Archives January 2015

Writing in Europe’s best kept secret place

Three expats who decided to settle in Romania, and a Romanian who returned home after years as a global nomad welcome writing aficionados in an idyllic place in Romania’s mountains.

An English writer, his Romanian publisher-wife, and two other expat writers in Romania strive to show foreigners and Romanians alike the beauties of Transylvania while helping them hone their writing skills. The four organize writing workshops in English, both for foreigners and for Romanians, in Magura, a village in Transylvania where three of the writers live. For the first workshop, they have already had inquiries from people from the US, Lebanon, and even Venezuela, Mike Ormsby, one of the organizers, told

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Pre-sale tickets available for world music and arts festival in Timişoara

PLAI Festival, taking place during September 11 and 13 at Banat Village Museum in Timişoara, will reach its tenth edition in 2015. Organizers are celebrating the anniversary with a pre-sale offer. Tickets at a special price are now available and can be acquired for RON 50 online on by April 2015.

Since its first edition, in 2006, PLAI became the most important world music and arts festival in Romania. Each year, 100 camping spaces await visitors from outside Timişoara to attend the event.


Nomad-Minorities Film Festival to take place in 4 Romanian cities and Norway’s Olso

The first edition of Nomad-Minorities Film Festival will take place in four Romanian cities and Norway’s capital Oslo, between May 19 and June 28, 2015.

The event aims to gather movies that bring into public attention relevant issues for minority groups in Romania. The films will focus on the historical complexity of minorities, on their rituals and beliefs, as well as their struggle to keep their identities.

Six movies will be screened outdoors in Targu-Mures, Constanta, Timisoara and Bucharest, as well as in Oslo, Norway.

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Germans travel to Romania to see bears and wolves

Over 5,000 German tourists will come to Romania this year to see bears and wolves in their natural habitat, according to Romanian tourism officials. Romania promoted these kinds of trips at the tourism fair in Stuttgart last week.

“Over 150,000 people visited Romania’s stand at the Stuttgart fair and Transylvania and the Danube Delta stirred the greatest interest, especially for active tourism and nature tourism.”

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Romania’s top 10 travel destinations in 2015

Romanian capital Bucharest is the country’s top destination for 2015 in a recent Travelers’ Choice ranking, on, the world’s leading travel site.

Among Bucharest’s top attractions, mentioned by, are the Village Museum, the Romanian Athenaeum, the Peasant Museum, and, of course, the Parliament’s Palace, which is the second-largest building in the world after the Pentagon.

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New bike lanes planned for Bucharest

Bucharest City Hall plans to build several bike lanes in the capital city, on both major boulevards and smaller streets.

On the main boulevards, the bike lanes will be built on the roadway, according to Bucharest mayor Sorin Oprescu. When it comes to secondary roads, where there is no space on the pathway, the bike lanes will be made on the sidewalks.

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New gondola lift for Sinaia mountain resort in Romania

The Sinaia City Hall will invest EUR 7.5 million for a new gondola lift, part of a broader investment campaign in the resort.

It will have the new gondola ready by the beginning of the ski season in December this year. The resort will also invest EUR 20,000 in a 9-month communication campaign this year to promote tourist attractions.

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Green light for shopping center behind Bucharest’s Stirbey Palace

The Bucharest City Hall has given the green light for a 12,000 sqm shopping center behind the Stirbey Palace on Calea Victoriei, downtown Bucharest.

The shopping center will be built in the palace’s former gardens, located behind the historical building, reports local The mall was initially planned closer to the building, and taller.

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Reviving traditions: 4 unique places to visit in Romania

Muzeul de Pânze şi Poveşti/ The Museum of Fabrics and Stories, Făgăraş

The Museum of Fabrics and Stories is a virtual museum and a real house, opened during workshops organized here. Alina Zara, the one who opened it, decided to return to her grandmother’s village, Mândra, and continue her work. It is mainly a collection of traditional costumes and weaved objects, celebrating Romanian folk art but they also started holding weaving workshops. Last year, the products made in their workshops by locals reached Romanians all over the world. Those who want to visit the little museum at no. 137 in Mândra, Făgăraş (Transylvania), should mail them in advance to make sure they drop by during visiting hours.

Email:  [email protected]



Moara de Hârtie/ The Paper Mill, Comana

The Dealul Morii (the Mill Hill) in Comana hosts a museum-workshop, a living story of past times, with printing and bookbinding equipment, rare engravings and old prints. Here, visitors can experience making their own artisan paper, calligraphy, bookbinding, manual printing or painting. The place is about 30 km away from Bucharest, at 279 Funieru Street in Comana. Visitors arriving by car from Bucharest can choose from a short route or a long one.


Satul Meşteşugarilor/ The Village of Craftsmen, Comana

This is a project merely started, planned to develop in 2015. Set up within the Comana Natural Reservation near Bucharest, the Village of Craftsmen brings back to life the forgotten world of the village life. This where both adults and kids can learn from craftsmen how the wood is crafted, how iron is modeled by blacksmiths, how to make objects out of reed, the secrets of pottery, weaving, processing fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs.

For more details on the Paper Mill and the Village of Craftsmen, you can write or phone the team at [email protected] or +40246 283 399, +40743 266 262.



Casa Maramureşană/ The Maramureş House, Remecioara

Only last year, the National Geographic magazine ranked Maramureş as one of the 20 must-visit places in the world in 2015, so this is clearly worth visiting. A physics professor, his wife, a notary, an architect and a painter set out to save old houses in Maramureş, a Transylvanian region still rich in cultural heritage. The initiative looks at houses threatened by brutal modernization, a common phenomenon in Romanian villages. For now, the Maramureş House consists of a reconditioned old house and shed hosting cultural events, but there are plans for reconditioning other traditional households in the county.

Address: Remecioara, Remetea Chioarului locality, Maramureş (Transylvania)

The National Operetta reopened. First shows sell out in hours

The new Phantom of the Opera musical staged by the National Operetta in Bucharest is proving popular among Romanians even before its official premiere. After tickets for the musical’s first four shows in end-January, including the premiere on January 24, sold out in hours, the shows in February and early-March also sold out quickly.

The Operetta, which also inaugurates its new headquarters and a newly built hall, equipped with the latest equipment, also stages two Romeo and Juliet shows in February, with tickets still available for both of them.

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10 things you should try in Romania

Or rather the first ten of the many, many things you should not miss while in Romania. Add your own suggestions in the comment box below this article.

1. Drive (or bike) on the Transfagarasan and Transalpina

The two high altitude roads provide breathtaking views and are a must while in Romania. We wrote about the Transfagarasan here. They both can get busy during the summer, which is the peak season, as both are officially closed in winter.

2. Hike in the Carpathian Mountains

Romania has kept much of its pristine landscapes and the Carpathian mountains are a good example of that. These mountains are so diverse and can provide a nature enthusiast with lots of varieties. The easiest is to hike from the famous mountain resorts of Sinaia and Predeal. Travel Planner: A climb to the Pietrosul Rodnei mountain peak and the lake shaped like Romania

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A library in Romania, most beautiful in the world according to

The library of the Gheorghe Asachi Technical University in Iaşi, Romania, was chosen as the most majestic library in the world in a ranking by The survey includes 25 libraries from all around the world and the list was still open for submissions at the time when this article was written. The “competition” lists architectural masterpieces such as the library of the Trinity College in Dublin, the Portuguese Royal Library in Rio de Janeiro, The National Library in Prague or the National Library in France.

The library is part of the University Palace in Copou (Iaşi’s famous park). The palace was built in 1892, based on famous Swiss architect Louis Blanc’s project which was, in its own turn, based on the sketches of a Romanian architect, Professor and Minister at that time. Louis Blanc was also the one who designed the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest.

The library was severely damaged during the Second World War, in 1944, the reconstruction process lasting until the end of the ’50s, when the entire Palace was revamped.

Nowadays, the library is still functional and holds an impressive amount of one million volumes.

The library is connected with the University’s Festivity Hall. According to Professor Seghedin, the Technical University’s Prorector, interviewed by regarding the world library ranking, this is the most beautiful festivity hall in Romania. Both the library and the festivity hall can be visited, access is free.

The Copou University Palace located at 4 Păcurari Street also hosts the British Council in Iaşi and the European Documentation Centre.

New wine bistro with live cooking shows opened in Victoriei Square

The first wine restaurant in Bucharest opened on Victoriei Avenue on January 20. The Wine Bistro Vinexpert enjoys a large collection of wines and other drinks – over 3.500 labels, most of them available by glass.

The new location is a continuation of the concept initially launched at the Vinexpert Lounge on Dorobanți Avenue. The food concept is based on live cooking shows in the open kitchen and wine and food pairing. Complementary, other selections were included, such as Sparkling Cocktails, Single Origin Coffees, Blended Coffees, Spirited Coffees, Fine Spirits, Cigars, Riedel – The Wine Glass Company, gourmet and special gifts.

Owners plan to organize wine dedicated events such as the Gallery of Romanian Wines or themed tasting evening. For the following weeks, the Wine Bistro already announced to hold an Australia themed evening on January 26 and planned a special wine menu for the ladies during February 14 (Valentine’s Day) – March 8 (International Women’s Day).

Sheraton hotel brand to enter Romanian market

American hotel chain Starwood & Resorts will officially bring its Sheraton brand to Romania, after signing a franchise contract with the Grand Plaza Hotel in Bucharest, the company announced.

The Grand Plaza Hotel in Bucharest, located in Piata Romana, one of the Romanian capital’s central locations, has been managed by Howard Johnson since 2004.

Hotel owners will reconvert the 270 rooms to Sheraton standards. The hotel also has two restaurants, a bar and a lounge.

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Four out of five trams in Bucharest need to be replaced

Bucharest’s mayor Sorin Oprescu recently admitted that almost all the trams in Bucharest should be replaced, as they are old and unsafe, reports local Digi24.

Some 80% of the trams in Romania’s capital should be scrapped as they are rusty, have no air conditioning and no facilities for travelers with disabilities.

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Café helping addicts, to open in Romania soon

Cafe Therapy, the first café in Romania that will help alcoholics and drug addicts to treat their addictions, will open in Bucharest in early-March. A total of EUR 200,000 will be invested in the new cafe, the money coming from European funds, reports local

The Cafe Therapy will be launched by the ALIAT Association through a bigger project to prevent and treat alcoholism. The “Ses Therapy” project has a budget of EUR 3.5 million, financed by the European Social Fund, through the 2007-2013 Sectoral Operational Programme Human Resources Development.

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Romanian movie enters the Golden Bear competition in the Berlinale 2015

Romanian movie “Aferim!”, directed by Radu Jude, is one of the 23 films selected in the official competition of the Berlin International Film Festival 2015, which takes place between February 5-15 in Germany’s capital, according to an official announcement from the organisers.

“Aferim!” is a historical movie placed in XIX century Wallachia (Tara Romaneasca). It tells the story of a tax collector and administrator (zapciu) working for a local lord and his son in their quest to find a runaway slave. Romanian actor Teodor Corban plays the tax collector and Cuzin Toma plays the slave.

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ParkLake mall in Bucharest, opening set for 2016

ParkLake, a shopping center developed by Sonae Sierra and Caelum Development in Romania’s capital Bucharest, has signed contracts with fashion retailers Zara, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Zara Home and Oysho retailers, all of them belonging to the Spanish Inditex Group, as well as H&M, Koton, Maxitoys, and Maxbet, reads a press release.

ParkLake has so far signed or committed 70% of its gross leasable area (GLA), which is 70,000 sqm. The mall will include over 200 units, including 23 restaurants and a cinema multiplex, as well as 2,600 underground parking places.

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Restaurant reopened officially in a newly revamped 100 year old house

Simbio reopened on Wednesday, January 21, after the restaurant’s relocation and months of revamping their new home. Starting January 22, the restaurant will be open daily from 10:00.

Owners say the past months have been a real adventure, working to consolidate their new site, a 100 years old house. Bringing back to life the beautiful building with rich ornaments proved to be an exciting, but challenging experience for the new occupiers, postponing the opening initially planned for December.

Compared to Simbio’s old location in the Old Town, the new home brings along a fresh, contemporary  interior design, a summer garden where owners plan to organize parties and parking places.

The new Simbio is located on Negustori Street, near the Universitate and the old Armenian neighborhood.

The Carusel of Lights, iconic building in the Old Town, to host new hip book store

The most popular book store chain in Bucharest, Cărtureşti, are a few weeks away from opening a new project at the heart of the Old Town, according to Metropotam. The opening of the iconic building on 55 Lipscani Street was initially scheduled for 2014 but, due to local authority approvals, the date was postponed for the first weeks of 2015.

Over a century old, the Chrissoveloni building is also known as the Carousel of Lights, hence the name of the new venue. Cărtureşti Carusel is designed to have a dedicated theme for each of its spaces: the ground floor, the two upper levels and the basement.

Ioan Chrissoveloni, the owner of the building, explains his reason to welcome a book store in the historical building, recovered by his family after it was nationalized during the communist age: “I was little when the Communists came, I was 5 years old. But still I got to see how Bucharesters really loved life, loved it in a certain, specific way. They loved the refinement as well as the gregariousness, they loved socializing with style, they loved books, theater, music, of course, in many cases out of snobbery. But even that snobbery had something charming. (…) Now I want to give something back to the city. A book store like this would answer very well to my wish of bringing back something of the style and lust for life of Bucharesters of my time. I think that the recovery of buildings by their rightful owners (a procedure not easy) is, in the end, not only an effect of the revolution of ’89, but actually a different kind of a revolution. A small one, on a personal, particular level, but which, multiplied by the number of people, produces a major change. Of course, it’s up to what the owners of the returned buildings actually do with them … I chose to renovate it and give it life. This is, in itself, one way to build … “.

The book store is expected to open at the end of January or beginning of February. The book store chain gained its popularity particularly for widening the concept of book retail to the level of a cultural experience, through contemporary design projects signed by well-known Romanian architects, hip cultural events, along with niche products accompanying the book offer.

Gym, most favored sports activity among Romanians

More Romanians got the hang of hitting the gym, and this helped fitness club increase their membership rolls. The growing trend was also fueled by new fitness club openings and expansion across the country, according to Andrei Cretu, cofounder of 7card, quoted by The number of subscriptions to sports clubs was up 12% in 2014, year-on-year, with a similar growth rate expected for this year.

Romanians spend on average some RON 170 – or some EUR 38- a month for their gym membership, but more and more companies choose to pay for their employees’ gym memberships.

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The most famous Romanian castle welcomes half a million visitors in a year

Over half a million people visited last year a famous castle in Romania which has been often linked to the myth of Dracula, making it one of the most visited touristic spots in the country.

The Bran Castle in Brasov county, Central Romania, welcomed 540,000 visitors in 2014, more than half of whom were foreigners. The castle saw the number of visitors going up by 9% throughout the year compared to 2013, said Alexandru Prișcu, management representative with the castle.

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Study: Bucharesters are processed food fans, but exercise regularly

A recent study shows more Romanian women than men consider fruits and vegetables important for a healthy lifestyle, and highlights capital Bucharest lagging behind the rest of Romania on the number of fresh food fans. Despite the fact that most Bucharesters prefer processed food, they also like to exercise on a regular basis.

Seven out of ten Romanians link the idea of a healthy lifestyle to eating fruits and vegetables and almost half of Romanians link it to fresh, very little processed food, according to a study conducted by GfK, cited by local Mediafax.

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Sibiu’s ASTRA Museum attracts more visitors than Bucharest’s Village Museum

The ASTRA Museum Complex in Sibiu, central Romania, had over 360,000 visitors last year, 60,000 of whom watched at least one movie screened at the ASTRA Film festival, according to a press release cited by local news agency Agerpres.

The number of visitors to the Sibiu museum complex was slightly higher than the National Village Museum’s in Bucharest, which had some 346,000 visitors in 2014, according to Paula Popoiu, the museum’s general manager. The Bucharest Museum hopes to attract some 400,000 visitors this year.

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Most expected movies in Romania this year

Movie fans have plenty to look forward this year as several large productions are expected to hit the big screens in Romania. Probably the most expected movies of the year are the new James Bond (Spectre) and the Star Wars Episode VII.

Both will be released closer to the end of the year. Spectre will come to Romania in the beginning of November, while Star Wars will be released just before Christmas, the perfect gift for the fans of the Sci-Fi saga.

Several other block-buster sequels and remakes are expected until then. Furious 7, Paul Walker’s last movie, will hit the screens in April, followed by The Avengers in May. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns with a new Terminator movie, in July. Mad Max is one of the most anticipated remakes to be released this year.

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New La Placinte restaurant to open in the Old Town

A new La Placinte restaurant will open in Bucharest’s Old Town. The location is the former posh club Studio Hermes, closed down soon after New Year’s Eve.

Studio Hermes was known especially for its interior design signed by well-known Romanian architect Cristian Corvin.

The new restaurant is planned to open in the following months, following refurbishment works. The chain of restaurants from Moldova has been announcing the opening of a location in the Old Town since last summer.

Read here our review of the La Placinte in Bucharest.

Romania crash course – 10 basic hints for any foreigner

First time in Romania? Or planning to arrive for business, or pleasure? Here are 10 hints that will bring a smoother adjustment to the country. In most cases, we’re focusing on the worst case scenario, especially for things we know happen quite often in Romania. Be ready for them, and enjoy the exceptions – plenty of which DO exist in Romania!


Romanians usually speak English, or another foreign language, so in most professional environments, English (sometimes French or German) will get you where you want. But despite it, and the fact that Romanians love foreigners and are generally welcoming, a lot still has to be done in making basic information available in English. As a rule of thumb, do not expect to have important signs in major institutions, or in tourism facilities translated into English. It will save you from having to high expectations. It’s good to have a basic Romanian – English dictionary at hand, rehearse basic Romanian words, use an online translation app on your phone, and if possible, a Romanian friend to accompany you when dealing with state institutions, for example. Most foreigners who have learned Romanian say it’s hard for them to speak it, because most Romanians wants to speak to them in English; however, learning Romanian will come handy when needing to decipher important, yet in Romanian only information.


The relationships Romanians have with time is rather complicated; on the one hand, it can take them ages to accomplish something, but on the other, they also want some things to happen fast, and enjoy consumerism. To simplify things, let’s say once in Romania, you should adjust your own expectations as to the time it takes for certain things to happen – in most cases, these will go beyond the timeframe you had in mind. This goes for anything, from business projects, tasks you hand to your team, the time to have stuff repaired in your house or the time needed to have cable or internet installed, the time it takes for a client to pay their bill… So be prepared for the idea of delays, and get ready to push for deadlines. Never assume things will happen on time, and enjoy it when they do.


In business and in personal life, agreements can sometimes be broken in Romania, both verbal agreements and written ones. Even friendly agreements over spending free time together, or meeting somewhere – Romanians like to change their mind. So even if you think things are set in stone, the business is closed, money’s almost in the account, be ready for things to take a different turn – be it because the other party changed their mind, or because they are still negotiating, beyond the point where you thought the negotiation was over ages ago. In some cases, this will leave you without ways to react – if somebody broke a contract, it might take ages before you recover any of the due payments, for example, and justice in this case is quite slow in Romania. In many cases, the best thing to do is to strike another deal and see it delivered this time. If you’re dealing with foreigners, bear in mind they sometimes change the rules of the game too, so don’t be misled into thinking Romanians are the only ones who change their mind in this country. In fact, you might meet Romanians who do keep their word, no matter what. We know, it is all confusing, so brace yourself for swimming in uncertain waters.


Romanians like a good party – to enjoy one and to throw one. You will often find them partying or meeting friends over drinks until late even on evenings at the end of working days. It’s something to enjoy and join, if you like parties too. Some drinking and eating good food is also involved, and for the younger crowds, bar crawling across the city. Biggest reasons to party? Weddings, baptisms, New Year’s Eve parties, birthdays, name days. On all of these occasions, expect the party to go on until morning (Romanian weddings especially can be a shocker for a newcomer; food and drinks are served throughout the night, and the dancing goes on until morning). It will be wise to create a strategy for when attending such events. Romanians will love it if you attend their party, but you might want to keep your energy for the next days too, so think of ways to combine the two, like staying only until a certain hour, and stand your ground when the host – or the party initiator – will insist on you staying some more.


Romanians put a big price on family, love their relatives, love to talk about them. So make it a habit to ask about family members when doing small talk, and be ready to hear details. This will help your relationship with the person, be it a personal, or a business relationship. It might be awkward at first for you to ask about people you’ve never met, and hear about their good and their bad, but you will get used to it in time. Sharing some details, even if small things and not very often, about your family might also help the relationship with a Romanian. In time, it will become second nature to ask people about their wives/husbands or kids when you see them, and you will actually mean it!

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Subscriptions for the George Enescu Festival go on sale next week

Classical music aficionados have to wait a little more than a week before buying subscriptions for this year’s George Enescu festival in Romania.

Taking place between August 30 and September 20 in Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, Brasov and Ploiesti, the festival will bring together big names of classical music, such as: American classical violinist Sarah Chang, Polish-Hungarian pianist Piotr Anderszewski, Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say, American pianist Murray Perahia, German pianist Christian Zacharias, the Berliner Philarmonicker, the San Francisco Symphony – in premiere in Romania, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Sankt Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre de Chamber Paris, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin, the Monte Carlo Philharmonic, the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mozarteumorchester from Salzburg, among others.

Subscriptions go on sale on January 15, at 10:00 AM Romania time. Both subscriptions and tickets will be sold via and on the festival’s website These usually sell out very fast.

Several types of subscriptions will be available:

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RATB decided to suspend one-day SMS tickets

Bucharest’s public transport company RATB, which runs the bus, trolley and tram service in Romania’s capital, decided to suspend one-day tickets purchased via SMS starting January 1, Digi 24 news station informs.

The RATB didn’t specify if this service will be resumed or not.

The one-day tickets via SMS were implemented in April 2012. This allowed passengers to pay for a one-day ticket which was valid for 24 hours on all of RATB’s public transport network, by sending the text “A” at the number 7456. The cost of the SMS ticket was almost EUR 2 (VAT included).

RATB asked passengers to buy the SMS-ticket before boarding or immediately after boarding the vehicles, but many people only bought the SMS-tickets when seeing the RATB controllers.

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Brits, Germans and Russians are top spenders on alcohol in Romania’s restaurants, bars and clubs

Brits, Germans and Russians are the largest group of alcohol consumers in Romania’s restaurants, bars and clubs, and the highest spenders on alcoholic beverages, with a budget of some EUR 100-200 per person per night, leaving Romanians on the 4th place, according to the Maitre d’Hotel Romania association, which brings together Romania’s restaurants’ maitres d’hotel.

“The English are the loudest and consume the most. They usually drink beer, whiskey and gin and are willing to spend on drinks up to EUR 200,” said Nicu Pupaza, President of Maitre d’Hotel Romania, quoted by Mediafax.

Ranking second, Russian tourists drink vodka or wine and are not usually attracted to beer. The German tourists rank third, spending about EUR 100 for alchohol per night.

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