Travel experiment with the iPad
I have been on eight extended bicycle tours (lifetime total) plus many shorter trips. My ninth tour begins next week. I am on my way to Hungary and the Balkans for a month.
Last year, I bicycled from Warsaw to Prague to Krakow to Budapest. There are other beautiful places in between which I also visited, and some not-so-beautiful ones as well (Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen, etc.).
On my journey last year, I carried the latest Macintosh Powerbook. At the end of the summer, I left my bicycle in the care of a hostel owner named Attila the Hungarian. Next week, I return to Budapest. Hopefully, my bike has been safe in Attila's care, and I can continue my journey.
This year, I am bringing the iPad on my travels instead. I have vowed that this year, I am not going to buy any paper maps. Instead, I am going to download all the maps that I need onto my iPad and navigate exclusively with my iPad:
Budapest, Baleton, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Trieste, Split, Dubrovnik, Mostar, Sarajevo, Belgrade, and finally back to Budapest.
I have cannibalized parts from several different bicycle panniers to create a new front handlebar bag that is deep enough to hold my iPad.
Old Guy Travels Like He's Still Young
I have the 64GB iPad without 3G. I'm sure that my next iPad will have 3G, but I felt that I would be doing most of my browsing in places with wireless access. In the kind of places that I travel to, 3G access is not very dependable. One of the most difficult parts of planning my route was figuring out where there are even functioning roads to get in and out of Bosnia.
Originally Posted by iVan
I know from my experiences last summer that although Americans don't go very deep into Europe, western Europeans and Australians do. Wireless is often free at cafes and restaurants, and almost mandatory at hotels and hostels. It never works very well. You often have to wander around to find a spot with a functioning network.
One night last summer in a Polish industrial town, I stayed at a still functioning "Communist Hotel" with no wireless network. I walked out into the Stalinist era bloky (apartment blocks) and searched until I found an unprotected network. I got bitten by lots of mosquitoes sitting outside using my Mac.
Although I am reasonably affluent and I could stay in swankier places, I actually prefer staying in hostels, and many other middle aged travelers do the same. After a few weeks on the road, I develop a good tan. I wear brightly colored polyester shirts every day so that motorists won't hit me. After a few weeks of riding 50-75 miles every day, I become really fit, and I actually start to believe in my own head that I am half my age. That's why traveling is so much fun.
This is the BackPack Guesthouse in Budapest, where I ended my trip last summer, and where I will begin my trip this summer. Attila says he's happy to keep my bike again next winter, so I am starting and ending my trip once again in Budapest. It's a sprawling old house, a maze of rooms with a garden in back. See this picture? I'm the guy in the red shirt, sitting next to a beautiful Ozzie in a toga. Do I look like I'm having fun?
I'm not going to bother with a sleeping bag this summer, so my gear will be light and compact, especially with the iPad replacing guidebooks and maps.
When I first traveled by bicycle in the 1980s, you needed books, maps, tents, and stoves. Hostels were called youth hostels, and were often run by former nazis who demanded that you turn out the lights by 9:45 pm. Instead, you stayed in your tent, in a campground full of German teenagers who always ran around in their underwear.
Today, every popular tourist city in central Europe has hostels, most of which are organized as coed dormitories. They always have wireless, but it doesn't usually work very well. The further east you go, the cheaper the hostels get and the less reliable the wireless is.
The former Yugoslav republics vary a lot, from Slovenia, which was always called the Switzerland of Yugoslavia, to Bosnia, which is isolated and poor, not to mention Kosovo. I won't be going south of Montenegro. I expect that both Montenegro and Bosnia will be problematic for wireless access.
August 3: Fly JFK to Budapest
August 4-7: Budapest
August 8-9: Lake Baleton, Hungary
August 10: Nagykaniza, Hungary
August 11-12: Zagreb, Croatia
August 13-14: Ljublijana, Slovenia
August 15: Trieste, Italy
August 16: Rijeka, Croatia
August 17: Zadar (by ferry)
August 18: Split, Croatia
August 19: Ploče, Croatia
August 20-21: Dubrovnik, Croatia
August 22: Montenegro
August 23: Bosnia
August 24: Sarajevo
August 25: Serbia
August 26-28: Belgrade
August 29-30: Hungary again
August 31: Final night in Budapest
September 1: Fly back to JFK
On Saturday, I do not travel and I stay in some place where there is or once was a Jewish community. I eat kosher veggie pescatarian food.
That's my trip in a nutshell.
Don't expect me to blog or write very much. There just isn't enough time to do that on the road.