United States of America, Land of the Free

October 24, 2016 by


The United States of America is the greatest country in the world, at least in this writer’s opinion, and not necessarily from a traveler’s point of view. However, since this is a travel guide, I’ll refer to the United States of America as a touristic destination and I will not bore you with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Founding Fathers and so on and so forth.

So, to begin with, with a population of 321 million officially (the real figure is north of 350 million if we’re including the illegal immigrants) and a land surface of almost ten million square kilometers, the United States of America is a huge country after any metrics.

Truth be told, the land of the free, home of the brave is a place of incredible beauty and genuine diversity, ranging from the dramatic skyline of New York City, the most adulated and cosmopolitan city in the world to the dramatic landscapes, the likes of Arizona’s Mesas .


If you’re for the first time in the Big Apple, nothing can prepare you for the “cultural” shock in advance, and I am talking here about your fist glimpse of Manhattan surreal skyline. If you want to be flabbergasted by God’s green earth, just take a trip to the Grand Canyon, or imbibe yourself with the magic nightlife and the neon lit excesses of the nouveaux Gomora, and I mean Las Vegas. These are just a few of the United States of America’s highlights.


Truth be told, you can spend your entire life in this country and you’ll have the sensation you’ve only scratched the surface, provided you’re not a millionaire who can travel non-stop and live his life on the road. Of course, I am talking from a traveler’s point of view. America is so vast and the touristic highlights so many, it would be next to impossible to visit everything in a single trip, that’s the idea.


After all, the United States of America is the place where you can trek through hill country, I mean trekking the soaring Black Hills in the state of South Dakota, or admire the incredible spectacle offered by the world renowned Niagara Falls, or go West, because the West is the Best, Get here and We’ll do the rest, as Morrison used to sing back in the day talking about California’s epic Pacific Coast. Lake Tahoe is the best place for skiing in the world, whilst traveling in the Midwest you’ll be able to re-live the cowboy life in a cattle ranching trip, or imbibe in the creole live jazz culture of New Orleans. Visiting the United States of America will make you understand the sens of the phrase “endless options”.


Truth be told, the man made landscapes in the United States of America, and I am talking about its wonderful megalopolises, are almost as great sa the natural ones. The most iconic skyscrapers in the world are in New York after all, the likes of the Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building.

However, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas are equally recognizable architecturally speaking if you’ve watched Hollywood’s best movies.


The folks who live in the United States of America are similarly diverse as the country’s  landscape and cities. America has them all, from the colorful and happy go lucky Cubans to the gun toting wranglers of Texas, this place is (or it used to be until affirmative action and cultural marxism) the definition of a cultural melting pot. Being a country built by European immigrants, at least until the sixties, 10 generations of English, Scottish, Irish, Italian, German and Northern European immigrants have shaped the United States of America’s national identity in almost every aspect, ranging from language, music, food and manners.


The country’s capital is Washington DC and it was once derided as boring, but today the new Rome (the Empire’s capital) is a place bursting with life, hip new bars, beautiful boutiques and an incredibly culinary scene.

STS-135 Atlantis Launch





Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Hail to the Queen

October 24, 2016 by


If you’re wondering what’s up with the title, well, I regard the newly released Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 as a queen, not a king, because Xiaomi is a girl’s name. At least in my view. But let’s not talk about Chinese girls names, shall we?

Now, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is the third Redmi Note I’ve reviewed on our website, and truth be told, this droid has some pretty big shoes to fill. Just to give you an idea, the last generation (Note 3) had become India’s hottest smartphone ever, becoming a best seller and also enjoyed a huge popularity in its home turf, China that is.

So, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 will have to prove worthy of its ancestors. Starting with the beginning, the latest Redmi Note generation is a more premium looking and feeling droid and as a consequence, it has a slightly higher price tag. But it’s also a tad higher when compared to the Redmi series mid-range status.

For example, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 boasts a premium looking and feeling full metal body design, being built from a high-grade aluminum alloy, just like its HTC and Sony competitors are doing with their premium smartphones.


And secondly, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 runs on a pretty interesting system on chip architecture, the Helio X20 chipset which is somewhere between upper mid range and high end, in a blurry-gray territory.

As an added advantage, the High version of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 boasts 64 GB of native storage capacity which is quite impressive considering the asking price of the respective flavor, which is under 200 Euros. Are you impressed yet? If not, keep on reading, it gets even better.

Since the Note 3, Xiaomi moved up in the ranks in regard to the manufacturing process, resulting in a sturdier, higher quality body which weighs a little more, but that’s ok in my book. The chassis of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is made from a solid aluminum ingot, beautifully polished, and the front glass boasts its 2.5D feature. Overall, the smartphone looks very beautiful and it has a premium look and feel, well above its price bracket.

The display is a 5,5 inches wide IPS LCD variety of full HD 1080p resolution with a 401 pixels per inch density, just like the iPhone 7 Plus.

In the connectivity department, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 offers the regular Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an IR blaster, but there’s no NFC on board. The battery is a beefy 4100 mAh power plant which comes with an endurance rating of 83 hours, which is quite a lot.

The droid runs on a forked Android 7.0 Nougat Core version with the company’s proprietary MIUI 8 user interface on top, which is great at text rendering and offers a bunch of enhanced video editing tools.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 runs on a MediaTek Helio X20 architecture  which is an impressive chipset, which offers stellar single core performance, which is the most important metric by the way. The graphic processing unit is a Mali T880 MP4 variety, which is also quite competitive and considering the price tag, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is an absolute best-buy performance wise. I mean, considering its ~ $200 price tag, give or take, you’ll be blown away by what this baby has under the hood.


In the camera department, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 comes with a 13 megapixels main snapper with an f/2.0 aperture, dual LED/Dual Tone Flash, phase detection autofocus and 1080p video recording capability. The selfie camera is a 5 megapixels f/2.0 aperture variety and the interface is a re-skin of the MIUI offering lots of effects and setting.

Truth be told, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is that kind of a smartphone that has the capability of changing one’s buying habits, as it redefines the notion of best bang for the buck. The metal body evokes high end droids, the display is excellent, the hardware platform offers quite a punch and all these great features are at your finger tips in a sub 200 euro smartphone.

The build quality is definitely on par with HTC and Sony’s flagships, there’s a finger print reader available, the SoC offers best in class performance (price wise), the GPU is similar to a QSD 650 and overall, for that kind of money you can’t buy better gear.






Hong Kong Travel Guide

October 23, 2016 by


Hong Kong is a magic place where Eastern culture meets and greets Western culture, an impressive and steamy city which has evolved in the last couple hundred of years into Asia’s most cosmopolit and lovable traveling destination, boasting its incredible skyline, part steel and glass and part neon lights, part towering hills, making for one of the most majestic cities in the world.

But what makes Hong Kong what it is is its incredible life-pulse, the vivid city life which is basically a twenty four hour flurry of non-stop activity. Hong Kong can be described as the city that never sleeps, boasting its boat buzzed waterfront and its fully packed dim-sum (these are Chinese pies, dim sum means little food actually) restaurants, clattering tea-houses and incense smoked temples, incredibly lively street markets and century old hotels with many stories to tell its visitors. All these features make for Hong Kong to be a traveling destination like no other, teeming with high-energy and a breathtaking diversity.


Hong Kongs sits on a very interesting piece of land, being basically part of mainland China, on the south-western coast at the mouth of the Pearl River, making for an incredible melange of Western and Eastern influences. If you’re a traveler to Hong Kong, my best advice would be to go with the flow and forget everything else.

The city was under British rule for centuries and in 1997 the territory was handed over back to China, but the English legacy is still there, tangible in all sorts of aspects of life, ranging from the architecture to the local’s obsession with tea and horse racing.


Victoria Harbor is the centerpiece of Hong Kong and even this moniker harks back to the British era. Today, Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong overall are a world class tourist destination due to their nightlife, gastronomy and shopping resorts, which are unique and flabbergasting, especially if you’re visiting here for the first time.

The heartbeat of the city is Hong Kong Island, something like what Manhattan is for New York, boasting its impressive high end shopping malls and glistening sky scrapers, but if you’re getting down to “street level” sort to speak, you’ll discover traditional Chinese haunts and wet markets, which will always remind you that Hong Kong is a melting pot of cultures and civilizations, and together with the “millionaires and billionaires” the city relies on a working-class populace, which still makes ends meet in the “old school” way, which is often pretty hard.


Visiting Hong Kong is also much more than it meets the eye. Besides the incredible lively and cosmopolit city-life, the city offers tons of natural attractions, ranging from volcanic landscapes, hiker friendly ranges, sleepy islands, pristine woodlands, miles and miles of golden beaches and protected marine parks.

Macau is not a part of Hong Kong technically speaking, but it’s very similar in lots of respects, i.e. it’s a Special Autonomous Region, just like Hong Kong, which was also returned to China in 1999 (former Portugal colony) and if you’ll be visiting Hong Kong, you must take a trip to Macau also. For example, Macau made a fortune and a name for itself via its incredible casinos (there are none in Hong Kong where gambling is illegal except for horse racing) and it’s a hugely popular destination for weekend breaks and/or day trips.


If you want to mingle with the crowds, Hong Kong’s Mong Kok is arguably the world’s most densely populated region and an excellent place to eat exotic fish and all sorts of sea foods.

And speaking of foods, Hong Kong’s cuisine is the perfect place to sample authentic Chinese food from all regions including Northern, Cantonese, Shanghai, Chiu Chow, Hakka and Szechuan. You can also enjoy these foods in exotic locations, i.e. on Aberdeen’s floating restaurants or on a sampan in Causeway Bay, on a street market or in a Kowloon restaurant. Chinese people love food and the dishes are by the hundreds.






Apple iPhone 7 Plus, Rock On!

October 23, 2016 by


Just a couple of days ago I made a review of the iPhone 7 and today we’ll talk about its bigger brother, the iPhone 7 Plus. To describe it in a few words, I’d say Hail to the King baby. The iPhone 7 Plus needs no introduction, really, as the bigger sibling of the regular 7 and the successor of the 6 Plus from last year.

Compared to its 2015 predecessor, the new iPhone 7 Plus is better, faster, more and the whole nine yards. The design was refined, the new A10 SoC is quicker than ever before, there’s a dual camera setup on the back panel to up the ante even more, and, wait for it, the iPhone 7 Plus is now waterproof.

Before moving along with the review, let me tell you what’s not so cool. For example, Apple dropped the 3.5 mm audio jack, but the iPhone 7 Plus ships with a Lightning to 3.5 mm adapter in its retail box.

Another thing worth mentioning is the lack of a micro SD card slot, so you’ll have to live with the native storage capacity, there’s no way around that for another year. The NFC functionality is basically limited to Apple Pay, there’s no FM radio, no infra-red port and no fast nor wireless charging.

The battery is sealed and that about sums up the “not so cool” things about the iPhone 7 Plus, except maybe for the Jet Black version which is very scratch-sensitive to put it mildly.


Ok, now that we covered the main disadvantages of the iPhone 7 Plus, let’s see what’s new, shall we?

Starting with the retail box, the Phone 7 Plus ships with the regular accessories, such as a Lightning cable, a wall charger, Earpods and the Lightning connector plus the aforementioned 3.5 mm adapter.

If you want to try the new wireless AirPods, tough luck, you’ll have to spend $150, as they’re sold separately. On the outside, the iPhone 7 Plus is almost identical to the previous gen, having a similar footprint but being a tad lighter, standing at 188 grams vs 192 grams of the 6 Plus. What’s different is the design of the antenna bands, which now look better, but the rest is quasi-identical with the 6th gen.

However, the iPhone 7 Plus’s “refurbished” design doesn’t mean that this baby isn’t the “highest end” smartphone on the market today. Everything is at superlative in the iPhone 7 Plus, starting with the premium materials used and ending up with the stellar workmanship.

The unibody chassis is made from airplane grade aluminum, the display is a 2.5 D ion strengthened glass, obviously scratch resistant and covered by an oleophobic coating. The huge Home key under the display and the fat bezels of the iPhone 7 Plus make it relatively big for a 5.5” smartphone, but you’ll have to live with that if you want the best,right?

The 5.5 inches wide display has the same resolution and specs  as last year’s 6 Plus, i.e. an IPS LCD Retina display variety of full HD 1080p resolution/401 pixels per inch density, 3 D touch enabled obviously and 25% brighter than last year.

The display is perfectly calibrated color-wise and you can use it professionally if you’re working in a color-critical environment. Specs aside, iPhone 7 Plus’s display is arguably the best on the market today.

The non removable battery has a capacity of 2900 mAh, 5% more than in the 6 Plus and given the energy eficient A10 Fusion SoC and the optimized software, well, the iPhone 7 Plus has an endurance rating of 75 hours, which translates into 18 hours of talk time, 13 and a half hours of web browsing or almost 8 hours of video playback. Connectivity wise, the iPhone 7 Plus comes with all the features imaginable, including LTE Cat.9, VoLTE, WI-Fi, Bluetooth etc.


The new iOS 10 is now more refined and thanks to the latest generation A10 Fusion chipset, which marks a premiere for the company as the first quad-core CPU, everything runs buttery smooth, perfect and the whole nine yards. Both the GPU and the CPU are approximately 50% faster than last year’s, making the new iPhone 7 Plus the most powerful smartphone on the market today by a long shot.

The latest iPhone 7 Plus hopped on the dual-camera train and comes with a dual camera setup on the back panel. Long story short, everything is better  than last year’s 6 Plus, including a 60% faster 12 MP sensor and 30% more efficient, the f/1.8 aperture is brighter and helps a lot with low-light pictures, there’s 4 K video-recording and the whole nine yards. Quality wise, the stills and the videos are among the best I’ve ever seen.

Bottom line, if you can afford the price tag, the iPhone 7 Plus is almost impossible to beat in any respect. As usual.










Tunisia Travel Guide

October 21, 2016 by


Tunisia can be described as a micro-cosmos of North Africa, being a relatively small country with just 15 million inhabitants and a land surface of 163, 610 km. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just saying that it’s small compared to other places in Africa, however, visiting Tunisia you’ll be able to enjoy basically everything North Africa has to offer, ranging from the rolling and impressive dunes of the Sahara desert to ancient ruins and sugar cube houses.

The salt lake of Chott el Jerid, Tunisia

Visiting Tunisia is an opportunity to lose yourself in Tunis’s plethora of maze-like alleyways, or to visit Kairouan’s beautiful mosques, or sit in awe on the salt flats which are to be found in Chott El Jerid. You can always take a camel trip into the desert or re-live in real life the movie Gladiator, while taking a trip at El Jem, which is the home of an impressive roman-era amphitheater.



Tunisia is best known as the favorite traveling destination in the cold months, as there are thousands of tourists which are lured by the country’s sunny golden beaches, which are lining the Mediterranean sea. The coastline is nothing short of impressive and filled with modern tourist resorts which are the perfect spot for travelers seeking for an easy escape.

If you’re the adventurous type, you can go in an expedition and explore the small coastal towns and villages, places which abound in quiet and untouched beaches where fishermen are hauling the day’s “crop” sort to speak.


However, Tunisia is more than its beautiful lazy beaches, more than a seaside randez vous. The country is among the most moderate in Africa, politically speaking, and you’ll definitely enjoy sipping a glass of mint tea or puffing a scented shisha watching old guys playing domino after the call to prayer has faded.

Or, you can get steamed and scrubbed on a beautiful and old marble slab, just like ancient romans used to do it back in the day, under the domes of a hammam. Souks (flea markets basically) are the perfect opportunity to test your haggling skills, while sipping hot tea as you barter for the lowest price possible. The ancient traditions of the Tunisian way of life are still alive and well here and you’ll feel like traveling back in time, when life was simpler and more pure, without the interference of technology and modern civilization, which can be a benefit or a hazard, depending on how you look at things.


As I already told you, despite being an Islamic country, the political regime in Tunisia is mild, very moderate actually, benefiting in a big way from modern influences. I mean, beyond its traditions and the ancient medina, Tunisian cities are full of cafes, restaurants and bars, of which many feel very European.

The appeal of visiting Tunisia still endures, even if it took a big hit with the recent Arab springs and tourists are coming back in droves again.

Outside a Moorish cafe, Tunis, Tunisia

By a long shot, El Jem Colosseum, which sits on UNESCO’s World Heritage List is the country’s highlight, from a historical point of view. The Colosseum was built by the Romans in the 3rd century, and it makes for a gargantuan structure which back in the day was capable of harboring up to 35,000 people. Even today it’s still there, alive and kicking, towering over the modern town, being the biggest amphitheater in Africa and a copy of Roma’s Colosseum, being a fine example of the mighty Roman empire which spread to the very center of Tunisia.

Temple of Juno Caelestis, Roman archeological ruins, Dougga, Tunisia

Another place which sits on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in Tunisia is represented by the ruins of Dougga, again, some of the best preserved Roman era ruins in North Africa, dating way back to the 6th century. The ruins of monumental temples and ruins are sitting on a dramatic hilltop location, making for one of Tunisia’s most important and outstanding tourist attractions.


Another gorgeous and picturesque traveling hot spot in Tunisia is the town of Sidi Bou Said, which boasts its impressive white and blue structures atop the Mediterranean sea, being an easy 1 day trip from the country’s capital, Tunis.

Finally, for Star Wars aficionados, Chott El Jerid is the place where the first movie was made and the place where  the force is still strong.









Sony Xperia XZ,Going High-End

October 21, 2016 by


The Sony Xperia XZ is the Japanese’s tech giant latest flagship and it comes with a refined design compared to the previous gen, some updated hardware specs and a better camera. When Sony revealed their X series of droids, it was widely thought that the X Performance will be the king, the Samurai that will fight the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S7 or the HTC 10 or whatever.

You know,because the “performance” moniker. However, it has been proved that this is not going to be the case. Enter Sony Xperia XZ, the top dog in the company’s lineup, with the Z revealing its noble ancestry.

The Sony Xperia XZ has a lot in common with the former Z5. For example, the screen real estate, which is identical, including the resolution, and that’s not necessarily something to throw rocks at. What’s more aggravating is the exact same 3 GB of RAM on board, which if compared to today’s flagships is rather on the low-key note.

The rest though is top notch, including the top-shelve Snapdragon 820 system on chip, the powerful 23 megapixels snapper featuring Sony’s best technologies, including 4 K recording obviously, or the state of the art 13 MP camera on the front panel, the USB Type C port, the finger print scanner, the stereo speakers or the IP 68 rating.

None of the cool features seem to be missing, yet the real issue with this baby is definitely the pricing.

To begin with the basics, the Xperia  XZ measures 146 x 72 x 8.1 millimeters, which is identical to the Z5, just 0.8 millimeters thicker. Standing at 161 grams, the Xperia XZ plays in the same ballpark with HTC 10, only the S7 is lighter at 151 grams. The design are is minimalist, refined and it marks an obvious evolution compared to the previous generations, provided you’re into Sony’s design school of thought, i.e. rectangles and sharp corners.


The choice of materials used into the Xperia XZ’s built is also interesting, as there are 3 different textures you’ll be touching: Gorilla Glass on the front panel, a frame made from polycarbonate and an ALKALEIDO state of the art metal-like rear panel. This weird sounding material is a trademark name actually and it belongs to Kobe Steel, a Japanese steel manufacturer. In reality, it’s some sort of an aluminum alloy, which complements the smartphone’s premium design, offering its users a feeling of depth and an extra shine.

While the Xperia XZ comes with IP68 certification, Sony specifically states that you should never submerge your droid in water and also to avoid salt water/seawater or chlorinated water (pool water basically). Waterproofing a smartphone is actually quite difficult and it’s basically a gray area. The idea is that  you should take the IP 68 certification with a grain of salt, don’t push it, alright folks?

The display is a full HD 1080p 5.2” IPS LCD variety of 424 pixels per inch density, which is sharp enough and very high quality, though competitors already moved to QHD.


Connectivity wise, the Xperia XZ comes in 2 flavors, single and dual SIM, both offering LTE Cat 9, Wi-Fi with 2x MIMO antennas, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX NFC, GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, an USB Type C port and the whole nine yards.

The battery is rather good, standing at only 2900 mAh and offering 72 hours of endurance rating, which compared to the iPhone 7’s 60 hours is not bad. Only the S7 beats it, with 98 hours. Also, the battery features Sony’s proprietary Qnovo and Battery Care, an adaptive charging technology which minimizes cell damage and prolongates battery life. There’s also a quick-charging feature.

Hardware wise, the smartphone runs on a QSD 820 chipset, like all this year’s Android flagships, an octa core SoC featuring 4 custom made Kryo cores and an Adreno 530 graphic processing unit, along with a puny 3 GB of RAM.

The 23 megapixels main camera comes with a Sony IMX300 sensor, which is one of the best out there, being used only in Xperia smartphones and not supplied to other manufacturers.However, Xperia XZ’s camera is pretty far from being the best, offering decent quality but it fails spectacularly in low light conditions compared to its competitors. Video recording offers 4K, but then again, nothing spectacular.

Bottom line, the Sony Xperia XZ is a better droid than the Z5 in every respect. If you’re into Sony’s no-nonsense design and you’re on the prowl for a smartphone with a solid  battery, an excellent display, great audio quality and a minimalist approach with regard to Android skins/interface, this baby has your name on it.









Russia Travel Guide, A Baffling Experience

October 20, 2016 by


As Winston Churchill said it, Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, a breathtaking and baffling realm, world’s largest country  and monumental in almost any aspect. With a population of approximately 143 million and a land surface of 17 million plus square kilometers, everything that Churchill said back then is as true today as it ever was.

Russia is a former empire, both “then and now” sort to speak, and I am talking about the tsarist-era Russia and the communist USSR, as they were both empires in every sense of the word, though very different in the same time. The imperial splendor of tsarist Russia is still here to be admired in the country’s extraordinary cities, but visiting Russia is more than strolling in Moscow or St.Petersburg.


Russia makes for a unique melange of Soviet and tsarist era monuments and architecture and incredible natural beauty, the likes of the icy Siberian tundra and the country’s incredible vivid and cosmopolitan cities, both working together from a traveler’s point of view for creating one of the most interesting touristic destinations in the world.

The western part of the country is better known to the general public, due to the fact that the country’s capital and St Petersburg are some of the most extraordinary cities in the world, especially Moscow, which rapidly became the beating heart of the capitalistic Russia, a place where Asia meets Europe for creating an enigmatic and boisterous metropolis where everything happens on a grand scale.


St Petersburg is also an incredible city, that kind of place which looks like taken from a Hollywoodian film set, boasting its cathedrals, waterways and epic palaces, being the grandest and arguably the most European city in Russia, with a deep, complex character.

However, if you want to know the deep Russia, you’ll have to go farther than these 2 main hubs. For example, there’s an ancient collection of little towns, north-east of the capital, knowns as the Golden Ring, where you can admire some of the best architectural works in Europe. Also, you can take a cruise along the majestic Volga river, or travel south and admire the Caspian see, thus having an opportunity to see the country beyond its westernized urban areas.


If you’ll be heading east to Siberia, you’ll find paradise on earth, a land of sublime natural, unspoiled beauty. From the ancient imperial city of Irkutsk to the Lake Baikal, from the epic mountains of Altai and the grand shamans of Tuva, Siberia has plenty of secrets to discover for the intrepid traveler. But if you come to think about it, visiting Russia and learning everything there is to learn about the country would take a life time or maybe two…

All these things I’ve told you about are drawing an increasing number of travelers to the Russian Federation, but keep in mind what Fyodor Tyutchev, a Russian poet once said: Russia cannot be understood.


If you’re going to St Petersburg, make sure you’re doing it in the height of the summer season, when you can live through the white nights, due to its city’s northerly location which makes it for some 3 weeks in the summer season to experience twenty four hour daylight starting from mid June, transforming it literally in the city that never sleeps.

Catherine Palace is another must-see while in St Petersburg, as it’s located about 25 kilometers outside the city skirts, being the former summer residence for the royal family in tsarist Russia (think Amber Room).


If you’re in Moscow and you’re a ballet/opera aficionado, buy a ticket and go see the Balshoi Theatre, one of the most prestigious and oldest of its kind in the world.

Also, don’t forget the Red Square, which is bordered by the country’s best known monuments, the likes of St Basil cathedral, the Kremlin or the GUM department store. Moscow is world renowned for its boisterous and wild night life, being a place where luxury really means opulent luxury, with an emphasis on party, not profits.


Finally, the Trans Siberian railway is arguably the best rail journey in the world, being a week long voyage from the Russian capital to the Chinese capital, Moscow to Beijing that is, taking you through some of the world’s most remote and epic landscapes where everything is still wild and unspoiled by the human civilization.







iPhone 7 Review, Ready to Roll With the Best

October 19, 2016 by


The long awaited for iPhone 7 is finally here folks. Pumped up, jacked up and ready to roll! It’s like in that saying, you know, about how the world was made in 7 days…God created the Earth and everything, but in the seventh day He took a break. The same thing can be said about the iPhone 7, and I’m not blasphemous, pretty far from it. In Apple’s case, in the seventh day, the designers working at the iPhone 7 took a nap and there came the engineers.

The idea is that from a designer’s point of view, the iPhone 7 is last year’s thing, as the men behind the design department chose a conservative approach for the 7th gen and they basically re-packed the iPhone 6, but, wait for it, here comes the engineers.

Even if on the outside the iPhone 7 looks almost identical to its previous 6th gen, on the inside, well, that’s another story. In case you did not know it, some bored techies from an unnamed tech magazine took a test a few months ago, before the iPhone 7 became official.

In that test, they benchmarked using real life tests Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, which was brand new back then, the best Samsung had to offer at that point in time (before BoomGate), the cutting edge Korean miracle and all that palaver and what…I’ve lost my train of thought here. Oh yes, last year’s iPhone 6s. So, the latest and greatest Samsung flagship as per 2016 vs last year’s iPhone.


And the iPhone 6s destroyed the Note 7, yes folks. If you were wondering what’s up with my rant, well, it’s about the basics of logic: if last year’s smartphone obliterated the 2016’s Note 7, which by the way was recalled and discontinued to its battery catching fire at the worst possible times, guess what: the iPhone 7 is WAY better than the iPhone 6, meaning that Apple is basically fighting Apple at this point. There’s no real competitors out there if we’re discussing performance, fluidity, sheer raw processing power and all that.

Ok, there may be a smartphone with a bigger-shinier screen and/or a better camera. But overall, the iPhone 7 plays in a league of its own, seriously folks, there’s no contest here.

Now, in many ways, the 7th gen is a better smartphone than the 6th, but that’s nothing spectacular nor flabbergasting about it. What’s excellent about the iPhone 7 in this writer’s opinion is the waterproofing and the fact that Apple made it tougher, rougher, you know? It’s not a hipster’s smartphone anymore.

You can argue that the new iPhone 7 has better speakers, and yes indeed, it does. The storage options are more reasonable, being basically doubled from last year’s edition.

In terms of hardware, the most important thing is that the 7 is the first smartphone from the Cupertino based company to feature a quad core architecture. Keep in mind that Androids are already octa core and deca core is around the corner.

The design is the same unibody metal-glass sandwich, built with an obsessive attention to detail and on top of that, waterproofed. Unfortunately, the 3.5 mm headphone jack is no more. The antenna strips are now less obtrusive and that’s great.

The display is an almost perfect 4.7 inches wide LED back-lit IPS LCD variety (Retina baby) with a resolution of 326 pixels per inch and if you’re arguing with droid-heads obsessed by resolution and tech specs, let me tell you just that: the iPhone 7’s display is perfect out of the box, being perfectly calibrated. If you want a perfect display, this is it. It doesn’t get any better in real life I mean, tech specs aside. Just take a look at it and compare it with whatever, next to each other, you’ll understand what I am talking about.


The hardware platform is built around Apple’s newest A10 Fusion chipset, a quad core 64 Bit Apple designed CPU which is the best out there by a wide margin. The GPU is a hexa core variety which is 50% faster than the old generation (the A10 is 40% faster than the A9). All these with 2 GB of RAM on top equals pure performance baby.

Just to get an idea, the A10 SoC is twice as powerful (200%) as the current Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 in terms of processing power and that’s all you must remember.

The camera is an updated 12 MP which has a brighter aperture (f/1.8) aimed at improving photos taken in low light condition. There’s also a 6 element lens and optical image stabilization. The sensor is faster and more efficient than ever before, the camera is incredibly fast while the video capabilities are stellar (4K, full HD, you name it).








Netherlands Travel Guide, Tulip Country

September 19, 2016 by


The Netherlands, formally known as tulip country, or the flat country, is a beautiful travelling destination in the European Union, with a population of 18.1 million and a land surface of 41,528 square kilometers.

Metrics aside, the Netherlands boasts its colorful and vivid tulip fields, its peculiar canals, one of the most revered coast lines in the world and in Northern Europe together with its sophisticated and cosmopolite cities.


If you’re an art and culture buff, the Netherlands will feel like home, as you’ll be able to discover and explore the birth place of Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh, Mondrian and many, many other big names.

The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy, having a king for the head of state, and that goes back hundreds of years ago. The consequence is that many of its big cities are dominated and enriched by majestic palaces, the likes of Amsterdam, the main city and Hague, the capital city.


Amsterdam is veritable mecca for youngsters from all over the world, being a very romantic city, very well known for its ubiquitous bikes, the step gabled houses, the luring red light district and “purple haze” coffee shops, where you can sample forbidden (in other parts of the world) pleasures.

Also, Amsterdam is bisected by a mind boggling network of waterways, of which many are spanned by awesome latticed bridges.

In the south part of the Netherlands you’ll find Rotterdam, a historic port city now heavy industrialized, where you can also enjoy two fundamentally opposite things: some of the best museums in the country and the city’s recently discovered affinity for hip hop.

Grand Hotel de l'Empereur - Maastricht

Grand Hotel de l’Empereur – Maastricht

In Maastricht, together with the resented Limbourg region you’ll find which is called by many as being arguably the best bookshop in the world, and I am referring to the Selexyz Dominicanen. The city itself has that sort of delicate beauty and it’s filled with churches and also traversed by a mighty river.


The coast of Netherlands can be described as featuring the almost stereotypical Dutch landscape, i.e. endless fields of tulips dotted with windmills and dairy farms which are the engine for the country’s world renowned wheels of cheese. The Dutch countryside is abundant in charming little villages and towns, the likes of Haarlem, Edam (here you can find a kick-ass cheese, Edam cheese that is) or Leiden, which are basically unchanged since the medieval period.


Zeeland is called by the locals the Caribbean of the Netherlands, a 400 miles stretch of beautiful sandy beaches, being the shiniest part of the country obviously and the favorite choice for the locals to spend their summer vacation. If the weather is not so great, you can always go cycling or explore the local museums. It’s a win-win situation.


But the most interesting place to visit while in the Netherlands is definitely Amsterdam, the country’s emblematic capital which oozes with culture, romance and kicks. You can take your best half in a candle lit boat cruise along the city’s wonderful canals, and if you have a vivid imagination, you can think you’re in Venice, as you pass by the narrow fronted buildings along the canal, which date way back from the city’s glorious moments when it was the world’s trading centre. Also, Amsterdam is the place to be if you want to admire the original painting of the famous Dutch masters which are available at Rijksmuseum.

Amsterdam Arena is home for Ajax Amsterdam, the famous football team and while in Amsterdam, maybe you can enjoy a football game here or at SV’s Philips Stadion in Eindhoven, or, why not, even at De Kuip, in Rotterdam. Football is the national sport in the Netherlands, together with biking and eating all sorts of cheeses.


And speaking of cheese, don’t forget to enjoy the awesome spectacle of Holland’s cheese markets. The best ones are in the town of Edam and Waagplein, in Alkamaar.

As per Visa requirements, don’t worry, the Netherlands is a member of the European Union and it also signed the Schengen treaty. Getting a Visa for Holland is easy.








Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, Best Bang for the Buck!

September 19, 2016 by


The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is that kind of a device which sets the benchmark in the best bang for the buck category. Basically, to describe it in just a few words, this droids comes with lots of features and incredible performance way above the price asked.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is the proud successor of last year’s Redmi Note 3. The latter was powered by a Mediatek Helio X10 system on chip and, just a few months after its initial launching, a special edition was revealed, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon architecture. Well, this baby broke all the records in terms of sales figures in India, which is arguably the largest emerging market in the world, China aside (the home-turf for the company).

This is the device we’re reviewing today, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Snapdragon edition, which even if it was launched a few months ago, it should be on your radar if you’re looking for dirt-cheap performance sans a celebrity tag on your smartphone. I mean, this is not an iPhone nor a Galaxy S X, but if you’re looking for true performance and buckets of features without having to put a second mortgage on your home, keep reading.

Besides the improved chipset, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 features a new camera sensor, with a 16 MP resolution. Despite the fact that it’s limited to full HD recording, 1080p, that’s not a drawback in my view, because 4k videos are immense and there are relatively few TVs and laptops to offer that native resolution. And watching 4k videos on a smartphone display is kind of pushing it, right?

Another difference or upgrade, however you want to call it is that the Snapdragon version of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has a second SIM card-tray which can also be used as an expansion port, i.e. it supports micro SD cards.

Now, let’s takea closer look at Xiaomi Redmi Note 3’s key features and specs, shall we?

To begin with, this droid features a beautiful aluminum unibody design and it has the exact same dimensions of the original Mediatek-powered Redmi Note 3, i.e. 150 x 75 x 8.7 millimeters and it weighs 164 grams. The finish and fit are quite good as the smartphones feels durable and well built. For a mid ranged device, a metal clad unibody design is always cool to have, especially given the asking price of the Redmi Note 3, no complaints in this department.


The front panels is covered in a sheath of black glass, protecting the 5.5 inches wide display, a LCD IPS Full HD/1080p variety, with 401 pixels per inch density. Thing is, we don’t have any kind of intel about what type of glass was used, if it’s scratch resistant or any other information whatsoever.

One of the coolest things about this baby is the beefy 4000 mAh power plant, which is not removable by user but I doubt it will be an issue with this smartphone. Given the humongous capacity of the battery, the Redmi Note 3 boasts an impressive 93 hours of endurance rating, which should please the pickiest user.

As the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chipset, connectivity is top notch, including LTE, tri band GSM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the whole nine yards.

The user interface is provided by Xiaomi’s Global MIUI 8 beta, on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop, but unlike other custom made UIs, this one really improves overall performance. And speaking about performance, the QSD 650 system on chip really get the job done with flying colors, being a hexa core architecture which consists of 4x 1.4 GHz Cortex A 53 CPUs and 2x 1.8 GHz Cortex A 72 ones, together with an Adreno 510 GPU for handling the demanding graphic applications.

There are 2 models to choose from: a 16 GB of native storage which comes with 2 GB of ram and a 32 GB variety with 3 GB of RAM. I would advise you to go for the latter.

The camera in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 was upgraded and now it comes with a 16 MP sensor, phase detection, an f/2.0 aperture lens and a 2 tone dual LED flash. The performance and the quality are very good considering the price tag and the interface is very simple.

Bottom line, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 offers great value for day to day users looking for a very capable yet relatively cheap mid-ranged droid, offering good specs, top notch build quality, a decent display, excellent battery life and above average performance at a competitive price tag.