When God came to handing out gifts, Alina Puscau got more than her fair share. Already famous as one of the world’s most beautiful women, the Victoria’s Secret model and GQ cover girl is now set for pop stardom with a debut single destined to be one of the defining songs of this summer.
Two months before its release, Alina’s When You Leave (Numa Numa) had already notched up more than four million views on YouTube, made the Billboard dance chart Top 10 and been lauded by P Diddy and Kanye West. Effervescent Eurodisco at its most infectious, the song is proof that some models can do much more than look pretty.
Remixed by Swedish wunderkind Basshunter and based on an English language adaptation of Romanian band O-Zone’s hit Dragostea Din Tei, When You Leave (Numa Numa) exploded online at the start of this year thanks to a steamy video shot by A-list Hollywood director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, X Men and happens also to be Alina’s boyfriend) and choreographed by Fatima Robinson, who has previously worked with Aaliyah, Rihanna and Mary J. Blige.
“The video captures the energy of the song,” says Alina. “It’s fun, fresh and colourful, a little bit naughty, but always playful. So many videos these days look the same. This one really stands out.
“Every scene was filmed in Brett’s house in L.A., which has a disco downstairs. He built the hospital set in one garage and, in another, tried to recreate the red light district of Amsterdam. “We shot from 7am to 4am the next day, which was totally exhausting, but also good fun. I’ve been on lots of long modeling shoots, but nothing like that. I don’t think I’ve ever done a tougher day’s work.”
Born in Bucharest, Alina spent the first 15 years of her life dreaming of fame. The youngest of three children, she sang Madonna and Mariah Carey songs in to a hairbrush in front of the mirror, though never imagined she would one day meet both her idols. Music didn’t run in the family – her father is an electrician, her mother a carpet weaver – and money was so scarce, she couldn’t afford to go to concerts.
At 16, Alina’s life changed overnight when she won Elite Model Look, a global modelling competition. Signed to the world’s most prestigious model agency, she immediately began flying to jobs all over the world. She appeared in Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Cosmopolitan and Vogue and was shot by leading fashion photographers, including Bruce Weber, Patrick Demarchelier and Marc Baptiste.
For the first two years, she returned to Romania as often as possible to continue her studies, but at 19, moved permanently to New York. Within months, she was a star of Victoria’s Secret – she appeared in their taboo-breaking TV commercials and infamous catalogues – and bagged a role in the film Shallow Hal, alongside Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow.
“I loved making the movie, but at the time, my English was terrible,” recalls Alina. “I decided that if I wanted to act again, I’d have to study first. I signed up at NYU to study speech and at Lee Strasberg to improve my acting.”
Then a Romanian producer called Rad heard her sing and insisted she make a record with him. At first, she turned him down. After six months, Alina relented and returned to Romania, where she recorded a tongue-in-cheek track called Everybody Wants Me. She thought she was singing for fun, but when the song was passed to Brett Ratner, then directing Rush Hour 3, he was so impressed, he put it on the soundtrack.
“It was an amazing break for me,” says Alina, “Every artist wants their song in a big movie. It’s in a great scene too, where Chris Tucker is directing traffic, listening to his iPod."
Last year, Alina was invited to Mariah Carey’s house and was shocked to discover her idol knew the song.
“She was singing it back at me,” laughs Alina. “It was one of those moments that will forever be fixed in my mind. Mariah is a goddess to me. We met and got on like a house on fire. When he said ‘You’ve got a great voice, girl’, I was so flattered, I almost fainted.”
When You Leave (Numa Numa) is the real launch of Alina’s pop career and she can’t wait to promote it.
“I’ve only performed it live a few times so far,” she admits. “The first time was for a radio station in Seattle. The second was on New Year’s Eve at a party in Miami. The DJ put on my song and everyone went crazy for it. When he found out I was there, I was asked on stage to sing it live. I went on right after Jamie Foxx had performed, which was scary enough, then I looked down and Joaquim Phoenix was right in front of me. The next day, I was in a hotel and P Diddy came to tell me how much he loved the song. I hadn’t even known he was there.”
It was Alina’s mum who discovered Kanye West was also a fan, after the rapper made the model his Girl Of The Week on his website. Alina’s celebrity fans and startling start to her pop career mean she is more in demand than ever – she was recently announced as the face of Playboy.com.
After performing alongside The Prodigy at dance festival Ultrafest in March, and with scores of shows being set up throughout the summer, for the time being Alina wants most to concentrate on music.
“I only started singing for fun, but now that’s it’s going so well, I couldn’t be more excited,” says Alina. “As long as I’m enjoying it, I’m going to keep at it and see how the future unfolds.”
Aero GP is a cutting-edge motor sports series involving high-performance aerobatics aeroplanes racing around a tight circuit at near ground level, dropping bombs on targets and competing in real air to air combat heats. The competing pilots are highly trained military and civilian pilots from around the globe. Aero GP is unique in that it is the only international, televised event where aeroplanes race simultaneously.
Three primary disciplines in series decide the annual World Champion Flying Ace:
Air Racing: All racing at the same time, between six and eight aircraft reach speeds of 500 km/h at just 10 metres above the racecourse.
Air Combat: A real air-to-air “dogfight”. Highly trained pilots take to the skies in an attempt to out-manoeuvre, hunt down and shoot each other out of the sky, in the style of military air combat.
Barnstorming: A third element which can consist of any of the following - depending on the venue: aerobatics, stunt flying or precision target dropping - pilots drop bombs from their aircraft at low altitude, aiming at various targets.
The first Aero GP was held in 2005 although the concept dates to 2000. The inaugural event, held in Slovenia, was televised in over 100 countries. Since then Aero GP's have been held in Malta, Romania (twice), The United Kingdom, and Abu Dhabi in the UAE.
Aero GP pilots are among the best in the world. Highly trained in a range of military and aerobatic aircraft, these pilots represent the most elite level an aviator can achieve. They come from a variety of countries and backgrounds. Fighter pilots, aerobatics champions, and civil aviation pilots are all known to compete.
Aero GP pilots have taken years of dedicated work and training to get to the Elite level of the sport. Their bodies are put through tremendous amounts of G- Force when performing in their aircraft. The sort of forces which a normal human cannot begin to comprehend - blood drains from the brain and goes to the legs. Then the brain begins to shut down – first to go is colour vision, then the peripheral vision and soon afterwards you lose consciousness.
Being an Aero GP pilot is having the skills and endurance to go way beyond the normal human experience and the ability push your physical and mental capacity to the very limit under the most extreme and trying type of conditions.
The series consisted of two Aero GP's. June saw the Aero GP team return to Constanta in Romania and this was followed by a second round in Blackpool, UK.
Simona Patruleasa was born on November 17, 1974 in Ramnicu Valcea, Romania. She is a famous Romanian TV Presenter on Antena 1 TV Channel.
Biography and Career :
Simona Patruleasa graduated Law School.
Her hobbies are : fitness, sports, travelling and cars. She visited a lot of countries like Israel, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, etc and her favourite city is Budapest.
Simona Patruleasa entered the television life few years ago when some friends of her proposed her to apply for a job at Realitatea TV company. She was selected out of a number of 3000 candidates. After a while she received a similar job proposal from Antena 1 TV company and she accepted it.
She appeared in some Romanian magazines including "Maxim".
Before her television career Simona Patruleasa was a primaryschool teacher in Ramnicu Valcea. She gave private lessons to her pupils and she even had time to go to the gym.
Her favourite football teams are Poli Timisoara because of its coach : Gheorghe Hagi and Rapid Bucharest
- When she was a kid she wanted to be a doctor;
- One of her most important quote in life is to have a positive mind;
- The quality she admires most to a person is optimism;
- She detest liars;
- Her favourite food is from hungarian kitchen;
- She loves sweets;
- If she decides to walk a way she never returns by any reason;
- Simona Patruleasa would like to escape from her extremly busy life to her natal place Ramnicu Valcea and spend more time with her family.
- "My purpose in life is the happiness of my parents with or without my contribution."
- "Bad news influenced my career making me more and more famous."
Simona Patruleasa Image : maxim.ro
Nastase was a genius on the tennis court and considered one of the most gifted tennis players in history, Ilie Nastase was noted both for his sorcery with the racket and his ability to entertain, amusing spectators with his antics and mimicry, even during a crucial phase of a match, he was likely to do something bizarre that would entertain the crowd.
Nicknamed the Bucharest Buffoon, Nastase could master all the shots, playing either baseline or serve-and-volley. One of the fastest players, he is remembered for his magnificent lobs and retrieves. Nastase could apply a discomforting spin to his shots, being an expert at putting the ball just beyond an opponent’s reach.
His greatest weakness was a fragile nervous system and erratic temperament, but when he maintained his concentration during a match, he could conjure up the most devastating tennis, being regarded as a tennis magician or an artist creating with great originality and panache.
Traditional Lodging Types
One of the most numerous types of accommodation, in big towns and small villages, is the "pensiune". It is usually run by a family, and is sometimes a converted large house, offering reasonable rooms, some of which may be en suited (with bathrooms).
A small restaurant may be attached to the property, and the size of the pensiune can vary widely, from 4 rooms to 20.
Pensiunes range from rather cheap and tawdry to quite reasonable to simply superb.
The Villa is usually the next step up from the pensiune, with upgraded facilities, often a full pool and spa, a prime location, secure parking and close to major attractions.
Most villas offer an experience slightly more akin to a UK/American bed and breakfast, although with a few of the amenities of a proper hotel as well.
The mix can be elusive to nail down, but the distinction between a villa and an pensiune is basically one of additional services.
Farmstays, also known as "agro-tourism" and homestays with families in villages usually offer a rather attractive option for those wanting some real home-cooked food and a healthy dose of real Romanian culture.
The cheap price per person, usually between 10E and 25E per night, makes this a fabulous option in many ways for the serious culture-hungry traveller.
Youth Hostels are just beginning to catch on in earnest across Romania, with about 80% of the main tourist areas catered to by a network of 42 registered hostels.
A great way for backpackers and anyone who doesn't mind a bit of dormitory slumber, the Youth Hostel Association of Romania has 42 registered locations.
Whilst nowhere near as standarised an experience as some other European countries (or as in Australia the world leader in ameniable hostelry), the Romanian youth hostels offer good basic accommodation well within accepted norms.
The American at the Pensiune
One American traveller was confused about the seemingly mixed standards at her pensiune (like a small hotel, usually with a restaurant and run by a family).
The veal şniţel (schnitzel) was completely tender and perfectly done; the service the right level of being there when needed, and not being intrusive; and the wine had an excitingly fresh and almost Australian like sun-filled flavour.
But as she looked across the linen tablecloth, she notice a few little cigarette burns, and noted with disapproval, that there was indeed a small chip on the base of her rather ornate wine glass.
With an arched eyebrow, she tsk-tsk'd the hole in the tablecloth to her new Romanian boyfriend sitting next to her.
Perplexed, he followed her gaze to the hole, and back up to meet her eyes as she resignedly sighed and said, "In my country," as Americans often started sentences, "it is just not acceptable to have a tablecloth in this condition!".
To which her boyfriend's eyes went wide and he said "But they do not have the money to be able to replace this. And it is not a problem for health, just a small flaw. The veal is not to your liking?".
The American woman swung the gavel on the matter as with a resoundingly loud voice she declared that "Well, they're just too poor to have a restaurant then!".
The boyfriend made the classic Romanian shrug with upside-down smile and little grunt. Not really understanding her objection, he decided just to pour her some more wine. From the kitchen, an old woman watched the couple, and then turned to shake her head at her grandson the waiter giving him a raised eyebrow and a knowing stare, signalling that the rude woman's table would get no complimentary palincă tonight.
Maybe things are not as good as the Hilton in LA or the Grand Plaza in Vegas, but you sure as hell wont be welcomed and looked after as well as you will be by our people.
You are Getting the Best
The point missed by the woman, and something which English speakers must get used to in Romania, is that the accommodation and dining facilities are maintained by well-meaning and generally clean staff doing the best they can on very limited cash flow.
This has the effect in your small family-run restaurants of meaning that almost all your food is really quite fresh, and always very local. It also means that at these small pensiunes and villa eateries, not everything will be available on the menu. You can be told "no chicken today" or "no fish today", simply because nobody has caught any of either in the village over the last 24 hours. That may just be because of laziness, or because they are lying to you, reserving a chicken out back for themselves.
After a while in Romania, the traveller from the west slowly realises that they've actually been getting the best of what is on offer, be it a whole trout from a mountain lake seared to perfection, or a bed made with a down cover filled with sunshine, but a few small tears on the lining perhaps.
You are Getting the Cheapest
If at any time you are not satisfied with some small component of your farm-stay, B&B or pensiune room, decorations, food or facilities, you may well wish to remember that you've paid about one third to one half as much as you would have at home.
Seriously, just try getting a reasonably sized room in such a good location in Lake Tahoe, Port Douglas, Banff or Queenstown! Not going to happen!
Of course, "cheaper" is more accurate here, and you don't really want to find the cheapest of Romanian offerings. Really, there are some VERY bad accommodation options, and you need to stick to some basic rules for finding the place you need
1. You may or may not get what you pay for. Never make the mistake that a slightly higher price is going to really make a big difference in quality.
It really is hard to tell from the countless people alongside the main road leading into a resort village as to which place will be the best. Unless your Romanian is quite good, or your prospective host speaks English well, this interchange may or may not be useful for you.
2. Seeing is Believing. When you have the time -- and you should ALWAYS budget an hour at least to find accommodation, you really must go around and actually look at the places you are considering.
Your best bet if making reservations, is to look at a website with good photos of the rooms.
3. Stars Stars Everywhere. The actual quality of the mid-range 3-star hotel, motel or guest house can vary widely under the Romanian rating system.
Whilst the 5-star properties are generally cast-iron and quite good, in the middle zones you can find some unexpected discrepancies.
But, as with most things Romanian, the small things which an American traveller might find weird are really matter-of-course, and not out of the ordinary -- at least in Romania. Hot water, for example, may or may not be available 24 hours a day. This is normal in some mid-range and lower accommodation options, and something Romanians themselves don't really notice. So, if you need to be sure about something, ask!
If you do visit our country, then go there with an open mind and try and interact with the people. They may not have your wealth or standard of home luxuries you enjoy at home, but they will treat you like one of their own family and will do everything in their power to make you feel a part of their community and to make your visit memorable.....and often, money can't buy that!
Click the picture to enlarge.
This is Clausemburgo, thousands and thousands of blocks like these were built in every city during the Communist regime that came to power right after WWII and lasted until December 1989, when the iron curtain finally fell in Romania.
Although we have regained our freedom, and have a fresh new democracy and a growing capitalist market economy, most of the cities' population still lives in blocks such as these pictured above.
A small two-room appartment of some 50 square metres (540 sq. feet) now sells for about 40-50.000 Euros ($52-65.000 US), while the minimum monthly wage is $170 US and a good average monthly wage is around $400-500 US. Yeah, that's about 5-6k a year, netto, in US dollars or 3-4k a year in British Pounds.
And that's why most of our computer programmers work abroad, making 5-10k in a month, which is comparable to 1-2 year's wage at home.
Hopefully, as the newly reborn economy is steadily growing, these differences will gradually become a lot smaller. But that will still take years from now.....for now we MUST work abroad and take the abuse that comes with it :(
Set in the breathtaking pine forests of the Carpathian Mountains, this picturesque purpose built resort is undoubtedly one of the best value for money ski resorts in Europe. Ski holidays in Poiana Brasov offer an ideal ski area for beginners to learn and several testing runs for intermediates seeking to improve.
An excellent standard of accommodation and catering, helpful staff service and the stunning natural surroundings pleasantly surprise many guests who travel to Romania with low initial expectations. The resort prides itself with a highly reputable ski school: small classes and patient instructors with excellent spoken English combined with affordable prices.
Life in Poiana Brasov is just as good off the slopes as it is on them, with typical après events including ice skating, Romanian meal nights with local folklore entertainment, candle-lit walks and a choice of late night bars and discos. The half-day excursion to the legendary home of Count Dracula – Bran Castle is also one not to be missed!
Address: Calea Victoriei 47
Nestled amid the other historical buildings in Piata Revolutiei, this small red-brick Orthodox church was built in 1722 by the great chancellor Iordache Kretzulescu and his wife, Safta (a daughter of Constantin Brancoveanu) in the Brancovenesti architectural style. The interior frescoes were executed around 1860 by the famous Romanian painter Gheorghe Tattarescu.
Address: Str. Benjamin Franklin 1
Tel: (21) 315.00.26 or 315.25.67
The work of French architect Albert Galleron, who also designed the National Bank of Romania, the Athenaeum was completed in 1888, financed almost entirely with money donated by the general public. One of the preeminent public fundraising campaigns ever in Romania, the "Give a penny for the Athenaeum" campaign saved the project after the original patrons ran out of funds. With its high dome and Doric columns, the Athenaeum resembles an ancient temple.
The lobby has a beautifully painted ceiling decorated in gold leaf, while curved balconies cascade in ringlets off a spiral staircase. A ring of pink marble columns is linked by flowing arches where elaborate brass lanterns hang like gems from a necklace. Inside the concert hall, voluptuous frescoes cover the ceiling and walls. Renowned worldwide for its outstanding acoustics, it is Bucharest's most prestigious concert hall and home of the Romanian George Enescu Philharmonic.
Catrinel Menghia (born October 1, 1985) is a Romanian model.
She was discovered at the age of 16 on the street by a local agent who took her to Bucharest to meet Liviu Ionescu of the MRA Agency. Six months later, her parents allowed Menghia to move to Bucharest and start her modeling career.
She participated in the Ford Supermodel of the World Romania contest in November 2001, where she won the second runner-up prize.
Menghia now lives in Milan. She has done campaigns for major fashion houses and is the face of Giorgio Armani worldwide. She was also one of the new faces in the 2006 South African Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and has appeared in FHM and Maxim.
She has been the face of the French lingerie brand Lise Charmel since 2005.