Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Croatia Travel Guide, Picture Perfect

February 26, 2017

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Croatia is one of Europe’ best traveling destinations, as it occupies an outstandingly beautiful stretch of the Adriatic Sea coastline, which makes it one of the top seaside spots to spend your summer vacation on the Old Continent.

Another cool thing about Croatia, and a little know fact for that matter, is that the country boasts over 1100 islands, together with a picture perfect scenery and crystal clear waters. If you’re seeking for plenty of sea and sunshine, forget about Greece folks.

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Okay, I am only kidding, Greece is a beautiful place too, but oh boy, just wait until you see the spectacular Roman ruins and the ancient walled cities of Croatia, not to mention the country’s unspoiled wilderness and national parks, its epic and imposing castles or the fabulous cuisine, which obviously  makes good use of the seafood which is plentiful. In Istria you’ll eat the best truffles in this part of the world, together with enjoying its buzzing cafe culture and fine wines, they all add to the appeal in a big way.

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Croatia is a relatively tiny country, with only 4.2 million people and a land surface of 56,542 square kilometers. However, strong essences are kept inside tiny bottles, and the same thing is very true about Croatia.

The country’s main city and capital is Zagreb, which can be described as the quintessential Central European metropolis. Everything in Zagreb, ranging from its cuisine (yes, I know, I talk a lot about food) to architecture is imbibed into that old school European spirit, reflecting the country’s traditional ties with the Austro Hungarian Empire.

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Zagreb is also a perfect starting point from which you may begin to explore the pastoral regions of Zagorje where you’ll be able to sip some of the finest wines in the known universe or to explore its historic castles. Or both, why not?

Croatia used to be a part of Yugoslavia, but after Yugoslavia split and Croatia went on its own way, the country suffered dramatic changes, in a good way. The most important  change from our point of view took place in the last decade and especially in the country’t tourism business.

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Until very recently, Croatia’s epic coastline was a well kept secret for “insiders only”, boasting its undeveloped and undiscovered natural beauty, which is arguably just as beautiful as Italy’s, but without the panache and fanfare.

Now you’ll be amazed by the huge numbers of tourists from Germany and Great Britain flocking to visit the Dalmatian region. Also, many westerners bought holiday homes in this beautiful area.

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There are also 2 gorgeous cities to visit on Croatia’s breathtaking coastline, and I am talking about Dubrovnik and Split. Be advised, these cities tend to be pretty crowded during peak holiday season, but they’ve still maintained their charm. The evenings in these coastal cities tend to be the most relaxed and quiet part of the day, and the perfect time for music aficionados to attend a classical music concert together with all sorts of cultural events in the city centers.

Croatia is not only composed of high profile tourist zones, as it also harbors a plethora of isolated places, where you can still enjoy the country’s local life, which is as traditional as it gets for a Central European country.

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Just take a trip to Plivice and you’ll understand what I am talking about. Plivice is well known for its lake strewn national park, which is amazing by any metrics. Also, while here you can explore the lush and untouched mountain ranges of Gorski Kotar and Velebit, which are havens for outdoors enthusiasts, especially hikers.

Getting back on the Adriatic Coastline, because the summer is almost here, Croatia will provide the intrepid traveler with the ideal scuba diving opportunities, sailing conditions and sea kayaking. If you’re into water-sports, Croatia has your name on it so to speak.

Croatia is Europe’s top naturist travel destination where you can get a good tan even where the son don’t shine if you catch my drift, and also a place where you can play outdoors or rest for hours savoring the sunshine on the beach.

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Thailand Travel Guide

January 30, 2017

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Thailand is a very popular travelling destination for westerners, especially during the winter months, due to the country’s warm climate and dirt cheap prices. And visiting this magic place is like taking a crash course into Asian culture. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, with a land surface of 513 million square kilometers and a population just shy of 70 million. The attractions of this country are pretty hard to enumerate, but just for the sake of argument, we’ll give it a try.

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Starting with its ancient monasteries, ruined and mysterious cities speaking of forgotten civilizations, the country’s colorful hill tribes, Buddhist monks, pristine and lush rain-forests harboring exotic wildlife, its golden beaches and epic tropical islands, not to mention the monumental coral reefs and, why not, Thailand’s traditional floating markets and its cities crazy rave parties, especially in the capital Bangkok which is the most vivid and exuberant city to visit in Southern Asia, a place which by itself would justify a trip here, all these are the pearls in the crown of Thailand.

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To put the cherry on top, the Thai people are world famous for their friendliness and hospitality, with Thailand being actually one of the first Asian countries to open up in a meaningful manner to outsiders. Thailand’s love story with the west begun in the nineteenth century, due to the king’s Rama 4th’s appreciation of all things western.This king was responsible for launching the country on the path of modernization and he diplomatically convinced the Thai folk to replace chopsticks with knives and forks.

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Thailand is a unique place and thus it attracts all types of tourists, from Russian and Saudi billionaires to Lonely Planet backpackers. If you’re filthy rich or dirt poor, it doesn’t really matter, because you’ll have the time of your life while visiting Thailand, as you’ll be able to feel and live comfortably here regardless of your social status.

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Everything is easy to find, ranging from world class five star hotels and tourist resorts to hippy and cheap hostels. Truth be told, in recent years Thailand seems to have been following a more upmarket trend; I mean, long gone are the country’s backpacking heydays, as currently Thailand is a technological power house and very modern, with air conditioning everywhere and all that jazz.

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Almost every hotel now offers spa treatments and the famous Thai massages, so remember that when you’re planning the next holiday folks.

Even if Thailand is a place for adventurous people, one may wonder what can be more relaxing after a hard year’s work than to sit lavishly on the beach while enjoying a Thai massage? Just think about it for a moment. The beaches and islands in the southern part of the country are legendary among scuba diving and surfing enthusiasts, together with  water-sports  aficionados, whilst Thailand’s lush jungles in the north are a dream come true for wildlife spotters, trekkers and Bear Grylls fans. If you want to have a story to tell to your grand-kids, just go for a bath under a waterfall in the orchid filled jungles of Taiwan, that will make for an unforgettable experience.

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And finally, there’s the Thai cuisine, one of the best in the world and arguably the spiciest. Thai folks always seem to have a fork in hand, whether you’re cruising the night markets or in the five star restaurants and  street stalls. Visiting Thailand makes for a unique experience, during which you can forget about your modern life’s problems and issues and take a stroll along the sandy beaches, drink a cup of tea with a monk and afterwards, go snorkel over a coral reef and let it go. Also, if you’re into blood sports, don’t forget to go and cheer the fighters at a kickboxing (Muay Thai) match, which is the national sport of sorts in Taiwan.

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Samsung Galaxy C5 Review, Ready to Go!

December 7, 2016

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The new Samsung Galaxy C5 plays in the best bang for the buck category and it makes for the latest member of the Galaxy family, being a relatively impressive droid considering the price tag vs the tech specs.

Samsung’s new C line boasts a slim and impeccably crafted metal chassis, being an incremental upgrade over last year’s generation, especially in terms of hardware, whilst the design remained pretty much the same. The current generation is composed of the C5, C7 and C9, the former being today’s star and also the cheapest of the bunch, though these babies actually share most of their hardware.

Design wise, they’re pretty much the same, almost identical, with the sole difference being the chip-set architecture. I must admit it though, the Samsung Galaxy C5 is a real looker, reminding me of the  HTC A9 or even the iPhone 6s, and that’s absolutely great in my view. Even if originality is not its strongest attribute, the Samsung Galaxy C5 is a charming smartphone by any metrics.  You’ll definitely fall in love by the gorgeous rear panel and the sturdy metal chassis which features an uni-body design, including a matte finish that’s smudge/finger print resistant, all built with Samsung’s obsessive attention to detail.

Generally speaking, Samsung rarely disappoints with regard to display quality and the C5 is no exception to that rule. The Galaxy C5 falls into “near phablet” territory with its 5.2 inches wide Super AMOLED display of full HD 1080p resolution. The screen is excellent, with punchy colors and high contrast, offering a great 421 pixels per inch density and impeccable sunlight legibility. Everything is at superlative considering that the C5 is a mid-ranged droid, all images look sharp and sort of punchy, which is the main characteristic of AMOLED displays.

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Color accuracy is equally impressive too, meaning that Samsung takes color calibration seriously and also that it constantly works at improving its displays.

Connectivity wise,the smartphone is equipped with twin nano SIM slots, of which one is a hybrid, meaning that you can use it as a micro SD card or for a second line via SIM card. LTE connectivity is capped at Cat. 4 which translates into 150 MB /second, despite the fact that the chip-set has an X8 modem inside, being rated for Cat.7 and that’s pretty weird.

Naturally, there’s Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2 with ANT+ support, NFC (Samsung Pay compatible) and a micro USB 2.0 port which comes with USB on the go. Samsung did not forget to put an FM Radio on board for your listening pleasure and that’s a nice touch in this writer’s opinion.

The Galaxy C5 comes with a 2600 mAh non-removable battery under the rear panel which has an endurance rating of 75 hours. That’s pretty good for a mid ranged droid, meaning that you’ll get 2 days of power on a single charge even if you’re a hard-core user, else you can use it for up to three days under moderate usage.

The C5 arrives pre-loaded with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box , boasting Samsung’s in house made Touch Wiz user interface on top, which takes the clutter down to a minimum so to speak, with just a hint of bloatware and all things nicely organized.

Being a mid-ranger, one should not expect miracles from the C5, yet the smartphone has enough power under the hood to make it through the day with flying colors. The droid runs on an octa core chip set architecture, a Snapdragon 617 respectively, working together with an Adreno 405 GPU and a plentiful 4 GB of RAM.

The camera is a 16 MP main snapper with an f/1.9 aperture lens, helped by a dual tone led flash. The sensor is made by Samsung and I am talking about the S5K3P3, which offers a pretty good camera experience. The selfie shooter is an 8 MP variety and both snappers are capable of video recording at full HD 1080p resolution.

Bottom line, if you’re looking for a mid ranged droid which is basically an iPhone lookalike only way more cheaper, with an excellent screen, decent battery life, superb build quality and average performance, the C5 is the droid you’re looking for, especially if you catch it at a discount.

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Bosnia and Herzegovina Travel Guide

August 15, 2016

 

bosnia-and-herzegovina-bosnia-sarajevo-miljackaBosnia and Herzegovina is a relatively under-rated travelling destination in Europe, as it just emerged from the tragic war in Yugoslavia in the nineties, a war which left the country scarred but recovering slowly, especially in the past five years.

To describe it in a few words,  Bosnia and Herzegovina is a compelling and multi faceted place to spend a couple of weeks of your life, being blessed with a beautiful mountainous landscape which can be admired best visiting the country’s lush national parks.

Even if  Bosnia and Herzegovina still suffers from the war, especially its fractured infrastructure which is currently rebuilt, you’ll definitely enjoy the country’s natural beauties and its urban centers, especially the capital Sarajevo (you know, where Archduke Ferdinand was shot, starting World War 1) which makes for a unique place in Europe and a pleasure for the intrepid traveler, boasting a vivid nightlife and a rich history and architecture.

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To begin with,  Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country in East Europe with a population just shy of four million and a land surface of 51,129 square kilometers. As I already told you, the main city and also the capital is Sarajevo, a cosmopolitan place if there ever was one. Sarajevo’s old town is basically an “east meets west” kind of job, if I may use that expression. The idea is that the old town is composed, historically and architecturally, from two main parts: one of them bears the legacy of the old Ottoman Empire, filled with historic mosques, craft workshops and little cafes on its cobbled streets, while the other half wears the signature of the Austria-Hungarian empire from the 19th century. Indeed, in Sarajevo East meets west and that itself is a good reason to pay a visit this summer to  Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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However, there’s much more than the “east meets west” thing if you’re brave enough to book a flight to Sarajevo. If you’re a history and/or an art buff, Sarajevo harbors some of the most interesting museums in Europe. The rest of the country is mostly undeveloped to tell you the truth, but there are lots of epic mosques and old fortresses scattered around the territory, so you’ll definitely have a good time, all things considered. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, life is very cheap in  Bosnia and Herzegovina, 3-4 times cheaper than in Western European countries, especially food and rent, so here you’re gonna have the surprise of your life, in a pleasant way.

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Talking about Sarajevo, even if it was heavily scarred by the war, it makes for a truly vivacious place to live in, with an awesome cafe culture and a vivid night life. The Ottoman quarter makes for a truly unique experience, being as pretty as it gets sort to speak, boasting its timeworn monuments and splendid mosques. If you’re into shopping, you’ll have the bargain of your life walking the Ottoman quarter along its old bazaars and lanes, where you can buy basically anything for dirt cheap prices.

You can also visit the exact spot in Sarajevo where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated , which is the event that started World War 1, one of the bloodiest in the history of mankind. Also, you can cross the Mostar Bridge, which links the 2 sides of Sarajevo as it crosses Neretva River. The original Mostar Bridge was built by the Ottomans almost five hundred years ago, but it was destroyed during the 1990s war. However, since then it has been reconstructed using the original specs provided by the Turks themselves.

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The scenery in  Bosnia and Herzegovina is absolutely delightful, hence you can always go hike the country’s beautiful and undulating landscape, which offers myriads of hill walking opportunities, especially the areas in Bjelasnica Mountain. Here you can hike, go trekking, engage in rafting and also enjoy the local village tourism, which is cheap and authentic.

Bosnia has only one beach at the Adriatic Sea and to visit it, you must head to Neum. Here you will be amazed by its golden, beautiful sands and the Adriatic’s emerald waters.

Sutjeska National Park  is an impeccable nature reserve and it makes for one of the last primeval forests in the continent, being also the country’s highest point (2368 meters).

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The food in Bosnia and Herzegovina is excellent and cheap, being a melange between the various cultures which inhabit the Balkans, with the Turkish cuisine having the biggest impact apparently. There are also stews and soups on the menus, courtesy of the Austrian regime, while the Herzegovina region is well known for its great wines.

To visit the country, you’ll require a passport and a visa, but don’t worry, just check with your local embassy.

 

 

 

 

 

Samsung Galaxy S7, Class Act!

March 13, 2016

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The long-sought after Samsung Galaxy S7 is here at last, ladies and gents. The Korean tech giant’s flagship was finally released and, truth be told, it’s even better than I ever thought it possible.

I mean, the latest S6 was a mixed bag, nothing to write home about, yet a perfectly good smartphone in its high end niche.

I must confess that I had high hopes for the S7, Samsung really needed something extraordinary to stand out from the crowd.

I’m saying that because lately, the company released a bunch of good droids, but that “wow”factor was relatively absent. I believe I’m not the only one in this situation, it’s a common trend even with companies like Apple, the former master of innovation and what not.

Bottom line, in the tech world the trend seems to be dullness at high costs. Maybe everything was already invented, who knows? When all hope was lost, enter Samsung Galaxy S7.

So, what’s up with the wilder-beast?

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The new Samsung Galaxy S7 marks the return of the king, together with the micro SD slot and the oh-so-cool water-proofing. The battery is still unavailable to the normal user, as its sealed, and that’s not so great. 

However, the Koreans beefed up the battery so that should not be a problem. The camera is also upgraded, in good Samsung tradition, being momentarily maybe the best on the market, and it features warp 9 fast auto-focus, for those special moments when your cat is stealing the food from a homeless person.

What else is on the menu? Well, the Samsung Galaxy S7 comes with one of the best AMOLED screens I have ever seen, with the Always On feature that’s all the rage in the geek parallel universe (I bet you don’t know what I’m talking about).

The built is a sandwich of Gorilla glass and aluminum, in good flagship tradition, the hardware is Samsung’s finest, but there’s no radio on board, nor stereo speakers. But hey, who listens to radio via an antenna on the phone speakers? Nobody. The internet rules.

So, let’s begin with the dimensions: the S7 measures 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9mm and weighs 152, being a tad heavier than the previous gen. The design is more or less made in Korea, but the phone looks pretty good and has that premium feeling in your greedy little hand.

The premium build however is one thing, as the S7 is as tough as it gets: the latest Galaxy S7 will survive when dropped in water and it’s also dust proof.

The display is a 5.1 incher AMOLED, Samsung’s specialty and features QHD resolution, meaning 1,440 x 2,560 pixels. The pixels per inch density is a fabulous 577 ppi and the overall screen performance is top notch, near perfect, flabbergasting, you know the drill. Here Samsung really performs great, as always.

In terms of connectivity, the Samsung Galaxy S7 plays in a league of its own. Basically, everything is covered: Wi-Fi, a/b/g/n at 2.4GHz and 5GHz, LTE Cat. 9, HSPA, Bluetooth 4.2 LE for wearables, NFC support, apt-X codec, microUSB 2.0, all the bells and whistles are here.

Battery life is amazing, due to the impressive 3000 mAh capacity of the power-plant, and the new S7 comes with an endurance rating of 80 hours. That’s over three day folks, with web browsing, talk time and video playback. Seriously, this is made in Heaven.

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The user interface is as expected from a Touch Wiz user interface on top of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The phone is buttery smooth, everything works great, without hick-ups, there’s no lag, nor freeze. Perfect.

Talking about performance, the Galaxy S7 comes in two flavors: one version featuring a Snapdragon 820 system on chip, while the other is an in-house Exynos 8890.

The Exynos versions is an octa-core (eight cores), while the Snapdragon is a quad-core (4 cores). The GPU in the Qualcomm flavor is the Adreno 530 while the Exynos uses a Mali-T880 MP12.

Needless to say, the performance levels are incredible, as the Samsung Galaxy S7 bests all of its competitors in the Android niche with flying colors.

The camera is a 12 megapixels shooter featuring a Sony IMX260 sensor and optical image stabilization. The pictures and the videos are absolutely fabulous, as expected from a flagship and then some.

The video camera comes with 4k@30 fps capture and full HD@60 frames per second.

Bottom line, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is an evolution from the S6, as it’s bigger, better, faster, more and the whole nine yards. Even the design is more polished and sophisticated, more refined, the screen, hardware and the camera are the best on the market, so, go for it if you can afford it.

 

 

Cyprus Travel Guide

March 13, 2016

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Cyprus is a small country, neighboring Greece, with a surface area of 9,251 square kilometers and a population of 1.2 million.

Being neighbor to Greece, which is a world-renowned travelling destination, Cyprus is said to be the birthplace of a legendary Greek goddess, Aphrodite.

In case that you’re not savvy with Greek mythology, well, let me remind you that Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty, and Cyprus really lives up to Aphrodite’s legacy.

Cyprus is the definition of Mediterranean heritage. Traveling here you’ll be amazed by its marvelous sandy beaches, the classical ruins, old monasteries, terracotta houses, thyme covered mountains and, last but not least, its high-end touristic resorts, which are the main selling point for sun seeking youngsters, not so much in tune with ancient history and Greek mythology.

Since its “inception”, Cyprus was like a gate between two worlds, sitting at the crossroads of Asia and Europe.

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For hundreds if not thousands of years, a succession of empires fought over Cyprus’s mountain fortresses and its sea-ports, strategic points which guaranteed their owners total supremacy over the Mediterranean sea.

Due to its strategical position, Cyprus is a placed filled with ancient history relics and architectural wonders, left behind by all the empire-builders who occupied this little tiny country in their quest for world domination.

While in Cyprus, you’ll be absolutely delighted to see ancient Roman and Greek ruins, strong Venetian city walls, picturesque crusader castles and even minarets and mosques, built and left behind by the Ottoman empire during their invasion.

After the seventies, Cyprus was divided into Greek Cypriot and Turkish states. The north of the country is now isolated, as it belongs to Turkey while the south is Greek, the Greek Republic of Cyprus and that’s what today’s article is all about (the Turkish Cyprus remained isolated, off-tourist radar and it’s not even recognized by the international community).

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After the partition of Cyprus, tourism became an essential part of this tiny country’s GDP, along with the financial businesses, as Cyprus is a fiscal paradise of some sort, together with an overdrive in terms of tourist development.

The best holiday resorts were built on the Greek half of Cyprus, along the southern cost, places like Protaras, Ayia Napa, Paphos and Limassol.

Travel here during the summer months and you’ll be part of the crowd enjoying the country’s whitewashed villas, banana boat rides, lively night clubs and the whole nine yards, which draws hordes of youngsters year after year, living la vida loca.

The inland Cyprus is very different from its coastal areas, which are as modern and trendy as it gets. The old Cyprus is still alive and kicking here, boasting its marvelous villages and UNESCO listed monasteries and churches, together with its serene vineyards and mountain trails.

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The same old world atmosphere is evident in the country’s main city and capital, Nicosia, which is divided between Byzantine churches and Turkish mosques.

What to see, what to do in Cyprus

If you’re into “all natural”-rugged landscapes, pay a visit to the Akamas peninsula, a place filled with virgin forests, as in pine trees and sandy bays, an excellent spot  to escape from today’s savage world and enjoy the silence, to be one with the nature and the wildlife.

Another magic place to visit,  where you’ll be imbibed with ancient history and cultural heritage is Kourion, in Limassol, featuring a spectacular Greek-Roman theater, a marketplace (Agora) and the ruins of a cathedral plus a small castle (a villa), the house of Eustolios and impeccably preserved fifth century floor mosaics’ this is one of the most interesting places on the island from an archaeological point of view.

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Petra tou Romiou or the Rock of Aphrodite is the place where goddess Aphrodite was born and it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit while in Cyprus. Nearby you can pay a visit to the Temple of Aphrodite which sits on the ancient ruins of Palaipafos.

Food and Drink

The Cypriot food is absolutely delicious, just like Greek cuisine, and it’s a melange of Greek and Turkish dish. In the south of the island, you’ll enjoy a pure Mediterranean food, with olives and lemons that can be picked directly from the trees, while in the North, the cuisine is a melange of Asian and Middle Eastern cooking.

Specialties include kleftiko (lamb with herbs, slow cooked) and afelia( pork slow cooked in coriander and red wine), aubergines stuffed with onions and tomato called imam bayildi, dolmades, adana, tava and stifado.

Regional drinks include an excellent and strong black coffee, wines, spirits and beer.

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Visa Requirements

To enter and visit Cyprus you’ll require a valid passport if you’re a non-EU traveler, else an ID card will be enough.

 

 

Samsung Galaxy A9, a Star is Born

February 27, 2016

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Say hello to the Samsung Galaxy A9 2016, the latest and the greatest in the A-series and the biggest droid ever built by the Korean tech giant.

This fellow is so big, that even the Galaxy Note looks small in comparison. Ok, maybe not like a dwarf, but keep in mind that the A9 comes with an impressive 6 inches of real-estate screen, and that puts it into phablet territory.

The star of the A series, the Galaxy A9 features an absolutely massive 6 inches AMOLED display and a top-shelve Snapdragon 652 system on chip, which puts it into the premium-droid debacle. I mean, is there something better on the market today than the A9, at least in its price bracket? Well, stick around and you’ll find out very soon.

There are many things likable about the Galaxy A9. For example, the beefy 4000 mAh battery, the octa-core system on chip, which is available both with a Snapdragon or an in-house Exynos chip, the premium built (a metal-Gorilla Glass combo), the presence of a micro SD slot extension and the plentiful storage space (32 GB).

But let’s not anticipate.

Let’s begin with the dimensions: the Samsung Galaxy A9 measures a very respectable 161.7 x 80.9 x 7.4mm and it’s pretty heavy, at 200 grams. That was to be expected from a six incher, right?

Compared with the Note 5 or the Galaxy S6 Edge, the A9 is both wider and taller in every direction with almost half a centimeter.

 

The thickness is alright though, making it almost pocket-able, provided you have large pockets,  and also fairly easy to handle. However, if you want to use it nice and proper, you’ll definitely require both hands.

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The built quality is outstanding, to say the least, as the Galaxy A9 features a metal skeleton which is sandwiched between 2 panes of 2.5 D Gorilla Glass 4.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about the massive six-inches display. In good Samsung tradition,, the Galaxy A9 features a Super AMOLED screen, the biggest ever seen on a smartphone (not counting the Tab S) of 1080p full-HD resolution, with a 367 pixels per inch density. Long story short, the display is a knockout, as it looks absolutely gorgeous and it’s well calibrated, impressively bright and with an awesome contrast.

Basically, what is to be expected from a premium smartphone from Samsung, correct?

The Galaxy A9 is available in both single and dual SIM flavors. The connectivity options abound, ranging from LTE Cat. 4 support to Bluetooth 4.1,a microUSB 2.0 port, NFC and ANT+ to Wi-Fi network at 2.4GHz or 5GHz, 802.11ac.

The impressive 4000 mAh battery fits the monster like a glove, and it provides absolutely stellar results in terms of autonomy, talk time and web browsing. The smartphone is rated at 103 hours of endurance and that sounds almost like a brick-phone from the dark ages of technology. That’s like  4 days and then some folks!

The Samsung Galaxy A9 runs on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with the proprietary TouchWiz on top and together with the fingerprint reader provides a very familiar Android experience, at least for Samsung aficionados.

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The UI is fully customizable and themeable, with three pre-installed and lots of others at a download away.

Performance wise, the A9 runs on a mid-ranged Snapdragon 652 chipset, which has 8 physical cores/8 CPU’s, and there’s even an Exyno version for selected regions. The bulk of the A9’s however run on 652’s.

This particular system on chip features four Cortex-A72 cores, paired with four A-53 cores, for achieving power-efficiency. The GPU is the next-generation Adreno 510 from Qualcomm, which offers 40% more performance than its previous gen together with 40% power reduction. Long story short, the Samsung Galaxy A9 is a true power-house, and it offers a lot of bang for the buck, everything runs smooth, even the latest games.

The camera has a 4:3 13 megapixels sensor, a f/1.9 aperture and features OIS (optical image stabilization). The video-recording is capped at 1080p @ 30fps for marketing reasons obviously. The stills and video quality is top-notch and the photo-video quality is very similar to the Note 5, but with less detail.

There’s a secondary 8 MP camera for selfies, which does a great job too.

In conclusion, the Samsung Galaxy A9 offers flag ship level build quality, lots of features, an impressive autonomy, a gorgeous screen and flagship level performance at a not-so-flagship price, being one of Samsung’s best smartphones released lately.

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Fiji Travel Guide

February 12, 2016

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Fiji bids the global-travelers a friendly welcome, regardless of the time of the year, being a true-blue tropical paradise, filled with wonderful beaches, swaying palm trees and blue lagoons.

Fiji is an epic place, well known for its magnificent sunsets, excellent surf, breathtaking water-falls, untouched/virgin rain forests and, last but not least, its friendly and beautiful people.

All these qualities make for Fiji a catchy tourist destination, which lures thousands of travelers from around the world to visit its beautiful shores, year after year.

With a population of only 903,207 and an area of 18, 274 square kilometers, Fiji is comprised from over 300 islands and it makes for a very interesting melting pot of peoples and cultures.

Fiji harbors in peace and harmony people from Melanesia, East India, China, Polynesia and Europe, all living together in an unique cultural combo, with English langue as lingua franca, making communication fairly easy for the intrepid tourist.

Fiji is a miraculous place to visit, boasting various attractions, such as plenty of sporting and cultural activities, a cosmopolite people and an awe inspiring scenery.

There’s something for everyone in this God blessed place, if you’re a hedonist loving water sports, an adrenaline junkie or an intrepid traveler looking for beauty, peace and relaxation.

And, last but not least, regardless of your budget, you’ll definitely find something in Fiji to accommodate you and your family.

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What to see, what to do in Fiji

Sigatoka Sand Dunes can be described as one of Fiji’s main highlights, a place where you can bury your toes in the finest sand in the world. Basically, what I am talking about is an empire of spectacular sand-dunes, which are lining the Sigatoka river, and they’re expanding for tens of millions of years. The sand here is very different from the Saharan variety, being grey brown and covered with shrubs and vines.

You can also choose to take a trip in the mangrove forests, which are located over the gorgeous coastlines of Viti Luvu. These are beautiful places, filled with wild life and you will absolutely enjoy a trip along the intricate corridors of the forests, way up to the Rewa River Delta, where you’ll have the opportunity of seeing a plethora of species of birds and animals, together with ancient fishing villages.

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While in Fiji, don’t forget to take a trip to Thurston Gardens in Suvu, and discover the Fiji Museum, which harbors a huge architectural collection dating way back to 3700 years, including all sorts of cultural artifacts and objects from Fiji’s antic indigenous population and various other cultures which have settled on these beautiful islands over time, throughout its history.

If you travel the road between Lautoka and Nadi, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, a place where you’ll enjoy the blessing of peace and tranquility, where beautiful wild orchids and various plant-life abound.

Being basically an insular nation, Fiji is a place where you can admire a stunningly beautiful water-world, just like the movie. For scuba diving fans and snorkelers, Fiji is a true blue paradise on Earth, where you can enjoy some of the best diving sites in the world, like  Rainbow Reef, Beqa Lagoon, the Great White Wall or Somosomo Straits.

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If you’re a culture-vulture, don’t forget to find your inner peace by visiting Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple, which is said to be the largest Hindu shrine/temple in the South Eastern Hemisphere. The temple illustrates perfectly Fiji’s cultural diversity.

Wind surfing is another option, especially in Mamanuca Islands, which gave Fiji the title of being the World Capital of Surfing. Indeed, these islands can make the total noob or the windsurfer pro totally happy. Totally, dude!

Fiji’s Cuisine

Fiji offers absolutely anything from the international cuisine, along with some of its special dishes. Regional foods include kokoda, which is basically raw fish marinated in a special sauce (coconut cream/lime), rourou, i.e. a taro leaf dish with coconut cream, tavioka, which is boiled/baked/grated tapioca or manioc, duruka, something like asparagus and lovo. Regional drinks include kava, which is said to be prepared by virgins, check that out!, Fiji bitter and various gins, rums, vodka and whiskey.

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Visa Requirements

To visit Fiji you’ll only require a valid passport and no Visa.

 

 

Sony Xperia Z5,Definitely Maybe!

February 12, 2016

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Today ladies and gents we’ll take a look at an interesting device, the Sony Xperia Z5 respectively, a very peculiar smartphone and somehow under-rated.

In case you did not know it, Sony used the Z letter to announce its latest flagship devices. For example, the Xperia Z5 Premium was a world-premiere in terms of screen, i.e. it was the first smartphone to boast a 4k display. Another example: the Sony Xperia Z5 compact, which was a true powerhouse smartphone but with lilliputian dimensions.

Things are different with the regular Xperia Z5, and I refer to the fact that what we’re dealing here with is not a flagship device for the Japanese company, despite the Z particle (it stands for Zorro maybe, just kidding).

Despite the fact that Xperia Z5 doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a true flagship, being pretty far from the latest and the greatest parlance, this is a pretty cool and capable smartphone.

Hardware wise, the Z5 is comparable to the Z3+, while the price is a little bit upped.

But there are difference that don’t meet the eye, despite the apparent similarities between these 2 devices, hence keep reading folks, I will illuminate you about the matter, right back after the break.

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So, what are the main attributes of the Xperia Z5? Well, let’s begin with the display. This unit features something very close to a flagship, i.e. a 5.2″ 16M-color 1080 x 1920 IPS LCD panel, obviously a capacitive touch-screen, which is augmented with Sony’s proprietary and well-renowned technologies: the X reality engine for mobile, for seamless videos and games, the Dynamic contrast enhancer for deeper blacks, the Triluminos technology and, on top of all these, a scratch resistant Gorilla Glass with a special oleophobic coating.

The Xperia Z5 runs right of the box on Android OS v5.1.1 Lollipop, featuring Sony’s Xperia launcher, an in-house bloatware if you like (I don’t by the way, I’d stick with pure Android for better performance).

How about the system on chip, the back-bone of the hardware platform? Well, this baby runs on a Octa-core Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810 chipset, meaning eight cores or CPUs: 4 of them are 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 and the other four are 2 GHz Cortex-A57. The latter being used for power-hungry applications, while the former for daily usage.

On top of the octa-core SoC, Sony put 3 gigs of RAM and an Adreno 430 graphic processing unit into the mix.

Since we’re living in the day and age of selfies and vanity-pics, the Xperia Z5 comes fully loaded to please the hipsters everywhere, featuring 2 cameras. The main one is a very respectable 23 MP shooter with 2160p@30fps video recording while the selfie-one is a 5 megapixels snapper, which records video 1080p@30fps.

In terms of storage, the Z5 offers 32 GB of internal memory ,plus an additional expansion slot, for micro SD.

Connectivity is where it should be in an upper mid-range droid. The smartphone offers LTE Cat.4 (150Mbps)/Cat.6 (300Mbps), Bluetooth v4.1,  A-GPS/GLONASS, Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac and even an FM radio with RDS. Sony got all their basis covered.

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The power-plant for this droid is represented by a beefy 2900 mAh battery, which is not removable unfortunately.

The best news is  for outdoors enthusiasts, and it goes something like that: the  Sony Xperia Z5 is IP68 certified.

What does that mean? Well, this smartphone is built like a tank, i.e. it is resistant to water and dust. So, you can take it with you anywhere, it will not break down, fail or anything like that. This baby is a true soldier.

So, taking a look at the specs, we can definitely observe one thing: this handset is certainly well equipped, and it even runs on a top of the line system on chip from Qualcomm, the 810 chip and the Adreno 430 GPU, which are top notch (at least back in October last year, when the Z5 was released).

The same tech specs are available on the aforementioned Z3+, except for a fingerprint sensor and a weaker camera.So, what’s up with that?

Well, Sony Xperia Z5 major feature is the 23 MP snapper, but truth be told, the same camera is available on the Z5 Compact and Premium.

What can we learn from these facts? For one thing, it seems obvious that Sony’s mobile division is struggling, and that’s old news already. And they struggle not because their incapacity of delivering great smartphones, but because of stupid marketing decisions. And the Xperia Z5 is an obvious case, I mean this is a superbly designed and built droid, fully packed with high-end hardware, with impressive tech specs and what not.

But the same story goes for the Z5 compact, or the Premium. Basically, Sony are cannibalizing their own market, all three being high end droids, but competing among themselves.

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Croatia Travel Guide

February 6, 2016

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Croatia is a relatively small country, a former part of Yugoslavia and presently the Republic of Croatia, sitting at the crossroads of south-east Europe, central Europe and the Mediterranean sea.

Croatia has a land surface of just 56,594 square kilometers and a population of 4.3 million. The climate is diverse, a combination between continental and Mediterranean climates.

But why travel to Croatia, you may ask. Well, from a tourist’s point of view, Croatia is among the best seaside destinations in Europe, due to its wonderful stretch of the Adriatic, I mean the coastline in Croatia is absolutely magnificent folks.

There are over one thousand island to visit while in Croatia, a country which is also famous for its stunning scenery and the limpid waters.

If you want more than sea and sunshine, rest assured, because this country has more to offer. Croatia is a place filled with medieval-walled cities, unspoiled natural parks, amazing Roman ruins dating way back (2 millenniums), a delicious cuisine (truffles, sea food and what not) and a vivid city life, wrapped around a dynamic cafe culture, to top things up!

Are you convinced yet? If not, wait, there’s more, right after the break!

The country’s capital and the biggest city is Zagreb, which can be regarded as the quintessential Central European metropolis. Okay, maybe it’s not a metropolis in the truest sense of the word, but everything in this beautiful city, from the hearty cuisine to its architecture, reflects the country’s solid ties with the former Austro Hungarian empire.

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Zagreb and especially its vicinity is home to a vast array of old buildings, churches and vineyards.

Even if the culture remained the same, along with its beautiful architecture and friendly people, something really changed in the last decades, and that something is tourism.

The formed undeveloped and undiscovered coast of the Adriatic is now a world-recognized natural wonder, which attracts myriads of tourists year after year, boosting Croatia’s economy and street-rep. Basically, Croatia’s Adriatic coast is as beautiful as Italy’s, but without the drama and the fanfare.

There are gorgeous cities to be discovered in Croatia, like the legendary Dubrovnik and Split,  places where tourists from Germany and the UK are flocking every year and lots of them bought real-estate in these areas.

Beyond the tourist-traps, Croatia is home to many unspoiled places, where you can learn and enjoy the local way of life.

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What to see, what to do in Croatia

For art buffs, I must recommend the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments located in Split.

Bird watchers will enjoy a “field-day” in Slavonia’s Kopački Rit Nature Park, which is basically a huge areal of wetland, visited by innumerable species of migrating birds.

If you like Galapagos documentaries, the place which spawned the Theory of Evolution, courtesy of Darwin, well, Croatia has its own Galapagos, namely Brijuni National Park. The place is basically an archipelago consisting of fourteen unspoiled islands, on the west coast of Istria.

If you want to get rid of those pesky tourists, look no further than Kvarner Gulf island of Cres, which harbors a rare colony of Griffon vultures, along with an ancient settlement at Valun and the lazy  Cres Town.

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Mljet National Park is a top-notch destination for cycling enthusiasts while Blue Grotto offers a surreal diving experience, where you can explore ancient ship wrecks which were sunk off the Vis island.

Dubrovnik is arguably the most famous tourist destination in Croatia, being one of the few impeccably preserved walled-medieval cities in the Mediterranean area. The city is filled with old architecture and breathes the old Europe culture, the Old Town is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site while the Franciscan Monastery and the stunning baroque churches are absolute delights for your senses.

While in Croatia, hiking and climbing, island hopping, diving and cycling are all at your finger tips.

Let me enumerate just a few highlights :Velebit, Senj and Starigrad-Paklenica, Sjeverni Velebit,Paklenica, Zlatni Rat, the island of Brac (for windsurfers), all these places have their own magic and they offer beautiful tourist resorts and various ways for spending your time (and your money in the process).

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Croatian Food and Drink

Croatia is a place where seafood dishes are regarded as “the best there is”, along with Italian cuisine influences. Specialties include air dried ham, like prosciutto in Italy, sheep cheese, octopus salad with onion,potatoes, parsley and olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, cuttlefish (cooked in its own ink), black risotto, roast lamb and truffles. Regional drinks include red wines, white wines, strong spirits with honey, great local beers and excellent coffee.

Visa Requirements

Croatia is a member of the European Union, and to visit it you’ll only require an ID if you’re from the EU or a valid passport (no Visa though).

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