Friday, August 19, 2011

Pernambuco in Bucharest

I guided in Romania in the period 11-13 July 2011, for Invitation Romania Travel, a group of thirteen Brazilian tourists from Pernambuco who made a tour around Eastern Europe visiting Warsaw, the Baltic capitals, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Bucharest and Sofia. They were leaded by Stenia Raposo, from Mirella Turismo in Recife.

The tourists were happy to grasp the highlights of the Romanian capital during their brief passage through the city, and will certainly come back soon with more time in order to discover the rest of the country. On the last day of the visit I led them to the local railway station [picture], from where the group left towards Sofia.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

First city tour bus in Bucharest

The first double decker tourist bus line in Romanian capital Bucharest, called Bucharest City Tour, will be inaugurated today.

The bus will ride daily between 10AM and 10PM around downtown. Tourists will be able to see several landmarks in Bucharest while riding the double decker. The new route will be served by four double decker buses, each with 77 seats. The route is 15 km long and should take 50 minutes. Buses serving this new line will arrive every 15 minutes.

The price of a ticket on this line is around 6 euros. It is valid for 24 hours and can be bought from the bus.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baroque past in Romania

A most interesting lot of old music notes has just been discovered in Transylvania, according to articles published in Le Monde and the Guardian. The British newspaper, in an article published on June 21 and signed by Mirel Bran, tells us:

Several thousand of these recently discovered manuscripts are held at the National Archives in Sibiu, a pretty town in Transylvania, central Romania. Philippi, a music consultant to the Evangelical church and conductor of the Sibiu Bach choir, has set himself the task of saving this trove of baroque music. "After the end of the Communist dictatorship, a large part of Romania's German-speaking community emigrated to Germany and whole villages were deserted," he explains. "We decided to gather up all we could find among our church records. I had no idea of the treasures hidden here." His work has discovered a little known adaptation of the Pergolesi Stabat Mater, a Bach cantata arranged by the composer for the Lutheran church of Transylvania, works by Johann Sartorius, Knall, Corelli and a host of local composers.

In the picture, the Lutheran church in Sibiu. Read the whole article here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


In February 2011 I had the pleasure to guide Levi Oisiovici, from Brazil [left], around the main Jewish sites in Bucharest before he travelled to Iasi, where he soon located the graves and the house of his ancestrals. 

In Bucharest he was also able to get together with the local Jewish community and meet a relative whose existence he found out few years ago. He had an overall very positive impression of Romania in his first moving and intimate travel to the land of his roots.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bucharest Deli

In the issue # 134 (December 2010) of the magazine Saveur it has been just published the article signed by David Sax, with photos by Landon Nordeman, under the title Roots of Deli - in which the author seeks in Budapest and Bucharest the authentic origins of today's Jewish food.

Fernando has also contributed to this work by guiding and supporting Sax and Nordeman through their gastronomical journey in Romania. Enjoy your meal!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chiparus: Romanian Art Deco

Lovers of Art Deco style for sure have heard plenty of times the name of Chiparus. But few of them know that Dimitri, or Demetre Chiparus, worldwide appreciated sculptor, was born in the town of Dorohoi, northeastern Romania.

Demetre Haralamb Chiparus (also known as Dumitru Chipăruş; 1886-1947) left Romania to Italy in 1909, where he attended the classes of the sculptor Raffaello Romanelli. In 1912 he traveled to Paris - where he finally settled - to attend the Ecole des Beaux Arts to pursue his art at the classes of Antonin Mercie and Jean Boucher. Chiparus died in 1947 and was buried in Bagneux cemetery, south of Paris.

The first sculptures of Chiparus were created in the realistic style and were exhibited at the Salon of 1914. He was the first to employ an original combination of bronze and ivory, called chryselephantine, to great effect. Most of his renowned works were made between 1914 and 1933.

Sculptures of Chiparus represent the classical manifestation of Art Deco style in decorative bronze ivory sculpture. Collector interest in the work of Chiparus appeared in the 1970s and has flourished since the 1990s.

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Non-pasteurized Bucharest

The Travel Eurofile of The New York Times T-Magazine has just published an interesting article signed by Alexander Lobrano under the title Back to Bucharest:

"Disappointed to find that much of central Paris now serves up the same street-level visual refrain as most American cities — Gap, Zara, Starbucks, Subway — friends visiting from Boston yearned for an urban adventure. Where could they go for a long weekend that hadn’t yet been subjected to the centrifuge of globalization? 'Bucharest,' I replied, and they laughed out loud. 'Bucharest!? Is there anything to see there? And what about the hotels and the food?'

'Trust me,' I told them, and wasn’t surprised when they returned three days later raving about the delicious strangeness of Europe’s sixth largest city (if you don’t count Istanbul and leave out Russia), which is a three-hour flight from most western European capitals. Vying for the title with Belgrade and Sofia, Bucharest is one of the last major European cities that hasn’t been pasteurized by gentrification or lost its soul to mass tourism. It’s an odd but lively mutt of a city — one that’s clearly seen better days but where something is also suddenly stirring. The locals love to have a good time, and the Romanian economy is chugging along pretty nicely."

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Exhibition on Romanian prehistorical civilization

Before the establishment of the first cities in Mesopotamia ca. 4500 BC, highly sophisticated societies with advanced technology and complex systems of symbolic representation had emerged in the southeastern part of Europe.

The Neolithic people of the Balkans were the first in Europe to adopt of a new type of economy, based on agriculture and animal breeding. This happened in the 7th millennium BC and marked a radical shift in the way humans interacted with their environment. After a million of years of nomadic life – during which little had changed – people settled in permanent habitations and started developing new skills and modes of social interaction.

By the 5th millennium BC, the thriving cultures of the Balkans were among the most advanced in the Old World – featuring densely populated settlements, a sophisticated system of social hierarchy, highly symbolic cult rituals, complex long-distance exchange networks, and an amazing copper- and gold-working industry.

By the mid-4th millennium, however, this brilliant world came to an abrupt end. The reasons are not clear: Invasions? Climatic changes? Overexploitation of natural resources?

The unknown world of “Old Europe” is revealed in this exhibition, which features more than 200 Neolithic objects from Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova.

The exhibition The Lost World of Old Europe, which is organized in Athens (October 2010 - January 2011) by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, in collaboration with the National History Museum of Romania, Bucharest and with the participation of the Varna Regional Museum of History, Bulgaria, and the National Museum of Archaeology and History of Moldova, Chisinau, demonstrates that during the Neolithic the various regions of Southeastern Europe had more things in common than differences.

Source: Cycladic Art Museum

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Prince Charles in Transylvania

The Travel section of the Financial Times published, on August 27th, 2010, an interesting article signed by William Blacker about Transylvania:

"When in early 1990 I first went to Transylvania, leaving behind the bright lights of western Europe and adjusting my eyes to the more sober tones of its eastern reaches, I could hardly believe that such a place still existed. In deep winter I crossed the northern Carpathian Mountains and came down, through misty forests and snow-covered roads, into the Middle Ages – or something astonishingly like it. Horses or oxen pulling sleighs occupied the roads, and cows and geese wandered freely. The villagers were dressed in smocks, sheepskin coats and fur hats, and had rough leather strapped to their feet, with woollen cloth wrapped around their calves held in place by thongs; footwear truly from another age, as worn by peasants depicted in ­medieval illustrated manuscripts.

I was just a few hours east of Vienna, but crossing the border into Romania was a journey back in time. I settled there, and for more than 10 years I was fortunate enough to be able to live a rural life that previously I had known only through the pages of a Hardy or Tolstoy novel."

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Happy birthday, Hedda!

Hedda Sterne is celebrating today her 100th birthday. Born on August 4, 1910 in Bucharest, she is an artist best remembered as the only woman in a group of Abstract Expressionists known as "The Irascibles" which consisted of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and others. In her artistic career, she is known for maintaining a stubborn independence from styles and trends, including Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, with which she is often associated.

Hedda Sterne [portraited in the photo by Gjon Mili] was born as Hedwig Lindenberg, to Simon Lindenberg, a high school language teacher, and Eugenie Wexler. Sterne was raised with artistic values from a young age, most notably, her tie to Surrealism, which stemmed from a family friend, Victor Brauner. Sterne was homeschooled until age 11. Upon her high school graduation in 1927, she attended art classes in Vienna, then had a short attendance at the University of Bucharest studying philosophy and art history before she dropped out to pursue artistic training independently.

Hedda married a childhood friend Frederick Sterne in 1932. In 1941 she escaped a certain death from Nazi encroachment during WWII when she fled to New York to be with her husband. In 1944 she remarried Saul Steinberg and became a U.S. citizen. She was involved in many shows and exhibits in New York and practiced her art up until she had a stroke that affected her vision and movement when she was 94.

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Save the Jewish food

This weekend I had the pleasure to guide through Bucharest and surroundings the Canadian journalist David Sax (author of Save the Deli, right side) and the US photographer Landon Nordeman (left side), who came to record Jewish Romania's gastronomic heritage.

Besides having visited Jewish sites in the Romanian capital, we went to restaurants and popular markets, seeking traditional culinary phenomena which gave birth to alimentary habits deeply rooted within Jewish emigrants communities in the Americas.

The main character of this gastronomic travel was the pastrami, a Romanian dish brought by Romanian Jews to the other shore of the Atlantic and transformed into a delicatessen that can be tasted in famous restaurants in New York.

The highest moment was the Romanian Jewish meal we have organized for our guests at Fernando's Hideaway in Fierbinti, 40km from Bucharest. Cooking was signed by Silvia Weiss, who offers catering services known as Silvita's Kitchen.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Milestone from Chisinau

Lewis Milestone (born Lev Milstein, 1895 – 1980) was a motion picture director. Milestone was born in Kishinev, Bessarabia, Imperial Russia (now Chişinău, Moldova) to a family of Jewish heritage. He went to the US in 1912. Milestone held a number of odd jobs before enlisting in the US Signal Corps, where he worked as an assistant director on Army training films during the war. In 1919 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. After the war he went to Hollywood, where he first worked as a film cutter, and later as an assistant director. His work during the 1930s and 1940s was always easily identifiable by its lighting and imaginative use of fluid camera. He worked extensively in television from the mid 1950s.

Source: Wikipedia