I certainly learned how difficult it is to write any type of coherent blog entries during my trip to Europe, visiting Florence, Rome, Naples, Venice, Italy; Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czech Republic; Madrid and Barcelona, Spain; and Dublin, Ireland. I did find that I could manage just fine without a phone as long as I had Internet access with my iPad or iPhone (both in the “Airplane” mode so I did not get charged roaming charges). Many I talked with before leaving on my trip assured me there was lots of Internet access across Europe. Well, I did find there was lots of Internet access, but very little of it was free. As I booked housing, I soon was just as concerned about having free Internet access as I was with the location of the housing (Why is it that the more expensive hotels charge for Internet access but the less expensive hotels do not?).
Throughout my travels, I was interested in noting how the technology was used. In booking a visit to the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museum in Rome, I was able to do this online and then the window attendant scanned my QR code for entrance. The QR code was also used for entrance to a concert I attended in Vienna on Christmas. I attended church on Christmas Day at St. Stephens Church. For the main service at 10am, there were cameras and big screen TVs throughout the church so if you ended up behind a pillar, you could still see what was going on in the front of the church. However, at their next service, the TVs were not used. I guess this had something to do with the fact that the Catholic Cardinal in Vienna was doing the main service at 10am.
All of my reservations for tours, housing, plane flights, train flights and boat rides were done online. I had every reservation in a pdf on my iPhone in case I needed it, but in every case, there was no need for a paper reservation. I guess charging a credit card each time helps to keep a reservation!
The Rapid Transit systems (like BART in San Francisco or METRO in Washington DC) in all of the large cities (Budapest, Madrid, Barcelona) were outstanding. Their signage helped to overcome the language barriers. In the rapid transit trains in Barcelona, the path of the train was shown over almost every door and the next station was illuminated with a little red light.
I took many trains in Italy, Budapest, Prague and Madrid. In each case, the trains were on time. In some cases, these reservations were made online, but, in most cases, doing train reservations in person guaranteed the train schedule I wanted. The train schedules are not always posted online and it appeared that most people just knew the train schedules. Because my schedule changed slightly once arriving in Europe, this worked best for me. It also helped in talking with someone because of the language barrier. The large signs in the train stations made it easy to see when my train arrived. There was always an assigned seat so I knew my place :-).
Overall, the technology enhanced my travel and gave me options for each place I visited. I can’t imagine traveling now without being connected to the Internet at least once a day. So, does this mean I’m addicted to the Internet or is it that the Internet has become like water in my life?