Thursday, September 28, 2006

Budapest Crisis, September 2006

All Europe and probably the whole world was following the violent events in Budapest this September. I too was watching daily news with great attention because Budapest was my home for 2 years. I have great memories about Budapest - beautiful, full of sunshine - you can read my story about THAT Budapest in the archives of my Blog. Now I cannot stop wondering: what if this had happened when I was there? Would I have ever been able to finish my studies or would I have run away from this nightmare?...

I don't want to discuss the political side of these events, who is right or wrong but in my previous story I mentioned that Hungarians made an impression of a sad nation on me and also some of them told me that Hungary had the highst rate of suicides in Europe - there should have been a reason for that. So the government should have noticed that they lived next to a dormant volcano bound to errupt sooner or later.

Mostly I would like to dwell on the possible consequences of what had happened. First of all, in the recent years Budapest managed to establish itself as a great educational center of Easter Europe. Central European University attracted hundreds of students from all over the region every year. Will they choose Budapest as a place to study next year? Personally, I will think twice before recommending CEU to anyone due to these events.

Secondly, tourism industry will also suffer greatly, which accounts for a substancial share of the country's budget. Eventually, people naturally forget and they will travel to Hungary again but it depends when. A couple of months without tourists won't hurt too bad but, say, a year will. No one knows if this was the end of violence or there will be repetition of events in the near future...

Finally, investors. Will you invest your money in the country with high political risk? The answer is obvious.

It is so sad that those people who started this nightmare because, allegedly, the current government didn't do anything for the development of Hungarian economy in the recent years , actually themselves underminded the country's economy even more by this sequence of unfortunate events.

I wish to see Budapest in its former beauty and glory - will it ever happen again?...

Friday, September 15, 2006


Poland for me is not about places but more about people. Probably it’s because I didn’t see much of it and I wouldn’t speculate about things I haven’t seen and Warsaw where I visited didn’t really make an impression on me at all. This city like Bucharest was badly destroyed during WWII so there isn’t much left there of its original beauty and the communist era buildings are far from being the masterpieces of architecture.

Poland is definitely about people. Pope John Paul II immediately comes to mind to most of the people but my story is about amazing famous polish women.

I would like to start with Marie Sklodowska-Curie. She was one of the greatest scientists in the history of mankind. Her main contribution was the discovery of polonium and radium, which laid the foundation of radiology. She won 2 Nobel prizes for her work and I am especially admire that woman because she made the breakthrough in science at the end of 19th – beginning of the 20th century when women had hardly any rights but she fought her way through to the men’s world and proved to be the best.

Another polish woman I admire is a contemporary writer, Ioanna Hmelevskaya. Her ironic detective stories (novels) are famous all over Eastern Europe. They are captivating, hilariously funny and smart. My favorite one is called “What the Dead Man Said”. Unfortunately, her novels have been only translated into Czech, Slovak, Russian and Swedish. According to the author the recent translations into English, German and Italian were very bad and people didn’t get the humor. So I challenge anyone to try to come up with a great translation because these books are really worth sharing with the world!

Finally, my favorite is the polish actress Barbara Brylska. She is especially dear to a Russian heart because she played a leading role of Nadya in a New Year’s Eve romantic comedy “The Irony of Fate or Enjoy Your Bath!”. The film was produced in 1975 and since then it became a classic, one of the most popular movies in Russia of all times. It has the same symbolic importance to the Russians as, say, “White Christmas” for Americans. One has to see it every New Year’s Eve, this is a tradition without which it won’t be a proper holiday. But why I liked this particular actress is because for me she is the symbol of an ideal woman: intelligent, beautiful, elegant – a role model. I watch this movie every year for about 25 years now and I never get bored or stop laughing.

So to sum up, Poland for me is a country of outstanding women. If you know any other great women from this country, please, share your story with us!

PS for more information on Poland you can visit

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Photos of Romania

I deliberately do not include the photos of Bucharest because I don't really like the city as I mentioned in my story about Romania, but the rest of the country is beautiful (see above: the Danube, Bran castle, the mountains, the seaside and more).
More goregeous pictures of Romania at:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Today I would like to tell you about Romania. I didn't know much abou the country as a child (they didn't import anything eatable to USSR as far as I remember :-) but much later I used to travel to Romania quite often, both on business and for pleasure.

Some importnat political information: Romania boarders Hungary on the North-West and these two countries have centuries' long ethnic conflict going on with regards Transylvania region (now part of Romania). Both Romanians and Hungarians were inhabitants of this land and it was under Hungarian and Romanian rule at different time. Both countries claim the right for Transylvania and it looks like the conflict will never be resolved. If you want to avoid overheated discussion then you'd rather not mention this subject especially if there are representatives of the both countries in the room. Also a person born and raised in Transivania, with a Romanian passport but having some Hungarian roots will always consider himself Hugarian and would refuse to speak Romanian to you though he'll be perfectly bilingual. So beware - VERY sensitive issue!

In my mind Romania is associated with the word "romantic" because it is indeed a romantic country. It could have been the "France" of Eastern Europe if the years of communist reign and the struggle for survival after it hadn't scarred the country as much as they did. This country has it all: the mighty mountins, the Carpathians, the beautiful seaside; the wonderful Danube Delta, which is a part of UNESCO world heritage; amazing medeival towns and castles and welcoming people. Romania, like France, also has great wines, especially the sweet varieties, the most famous one is the semi-sweet white "Cotnari". But the infrustructure necessary to connect it all is much to be desired...

Bucharest, the capital, is not a bright spot on the country's map either, through no fault of its own, though: it was badly damaged during WWII and what was left of old Bucharest was completely destroyed in the earthquake of 1977... So the post-war communist-style architecture that you see there now is an ugly reminder of the difficult times the country went through.

One thing Romania is most famous for (or I'd rather say Transyvania) is Count Dracula: his real-life prototype, Prince Vlad Tepes had his residence there in the Bran castle. In fact the legend is so famous all over the world that Romanians decided to capitulize on it: in 2001 they announced building a theme park, Dracula Land, which they hope will attract thousands of tourists from around the globe. It's a controversial project since Romanian church opposes it (another thing why Romania is close to a Russian heart is because among all European countries only Romania and Greece as well as Russia have orthodox church vs catholic church in the rest of Europe), but if Dracula means money, the country is in desperate need of it! So keep on look-out for the news of the grand opening!

Good inormational websites about Romania are:

Friday, September 01, 2006

How to get information on busiess in Central and Eastern Europe

I have not very good news for people doing or planning to do business in CEE: they have been deprived of one important information resource. Central Eastern Europe Business Information Center (which was a part of US Trade Administration and provided excellent info and help with regards market data, trends, advice, etc.) is now closed for good... It is still listed in all CEE directories but it doesn't provide any services as of end 2005...

On its original website they provide names of organizations that now perform parts of its former duties, please, visit:
However this is not complete suite of services in one place as it was before, not as efficient and conveniet.

We at EMAdvice also try to cover for many of the Center's services, especially with regards of market research, trends analysis, etc. Please, visit us at

In this blog we are commited to providing resources related to business, culture, tourism, etc. not only in CEE but globally. Please, visit us regularly for more useful information.