vineri, 5 octombrie 2012

Seven Reasons to Invest in Romania Real Estate Properties

The current economy statement in Romania is steadily increasing the levels of GDP and significantly high levels of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The economy investment grade has recently been upgraded by Fitch and P&S. Romania benefits from the rising FDI flows due to the privatization process, and the advantages of its big internal market

Romania is also having a great geographical location at the intersection of some great trade routes joining the Far East with the Western Europe. With population of more than 20 million people, Romania has a large domestic market. After having such great property investment opportunities, Romania is continuously attracting more and more foreign investors to invest in Romania. Stable and encouraging government of Romania is the other reason which is creating great investment opportunities in Romania. The Real estate market in Romania is growing at a rocket speed. Following are some best reasons for investing in Romania.

Reasons to Invest in Romanian Real Estate Property:

1. With strategic and visionary efforts by Romanian government, the economy is becoming stronger and stronger over the years. Romania is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. 

2. Falling inflation and increasing employment are two other boosters of rapidly growing economy. Inflation has dropped to 7.5% low in 2005 from 22% high in 2002. Unemployment rate also fell to 6.2% in 2006 with less than 3% in capital Bucharest which is far lower than the many other developed European economies. With under control inflation and falling unemployment rate Romania is confidently creating the strong property buying opportunities over the country.

3. Foreign investment in Romania is increasing drastically. From 2001 to 2005, foreign direct investment in Romania has reached over 5000 million euros and more 8000 million euros added in 2006. With 55% of FDI in capital city Bucharest, major companies from all over the world are coming to invest in Romania. 

4. Along with capital city of Bucharest, other cities in Romania like Brasov, Transylvania, Craiova, Constanta and Iasi are also attracting investors. Transylvania is the Romania's biggest tourist asset and the expected to attract more investment with immense number of investment opportunities. One more golden opportunity where investors want to invest is in Brasov, the most visited city of Romania. Having facility of international airport, Brasov is also linked with new motorway for fast transportation. 

5. Report given by investment experts says that house prices in Romania are expected to increase by 4 times higher over the next 10 years. In past few years, property prices are already raised by 25%. Even such a great rise, property price in Romania are still 20-30% lower than the other eastern European countries.

6. After accession to the EU in 2007, the real estate market in Romania has been influenced dramatically. EU funding to Romania has been invested into the infrastructure development in road, hospitals, schools, bridges etc. EU funds will help to create more jobs and therefore potential customers seeking to buy/rent properties. 

7. Low tax rates are the other main reason to invest in Romania. Romanian government has set up a flat rate of only 16% for corporation and income tax. Such low and fixed rate of tax is powering Romania to draw more foreign investors seeking for new business places.

Some other secondary factors are also responsible for great investment opportunities in Romania. Romania has great network of international airports with two in capital Bucharest. Developed and fully facilitate ports in Romania is also boosting its economy drastically. Romania has huge network of telecommunication systems equipped with modern telecommunication equipments. Also there are nearly 48 industrial parks. 

As far as it looks, the boom is yet to come! Buying property in Romania will be great ROI in near future. So what are you waiting for? Invest now in Romania for your better future.

miercuri, 3 octombrie 2012

ROMANIA: The Country You Will Visit Again.

Nowadays most of the people all over the world either do not know even where Romania lies, or they have heard many terrible things about this country. For example, that Romanians sent to death their president Ceausescu, that their gypsies commit many crimes wherever they go or that Romania is so under developed that they seem to travel back to the past century...
Well, we cannot say that part of these is not true! However, here are some facts about Romania, which can change your opinion for good. First Romania is a country where diversity is equalled only by beauty. It is a harmonious country lying in the South -East of Europe, which fascinates the visitor by the variety of its terrain.
From the high peaks of the Carpathians until the Danube Delta, Romania displays its agreeable harmony. There are great plateaus in Transylvania; there are sunny hills that are suitable for the culture of vine in Moldavia, fertile plains watered by clear and quick rivers in Walachia. That is what gives the charm of this beautiful country.
To continue, the Black Sea invites the tourists by its series of modern resorts where the latest architecture highlights the landscape. In addition, this harmony between nature and architecture can be found in the big cities too. As far as the population is concerned Romania has about 22,303,522 inhabitants.
The capital, Bucharest has its attractions; Iasi is another special city in Romania, as well as Brasov or Sibiu, which is the current cultural European capital. What is very interesting in Romania is that each county has something specific.
For example, the south of the country, Oltenia, is famous for its embroideries and carpets, Maramures is famous for wooden sculptures, Bucovina is proud of its old traditions and Dobrogea can show you remnants of the past.
Another great region of Romania is Transylvania that most likely is famous for the legend of Dracula. This legend is related to the rule of Vald the Impaler, 1456 - 1462. He used to punish his people by impaling them, which is a terrible death. If a man dared not to serve him loyally, he used to end impaled by the merciless ruler.
As this punishment is extremely cruel, and bloody as well, people used to say that a human cannot do that and that is why they attributed this habit to a creature coming from hell. This idea, associated with the idea of blood led to the birth of ...a vampire. If you visit Bran castle, in the county of Brasov, you will have many thrilling surprises...
On the other hand, taking into consideration that evil cannot exist without a bright side, Romania suggests you to visit its famous monasteries, especially in the North of Moldavia. If you want to find the peace of your soul, you can visit any monastery in Romania. You will find there above all silence, and once you entered its territory, you even feel you are a better person. You can go there and pray and have some holy water or just enjoy the unique landscape.
We hope that these facts about Romania have made you at least curious to visit it...

All That You Wanted To Know About Romania.

People in most parts of the world seem to know very little about Romania these days. Either they have no idea about its location on the atlas, or they have heard something about terrible happenings in the country. The mention of the name of the country could be greeted with questions about the execution of Ceausescu, the gypsy problem, etc. Some might go as far as to suggest that Romania is still languishing in medieval times.
Now, there is a little bit of truth in these wild reactions, but only just. That picture is a very old one, and needs to be updated immediately. Romania today has many things that can be said in its favor, things that will completely transform you negative impression of the country. First, Romania is a South East European country that is blessed with incomparable scenic beauty. The diversity in its geography must be seen to be believed.
The beauty of Romania is evident from the towering arc of the Carpathian Mountains in the North West to the serene Black Sea coast and the mouth of the Danube in the East. Romania has everything from the sunny hills and undulating vineyards of Moldavia to the great fertile plains of Walachia, drained by gurgling streams and rivers with clear water. It is a land of natural beauty and diversity that can truly leave a foreign visitor spellbound.
Take for example the Black Sea Coast. It has a large number of modern resorts with their architecture completely in tune with the natural surroundings. This non intrusive style of building can be seen in many big cities too. Incidentally, Romania has a population of over 22 million at the last count.
Bucharest, the capital city of Romania and a vibrant metropolis, holds its own charms for the foreign tourist. Iasi, Brasov and Sibiu are other interesting cities, with the last one being considered the cultural capital of the country. Not only the big cities, but every single province in Romania has something special to draw the foreign visitor.
Oltenia in the south is famed for the exquisite quality of its carpets and embroidery. Maramures is renowned for its wooden sculptures. Bucovina is a land of quaint traditions from the past. And if you are interested in history, Dobrogea is where you will find the ancient ruins.
Perhaps the most well known region of Romania is Transylvania with its mysterious legend. The legend of Dracula, the vampire king, has Transylvania as its backdrop. It can be traced back to the times of Vlad the Impaler, the merciless tyrant, who ruled briefly between the years 1456 and 1462. His favourite form of punishment for his subjects was impaling them for disloyalty or any other crime.
The barbarity and cruelty involved in such a mode of punishment induced the gullible people of the time to think that no human being was capable of such brutality. They, therefore, came to the conclusion that it must be the handiwork of a creature from hell. The bloodiness associated with the punishment also contributed to the legend of a vampire, which sustained itself on human blood. The seat of power of this king was in the Bran castle in Brasov county of Transylvania. It is a very popular tourist destination, and you can visit it for a hair-raising experience.
That was a very brief outline of the treasures you can find in the beautiful country that is Romania. Now that you have an idea of what to expect, you can visit the country for a fantastic experience.
Romanian women are known to be amongst the most gorgeous, chic, immaculately dressed, well read & family orientated women on earth. Don't even think about searching for a Romanian bride, until you have read our hard hitting and honest reviews of the best Romanian dating web sites. Don't get scammed. Visit us now.
romania relief map

luni, 17 septembrie 2012

Rebirth of Romanians!

The history of Romania is shrouded in mystery, myth, and misunderstanding. Few people, including a good deal of Romanians themselves, are aware of the glorious standing of Romania in the Roman Empire and the vision of Romania as a second Rome as held by Roman leaders shortly before the fall of the Roman Empire. Romania's name itself denotes it's importance in Roman times. Romania in latin stands for Rome and the Eastern Roman Empire.
Indeed, it is a land unseperatable from it's legendary past as a highly valued part of the Roman Empire. A visit to almost any history museum in-country gives credence to this through the many artifacts from ancient Roman times excavated here such as busts of Roman leaders and gods, coinage and relics. A visit to the sea will also be a visit to Roman ruins such as those of Histria and coastal towns named after Roman gods like Neptun, Jupiter and Venus. Bucharest, in homage to Rome, is built on 7 hills. Although as early as the mid 19th century Bucharest was described as a "savage hotchpoch," traces of the historical city of Roman days remain.
That Romania was a part of the Roman Empire is not particurarly revealing. Many modern day countries were once part of the Roman Empire, largely due to there geographical location. What's unique in the case of Romania is the role that it played in the Roman Empire and there vision for it's future. Why specifically was Romania elevated to such as prestigious position in the most famous empire of all time ? Our brief study of history will reveal the current modern-day potential of Romania and why Romania should be on the forefront of every international investor and relocaters mind.
Ceazar bathed in the hot springs of western Romania known as " Baia Herculane ". Romania is one of the most naturally rich countries on the continent (as will be explored below). In fact, the land known as Romania was a vacation hotspot of the Roman elite. However, it was much much more then that to the ancient Romans.
Romans, like ancient Greeks and others, also came in groves to Romania because of it's skilled, hard-working laborers. This set the stages for economic growth and increased prosperity in the region. Similarily today international companies, such as Microsoft, are making Romania a major base of operations for much the same reasons.
Let's flash forward now some 2,000 years into the future. Romania is poised to be the 7th largest superstate in the European Union. That's larger then Czech Republic, Hungary, or Switzerland. The acension will result in increasing political and spending power. As a soon-to-be member of the EU, Romania will have more clout on global affairs and as wages are forced to increase, 24 million Romanians will have increased budgets for buying everything from household goods to houses, boats, and cars.
Just as the Roman Empire sought Romania to be a member of it's conglomeration of states so is the modern day European Union, and with good reason.
Romania is conviently located in the center of the "old world." Many Romanians airports are 1-2 hour flights to cities like Istanbul, Kiev, Vienna, Paris, Tel Aviv, and Athens. Take a map and draw a 360 circle from Bucharest and you will see that Romania has a strategic world location.
The country is already becoming a tourist hot spot for Europeans and Middle-Easterns.At the same time, residents of Romania, be they Romanian or expats can take advantage of all the natural beauty of the country or with a quick flight find themselves in diverse locations on the European and Asian continents. Foreign business people can travel between there home country and Romania on what really amounts to a short commuter flight. All of this means foreign influences and investments which results in increased wealth for local citizens and a cosmopolitan flair for the country.
24 million financially empowered individuals means significant spending power. That means businesses will boom and so will real estate. That also means the old reminents of years of failed communism will disappear soon enough.
Already real estate prices have increased steadily and significantly in recent years, such as in the city of Brasov, which boasted a 212% official increase in the price of real estate last year. Often times vision means not seeing only what is but envisioning what will one day be. Don't be thrown off by decaying buildings and disgracefully kept train stations. You won't likely find many of these in Germany or England but neither will find the sheer opportuntity there that you will here.
The investor in Romania needs to be a historian as well as a visionary.
Successful investors in Romania are successful because they see the past, present, and future all in one glimpse. They know what was, what is, and what will be.
In Romania, the maxim is particularly true that " he who hesitates, is lost ."
Now, let us continue our journey into the past and use as it a tool for opening a window to the future :
Metamorphoses - A country undergoing change
Sitting on the riverbank, Pan noticed the bed of reeds was swaying in the wind, making a mournful moaning sound, for the wind had broken the tops of some of the reeds. Pulling the reeds up, Pan cut them into pieces and bound them together to create a musical instrument, which he named "Syrinx", in memory of his lost love. - Ovidiu  
The celebrated Roman poet Ovidiu wrote that shortly after his exile to modern day
He entitled the poem Metamorphises. In the ancient Roman city of Tomis (now Constanta) Ovidiu wrote a number of his more important works such as Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto.
The above has little relevance to our study of the connection between the ancients and the modern-day Romania other then serving to set-up our journey to the past to discover the future which will take us frequently to the ancient city of Tomis, modern city of Constanta. No one word describes better what happened, what is happening, and will happen in Romania then the title of the poem wrote here by Ovidiu, "Metamorphoses."
A City By the Sea
Constanta has been built on and around a promontory of land extending into the Black Sea, which has allowed it to shield ships from the strong winds that blow along the seacoast. Its position may also account for its long history, which is that of a seaport ever since the 6th century B.C.. The foundations of the city were laid in some 2,600 years ago, when Greek colonists built the city of Tomis on its present site.
Ancient Tomis has been associated with the legend of Jason and of the Argonauts who embarked on a long voyage from Greece to the Asian country of Colchis on the Black Sea Coast in search of the Golden Fleece. On their return voyage, they laid anchor on the site on which the town of Tomis was to be later on built. Under the Roman rule, Tomis became a prosperous city, graced with statues, temples and a monumental architecture.
Much of the prosperity of ancient Tomis exist today only in museums and in ruins but now a new prosperity has come to town that may well overshadow the glory days of old.
The new source of prosperity also comes from the descendants of the ancient Greeks and Romans as well the new Roman Empire - the European Union and various other local and foreign forces.
These forces are metamorphizing Romania from a backwards, socialistic country into a nation to be reckoned with. While Western Europe declines in investment potential and opportunity, Romania is the new promised land, where all the streets are seemingly paved with gold.
The results of these forces at work are easily identifiable to anyone who spent time in the country. Seemingly overnight where there were once shambles of old buildings, high-rise office complexes have arisen, where once farms stood, exclusive resedential communities have taken root.
Many streets stand as symbols to the rapid rate of change - old Communist style apartment buildings, turn-of-the-century villas, and modern office and apartment buildings all side-by-side.
It's not hard to imagine where things are headed. Bucharest's old historic city center "Lipscani" is today a shadow of it's former self with many buildings gutted and destroyed. Yet traffic has now been prohibited throughout the entire area and the cobblestoned lanes are witnessing the slow birth of a new hay day for the historical area. Dutch investors with the vision to see what was and what will be made a major investment in the area and opened the restaurant-bar-disco "Amsterdam Grand Cafe" which soon led a number of other predominately foreign investors buying and renovating under-cared for historic buildings and transforming them into night clubs, cafes, and shops. Now the city is promising help in funding for the revitalization of the area and quite potentially in a short-time frame, the Old Historic City Center of Bucharest will be an elite city quarter with fine restaurants, exclusive shopping, and luxury apartments.
That's how change has happened, happens, and will happen in Romania. Behold, in the twinkle of an eye, everything changes here at a seemingly supernatural level.
Since 2000 I've seen spectacular change here. The kind of change most people in the Western World might see from the time of there birth to say middle-age. Time here moves at supersonic pace. 1 year here can bring about 10 years worth of change and progress as it would occur in more Westernized countries.
Foreign Direct Investment Leads to Growth and Prosperity
It all started when the Greeks began colonizing the Black Sea Shoresin the late 7th century BC, looking for new trading grounds. The business was good, and soon the newly created colonies became large and prosperous settlements.
Although it started as a small, secondary colony, the city of Tomis soon became the most important Greek settlement and the military capital, and centuries later turned into the modern city of Constanta.
That's the way history records what happened in the now city of Constanta a few thousand years ago. Now here's how I predict history will record what will happen in this city, as indicitave of any Romanian city, in the near future.
"It all started when the European Union began the process of ascension of Romania in the early 21st century, looking for new trading grounds. The business was good and soon the towns and cities of the newly added member country became large and prosperous settlements.
Although, it suffered years of decay and hardship after war and Communism, the city of Constanta (ancient Tomis) soon became an important sea port and military capitol for foreign (i.e. US) forces and together with the rest of Romania became a prosperous European superstate."
Is my prediction for how history will read this metamorphism period from Romania far-fetched? Not at all. We are already witnessing history in the making. The EU ascension process has already had significant political and economic implications for Romania. Constanta, our example city, under the direction of an admirable mayor has become a clean, welcoming, and entertaining sea port and beach resort. Foreign tourists come in increasing numbers yearly and more ships (including cruise ships) are using Constanta as a port. The US Military has a major base in the region as it's a strategic ally relatively near the Middle East. This has caused an influx of American involvement in the area, including marriages between Romanians and Americans at an unusually high rate.
The facts and figures for Romania at large speaks volumes. Romania now has the highest FDI (foreign direct investment) level in all of Central-Eastern Europe with more then 4 billion Euros currently being invested in the market. Source Creditanstalt - Bank Austria - 2006
International companies and investors are increasingly joining the Romania scene Just as the ancient Romans, Greeks and others helped transform the ancient city of Tomis into an important and prosperous settlement, so to today the forces of the EU and international players are setting there sights on Romania for the 21st century. The results will be no less impressive in the short-term future then they were in ancient times.
Romania has all of the makings of a success story.
The Start of a Good Thing
Started by Romans, unique in Europe, today Romania's 70 natural spas provide relief for many medical disorders and illnesses including rheumatism, endocrine, kidney, liver, respiratory, heart, stomach and nervous diseases as well as nutrition, metabolism and gynecological malfunctions.
"The Start of a Good Thing" in Romania began during the time of the Roman Empire. Ceazar, Augustus and others had the vision to see Romania as a hotbed of opportunity. There legacy still permeates Romania to it's core.
Romania is home to more than one third of Europe's mineral and thermal springs. The Romans took advantage of this fact by starting spas as mentioned above, many of which are still in use today.
The Romans secret was that they looked for untapped potential and then they tapped it. Pure and simple.
Amazingly, Romania has in modern times understated all of it's incredible natural resources and left them to a larger extent to there own devices.
Romania has a long coast along the Black Sea, one of the highest mountain ranges in all of Europe, the largest black bear population on the continent, a significant state park, the second highest amount of vineyards in Europe after Italy and the Danube Delta, a UN protected biosphere environment. Outside of the gifts of nature, Romania has some of Europe's most impressive castles and monasteries, best preserved medieval towns and authentic village life. Then there's all the ancient ruins and artifacts from pre-Roman times until present.
None of the above resources have been adequately and fully tapped and incredible opportunities continue to exist.
Then there's the 24 million inhabitants, many of whom are skilled, mult-lingual employable work force and a consumer base.

Everything adds up to equal OPPORTUNITY with capitol letters. Just don't take my word for it. Ask Ceazar, The Greeks, The Byzatines, The Turks, the Russians, and the European Union as well as modern day investors in the region. The writing is on the wall and it has been ever since the days of the Roman empire.

Romania's Road to Heaven

Imagine a path that led you along a dramatically changing natural landscape of spectacular waterfalls, rugged mountains, ancient underground temples, volcanoes, and prairies where wild buffalo still roam. You might believe that it was the path to Heaven itself.
In fact it is Romania's own road to Heaven; a brand new superhighway under construction, costing about 2 billion EURO, with an expected completion date of 2010-2012. This new highway will ultimately connect Romania with Europe and Asia, as it connects with other super highways in the region. It will also transform out-of-the-way Romanian "boon-dock" towns into blossoming resort oasis-es.
They say that there is no such thing as Heaven on earth. However, after recently following the path of this new highway, I am convinced that if Heaven is not on earth then at least the road that leads there soon will be.
If a picture paints a thousand words, then what follows, short on verbiage and heavy on visualization, provided by photos taken along and near the path of the new route, should give good expression to the magnificence and sheer raw beauty that I encountered on my journey along this soon-to-be highway to Heaven.
We began our journey at the border town of Bors near Hungary and continued along it until we soon reached our first destination.
Retezat National Park And Surrounds
At over 38,000 square hectares, 800 square kilometers, Retezat National Park is a monumental tribute to the beauty of Mother Nature.
In the lower part of the park there are deep narrow valleys, while the higher parts consist of glacial plateaus with more than 80 glacier lakes. The largest single area of pristine mixed forest in Europe covers the lower levels of the Park.
Visitors experience alpine pastures, wide plateaus covered with flowers, extraordinary passes, gorges, and cavernous limestone caves. There are also sky-scraping peak-pyramids, deep ravines and ice-scoured parable sync-lines decorated with glacial lakes. Glaciers have helped to create terraced valleys that end in magnificent glacial bays, lakes and waterfalls. It is a virtual cornucopia containing the vast diversity found in the awe-inspiring majesty of nature.
A network of tourist trails is currently being renewed in the Retezat. Camping and parking sites will be established around the park. Visitor centers and information points are also being built. The park is gearing up for an onslaught of tourists that will start to come as the new highway is constructed.
There are many towns, villages, and resorts as you explore the county of Hunedora - the county where the Park is located. As the area is not economically developed, the region also offers some of the best values on land and home construction in all of Romania. Labor costs here are likewise very low. At the same time, foreign investment is on the rise, helping to develop resort towns in Hunedora county, some which include modern ski slopes and modern accommodations. There are a number of locations both for the establishment of inns and personal homes in the midst of breathtaking natural beauty and within close proximity to the national park. These areas will all go from being "out-in-the-boondocks" towns to centrally located resort villages after the new highway is completed. In the meantime, excellent opportunities to invest exist.
After several dazzling days basking in the unspoiled beauty of nature we are ready for a little city-life in nearby Cluj-Napoca.
Try to imagine a medieval fairy tale village and then turn that village into a small city and then bring it into the 21st century and you have Cluj-Napoca or as the German residents and tourists here refer to it "Clausenburg".
Filled with a warm and hospitable population, the city of "Cluj" (the shorten name of the town), is a delight. The city, a business, artistic and cultural capitol of Romania, is also considered by many as the country's best maintained, cleanest city.
I believe that Ina, a tourist to Cluj from Macon, Georgia, described the city best when she said
"It's a mixture of old and new, of tradition and experimentation, definitely a destination for people breathing the past and the future with the same breath."
Thanks Ina, I couldn't have put it better myself! This city is definitely worth a visit, or as a place to live.
After spending several days in nature and several days in the city, the only thought on my mind was how wonderful it would be if you could live in both nature and city simultaneously. You can, the places are called Brasov-Predeal-Sinaia.
Brasov (Brashov) is Romania's best known, year-round resort mecca. A city in bloom, Brasov offers an old and new city putting a variety of attractions and conveniences at easy reach. There is a new international airport under construction that will allow visitors to bypass Bucharest and fly right to the heart of Transylvania.
The city makes a great base for travel to resort towns and natural landmarks in the region. My favorite resort station in the area is the charming village of Predeal.

I happened to have met several Swiss tourists while I was in Predeal. They told me that they have been coming for several years now to Predeal, as the environs are very familiar to what they are used to back home, but with prices a mere fraction of what they would have to dish out in Switzerland for a similar vacation.
From there, it's just a little further south until I reach Sinaia - technically outside of Transylvania - it is still considered the "Pearl of the Carpathians (the famous Romanian mountain range)." This resort town is home to Peles Castle, one of the most stunning and well-kept castles in Europe and open almost daily to the public.
This resort town is not to far outside of Bucharest, which we will pass by, as we follow the route of the new highway and travel on to our next destination, another natural wonder of Romania. All this before the highway veers off into two directions; one towards the Black Sea port of Constantza, also home to a large US military base, and the other towards Bulgaria and the highway which connects Europe with Turkey and Asia.
The Danube Delta And Environs
At the end of the great river Danube's 2,860 km ( 1788 miles) journey from the Black Forest mountains in Germany to Romania's Black Sea coast, a natural paradise spreads out in front of you. Over countless centuries the silt brought down by the river has enlarged the Delta into a network of channels, lakes, reed isles, tropical woods, pastures and sand dunes that now cover nearly 5,640 sq km. (2,200 sq miles). This amazing wetland shelters over 300 species of birds, countless species of fish and, 1,150 kinds of plants It is no wonder that UNESCO designated the Delta a "Reservation of the Biosphere".
For 5,000 years a small community had lived in harmony with the Delta's extraordinary ecology, making a living on fishing, breeding livestock, and reed harvesting. The villages, crossed by the waterways, seem untouched by time. As a visitor you can explore this astonishing retreat of natural silence and calm by boat, an experience which feels very much like entering the living pages of a National Geographic Magazine article.
You could even make your home or second home inside such a magical place. For example, the Danube Delta town of Salina would be an excellent place to settle. Reachable today only by boat, a new road will soon make it reachable by land as well. The town has been nearly abandoned with approximately 3/4 of the population having left, leaving a few thousand inhabitants. This has led to great bargains on land and home construction. When the new highway is a reality, European tourists looking for a safari-of-sorts will quickly choose this incredible natural reservation over similar options found only in Africa.
This opportunity, like many others now available in Romania is exceptional and available in the short term. With the help of real estate experts in the region, I have compiled more details on these rare opportunities to be found in the first quarter 2005 publication of Escape Artist's sister publication, Real Estate Quarterly, set to be published in early March. Reader's are also invited to contact me directly regarding this or any other questions or comments about Romania.
As wonderful as all of the above destinations were and are, my favorite stop along the way of the future highway was at the house of a simple village man, quite like the one pictured here.
I had gotten a little off track and a lot lost and decided to knock on the door of a hut-like house that I had noticed in the corner of my eye. A little old man, half bent-over, came to the door and I proceeded to ask him for directions. He insisted that he would gladly give them to me, right after I drank some homemade wine with him. He proudly raised his glass and uttered the following beautiful words "My long lost friend, I have very little to offer you, but whatever I have is yours. You are always welcome here." The old man and I spoke for what must have been two hours as he shared with me his life experiences and I with him my more limited ones, both in Romania and in America. He told me that in Romania, people had little money, yet at the same time, they did not have much need for money. I looked out his window towards rolling hills, grazing cattle, gardens and wildflowers all set against the backdrop of towering mountains, and I wondered if I might ever be as rich as he. At least I can say now, that I am working on it.
I'm not quite sure where along the route the little old house was, but maybe you'll find it on your journey here. If you do, please tell the kindly old man that lives there that I haven't forgot him and that I thank him again with all my heart for pointing me towards the road to Heaven.

duminică, 16 septembrie 2012

Romania: Europe's Final Frontier

Check your preconceived notions about Romania at the door. Your experience here will not be defined by encounters with street children, Gypsy's, or Dracula. While all three may very well exist, none of them accurately defines modern day Romania. We learned this first hand on our first trip here five years ago. In fact, so different was the Romania that we encountered from the one we had heard about, that we ended up coming back and back again until eventually relocating here. 

Romania, in reality, is a vibrant and richly diverse country consisting of bustling modern cities, small town charm, Ancient European tradition, and stunning natural beauty. From it's majestic mountain ranges to it's expansive Black Sea coast line, Romania deserves to be defined by, more then anything else, it's raw untapped potential.

Romania holds much in store for the unsuspecting tourist. The last of Europe's great final frontiers it is the home of the ecological wonder of the Danube Delta, the Carpathian Mountains, an abundance of natural springs and some of the most pleasant resorts along the Black Sea coast. Romania offers you the opportunity to step between European city life and still-functioning village life, right out of the pages of National Geographic, all within a short drive. Romania, as it's tourism board puts it is indeed "simply surprising."
And, Romania is about to join the European Community. Likely projections put it's time of entry at 2007 or 2008. This means that the country is currently benefiting from intense modernization efforts and introduction of new facilities that are making the country easier to navigate and more pleasant to spend a prolonged period of time in. Today, Romania uniquely offers the opportunity to experience Europe as it once was and as it currently is - "Old" and "New" Europe at the same time. 
This paradox of time is reflected well in the architectural styles in Bucharest. Buildings here vary wildly from ultra-modern to ancient, kitschy to ready-to-bulldoze. One single street here can exhibit all such forms of architecture.

Romania itself takes it's name from the ancient civilization of Rome of which it thrived under. Times have not always been so kind to Romania. However, that has, in the end, only succeeded in making her people all the more resilient, appreciative of freedom, and ever-committed to having a good time and enjoying life. The name of Bucharest comes from the Romanian word "bucuros" meaning joyful and the people here do their best to see that the city lives up to its claim.
Some Latins have taken issue with the assertion that Romanians are a Latin people. One thing, however, is certainly beyond doubt: the Romanians exhibit all the zest of life and passion for fun that so characterizes those of the Latin bloodline.
Bucharest, the capitol and undisputed heart of Romania, is a city that is alive, throbbing with happening night clubs, discos, pubs, and restaurants, that would exhaust even the wildest party animal from the West. One could say without exaggeration that Bucharest is the Atlantic City of the European continent. It is home to hundreds of casinos which are easier to find than gas stations. While a lesser quantity actually deserve accolades, a handful of world class casinos do exist. Recently, a friend of ours showed us how for 500,000 lei (15 Euro) you can go to one of these top-notch casinos, and if you know how to respect your limits, play all night long while you stuff your face from a tempting buffet, drink yourself silly and generally have a good time. Then you can go out the next night to a different casino and do it all over again, week in and week out, if you so wish. What's more, you even get the occasional thanks from the casino manager for your kind presence.
In Romania, the old maxim rings especially true "chance favors the prepared mind." We have heard of every scam in the book played out here and of every unwanted travel nightmare occurring to unsuspecting tourists. Likewise, your chance of enjoying and actually thriving in Romania is based on the extent of your understanding of how Romania works and how you can make it work for you. Once you learn these secrets, success here is yours. There are so many things we've learned over the past 5 years that we only recently have got to the point where we feel qualified to consider ourselves experts in the region.
Romania is a vast and naturally blessed land surpassing the quantity of natural resources and ancient landmarks found in a number of more popularized Western European countries. It would take well beyond the contents of this one small article to give justice to what Romania possesses and how it can surprise and bedazzle you. Suffice to say, we live in Bucharest and within two hours we can be in the heights of the mountains and in the midst of some of the most incredible scenery available on this fair earth, where pine tree forests, meadows, running dear, and mountain landscapes all blend together seamlessly. It leaves you with the impression that they were painted by the hand of the Divine. We can also go 2 hours to the south and vacation along the Black Sea Coast where Romania's pulsating passion for fun takes on new forms. There we can enjoy world class resorts or rough it for a few dollars a night in a wooden tent on the beach. One thing though is always guaranteed; a good time will be had. Romanian's wouldn't have it any other way. 
The mountains and the sea are only some of the natural highlights of Romania. Romania is famed for the healing power of it's natural thermal springs and has developed spa resorts around them that offer full relaxation and recovery at a small fraction of the normal Western cost. Romania is home to a permanent ice cave and the ecological excursion of a lifetime at the mouth of the Danube Delta.

Nature though, is not the sole contributor to Romania's tourist appeal. The hand of man is revealed in it's painted monastaries, palaces and castles, medieval towns, and archaeological museums showcasing discoveries more then 2,000 years old. It is also home to the world's second largest building after the Pentagon, "The People's Palace." This mamouth building was once inhabited by Romania's modern day Dracula, Nicolae Ceausescu, who ruled over the people of Romania for more then 50 years. Eventually, the people successfully revolted against him in 1989 and ushered in the current period of democratic rule. 

The Dracula of legend may have been invented by British author Bram Stoker but the character on which he is based Vlad Tepes (Tzepesh), or "Vlad the Impaler" is real. Tourists are often taken to the lackluster Bran Castle to see where this semi-legendary figure lived, although all historical records indicate that he never set foot there. In reality, the actual princely home of this former Prince of Wallachia (a Romanian providence) still stands, in part, today, protected by more then 1,000 stairs that keep the more sweat-hesitant tourists away.
One need not have a specific destination in mind in order to enjoy Romania. A simple drive in the countryside will yield it's own rewards. The producers of the Hollywood blockbuster "Cold Mountain" chose Romania as their filming location, in part, because of the spectacular, uninterrupted skylines found in much of Romania - they could not locate such scenery in America.
As a side note, the motion picture industry has found a new home in Romania. We've personally ran into Chevy Chase several times, as well as Wesley Snipes, Nicole Kidman, and others. It deserves mention that they seem to amply enjoy Bucharest's nightlife offerings and have shared with us positive comments about their experience in Romania.
For those who want to experience the charms and frills of European living without sacrificing 25% of their wealth at the airport exchange desk, as they convert their US dollar to Euro, and possess the thirst and capacity for a little added excitement than what is normally found in Europe, Romania should be their first consideration.
Romania is extremely expat friendly. Romania is very western-minded and especially pro-American. President Bush visited Romania in 2002 and was met by throngs of cheerful spectators, many of whom waved American flags. Romania is one of the few European countries that is a member of the "Coalition of the Willling," and is home to US troops stationed at the American naval base in the seaside town of Constantza. And, it deserves pointing out, that out of all countries where American troops are stationed, including tropical paradises, more enlisted Americans seek to stay on in Romania then at any other US Naval base in the world. Ultimately the reason behind this curious statistic is unknown. However, several of the US soldiers stationed here told us it had a lot to do with the laid back lifestyle and hospitality of the locals, the natural beauty inherent in the land, the availability of American goods and services, and more often that not, the Romanian women that they had met.
Unlike the majority of European countries, television programs and films are shown almost exclusively in their original language, which more often than not is English. This means cable television brings you 40 or so channels in English and you can take full advantage of modern cinema facilities during your vacation or relocation to Romania. This also means that Romanians have grown up with a closeness to the English-language which combined with excellent schooling, has resulted in a great deal of Romanians having achieved a fluency in the English-language. Foreigners will not have a hard time breaking the language barrier in most parts of the country. Romanian itself is the closest spoken language to Latin and resembles Italian, French, and Spanish, meaning that speakers of any of these languages will find Romanian a relatively easy language to learn with a little desire and tenacity.
Romania can offer you the luxury of American/Western living in it's custom built communities such as "The American Village" and "The French Village." Or, it can allow you to custom build your own lifestyle, perhaps taking elements of your old, familiar life and adding to it a new more appealing dimension. One Western European expat family we know of opened an inn in Transylvania. Every week they entertain guests from around the world and show them a slice of Romania that they fell in love with. An American expat family we know moved to a remote and economically depressed village in the northern part of the country and opened a soup kitchen and adventure camp for local children. They are making a difference and doing what they love. Yet other expats from America, Great Britain and across Europe have opened pubs and nightclubs that add a little air of familiarity from back home to the Bucharest skyline.
Romania, as a final frontier, brings with it the promise of the thrill of discovery, the excitement of going where few have gone before, and the opportunity to expand your horizons. It also presents the possibility of occasional frustrations and hassles. If you have something of the pioneer spirit burning within you and think you share to some level the Romanian joie-de-vivre (passion for life) then we can make no better suggestion to you then to come now and see firsthand why Romania is simply so surprising.

marți, 14 august 2012

Five Reasons to Visit Romania.

If you're planning a trip to Europe sometime soon, there are many great reasons why you should visit Romania, five of which are listed below.
1. The Romantic Castles of Transylvania
Transylvania is the largest province in Romania, comprising 16 counties. It is known for its rich history and is home to an assortment of medieval castles and fortresses which are sure to impress you when you visit Romania. Imagine a medieval feast as you take a stroll through the Knight's Hall of the Gothic Corvinesti Castle, arguably the most stunning castle in the country or visit the World Heritage Biertan Fortified Church, which offers breathtaking views from its towers.
The fortified churches of Calnic, Darjiu and Prejmer are also World Heritage sites, while the fortresses of Fagaras and Rasnov are equally worth seeing. If ever you venture further south, don't forget to visit Peles Castle, too, in the charming town of Sinaia, which has beautiful stained glass windows and chandeliers.
2. The Legend of Dracula
In many parts of the world, Transylvania is also known as the home of Dracula, one of the most popular characters in horror fiction. After all, it is where Bran Castle, the main setting for Bram Stoker's novel, is located. This castle is also said to be one of the former residences of Vlad III or Vlad Tepes, the infamous prince of Walachia on whom the character of Dracula is based, who, incidentally has Draculea as his Romanian surname.
Aside from visiting Bran Castle, make sure you drop by the ruins of Poenari Fortress, Vlad's actual castle, when you visit Romania, to learn more about his life, and visit the Princely Court in Targoviste where he supposedly impaled the boyars. You can also stop by Casa Dracula in Sighisoara, where Vlad Tepes was born and Snagov Monastery, where Vlad Tepes is said to be buried. It is also worthwhile to spend the night at the village of Arefu where the locals will be more than willing to share you stories handed down from their ancestors, who, according to legend, were the loyal servants of Vlad Tepes himself.
3. Nature and Wildlife
Romania also has its share of stunning natural landscapes, which is home to an interesting diversity of wildlife - another great reason to visit Romania. Indeed, it is easy to spot bears, lynxes, wild bears and beavers in the various natural parks of Romania, particularly the Piatra Craiului Natural Park, and it is also one of the few countries in the world where you can still watch wolves at play in their natural habitat. For bird watchers, take a trip to the Danube Delta, the largest wetland in Romania and all over Europe, where you can see over 300 species of birds, including wild egrets, gold eagles and Dalmatian pelicans.
4. The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina
Not too many people know of the painted monasteries in northeastern Romania, particularly in the province of Bucovina, and yet these gems from the 15th and 16th centuries provide another good reason to visit Romania. Each monastery is a work of Byzantine art, if not a masterpiece, with both the exterior and interior painted with elaborate and colorful frescoes depicting scenes from the bible, the saints, and images of heaven and hell. The best preserved ones are Humor, Probota, Moldovita and Voronet, which is considered the most beautiful of them all - all of which are designated World Heritage sites.
5. Medieval Towns
Take a step back in time when you visit Romania as you tour its well-preserved medieval towns, particularly those of Brasov, Sighisoara and Bistrita. Brasov offers a collection of baroque, gothic and renaissance architecture such as its Black Church and Council Square and Bistrita presents a row of remarkable merchant houses while Sighisoara is a World Heritage town with its narrow, cobbled streets and impressive churches. The towns of Cluj Napoca, Sibiu and Medias are also not to be missed.