Staying connected

While on holiday touring Europe I tried to stay connected to my family via email. I found that the variables with internet facilities were as ubiquitous as the variables in bathroom plumbing. Everywhere presented different systems that needed re-negotiation.


Not all hotels offer a PC with internet connection. Some are free to hotel guests while others require payment, either by coin in a slot, or credit card logon. And the fees vary.

Internet shops can be found here and there, but not everywhere. Again fees vary considerably.


Browsers and keyboards differ from what we are used to. Software systems are usually in the language of the country and sometimes there is no address box for typing in URL’s. MS Windows is worldwide so it is easy to recognise familiar icons. A lady in Italy asked me to help her with her PC because she assumed I could understand Italian from my apparent familiarity with the Italian browser. Keyboard arrangements differ too according to the language of the country, so familiar typing habits can hinder the speed of writing an email and inevitably cost you more money. Imagine “q” for “a” and “y” for “z” and the “m” moved entirely. Finding the “@” key can prove to be a challenge every time.


Deqr familz,

It is Summer in Europe so the weqther is hot qnd sunnz. We hqve seen the Eiffel Tower, the Sistine Chqpel, the stqtue of Dqvid qnd the Monq Lisq.

Be home soon.







I managed to send and receive emails in Engelberg, Rome, Venice, Florence, Paris and London. Accessing Facebook was not always possible, but I updated when I could. Hearing news from Australia on TV or in the newspapers is almost non-existent. We Australians do not rate in the world’s thinking. Even world weather reports ignore us altogether. I think this is a good thing though and hope it remains that way. “Where the bloody hell are you?” spoken by a young Aussie lady in a television commercial for tourism, wondering where all the tourists are, could be more accurately expressed by most residents of the Northern Hemisphere when asked about Australia.

Planning my trip

In three months I will visit Europe for the first time. It will be a three week whiz around Europe. I wish it could be longer.

In anticipation I have been using the web to look at the places I will be staying, the routes I will travel, and the places of interest I will visit.

Google Maps and Google Earth are fantastic tools for this task. How far is the Eiffel Tower from my hotel in Paris? Google Maps will tell me in a flash. What does the scenery look like from The Rialto Bridge in Venice? Google Earth offers great photos uploaded by other keen visitors.

I can plot my trip on Google Earth then fly around the route to gain a spatial awareness that will aid my navigation skills when I’m actually there in this unfamiliar territory.

The itinerary of my trip becomes enriched by this online research using these clever tools.

Others jokingly comment to me that I won’t need to go now as I’ve seen it all online. Well that’s where I clearly appreciate the difference between the online environment and the REAL world.

I long to submerge my physical being into other cultures. I crave hearing foreign languages as incomprehensible song. I want to be dwarfed inside historic cathedrals where light streams in from above illuminating art by the masters. I want to meander along cobblestone alleyways too narrow for cars. I want to be tempted by the smells of different foods that I am yet to taste. I want to get a real sense of my own insignificance in world history by standing in places where men and women stood, fought, died and left their marks. I want to soak in the richness of the colours and textures of beautiful European landscapes searching for the inspiration felt by the great artists. I long to gaze about in open-mouthed wonder.

I can’t do that sitting at my pc.

Meanwhile in anticipation, I can dream, imagine, and visualise the trip online, just to whet my appetite for the REAL thing.