The law is the law

Unless you are a Romanian senator, it would appear.

Angry that the Romanian anti-corruption agency, the DNA, is currently cleaning up Romanian politics, a group of senators have tabled an amendment to the penal procedures code designed to make it very difficult for the DNA to do its job. If the amendment becomes law it would be almost impossible for the DNA to make arrests, to question suspects and – most crucially – to gather information via denunciations. Indeed, DNA investigators could easily end up breaking the law themselves simply by doing their job.

If this were not troubling enough, of the ten senators who have proposed the amendment (all bar one being members of the PSD, we hardly need to add) four are currently under investigation for corruption.

Bucharest’s blocks

Central Bucharest – despite all appearances – is home to some of the most amazing architecture in Europe. Though it seems difficult to believe sometimes, for the first two or three decades of the 20th century the Romanian capital was as avant garde as anywhere when it came to architecture. There are hundreds of masterpieces in the city centre (many of which, alas, have seen better days) and there are an increasingly large number of websites dedicated to documenting them. If you ask us, the best is Valentin Mandache’s Historo blog. If you have a free morning one weekend, you should take one of his architectural walking tours too.

This post, however, is not about great architecture. Instead, it’s the first in what we want to make a regular celebration of the much-maligned bloc. After all, the vast majority of Bucharest’s population lives in an apartment block of one shape or another. They may be ordinary, often ugly, but they provide shelter to millions. Time to give them their place in the sun.

The photos are all full size: click on them for the larger version.

Submissions to editor@bucharestlife.net.

Strada Liviu Rebreanu

Strada Liviu Rebreanu

Bulevardul Octavian Goga

Bulevardul Octavian Goga

Bucurestii Noi

Bucurestii Noi

The day job

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Six months late and well over budget the digital version of Bucharest In Your Pocket has had a facelift. Go and take a look.

It’s still not entirely finished, which is why this is a (very) soft launch, but there is plenty of flesh on the bones of the project, designed by a Pole whose remit was homogenise and streamline our brand identity (the print guides had their own redesign this time last year), but most of all to make the very best of our cities have to offer stand out from the dross.

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As such, much of the clutter has gone. Good photography is in. Features are given far more prominence than ever before, and we have started to label our favourite places in the city as Editor’s Picks: the days of listing endless numbers of restaurants are over. Travellers are too savvy and far too busy these days: our market research told us that what people want are recommendations. A push in the right direction. Given that our own raison d’etre remains ‘making travel easier’ we were happy to oblige.

Restaurant_Picks_Bucharest_In_Your_Pocket

We still list hundreds of venues and sights in Bucharest but the also-rans no longer get in the way of what’s essential.

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The new platform is fully responsive (it will display on any device) and includes a search function which actually works, content filters (you can search for all non-smoking venues in a chapter for example) and free PDF downloads of all our guides. It is also much easier to navigate: finding what you are looking for should be easier than ever.

As we say, the new site is not wholly complete. A brand new events platform will follow soon, as will an app, currently in development. Some of the functionality does not fully work as it will (notably some of the maps, which will be completed later this week). The mobile version also needs some work. All in all though, this is the greatest digital leap forward we have probably ever taken. Not that we intend taking any time off. Improving the site is an ongoing process: it must be if we want to remain a publisher of essential city guides dedicated to making travel easier.

Strongbow is not real cider. The real stuff is on the way

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Oh they love a freebie, those Romanian bloggers. Send them a crate of plutonium and they’d wax lyrical about how fantastic it is, just as long as they got to keep some.

The latest product to turn up on their desks is the new-to-Romania Strongbow, that awful would-be cider which no right-thinking cider drinker would ever touch. Indeed, it makes Real Cider’s list of ‘Ciders not recognised as being real‘ and indeed it isn’t: it only has a 25 per cent apple juice content. Strongbow is basically alcoholic fizzy-pop. Cider it ain’t.

Here are just a few highly objective reactions to Strongbow’s recent Romanian launch:

http://placerileluinoe.ro/dear-strongbow-welcome-to-romania/
http://blogdebere.ro/revista-berii/diverse/heineken-lanseaza-strongbow-cidru-de-mere.html
http://www.revistabiz.ro/strongbow-by-heineken-cea-mai-recenta-senzatie-din-romania/
http://www.wall-street.ro/articol/Companii/182302/heineken-a-lansat-in-romania-marca-de-cidru-strongbow-in-3-variante.html
https://www.stefanblog.com/2015/04/strongbow.html
http://www.andreearaicu.ro/club/evenimente/vedetele-din-romania-strongbow
http://www.mihaelagurau.com/2015/04/strongbow-este-primul-cidru-din-romania/

(There are hundreds more. Note how similar all these posts are: almost all mention how good Strongbow is with ice, as though it were some kind of contractual obligation. That’s what happens when you copy and paste the same press release).

The good news however is that the real thing is on the way, and it’s being made in Romania, with 100 per cent Romanian apples. (That’s if anyone is still interested: if they taste Strongbow they might be put off cider for life). The Romanian cider is called Cidru Clarks, a labour of love for its producer, long-time Romanian resident and all-round good egg Alan Clark. He told us today that his brew is ready, and is just awaiting the final authorisations from the powers that be. He expects it to be available in two to three weeks.

Watch this space.

Green Bucharest

Our Dear Leader Robert Negoita – Mayor of the Peoples’ Republic of Bucharest Sector 3 – today invited fresh ridicule with the statement that Bucharest was ‘the greenest city in Europe.’ Negoita said that he had visited Vienna, Berlin, Rome and Paris and yet had never seen a city as green as the Romanian capital. ‘Our problem is that we don’t do the calculations properly,’ he said.

Now, while Bucharest does have some smashing parks and public gardens it could never, ever be said to be particularly green: one of the reasons the city is so impossibly hot in high summer is the lack of green space. And we should not forget that if the likes of Negoita had his way what little green space there is would be gone overnight and replaced with two and three bedroom luxury apartments or mayoral follies (as indeed it sometimes is).

Which brings us nicely on to some other Negoita news.

You will no doubt not be hugely surprised to discover that the Great Wall of Unirii, which appeared back in November remains as unfinished as ever, six months on. We took a photo of its progress this morning:

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It has, however – and all credit to Ionita for this – been joined by an equally unfinished fountain/pond, which at least offers a little symmetry:

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Green Bucharest: File under ‘tell a big enough lie and you will make people believe it.’