A bit of a breather – in Berlin.

Pheeeewwwwwww. That was a tough week. I’ve another toughie planned for the coming week too. So a good dose of tools-down and time-out was in order for a few days between the two.

Handily, I found myself in Berlin for those few days. Nice. With no work plans whatsoever. Even nicer. Been here many times, but was always too busy to get a good portion of sightseeing in.

So here, some plenty of pics of the German capital, with my usual banter commentary kept to a minimum. A bit like on Euronews: No Comment.

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Read on: Say No to grim and sober monuments…

Zanzibar: wunderbar!

Our journey through Tanzania consisted of three stages:

1. Climbing Kilimanjaro
2. Savanna safari
3. Zanzibar

Those who’ve been following this Tanzanian mini-series will know that I haven’t told you about the last stage yet – Zanzibar. So here it is: tales from the final stage of our January 2016 Africa adventure.

Upon arrival we were straight into it: snapping the super sunset:

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#Tanzania #Zanzibar #sunset #Занзибар #Закат #Танзания

A photo posted by Eugene Kaspersky (@e_kaspersky) on

I have to admit that I didn’t quite know where Zanzibar is. Well, I knew it was in the Indian Ocean somewhere, but that’s about it. But what was a real revelation for me was that the Zanzibar archipelago belongs to Tanzania!

Read on: Sea – beach – pina colada…

Tanzanian devilish habitat.

Hi all!

Now, a bit on where to stay on a safari. In the African savanna there are two options – either in tents or in hotels.

They say that spending the night on safari in a tent is really cool. Although not the most comfortable of habitats, what more than makes up for that are the night sounds all around: the growls, woofs, miaous and roars that occasionally cut through the constant background hums and hisses of all creatures wild and great and small as they eat, hunt, mate or whatever else it is they get up to at night.

But we stayed in hotels.

So what can you expect from a hotel deep within the Tanzanian savanna, tens if not hundreds of miles from the nearest civilization? As it happens, you can expect something great! The places we spent the night were really decent, each with a swimming pool and plenty of other conveniences and facilities on site. There are of course the inevitable local ‘specifics’ you have to get used to, but then you get those practically anywhere (no paper napkins on tables in London…, but I digress:).

Ok, about those specifics…

Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge. Our first overnight stop at the top of the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater.

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#Ngorongoro #sunset #Tanzania

A photo posted by Eugene Kaspersky (@e_kaspersky) on

Read on: Simply stunning everything…

Safari!

Just two weeks in Tanzania over the New Year break, but soooo many impressions! And you, dear blog readers, are only half-way through those impressions…

After coming back down Kilimanjaro to the plains below, before we had time to utter ‘acclimatization’, we were whisked off… on an African safari!

Initially, the colonial meaning of the term ‘safari’ meant ‘to go and shoot wild animals in Africa’, not necessarily to later eat them or even use their hides for whatever; just like at a shooting gallery – only with live targets. Time has passed and mores have changed for the better, and now the term means ‘to look at wild animals in Africa (from a car or jeep)’… and take photos of them in all their wild poses.

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Read on: Hakuna matata!…

Three questions for physicists.

I did a fair bit of walking in Tanzania on our Kilimanjaro expedition – a whole week’s worth, in fact. That meant I had plenty of time – besides chatting to my companions – to ponder, contemplate and reflect – on all kinds of stuff.

I never once thought about business, but then, not thinking about business was one of the chief aims of the trip. So, naturally, my mind turned to non-work stuff, like life and eternity, nature, man, the universe – and man’s insignificance in it. The latter was reflected upon mostly at night, when I’d look up to the extraordinarily brightly twinkling stars – so much more vivid for being up a mountain; much better than how they look down near sea level.

Like I say – lots of walking time = lots of chatting time, including long chats… with oneself! All sorts of different thoughts arose in my little gray cells, including, for example, the following:

The moon gets three centimeters a year further away from Earth (that’s a scientific fact). At some point Earth will eventually lose its ‘gravitational interest’ in the moon, which will then become one more satellite of the sun. It’s possible that the trajectories of the moon and Earth will intersect again at some distant point in the future, and the moon will again become a satellite of Earth. Or maybe it will collide with Earth? It’s difficult to calculate… but my specific questions (related to this) are easier…

Question No. 1

This will happen earlier than when the sun becomes a much huger, redder and hotter giant than it is now and swallows up the planets near it (Mercury, Venus and Earth) or later? What will happen soonest: the moon will return to Earth, or the sun will eat up this question?

Read on: Questions 2, 2.1 and 3 …

Best test scores – the fifth year running!

Quicker, more reliable, more techy, and of course the most modest…

… Yep, you guessed it, that’ll be us folks – YET AGAIN!

We’ve just been awarded Product of the Year once more by independent Austrian test lab AV-Comparatives. Scoring top @ AV-C is becoming a yearly January tradition: 2011201220132014, and now 2015! Hurray!

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Now for a bit about how they determine the winner…

Read on: Five main criteria…

Kilimanjaro: a veritable vegetable patch.

A trip to Africa always entails a good bit of amazement and astonishment – no matter which part of it you go to. We were ready to be amazed and astonished on our winter trip to Kilimanjaro, but we weren’t quite expecting this: acres upon acres of fertile land with all sorts of trees and vegetables growing thereupon!

On our first day in Tanzania, being ferried from airport to base camp at the foot of Kili along the bumpiest of roads, we were fairly bowled over by the great many fir trees all around us. Well, they sure looked like fir trees…

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… the trunks looked like those of fir trees, but the branches… What were they? Don’t know. Some kinda Thuja.

But more astonishing were all the vegetables being grown: carrots, potatoes, marrows, zucchini and more!… who’d have thought it? In Africa?

Read on: The question of irrigation…

Kilimanjaro porters.

While we tourists carried about our persons a bare minimum of bare necessities on our weeklong hike up Kili, the rest of the kit was lugged up the mountainside by local porters, who, it turned out, are more than happy with such a state of affairs since the pay isn’t bad.

So while we carried mere waterproofs and photo-video gear, our porters hauled large bags containing tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, food, water, and all sorts of other bits and bats – usually on their heads.

We were told how each porter carries a maximum of 15kg of tourist kit, and that’s on top of his (they were all men) own kit, if any. Our guide explained it so: “15kg is considered not such a massive load for an adult male. And their tending to carry stuff on their heads, that’s just how they’re used to carrying stuff – it’s more convenient for them.”

The guide went on:

“Work as a porter is highly coveted – it’s not the most strenuous of jobs, while the pay’s always good relative to other work in the region. And thanks to the national park’s official policy of encouraging as many workers being employed as porters as possible (hence the 15kg limit per porter), there’s quite a bit of work available (for fit males). A good policy for the locals, a bit more expensive for visiting tourists.” 

We saw the policy in action: our group was assigned around 30 porters! That’s just how things are in and around Kili.

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Read on: Our porters lugged up Kili the following…