NOTA BENE

Notes, comment and buzz from Eugene Kaspersky – Official Blog

August 28, 2015

Kamchatka-2015 – top to bottom!

In my humble opinion, Kamchatka is the most fascinating and beautiful place on the planet. Bold statement, I know; but coming from a power-globetrotter like myself, maybe you won’t reject it out of hand? If you do – read the upcoming series of posts on this year’s An-Kam (annual Kamchatka), and let’s see if you haven’t been convinced by then!

Voluptuous volcanoes with colossal craters with multicolored lakes, + unearthly surrounding landscapes, geysers and hot springs, + lazy wild brown bears roaming free, + red caviar applied on your sandwiches not with a knife but with a spade – or JCB excavator :).

In particular, there are dozens of natural uniquenesses all populated with original flora and fauna concentrated to within a relatively narrow stretch of territory along the peninsula’s southern volcanic spine. This magical strip of natural beauty is in all just 600km long. It runs from the Klyuchevskaya Sopka group of volcanoes in the north, via the peninsula’s capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and down to Kambalny and Koshelev in the south. Here it is:

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Read on: Kamchatka is way cooler than all other earthly beauties…

August 27, 2015

Top-100 Series: North America, Part 2.

Hi folks,

In continuation of my revised and revamped Top-100 of the most remarkable, interesting, enchanting and beautiful places and countries of the world, here’s the next installment: part 2 of the very best – IMHO – places to visit in North America, i.e., the North American continent, which (of course?:) includes Central American countries and the Caribbean islands.

First, for starters, a few pics from this part of the world…

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North America, Part 2.

August 24, 2015

Kamchatka-2015 – aperitif.

“Further [vertically] up there, there’s a path!”

– Our guide, Fyodr.

 

Hi all!

Phew! Back to civilization from the harsh wilds of Kamchatka, and beginning the slow acclimatization back to modern city life and all its creature comforts.

In all we trekked 315km on foot, and probably traveled thousands of kilometers in all-terrain vehicles and caterpillar-track transporters, helicopters and snowmobiles (cars aren’t much use in Kamchatka:), and on the vertical axis we covered around 7000 meters on foot too.

We got up close to six or so volcanoes, sizzled in six hot springs, and saw untold numbers of bears!

Alas, the weather spoiled approximately a quarter of our route around the peninsula: we had to miss a couple of volcanoes (there was little point walking around in the dense cloud they were shrouded in), plus some of our intended on-foot route became part of the chopper route. Apart from that though, mercifully – for the there’s no climate in the world more unpredictable than Kamchatka’s – everything worked out superbly!

Stay tuned for the starter – Kamchatkan borsch, of course :)…

 

August 21, 2015

Top-100 Series: North America – Part 1.

Howdy folks!

I’ve started – so I’ll finish. In my lengthy prelude, I promised to lay before you my updated Top-100 Must-See Places in the World in several portions over several posts. You’ve already had my new – extra – Top-20 Cities. Next up is a set of Top-Non-City-Must-See-Places – actually 17 of them – out of the Top-100, all of which are in the first continent I’ll be tackling: North America. A quick guide to the most astonishingly amazing places therein – most of which I’ve been lucky enough to visit in person, and all of which contain a particularly high concentration of natural and/or man-made beauty and/or unusualness. In this post – the first 10 entries; in the next post – the remaining seven.

So why North America? Or, rather, why this particular continent first?

Well, it just seemed the natural place to start, as it’s – normally – up in the top left-hand corner of a world map. From there I’ll be taking you on a trip around the globe with the following route: down through Central America, and through South America. Next – across the Atlantic to Europe, across Russia to its far eastern reaches. Then it’s back west and down to the Middle East, across Central Asia to India and Indochina, then up to China itself with brief stops at other assorted Asian spots. Next: again back west to start another eastern movement: Africa > Australia and Oceania. And last but not least: Antarctica. That’s the basic outline of the route as I see it now, anyway. So, ready? // Phone off, popcorn microwaved, beverage prepared, soft armchair… off we go!…

Of course, if I lived in China or America the world map used in the above snakes and ladders across the globe might have looked a little lot different. Or, if I lived in Australia, it might have looked like this:

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Read on: Geographical authoritarianism…

August 12, 2015

My new Top-20: Cities.

Hi folks!

Following on from the prelude, herewith, my recently formed list of what are to me the world’s Top-20 cities. In this post I’ll briefly describe and present pics of my Top-20 most interesting and unique districts, quarters or whole cities of the world that I recommend everyone should visit one day. It should go without saying I’ve been to all 20 – most times often, unlike some of the must-sees in my main list.

But first – rewind: How are my Top-100 and now Top-20 made up?

First, by using my own eyes and senses. I’m lucky enough to have a job in which I globetrot for nearly six months out of every 12. The primary reason: business. But why not mix it with the pleasure of a tourist? Why not indeed.

Eugene Kaspersky's top-100 must see places of the world

Read on: Places, which hardly require anybody’s recommendation…

August 6, 2015

Reykjavikian white nights.

You know the score by now: I globetrot a lot on business. On my trips, if I’ve any stamina still left of an evening in the hotel – or afterwards on the flight back home/onwards – I share my (mostly) non-business-related impressions with you, dear readers of this blog. Sometimes stamina gets depleted – either from an intense business agenda, or from visiting too many places in too short a time.

Times like these, since I’m most always accompanied on my trips, I often pass the blogging reins over to a fellow traveler, who also has a pair of eyes – and invariably also has a much more fancy camera than me. For they like to write down their thoughts and impressions from the road too.

One such occasion recently arose after a midnight stroll around the Icelandic capital. And it wasn’t due to my being too tired this time: I had some work to do early the next day. Anyway, for whatever reason, here’s what DZ has to say about Reykjavik at night in summer…

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Reykjavik sits 64 degrees north of the equator; that’s the same as central Alaska or Arkhangelsk in Northern Russia. So yes, it gets cold. The place also has all the peculiar atmospheric phenomena associated with this high northern latitude. And in summer – the most interesting of these atmospheric phenomena, IMHO, are the ‘White Nights‘ – where the sun doesn’t really go down at all at night as it never sets over the horizon at it’s so far north.

Here in Reykjavik the ‘nights’ are of course shorter – and whiter – than in St. Petersburg, which is five degrees latitude lower down the planet. So it just wouldn’t have been right to not have had a walkabout the city, camera in hand, on our first night here. So we did the right thing…

Totally right: a leisurely ‘night’ stroll around Reykjavik in July is… unparalleled (apart from with other 64th parallel towns maybe:). It’s probably amazing in December too, but I’ll have to save that for a later date…

Reykjavik has a population of around 120,000 (and over 200,000 in the Capital Region)Reykjavik has a population of around 120,000 (200,000 including its surrounding region). The city is the heart of Iceland’s cultural, economic and governmental activity

In Reykjavik temperatures very rarely drop below −15 °C (5 °F) in the winter because the Icelandic coastal weather in winter is moderated by the Gulf Stream.In Reykjavik temperatures very rarely drop below −15°C (5°F) in the winter because the Icelandic coastal weather in winter is moderated by the Gulf Stream

Read on: Midnight rainbow do exist!…

August 4, 2015

Off-piste and off-the-ground in Iceland.

Herewith, the penultimate installment on the enchanting island of Iceland; namely, on traveling off the beaten track on the ground, and up off the ground too – in a helicopter.

In just four days we covered more than a thousand kilometers of Iceland, but these were anything but boring kilometers. From one place of – particular – interest to the next, there are hundreds more exceptional sights to be seen: ludicrously breathtaking landscapes made up variously of volcanoes, cliffs, glaciers, waterfalls, dark gray fields of volcanic slag, and lava fields coated in seas of green or the lilac of lupine, plus distractingly dazzling dusks and dawns, pastoral scenes with sheep and horses… in short, a veritable feast for the eyes!

The Ring Road's total length is 1,332 kilometres (828 mi)The Ring Road’s total length is 1332 kilometers (828 miles)

Ring Road crosses a few glacial outwash plains, which is subject to frequent glacial outburst floodsThe Ring Road crosses a few glacial outwash plains, which are subject to frequent glacial outburst floods

Icelandic roads

Read on: How we very nearly found ourselves in a drowning incident…

August 4, 2015

Have an Ice day!

All right folks, now for glacial Iceland

Now, Iceland’s glaciers aren’t the biggest in the world, but all the same, the grand glacial vistas, the glacial lakes with icebergs, and the phenomenon of natural might… in sum it’s all fairly spellbinding.

We checked out two glaciers while on the island. First up: Langjökull (here).

It was here I had a go on a snowmobile for the first time! Have to say, I was expecting an easy, comfortable glide across the snow… Turns out snowmobiling at 50+ km/h on wet and powdery snow – neither comfortable nor easy.

There are two highland tracks in Langjökull, but we used none of them. We drove snowmobiles!There are two highland tracks in Langjökull, but we used none of them. We drove snowmobiles!

Read on: more glacierities…

July 31, 2015

Icelandic Waterfallism.

Iceland‘s a very wet country in the cool time of year, and very snowy in winter. (There isn’t a warm season here to speak of – unless you submerge yourself in hot springs for three months.) So, in terms of H2O here – there’s plenty. And since there are a great many volcanoes in the country too, the conditions are perfect for a blossoming of the population of Iceland’s waterfalls – of which there are also plenty. Here’s a list of the five main ones we visited in the south and southwest parts of the country, all of which are wholly worthy of checking out in person.

Waterfall No. 1: GullfossHere. And here:

Gullfoss is one of the most popular waterfall attractions in IcelandGullfoss – one of the most popular waterfall attractions in Iceland

Read on: Four more Icelandic waterfalls you’d like to see…

July 29, 2015

Icelandic tectonic.

Everyone’s got a basic idea of how this planet of ours is constructed, even primary school kids. It goes something like this: in the middle of the planet is the core – the nucleus; then there’s the mantle, and on the outside there’s the hard crust, upon which you’re reading this blog.

But the earth’s crust isn’t a single whole piece – it consists of tectonic plates, which float around mostly imperceptibly on the surface of the magma. And they float around in different directions – into one another, perpendicularly, or away from each other. That is, they converge, chafe one another, or diverge from one another. Along the edges of the plates there are frequent earthquakes and all sorts of volcanic activity. For those interested, check out the links above.

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Where plates converge are to be found mountains, volcanoes, and their associated features of terra firma. We’re talking: Japan, Kamchatka, the Kurils, the Aleutians, the Andes, the Cordillera, the Himalayas, etc. Places where plates diverge are usually are on the seabed, visible on maps of sufficient quality and detail: here, under the Atlantic for example is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It’s here where tectonic plates move away from one another, with the space between them being filled with magma.

One of the few places where this divergence of plates occurs on land is Iceland: it’s situated along the seam between the North American and Eurasian plates. The former is moving ever-so slowly to the west, the latter ever-so slowly to the east – at a speed of 2cm a year. That is, the width of Iceland increases by two centimeters every year (not taking into account coastal erosion or, just the opposite, the expansion of the land mass on account of lava flows). 2cm a year – that’s two meters a century, 20 meters a millennium, 20 kilometers in a million years. So, if things keep going as they do, in 200 million years Iceland will become the length of Chile, and in in 300 million – the length of Russia!

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The crack in the ground along the fault line is best observed in Iceland at Þingvellir (Thingvellir).

Map of Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

There’s an uneven and craggy crack around five kilometers long that crosses the landscape here, plus a nice lake. This is how it all looks:

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Read on: Canyons, canyons, canyons!…