There were various ways technology influenced or assisted me on this trip. Last night, I had the pleasure of dining with a friend’s mother and sister, both natives of Budapest. Although I had met them in the past when they visited Maryland, the language barrier meant we had only waves, smiles and greetings spoken through my friend translating very brief conversations. However, Mom was instrumental in selecting my bedtime and breakfast, the Butterfly Home B&B. I wanted to take her to dinner in thanks. I came prepared with my iPhone and iPad.
My iPhone was invaluable for last night at dinner. I do not speak Hungarian, and still can’t pronounce, ejgeszsegedre! Bring on The iPhone app “translate” to the rescue. Mom would write down what she wanted to say in Hungarian and I would type in and translate to English. If I needed to say something I would type it and translate. It had a few hiccups but worked for the most part. At the same time, I was Facebook chatting with my Hungarian friend, and she could also chat with her Mom and sister too. The iPad let me show off some pictures from my trip. It was a lovely evening and I think everyone had a good time. I know I did.
My family is not going be surprised at the next statement, but I connected with other people talking about technology! Talk nerd to me anytime! I had a few conversations with various people about iPhone vs Android (about 50/50 in France, many more iPhones in other partsof Europe. Mac vs PC, same arguments as always…and what programming languages people are using for software development. The nerds can always find a common topic to converse no matter what their first language is!
As I sit at my gate in Budapest and look around, I see more electronic devices than books. People are on their smart phones or tablets, I’ve seen very few laptops on this trip and surprisingly, no netbooks. There were many places that had free wifi, like this airport and my hotels/apartments. It was not always reliable, but good enough to keep up communications at home.
I wish my prepaid SIM card had worked out. I’m hoping I didn’t overdo the data charges for AT&T. There were times it was invaluable, I used the GPS locator on my phone, on both night trains, and sometimes to get my bearings in a new city or to get directions. This was important when traveling alone.
My one mistake was to leave my adapter in my checked bags in Prague when I took the night trip to Cesky Krumlov. My battery was nearly out when I arrived again in Prague, and this was an issue since there were so many train problems. All worked out in the end, but thinking i was going to be off-line due to no power made me the most nervous!
I think the Internet has made the world a much smaller place. With the exception of Budapest, I booked everything sight unseen based on reviews of various websites, such as Venere, Airbnb, Kayak, Trip Advisor and Rick Steve’s Website. I noticed that through out my travels, each store front or advertisement showed either a web address or Facebook page. It’s nice to know that I can revisit a little gift shop with the click of a button.
Gone are the day of pen pals. I’ve made new Facebook friends along the way. Now my newsfeed will come in even more languages! It’s wonderful that I can continue to stay in touch with these new friends and know that our paths may once again cross, somewhere in the world.
Technology allowed me to stay in touch with family and friends back home. I texted, facebook’ed and Face Timed all along the road, allowing me to be not lonely at all. Last solo trip I had my journal, this time I had my blog. I spent a dinner in Bruges sharing conversation and pictures with friends/family while I ate solo but was located in the town square. That’s the really cool!
Each morning I was greeted by a night owl friend. Her late nights corresponded with my early mornings. Each day we would chat online as I got ready for the day and often as I ate breakfast. Her witty conversations were a perfect way to start the day. It was a great way to debrief from my daily tours, but it also led me to the discovery of stickers in Facebook’s chat feature. Lot’s of laughs using that feature! I feel like she was a travel companion in way. I hope we can travel together in person at some point. I think we would have a lot of fun.
So, this trip really did combine two things I really love, technology and travel. Lucky me!