Fake watches – it’s an industry!

Chopard Replica Watches - nice, ain't them?
Chopard Replica Watches – nice, ain’t them?

I’m going to touch on a subject that I’ve been wanting to write about several times now, but somehow didn’t get to put the lines down. It’s about this dread that are counterfeit watches, or “replicas”. I recently got a close friend of mine getting one of those for a “super deal”, and that was the last straw for me. Here’s why I’m against this. Not just because it’s encouraging a whole black market, but also and mainly because it reflects really bad taste on the part of the wearer. And that’s mildly put.

If we are to strictly stick to terms, let us not fool ourselves with the argument that, considering the seemingly convenient price points that replicas sell for, everyone knows before they purchase that these are not original watches, and thus selling and buying replicas is not a deception, but instead just the fulfillment of a demand for products that few can afford.

Fakery accompanies these watches along their entire existence, starting with the first moment of their conception (raising the necessary funds, of dubious origin, to finance their making) and until it winds up on the proud buyer’s wrist.

Renowned Swiss firms have invested for decades huge sums to create and to improve their clocks, in order to maintain and increase the prestige of those trademarks, for promoting on the market of increasingly diverse and more appealing designs, for the of high quality training and advanced training of craftsmen and specialist who are unique in the world.

It is self understood that they are very interested to protect of their image and revenue, of which the largest part is the reinvestment year after year in the improvement and diversification of their products. Having the moral right, and, as a consequence, the legal right on their side, they undertake various actions to stave off the parasitic and harmful phenomenon of counterfeiting. And they don’t do it only by appealing to the justice and the public force, but also by offering affordable products, a great example being the Rolex company, that offers watches in the same design, of a very high quality, under the brand name Tudor (official site here: http://www.tudorwatch.com/), at prices more affordable than the Rolexes. Or an example that’s very familiar to me, that of tactical watches. Since I own a number of G-shock tactical watches, here’s a telling comparison between a real one and a fake!

Although successful in numerous areas, the Swiss brands and professional associations continue to be hit by the lack of legality that reigns in certain parts of the world, where there are large underground economy and/or corrupt regimes that do not respect the rights of property.

I won’t stop here on the multi-branched of those who finance and run the illegal activities, those who copy the design of brand watches, who produce (or steal) components and assemble them, and then sell the finished product through shady networks. I will focus my attention on the people who are “targets” and, in a way, victims of the entire networks just described, the final wearers of counterfeit watches. To make a long story short, I’ll talk about two types of owners of expensive watches: those who can afford them and collectors.

Those in the first category will choose their watches according to various criteria related to their financial possibilities, their tastes and social environment, as a match to their overall outfit, usually of a high level itself. The wearers of watches from the first category are therefore relatively easy to recognize by their general appearance. The collectors, who do not belong to the first category, are those who are willing to pay a hefty to own the objects of their dreams. They are not hard to identify either, usually due to their special interests and, consequently, their high level of knowledge in the field of watchmaking.

And there is also a third category, that of wearers of counterfeited watches. For them goes a saying that’s often used in the watch industry: “a clock not only displays the time, but says something about its wearer”. Of course one can ask the question, what do “replicas” tell about their wearers?

Because I could not find anything truly positive, I will only say that in no situation one who fits in this category will be taken as someone from the first two categories described above. Not only did they encourage illegal activities through their action, but they are always in a dilemma whether to lie saying that they wear an original watch (a very short-lived lie), or to create a negative image of themselves every time they are forced to admit that wear a “replica”.

If we add to this that these owners have spent some of their hard-earned money on counterfeit products, while they could have spent it on a quality product far superior to what they now wear, watches for whih they could get included service and warranty that is missing entirely in the counterfeit’s case, we cannot but draw the conclusion that in fact such buying behavior goes counter to the interests of these buyers.

A five day cruise to the heart of Spain

A five night Western Mediterranean cruise aboard Mariner of the Seas takes passengers on a journey of discovery. During the five night cruise with Royal Caribbean, passengers will visit some of the Mediterranean’s best ports. The most notable of these is the colourful city of Barcelona, Spain.

Mariner of the Seas - Royal Caribbean
Mariner of the Seas – Royal Caribbean

Barcelona serves as the quintessential Spanish city. From the moment passengers step onto its cobblestone streets, they will be enticed by Barcelona’s local flavour and charm. Enjoy authentic tapas and paella in a corner café while taking in the hustle and bustle of daily Spanish life.

No visit to Barcelona would be complete without a stroll along Las Ramblas. It is here where cultural traditions and popular culture converge as vendors and performers vie for visitors’ attention. On the way to this vibrant part of the city, visitors will also pass a number of notable churches and cathedrals.

These buildings provide striking examples of Gaudi architecture, along with the Sagrada Familia, a world famous architectural masterpiece. Before heading back to the ship, passengers are advised to see the artwork in the Picasso museum. Watch the Spanish sun set over Barcelona from one of Mariner of the Seas’ private verandas while sipping on a destination inspired cocktail.

A look around Sevilla’s April Fair

Sevillas Fair
Sevillas Fair

When the spring is almost in the air and Seville smells like orange blossom, the April Fair takes place, a world-famous fiesta which is full of grace and color.

Its origins date back to 1846 when Narciso Bonaplata and José María de Ybarra signed a proposition which demanded to celebrate an annual festivity. From that moment on, it has become the most emblematic fiesta around Seville – where, during an entire week, either get-togethers or friends are the center of attention.

The sceneries are formed by several stalls, distributed all over the streets which are densely packed crushed rocks one. The stalls are decorated by flowers, pennants and paper lanterns.

These stalls belong to families, groups of friends, associations or entities, and that’s why the entrance is restricted to their members and guests. They usually have a tablao or a dancing area (here’s a good location for flamencos outside of the festival) along with a bar or areas where people usually meet each other.

This fiesta lasts six days; it kicks off Monday night when local people meet within their stalls to have dinner while enjoying the traditional “pescaito frito (fried fish)”. At 11 p.m. the “alumbrado” takes place when huge wooden arches (improvised also every year for the occasion) flood the local streets with colorful bulbs and paper lanterns which means that the holiday has already started. Of course, this does not prevent some families from an earlier celebration, and they usually start partying that Friday which previously comes before the holiday.

Every day, the local people come in the middle of the morning, to enjoy the eye-catching Paseo de Caballos (Walk of Horses) where riders or horsewomen, with their typical suits show their talent and their horses or where the nicest horse hitches usually color the showground.

A bit of advice: leave your backpacks and larger luggage at the hotel or place where you’re staying, else you risk to lose it in the crowd and is a nuisance to worry about constantly. I actually got my backpack with a special safety strap that just ties around my waist and arm and makes the backpack hard to remove from me. Check out the best carry-on pack listings on Rangermade.

Almost every Sevillian, in spite of his/her age will have the traditional flamenco suits on. They will spend the day dancing and singing flamenco, eating and drinking the golden Fino de Jerez (a local wine) or the Manzanilla.

In the afternoon, at 5.00 p.m, the most important bullfights of the year are held. And after that, a long night full of songs and dance awaits. It generally ends up with the traditional breakfast known as the chocolate con churros (chocolate with crullers) which can be served within the local bars and food stands along the streets.

The fair ends on Sunday at 11 p.m. when its splendid night lighting stars in and the fireworks show marks its closing ceremony. This way, a colorful and ephemeral spectacle comes to an end, expecting for another year to light up the Sevillian people’s days.

Ferrán Adria, a legend of Spanish cuisine

adria
Ferrán Adria

All those euroresidents who have stopped by El Bulli restaurant remain impressed by the greatest cook in the world who works there. He’s not only considered to be the number one in the Spanish cuisine but his prestige has spread up to such a point in which he is considered to be, according to the world press, the Spanish genius that lends an added grandeur to the international cuisine.

Although he considers as his masters a whole generation of the nouvelle cousine (Michel Guirard, Alain, Jacques Maximin), and, in Spain, uses Juan Mari Arzak as a model, the disciple has overcome the received educations, by investigating or flying freely towards a deluxe model which is quite difficult to reach from the stoves.

Ferrán Adrià, a 48-year-old man, has hit the headlines of the most prestigious means around the world. Time, Le Monde, The New York Times, El País… and he is even imitated by the Canal+’s puppet shows. It is a legend of the present days. A representative of a new art: the cuisine as expression of the intelligence and creativity.

The news headlines remain without any doubt: the Sunday supplement regarding Le Monde defined Adrià with a word: “Alchemist“, and used a question: “Is he the best in the world?” Many masters embrace this title: Boucuse, Hermé… The fact in which Adríà received, in the French sanctum, this recognition seemed to be theoretically impossible. It would have been science fiction only a few years ago.

Ferrán usually applies the Jacques Maxim’s recipe: “creativity isn’t copying” and which is applied to the cuisine. His originality, special nature, and creativity have enabled him to be the first great master of the international cuisine. By means of unique creations and a very neatly done and complex investigation, Ferrán Adrià, has enabled the Spanish cuisine to overcome the French one, by conquering, at the same time, the Northamercian ‘gourmets’ and even ‘The New York Times’.

Picture by Charles Haynes

Ever stayed in a tent in winter?

Bivy tent stayingEven though it’s winter and chilly outside, and maybe it seems a little odd and you don’t have a mind for tents right now, now’s a good time to buy a tent. Why? Because prices are lower than in the summer, when outdoors sports stores are filled with people, something which stores take advantage of to raise prices.

Where/what for do you use your tent?
In that respect, we can classify tents into:

  •     Bivouac tents (made only for one person)
  •     Hiking tents (3seasons – spring, summer, winter)
  •     Expedition tents (4 seasons – especially for winter)
  •     family tents (tents large and tall)

Bivouac/bivy tents consist only of a sheet and 2 poles for support. You’ll sleep directly on the thin “floor”. Bivies are not a substitute for tents, for failing to provide protection in case of rain, don’t keep insects at bay and the only advantage is the lower weight. In other words, we would recommend them only for veteran hikers. For a good informative read on the best bivy tent http://www.rangermade.us/best-bivy-tent/

And also this resource: http://www.climbing.com/skill/the-essentials-survive-an-unplanned-bivy/

Before you get to know the main rules of resting in a bivy tent it is Bivouac tent in summernecessary to mention that climbers should not resort to it except in cases of extreme need, because it does not offer complete resting conditions, which may have implications for the rise of the next day.

The bivouac is still needed in the following situations:

-on long trips, especially in peak traversals, when climbers are forced to spend the night on the ridge, away from shelter;

-in the case when the next day the team must leave very early on route.

On some tracks – which normally can be completed in a single day — it happens that the hiking time gets long because of a sudden change in weather. In this event, the team must take into account the possibility of a bivouac stay, and carry with them the necessary gear.

Bivouacing becomes obligatory even in shifts that normally would not require this, if the team has undertaken a route unknown, if it was lost, if special conditions occur, if an accident happens, or if a team member falls ill.

In terms of installation of the bivy, there are several general rules that climbers need to comply with. Firstly, the installation is never postponed after night fall, since a bivy is usually set up in unfavourable atmospheric conditions, on inappropriate ground, and teammates are tired, you need enough visibility that can be installed as well. Secondly, the bivouac material must be of good quality and checked continuously.

The value of a bivouac tent depends to a great extent on the material used and the choice of the site.

As we talked in a previous chapter about bivuacare material, we give below a few rules regarding the choice of the bivouac.

warm-bivy-shelterThis choice is made with particular attention, since any mistake may result in imminent danger. Taking this into account, the bivouac is installed in the following conditions:

a) Away from danger of rock falls and avalanches. To do this, the bivy is placed at the base of valleys or passageways and highly inclined slopes. Also, do not place at the base of walls or slopes that drain water.

b) Away from wind currents. The bivy is not installed on peaks and ridges, but in places protected from wind, on opposing slopes or in buildings.

c) as close to the route to be followed as possible. To gain time, the team will stay on high ground when going uphill, and on low ground when going downhill.

d) on a surface as smooth as possible, to allow the setting up of the tent and the arranging of a small terrace at the entrance. This terrace eases the installation of the bivy tent and stops the sliding of objects downhill. When there are several tents, these are grouped as close as possible, in order to be better protected against wind and cold.

e) on a platform cleaned from snow. In winter, if the snow layer is not too thick, it’s good practice to remove it from the platform of your choice, to avoid the wetting of the tent.

Canon promises DSLR quality with its compact G1X Mark II

The Japanese manufacturer has introduced today the new PowerShot G1 X Mark II. According to Canon, this new product offers the best features ever offered in a Canon compact and allows to obtain image quality on a par with that of a DSLR.

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A fully adapted design, with its stainless steel chassis and aluminum body, this camera also features a large ergonomic handle that provides a sense of durability and professionalism. It uses a large 1.5 inch CMOS sensor, a size significantly greater than most compacts, which usually carry 1 inch sensors or smaller. Thanks to the wide aperture, the depth of field obtained in this  APS-C sensor is comparable to that obtained by those used in digital SLR, which makes this camera ideal for professional-looking portraits and macro photography.

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The lens with f/2, 0-3, 9 has a 24-120 mm equivalent focal range and a 9-bladed diaphragm. It also highlights the improved AiAF system, which now includes a total of 31 AF points compared to the nine of the PowerShot G1X. On the other hand, Canon included in this model two rings for lens control: one for focal length and another for zoom, which facilitates its use when focusing manually.

It also features a new generation DIGIC 6 processor, enabling a reduction of 56% in the global delay and FullHD video recording at 30p with stereo sound. Finally, following the market trend, the new G1 X Mark II also has Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity.

Resources:

The mandatory Dpreview article: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canon-powershot-g1-x-mark-ii

The Max Nash Compact camera reviews and G1X Mark II review: http://maxcnash.com/testing-the-canon-g1x-mark-ii/

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Canon has also introduced its new DSLR for beginners, the 1200. Designed with the ease of taking creative photos in mind, it is the first model from Canon that is released together with the application Canon EOS Guide for mobile devices, which offers tips and tutorials designed to help enthusiasts get the most out of the camera.

Thanks to it one can easily learn the button layout and characteristics of the camera. The Canon EOS Guide has a series of tutorials prepared by experts and step by step exercises so you cover the basics without forgetting a paragraph on troubleshooting, something very useful for those who take their first steps with a DSLR.

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With respect to technical characteristics, the EOS 1200 uses a 18 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC processor. Its AF system is maintained in a traditional 9 points and the LCD screen has a resolution of 460,000 pixels. As we see, these are the typical specifications of an entry-level D-SLR. It also has a number of built-in creative filters, which can be applied at the time of taking the photo or after that, including fish-eye, miniature and toy camera effects.