Archives October 2014

Divan opens kebap butik downtown Bucharest

Restaurant chain Divan has opened this October a new kebab boutique in Bucharest’s Romana Square, after an investment of EUR 200,000. Starting with November 3, the new Divan Express will be open non-stop, reports local

Divan also runs a restaurant in Bucharest’s Old Town, which it opened 2010-2011, and one on Calea Floreasca.

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Catch a glimpse of the old Romanian spirit @ Conacul Bellu

The conac is a symbol of Romania’s past and culture. You’ll see them in paintings, in history books, at the village museums or on vintage postal cards. They are a symbol of this country’s old times, when the prosper countryside brought together noble families and the peasantry.

The term generally designates a landowner’s countryside mansion, a type of residence built throughout the county from the Middle Age up to the XX century. Despite so many unfortunate events during the communist regime, Romania is still rich in countryside mansions. While, sadly, some are in an advanced state of decay, others have survived in a great condition, as museums or private properties.

About an hour away from Bucharest, Conacul Bellu in Urlati stands as a monument of old Romanian architecture, a reference even for the new owners of such mansions who come here for inspiration. Former property of baron Alexandru Bellu, it was donated by his family in the 1920’s to the Romanian Academy and later became a museum, escaping nationalization during communism.

Very well preserved, the XIX century conac has an interior as impressive as the exterior. The living room, the study, the salon, the Oriental and the Chinese salon impress with the perfectly-kept furniture from various periods and priceless paintings, icons, ceramics and rare objects. Exhibits include even valuable second or third century pieces. Alexandru Bellu was a great art collector and a passionate photographer. His photographs of Romanian peasants became well-known in Paris in the 1920s. Some of his photographs are exhibited in the museum’s pavilion.

In the mansion’s cellar you can visit a viticultural exhibition, as Conacul Bellu is located on the best-known Wine Road in Romania, the one crossing the Prahova and Buzau counties.


Visiting hours:

Tuesday – Sunday,  09:00 – 17:00


How to get there:

Conacul Bellu is located in Urlati, Prahova county. To get there from Bucuresti, take the Bucuresti- Ploiesti road to Ploiesti, the E577 road from Ploiesti to Albesti-Paleologu locality and turn left on 102C road to reach Urlati. You will find Conacul Bellu at one end of the locality’s main road.


What else to see nearby:

Jercalai Monastery

Varbila Monastery

Wine cellars and vineyards along the Wine Road


For accommodation nearby, check out our dedicated section in the listings directory.

German college Goethe opened a new kindergarten in Bucharest

The German college Goethe in Bucharest has expanded with a new kindergarten, which was inaugurated earlier this week. The new kindergarten has become functional in a building located in the First District of Bucharest, at 22 Christian Tell St., where the French highschool used to be hosted. The city hall rented out and revamped the place “without a big financial effort,” said the First District mayor Andrei Chiliman.

About 20 teachers are part of the kindergarten’s staff, and teach 530 students, including in the zero and first grades, according to Agerpres.

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Romania, included in Lonely Planet’s top value destinations for 2015

Romania came ninth in a Top 10 of the best value touristic destinations for 2015 made by the famous travel guide Lonely Planet. The ranking takes into consideration the value tourists get for the money they spend for a trip or holiday in various countries.

“Eastern European nations frequently appear in best-value lists, but in Romania’s case the entry is entirely warranted,” according to Lonely Planet.

Some of Romania’s strengths are good connection with the rest of Europe via budget airlines, good prices for accommodation and cheap transport throughout the country. Medieval villages, spectacular castles and the unique Danube Delta are some of the main attractions mentioned.

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Cluj-Napoca inaugurates newest sports arena in Romania

The local authorities in Cluj-Napoca, Romania’s third largest city, with more than 300,000 residents, inaugurated the newest indoor sports arena in Romania, on Monday, October 27, 2014.

“Cluj now has the most beautiful, advanced and well equipped sports hall in Romania, which is comparable to those in the EU. We have managed to put our city on the map for national and international competitions,” said Emil Boc, the mayor of Cluj-Napoca.

The new arena has a total capacity of 7,200 spectators, which can be extended to up to 10,000 people, and can host basketball, volleyball and handball matches, as well as boxing, martial arts, gymnastics, fencing, table tennis, field tennis or badminton international competitions.

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Cirque du Soleil will be back in Romania with five shows in 2015

Cirque du Soleil returns to Bucharest next year with the show Quidam. A total of five performances will be held in Romania’s capital between January 29 and February 1, 2015.

The shows will take place every day between January 29 and January 31, at 20:00, while two representations are scheduled for February 1, at 13:00 and 17:00, reports local Agerpres.

Until October 26, tickets will be exclusively available for members of Cirque Club. Starting with October 27, the tickets will be up for sale for the general public also, for prices between RON 105 (some EUR 23) and RON 500 (EUR 113).

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New Bucharest Airport App in English

A new application allows travelers to check flight information on the Henri Coanda airport in Bucharest directly on their phone.

The airport company launched an app called Henri AppPort, which is available in Romania and in English, and which allows travelers to check flight status. And boarding gates for each flight, as well as identify frequently accessed areas such as pharmacy, newsstands, restaurants and coffee shops inside the airport.

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Romania switches to official winter time on Saturday night

The daylight saving time in Romania will change on the night of Saturday to Sunday (October 25 to 26), when 4 am turns to 3 am. Starting October 26, Romania switches from the Eastern European Summer Time to the winter Eastern European Time, a time zone 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time.

If you are traveling by train on Sunday morning, it is good to know that the Romanian Railway Company CFR Calatori will switch to the winter EET as well. All passenger trains scheduled for departure after 4 am will leave at the time of the timetable in force, according to the winter EET.

Romania’s Communist bread comes back as luxury product

Romanians start to take inspiration from their troubled past, and revive products which were popular during the Communist period. Subsistence products from the Communist time now become luxury products. Romanian bakers will re-start baking bread using recipes from the Communist period, and plan to sell it as premium bread.

After November 1, Romanians will be able to buy several types of bread that were made during Communism, such as the 65-cm long, so-called “Bucharest bread”. Some of the new bakery products made after old recipes will include semi-white bread, and the famous and popular brown bread, which was widely used during the Communist period, as it was the cheapest – and most often the only – bread Romanians could find. For a certain period of time, when the country was under economic constraints as it was trying to pay off external debts, Romanians were only allowed to buy a loaf of brown bread using a special card which capped consumption per family.

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Bucharest’s Nordului-Herastrau – a popular area for foreigners

Only 15% of the tenants who moved in the last two years in apartments located in the Soseaua Nordului-Herastrau area in Northern Bucharest are Romanians, while the rest are foreigners, according to a study conducted by Nordis real estate agency.

Soseaua Nordului-Herastrau is a premium area in Northern Bucharest, located near one of the city’s largest park, Herastrau Park. The neighborhood consists of luxury buildings built since 2003.

“In 2013 and 2014, the expats’ demand for rental apartments registered a visible increase. Most requests for this area target 3-room apartments with budgets between EUR 1,000 and EUR 1,500 per month. There are differences between the two categories of clients, Romanians and foreigners.

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Romanian-born director, winner of the best documentary award at Warsaw Film Festival

Toto and his Sisters (Toto si Surorile Lui), a film directed by Romanian-born Alexander Nanau, has won the award for best documentary at this year’s edition of the Warsaw Film Festival, which took place between October 10 and October 19. In the same section, a special mention was given to the movie Crossroads directed by Anastasiya Miroshnichenko.

This is the second international prize for this film which also won the Golden Eye for best international documentary at the Zurich Film Festival, which took place between September 25 and October 5, this year.

Toto and his Sisters tells the story of a 10-year old Roma boy named Toto who lives with his two sisters in a ghetto on the poor outskirts of Bucharest. The siblings have taken care of one another ever since their mother was arrested for dealing drugs. Watch the trailer below.

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Weather changes in Romania in second half of this week

This week starts with clear sky and high temperatures in Romania, but the weather is expected to change starting Wednesday, October 22, bringing low temperatures, rain and even snow at high altitudes.

Romania’s Meteorological Association (ANM) made an estimation regarding the weather’s evolution between October 20 and November 2, for all regions in the country, namely Banat, Crisana, Transylvania, Maramures, Moldova, Dobrogea, Muntenia, Oltenia and the mountain areas.

  • Banat (includes the cities of Timisoara and Arad)

In the first two days of this week, the weather remains hot with maximum temperatures between 20 and 22 degrees Celsius, but low temperatures of maximum 11 degrees Celsius are forecasted for the period between October 22 and October 25. After this period, the temperature is expected to go slightly up to 14 degrees Celsius. Rain is expected between October 21 and October 24, and also after October 28.

  • Crisana (largest city in the region is Oradea)

ANM also forecasts hot weather for this region in the beginning of the week, but temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius starting with October 22. After October 25, the temperature is expected to increase slightly. Rain is forecasted for the period between October 21 and October 23, and again after October 28.

  • Transylvania (includes Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Brasov, Targu Mures, Alba Iulia)

Hot weather and temperatures of up to 19 degrees Celsius are forecasted for this region in the first two days of this week, but the weather is expected to get colder starting Wednesday. The average maximum temperature is expected to drop to 5 degrees Celsius until October 26. After that date, the weather will be warmer. Rain is expected between October 21 and October 23, as well as on October 28 and in early-November.

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First Romanian-made smartwatch was launched

Romanian IT&C producer Evolio has launched the first Romanian-made smartwatch, which will monitor physical effort and fitness activities. The watch, called X-watch, will sell for RON 199 – some EUR 45 – and will become available in stores in the beginning of 2015.

Evolio thus enters a market which could reach 50,000 such units in Romania in 2015, said Liviu Nistoran, Evolio president.

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Mayor: Bucharest’s Mihai Bravu flyover complete in December

The second bridge of the Mihai Bravu flyover in Southern Bucharest will be ready in December, five and a half months after work started, said Bucharest Mayor Sorin Oprescu.

The first bridge of this flyover, which helps connect the South of the city to downtown, opened in June this year, and is currently being used both ways.

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Organizing your Christmas party in Bucharest

Are you planning a company Christmas party, annual closure conference or just a sociable get together with your colleagues for the end of the year? City Compass Tours & Events can offer a truly memorable Christmas event.

We organize the complete Christmas party for your company: from venue selection and coordination of menu proposals to program and entertainment, as well as gifts for your guests or employees.

We don’t have standard solutions. Several extraordinary locations are part of our portfolio. Based on your company’s needs we offer a range of exclusive locations in Bucharest from historical buildings to the newest ones in town, from classical venues to unusual ones.

You can read more about our services for Christmas Parties here.

Our offers:

• Executive Christmas Party/Dinner (up to 40 people)

• Corporate Christmas Party



Choosing the right location for your party is a great responsibility. Let us worry about that while you will be able to enjoy the party. Depending on the size of the group and the theme of the party we will find the most suitable place for you.



Included services:

• Venue selection and arrangement

• Dinner selection

• Program and entertainment

• Support with organization

• Invitations (design)

• Christmas Gifts for guests



Request form
E- mail for reservation/ booking: hello [a]
Call us (mo-fr 9.30-17.30):+40 734 611 223


A Vlad the Impaler documentary brings Prison Break actor to Romania

Romania’s Corvinilor Castle in Hunedoara will be closed in early-November, for the shooting of a historical documentary about Romanian prince Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler). English-born actor Dominic Purcell, best known for his role in the Prison Break series, will star in this 4-hour mini-series and will come to Romania for the filming.

“Corvinilor Castle was chosen for filming the most important moments of a 4-hour film about Prince Vlad Tepes. Unfortunately for tourists, the castle will be closed for visitors on November 5, 6, 7, and 9, but those who want to see actors at work can come on November 8, when they will have the opportunity to see how a historical movie is made,” said Constantin Tinca, director of the Huneadoara Corvinilor Castle Museum, cited by local Mediafax.

The script of the series was written under the guidance of a Romanian contemporary historian, so that the story would get as close as possible to the historical truth of Vlad Tepes’ life, according to Tinca. The costumes and the sets were also created with the help of Romanian specialists. Romanian production house Castel Film works on this project.

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A luxury residential project to be launched downtown Bucharest

Real estate company Euromall will develop a luxury residential project in downtown Bucharest. This is the first local residential development for Euromall, which has built shopping malls in Romania.

The residential project, called Vernescu Residence, will comprise 36 apartments and is developed via Metropolitan Developments, owned by Euromall, reports local Mediafax. The project will be launched next week.

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British Council opens second location in Bucharest

The British Council branch in Bucharest, currently located on Calea Dorobantilor downtown in the Romanian capital, has expanded with a new location. The council will teach English in new classes arranged in a historical villa located downtown Bucharest. The building,  located on Mendeleev street and recently revamped, will host British Council’s secondary headquarters on some 300 sqm.

The current owner, a Romanian investor, bought the villa from  in 2011 and invested EUR 700,000 in renovation and restoration works.

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International chain Mercure opens first hotel in Bucharest in November

The first hotel affiliated to the international chain Mercure will be opened in Bucharest, at the beginning of November, according to an official announcement.

The Mercure brand is part of Accor group, one of the top international hotel chains, which also operates the Novotel hotel on Calea Victoriei and four Ibis hotels.

The new four-star Mercure hotel is located on George Enescu Street, close to the Romanian Athenaeum and to Calea Victoriei boulevard.

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Celtic ancient cemetery discovered under a highway in Romania

A Celtic incineration necropolis with 56 graves was discovered during archeological research work conducted on the construction site of the Transylvania highway in Romania. The ancient cemetery could date from the late fourth century BC and third century BC.

The Romanian archaeologists identified the graves as belonging to ancient warriors, as they were carrying weapons such as swords, knives, and shield pieces.

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Timisoara rated by Huffington Post among affordable luxury destinations this autumn

Romania’s Timisoara was included by American news portal Huffington Post in a list of ten affordable luxury destinations for autumn, alongside other cities in Spain, Portugal or Bulgaria. Timisoara was the only Romanian city included in the list which was made based on prices of four and five star hotels, but also on local tourist attractions.

“Timisoara thus becomes an important tourist destination, being included by Huffington Post in top 10 affordable luxury destinations for autumn 2014.

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What you didn’t know about Romanians

There are some patterns many Romanians tend to follow, and some of them may come as surprising for foreigners. There are exceptions from the examples below, of course, and the generalization is simply to highlight the extremes one may be faced with while dealing with Romanians.


Family is at the core of everything; family needs support, and offers support

Even if many Romanians do not openly admit it, and even if they have borrowed a lot from the Western ways of thinking and acting, most Romanians are very much connected to their families. They will call close family and relatives often, sometimes on a daily basis, and in many cases young Romanians take care of their elderly, supplementing their low income. It runs both ways, with a lot of youngsters getting support from their families until an old age – either by living home with parents, or by receiving packages with food, if parents live in the countryside, and children in the city.

Family time is also very important, and it is often spent watching TV, or visiting relatives, or going on holidays.

Either way, better not to stand in the way of a Romanian and their family! Win their family, or at least ask about their family, their children, and you have won a lot in the relationship with a Romanian, even when dealing with business.

Gifts for family members and showing interest in family members goes a long way with a Romanian. For many Western Europeans, where family relationships are not necessarily that close, this fact comes as a surprise at their first contact with Romania.

Patriotism and hatred for Romania somehow go hand in hand

Romanians don’t often share their patriotism with the world, they do so more when Romania achieves some performance on the international scene – either wins a sports or artistic prize. Then much of the country has one heart. For the rest of the time, however, Romanians swing between loving their country for the good and the bad, and hating it. Yes, hating it, to the point where they decide to leave it. And even when the do that – leave the country to search a better life elsewhere, Romanians are almost always drawn back, and not just by the family they left behind.

The more surprising fact here is that, despite criticizing their country a lot – and not doing much about the things they criticize – Romanians can’t stand it when foreigners do the criticizing. “I am allowed to criticize it, because it is my own country,” is the thinking pattern many Romanian follow. As a foreigner, if you criticize Romania too much, you will upset Romanians, even if they generally share the same opinion on their country.

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Winning over, dating and keeping a Romanian woman

Here’s a short collection of things to keep in mind when trying to win over, date and then build a relationship with a Romanian woman. Remember these are generalities and may not be applicable to the woman you like, but you should be aware of them and find out what’s her stand on these.

First off, if you’re a foreigner trying to get a Romanian woman fall in love with you, and you both live in Romania, the good news is you stand more chances than any potential Romanian male racing to win over the same woman. The truth is Romanians like foreigners, and Romanian women in general will give more attention to foreigners trying to win them over. This is not to say they’d always go for the foreigner, but you definitely have an advantage from the start.

If you try to start a relationship with a Romanian woman while in another country – perhaps even your home country – then you have to try your best, as competition is everywhere; make sure you tackle the topics below.

Before we begin, let’s go beyond the myth that Romanian women are ‘hot and easy’; you have to know most Romanian women are very intelligent, are not looking for a ‘sugar daddy’, are not easy, and many are spiritual/religious and very connected to their families, or to the idea of family. Keep all these in mind while trying to win her, date and build a relationship with her; she will most likely figure out your agenda if you plan otherwise.

Exchange cultural identity stories.

If you’re a foreigner in Romania, make sure you use the somehow increased attention you get to your own advantage. Romanians like to learn about other countries and about foreigners in general, and women love it when a potential partner has new information to share with them, and when they can teach them something (without patronizing them!). So a very good starting idea would be to share thoughts about your country and fellow countrymen, while at the same time asking for the same kind of information about Romania. A very good ice breaker, and an excellent discussion topic for your first dates. Tell her stories from your home country, and ask for stories to help you understand Romania better.

Get some Romanian language classes.

Most Romanians usually speak one or more foreign languages, so chances are high the woman you like speaks at least English. In general, from a practical point of view, foreigners don’t need to learn Romanian as they will get along just fine by speaking English. But if you want to impress, and if you want to better integrate and learn your way around Romania anyway, start learning the language. Take some classes, or even better, ask the woman you like if she wants to teach you some of the basics, and offer to teach her the basics of your language too. This will be a great foundation for what you’re trying to build.

Watch out for what you wear.

If you’ve been in Romania for a while, you probably already know most Romanian women like to dress up for many occasions, and the level of ‘dressing up’ varies with the occasion, and of course, with the woman’s personality. But in general, appearance is important for Romanian women, and many like to have impeccable outfits. So better make sure you try to match her style, or at least avoid being in a totally different ballpark than her.

This means don’t be much overdressed – you will make her feel uncomfortable that she chose the wrong outfit or that she is too poor for you, but don’t be under-dressed either, as she will see it as a negative point for you. If you’re unsure of how she will dress for your first date, best bet is to wear something smart – casual (it will also depend on your personality and dress style, and of course, on the venue of your date, or the event’s dress code. (If you go to the Opera, she will most likely dress in style, so you’d better suit up!)

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Survival rules in a Bucharest block of flats

Living in a block of flats in Bucharest can be a totally new, sometimes adrenaline – filled experience. There are a few rules to help you navigate the dos and don’ts of living in one of the Communist era blocks in Bucharest.

You probably know these blocks – huge, ten floors, spreading across multiple entrances. Most of the time cheaper, and definitely more frequently found than houses in Bucharest. If you live in a smaller block of flats, you might be among the lucky ones, but beware, some of the tips below might still apply.

Almost from the moment you move in, neighbors will know you’re a foreigner – the news will spread. Some will like you form the start just because of that, others might not, and somehow will have the tendency to blame things on you. Keep that in mind, as when a nosy neighbor is upset with you, he or she can become annoying and disturb your peaceful life.

Find out where you pay your monthly maintenance fees ‘intretinere‘ and try to pay it on time. People who live in Bucharest block of flats have to pay something called ‘intretinere‘, which includes heating, running water, cleaning services for common areas, the salaries of people who work for the association (including for the person who cashes in the ‘intretinere‘).

This is not a fixed amount, it varies from flat to flat, with the size of the apartment and the number of people living there, and seasonally – higher during winter months because of the heating. Every month, the administrator will display a list of these costs per apartment. Make sure you pay it on time, and that at least you don’t allow several months of due ‘intretinere‘ to pile up. Most administrators create a ‘shame list’, highlighting who has not paid their monthly dues, so ‘friendly’ and nosy neighbors might remind you from time to time.

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Restaurant review: Sunday brunch at the Crowne Plaza

What makes a good brunch? Good food and variety to choose from. At the Sunday Brunch at Crowne Plaza, we found both.

The brunch at the Crowne Plaza features a great variety of starters to choose from- salads and all sorts of raw vegetables to make your own desired mix, to smoked salmon, all sorts of cheese, duck breast, quiche, terrine and seafood. If not enough, there’s also sushi and foie gras. And then, the hot dishes: soups and all kinds of meats (fish, chicken, duck, beef) prepared in various ways, plus lots of side dishes. Let’s not forget the large turkey from which the cook would carve your favorite piece. There was absolutely no way anyone could try everything in the menu and still be able to walk from the table on their two feet.

My favorite was the live cooking station where you can order stir fried vegetables cooked in the wok and/or pasta.

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