospital
Sos Stefan cel Mare
Street, 21
RABIES VACCINATIONS!
Also: cardiology, gastroenterology,
rheumatology, Nephrology; clinical surgery,
general surgery.
www.spitalulcolentina.ro
+40 021 21 03 245
Coltea Hospital
Blvd Bratianu, 1
Cardiology, ENT www.coltea.ro
+40 021 31 42 744
University Hospital Bucharest
Spl. Independentei
street, 169
General surgery, orthopedics, maternity,
ECG, ophthalmology, neurology, internal diseases,
plastic surgery, rheumatology, gynecology
www.suub.ro
+40 021 31 80 555
Orthopedic Hospital of Foisor
Blvd. Ferdinand 35
Ortopedics www.foisor.ro
+40 021 25 20 057
Children’s Hospital
Marie Curie
Blvd. C-tin Brancoveanu
14-20
All specialties for children www.mscurie.ro
Hospital Dr. Bagdasar
Neurosurgery
Berceni Road 12
Plastic Surgery www.bagdasar-arseni.ro
+40 021 33 43 025
Elias Hospital
Marasti Blvd. 17
Cardiology, surgery, gastroenterology,
neurology, nutritional diseases
www.spitalul-elias.ro
+40 021 31 61 600
Hospital of St. Pantelimon
road. Pantelimon 340
Internal medicine, cardiology, gastroenterology,
neurology, general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics,
intensive care, ENT, ophthalmology, gynecology,
dermatology, and emergency assistance
www.sfpantelimon.ro
+40 021 25 54 090
Victor Babes Hospital
Road. Mihai Bravu 281
Infectious and Tropical Diseases
and vaccinations
+40 021 32 34 111

Week-end suggestion in Bucharest

A Weekend in “Little Paris”: Suggestions for the Bored

 

If you’re new in town, or just bored because you don’t really know what to do with yourself and your family, check out a couple of our suggestions!

 

So it’s Saturday morning, and you realize that it will be a hot and dry day. Have breakfast before it gets too hot at home. Then pack your swim suits and head off to the Diplomatic Club (see Sports Section). The RON 60 entrance-fees are worth it to spend a whole day underneath old trees and next to a big, beautiful swimming pool (Western European standard) on this blisteringly hot Bucharest summer day.

 

And since it is Saturday, you can treat yourself to an hour-long massage with their weekend physiotherapist. (Swimming alternative: a big family water park in Otopeni, close to the airport; you can also stay here the whole day: www.waterpark.ro)

 

In the evening, it is still hot and the city is glimmering. You can chose: either a Saturday night live music concert at Hard Rock Café in Herastrau Park and a relaxed evening on the terrace there with their typical music, or going into the city center.

 

On the top of the National Theater, there is the famous student terrace “La Motoare”. Take the lift up to the top and enjoy a summer night there (address in the Cafés section). Take a reliable taxi home if you’ve had a drink (see Taxi section).

 

Sleep in on Sunday morning. At around 11, take your kids and go with friends to have brunch in one of the hotels. Yes it is expensive, yes it is luxury…but if you can afford it, do it, because once in a while it is worth it to start a Sunday with luxury. A very good brunch place close to the old town is offered by the big hotels like Hilton, Marriott, Radisson, Howard Johnson, Novotel, Intercontinental and Crown Plaza with separate kids’ entertainment, prices at RON 170-230/person).

 

Or just go to Lipscani quarter (see map on back cover), in 2010 dozens of nice places have opened their doors and the trend seems to continue! There are always new places, pubs, bars, boutiques.

 

Or, head out to one of the traditional markets (see Shopping section). Then, enjoy the evening at home with some fresh pasta and sauce (at the traditional markets you can find quality seasonal vegetables). Alternatively, you could take your kids to Titan Park in the eastern part of the city, or to Herastrau or Floreasca Park, which has new playgrounds that were installed in 2010 – great fun.

 

Some of them seem to be outdoor gyms, not only made for kids. For more info on what to do with kids, check out our new kids entertainment section! If you don’t have kids, have a walk around the lake. The earlier the better; in the morning in summer the lake is breathtaking! And if you don’t feel like going out at all, you should at least have some good meals at home. Saturday morning, quickly go to one of the butchers the authors recommend (see Butcher section) for fresh quality meat, buy a bunch of vegetables at the market, get some good bottles of wine (see Wine Dealers section) and enjoy your week-end at home!

 

If you are looking for a weekend getaway out of the city, City Compass is offering a new Discover Hidden Romania week end trip since May 2010- and if you would like to discover this beautiful country on your own, maybe some hints from our new “Beyond Bucharest” section will be inspire you. Enjoy your week-ends!

Parking

Parking is one of the major problems in Bucharest. You’ll almost always have trouble finding a parking place, both in the city center and in residential areas. Usually, there are paid parking lots in the center with prices ranging from RON 1.5-3 per hour. In 2010, the state internalised the management of certain car parks. Traffic Wardens will present you with a ticket noting your hour of arrival, so you will know how much to pay. Be aware that shady looking people might ask you for parking tickets: try to always make sure they give you a receipt and are wearing an uniform. Driving Drivers in Bucharest are sometimes a threat. The “dangerous drivers” category can include anyone and everyone. It is a good idea to avoid the main boulevards during rush hours and take secondary routes; they are often less crowded. Another thing you should keep in mind is that “Road Rage” is common in Romania: you might have people wave their fist or yell at you if they feel you did something wrong. You can apologize (if you made a mistake), but do not stop for an argument! Unfortunately, the difficulties with driving do not stop at the city limits either. Driving from one city or county to another can be equally dangerous and frustrating. You will see people doing things on the road that you would only see in movies elsewhere. From passing on dangerous bends, to cutting you up in the middle of a rainstorm while driving at 120 km / hour, you must expect the worst. Our advice is to stay calm, and be a very defensive driver. Be very aggressive (passing and keeping your lane) only when you absolutely must. Eventually, you may start to feel right at home on the roads, only to terrify your friends and family when you go back to your home country!

 

Hint! If you hear many cars honking, it is either a traffic jam or a funeral. Yes that’s right. In Bucharest and some parts of Romania this is a tradition. People may also beep their horns for weddings (as in Western Europe), but it is more commonly used for funerals in Romania.

Souvenirs shop in the Old Town

This week’s pick for the newcomers’ corner will be useful to those who want something to remind them (or their friends back home) of Romania. Walking down the little streets in the Old Town in Bucharest, we found a souvenirs shop on Blanari street. It’s the first one to have opened in that area, from what we know. It was opened in June and sells cups, T-shirts, traditional Romanian cooking items (pots, wooden spoons), traditional wooden toys and interesting postcards to send back home. Well, basically what you’d expect to find in such a store, with a Romanian spin to it. You can find it on Blanari 5 street.