What to do in Barcelona with a day to spare? Get up Montserrat – if the weather’s fair.

If ever you have a two or three hours to spare in Barcelona, there’s always plenty to choose from to fill those hours with something wow-touristic in the city. Just the easiest and most obvious often will do the job, like a stroll down La Rambla and around the Gothic Quarter. But should you ever have a full day to spare and the weather’s neither rainy or too hot, then you really need to get out of the city. And one of the best local destinations has to be Montserrat (the mountain; not to be confused with the island that was named after it, which isn’t quite local;).

A truly wonderful construction – a multi-peaked ragged-jagged mountain range surrounded by lower and more undulating hills. Could it be the start of the Pyrenees? No – the edge of those is nearly a hundred kilometers away…

(I wanted to take a pic like the one above, but none of mine came out ok; therefore, thank-you Wikipedia)

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This monster’s still alive and kicking – every year in Barcelona.

Hola amigos!

From Innsbruck, off we flew (with our top awards in our luggage) to Barcelona. Once there, we headed on over to the vast Fira Barcelona venue (awards in hand!) for a monster of an exhibition-conference. And the monster was of course Mobile World Congress (MWC). As usual, everyone who’s anyone in the mobile communications/IT world was there, and it was rammed, noisy and fun! ->

I call it a monster due to its size: like a monster truck, it’s gigantic. It’s also a survivor. For it’s been around since practically year-dot when it comes to large mobile/IT exhibitions-conferences, and hasn’t fallen by the wayside like some of its former “colleagues” like the once-similarly massive CeBIT or COMDEX. MWC has managed to keep up with the times, modernize and diversify; or, to put it simpler – it just became all the more shiny and super-interesting to appeal to a broader audience. ¡Respeto!

Our romance with MWC goes way back – to when it was still known as 3GSM (it became MWC in 2008). Alas, I don’t have much to show for it today – since I’d never heard of “blogging” in the early 2000s. My earliest published bits and pieces hail back to 2010 and 2011 (just a few pics on Kaspersky Club (Google Translate text only)). Sure, MWC’s had it’s bad patches (like in 2021), but it’s bounced back (and gotten bigger and cooler and flashier every year). ¡Mucho respeto!

And here we were again ->

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You can never have too many awards. Especially Euro-awards!

Hi folks – from Austria!…

But I wasn’t here to just look out of windows at the dreary Euro-weather. I was here on business – lots of it; first and foremost – to personally receive this! ->

…For, when your company is awarded none other than “Product of the Year”, by none other than AV-Comparatives, not getting yourself down to Tirol to receive it in person is simply out of the question!…

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Simply the best! (As if you needed confirmation.)

Ladies and gents, girls and boys!

Here’s something that needs celebrating (to brighten up these dull and dreary wintry days). The independent testing lab AV-Comparatives has released its Summary Report 2023 in which it “highlights the high-scoring [consumer anti-virus] products” it tested throughout last year. A total of 16 security solutions were rigorously put through their paces in several different tests – including of their ability to protect against malware and advanced threats, of performance (low-system impact), absence of false alarms, and so on and so forth. And out of all 16 there was only one winner – the only product that secured top marks in all 16 of the tests. Can you guess who?! Ok, it’s hardly a toughie since it’s me who’s telling you, but… yes: it was our Kaspersky Standard – named Product of the Year 2023! Hurray!

Ooh – that’ll go nicely in our shiny awards cabinet here at HQ. Oh – wait: is there any room left?!

What’s especially satisfying is that the testers heaped praise not only on the product’s technical capabilities, but also its interface. So it wasn’t for nothing we added plenty more top-notch functionality while seriously overhauling how it all looks. Nice.

Btw – for more than two decades already we’ve been constantly under AV-Comparatives’ microscope – unlike some of our competitors who only select the tests they’d do well in. Which brings me on to another win for us: we’ve garnered the most awards from AV-Comparatives out of all tested vendors across various categories – totaling a full 57 awards (two of which were for low impact on system performance)!

But wait. There’s yet more good news!…

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China-2023: eats, sleeps.

I’ve shown you how awesome China‘s lesser-known (to non-Chinese) natural-beauty-tourisms can be. But what about the places to stay and dining options for tourists there? How do they stack up?

Quick answer: it all depends on how much you want to spend, for there’s everything in China from bargain-basement lodgings and street/fast/junk food, through to 5* hotels and gourmet cuisine at fine restaurants. As for us, we mostly went for somewhere in the middle for both accommodation and dining – sometimes opting for somewhere nearer the upscale-end of the spectrum; for example, in Enshi (canyon, cliffs) we stayed at a small private hotel that was really very nice indeed. The views: wonderful ->

In the cities we tended to stay in larger hotels – often franchises of international chains, and overall they were decent and comfortable. The views to be had from the rooms in some of them were pretty decent too, for example in the hotel in Xinning County near Langshan where we stayed after our decompression-river-cruise on the Fuyi River. In one direction:

In the other:

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China-2023: decompression – on the Fuyi River.

Happy New Year, folks!…

“But… it’s January 9 already”, I imagine some of you, dear readers, are thinking. Quick explanation to those who may be new to these here blog-pages: the first week of any New Year in Russia is always a week-off for most of the country – seven or eight or nine bank-holiday days in a row. And this year was no exception. Thus, here we are – just into the first working week of the year…

And my first post of the year: a continuation of where I left of (notwithstanding my 2023 review) – in my tales-from-the-Chinese-side series, naturally. Not that there are many posts left: just a couple or so, but finish the series I must, so here we are. Today’s post, as its title suggests, is about our traditional post-tourism-till-you-drop – a short period of winding down and chilling out: this time on a leisurely cruise upon the Fuyi River, which runs through the previously posted-about Mount Langshan National Geological Park…

Our river cruise was made on two of these here faux-bamboo rafts (though ones of actual bamboo do exist; at least, they did back in 2017 when I saw a few (in Linjang)) ->

The views from the rafts – remarkable:

As per – map-on-brown:

Just 12km of “drifting length”, and no rapids anywhere:

As we were used to just after Golden Week: hardly any tourists at all. We were alone on the river; in all the pics I’ve found on the net there are several rafts on the go simultaneously…

Curiously, the rafts’ outboard motors are all electric; accordingly – no noise at all, and none of that fuel smell you get with a traditional motor. The resulting peace and quiet only adds to the enjoyment!

All aboard? And we’re off (straight into some riffles)! ->

I do love a spot of rafting. Sure, there’s the adrenaline version (like you get in Russia’s Altai region), which of course is great fun, but there’s also the relaxed – even meditative – version, like what we had here:

I wonder if our rafts scared the fish away? Probably; but the fishermen didn’t let on: they too must have been in meditative mode:

It was so bereft of tourists here that the reflections on the water were in places near mirror-perfect:

Aaaah! ->

Occasional modern-kunst-esque rock formations appear on the banks:

Here’s the best view to be had, without a doubt: with the “General” on the horizon ->

Check out the (stood-to-attention) General’s military parade tunic and epaulettes! ->

At the General’s feet – plenty of lighting installations: no doubt he looks even more dashing at night all lit up. Alas, we couldn’t hang about to see…

From the side – the military-parade pomp/formality vanishes! ->

And that was that for our spot of meditative river-rafting. Ooh – and that was that for our spot of inner-China tourism (there remains just the post-scriptum post all about eats and lodgings – coming up shortly)…

The rest of the photos from our China-2023 trip are here.

My 2023 review: spreading our wings, full-speed ahead, and forever on the up and up!…

Once again, we’re nearing the end of a year: our planet Earth is completing its yearly cycle around the sun (and that’s a little under a billion kilometers, btw (I’ve just looked that up on the internet). But the main thing for us now is finishing off this year of 2023 as merrily as we possibly can – while looking forward to a positive, confident 2024. But there’s just one last thing I must do before midnight on New Year’s Eve, and that’s come up with my review-report on the outgoing year…

So what’s been most important of all during 2023? I think that that, for sure, has to be our continued ability not only to withstand the ongoing geopolitical s***storm we’ve no control over – but to up our skills and adeptness in conducting global business in spite of it. Oh yes!

But it wasn’t all work, work, work. There were also plenty of tourisms for me personally throughout the year, which I’ll surely get to in this review. But for now – just a photo to set the (positive) tone: of Mount Rinjani, Indonesia, at dawn, with the shadow of a perfect-cone volcano on the horizon behind it:

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China-2023: Langshan, pt. 3 – rock camels and candles.

Langshan – pt. 1: done.
Langshan – pt. 2: done.
Langshan – pt. 3: coming right up here today (and all the Langshans in a single day!)…

And it’s called… Camel Peak Scenic Spot. Hmmm – I wonder where they got the name from? ->

…Actually, if you think that’s a camel’s hump – you’re wrong; it’s the camel’s… tail. Confused? You’re not the only ones! And here’s the camel from the side; still befuddled?! ->

In short – lost in (cultural) translation, I think. Whatever. Camel’s the name and that’s that. Get over it!…

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