Due to the inconsistencies in wireless internet overseas, these blogs were written prior and pasted once I was able.
There were a few technology devices that I needed on my trip to make this a smooth sailing trip (literally). Fujifilm digital camera. Point and shoot. Monopod. Miniature tripod. AT&T 3G iPad with international data plan. iPad camera adapter. Netbook.
Using a technology advanced point and shoot camera I would be able to focus on the subject and not have to worry about shutter speeds, film speeds, lighting and so on. The Monopod would give me some amazing shots that my arm just won’t reach. Any professional photographer will tell you that any good shot is going to come from a tripod mount. And then finally my iPad with the SD card camera adapter. What I have been doing is taking the shots, uploading them to the iPad, and then using an app that interfaces with Picasa, uploading all my photos. It has been a really slick process. I am actually impressed with myself that it actually worked as well as it did. You do have to be in strong internet connection, to upload via wifi. You can go to an internet café for 1 minute for 1 euro.
Originally my goal was that I was going to blog every day of the trip. Many days have gone by and I have neglected my blogs. I wanted to document and record as many memories as possible. I have taken trips in the past, thinking that I will remember it all, and sure enough, time goes by and year passes and you can barely remember even where you went, let alone what you saw, felt, smelled, touched, and experienced. The camera has done a pretty good job of capturing thousands of images. But as we all know a picture can only tell you so much. Europe is clean. There are no bad smells. Some places you go, it just stinks to high heaven. Others places are dirty, and you are afraid to touch the toilet seat. In Europe they charge you to go to the WC, water closet. Half a euro is common. Most of us Americans would still be standing in front of a water closet saying, in English, “Seriously?”. If they could figure out that a water closet is the toilet, that is.
Tonight at dinner I asked people an interesting question. “Other than the language barrier, what was your biggest culture shock experience with traveling through Switzerland, Germany and France? My own response was that I felt that things were considerably higher, specifically food. I like to drink a coke, but I don’t like paying 3 -5 euro for something I can get 12 in a case for $4.99 at any grocery store. Cokes are also all in glass bottles, like what we used back in the 80’s. I went to a couple of grocery stores and I didn’t find walls of soda/pop/coke like in America. I was reminded that coke is an American product, and is imported. I would have believed it if the coke was served and purchased in common aluminum cans like what we use in the States. We don’t have glass bottles here, so it must be bottled somewhere in Europe. I found it easier to locate restaurants due to the Coca Cola signs that usually hung above a sign somewhere, like a chalk board sign. Many times a coke is just as much as a beer, so might as well order a beer right? That would be fine if it wasn’t breakfast. Luckily for me I found the bottle of champagne on the breakfast buffet. I have been having mimosas every day since we set sail. Whenever someone sees me filling up my champagne glass they laugh and joke with me about being on vacation. But I think they just must think I am an alcoholic. I did talk over breakfast my enjoyment of the absinthe experience, as I sipped my mimosa.
The other thing that I found, surprisingly, sort of a shock, is that the natives were super cool and really friendly with me. I guess I sort of expected them to be rude. I knew I was going to France, and the perception is that they are all rude. When I landed in Amsterdam everyone was friendly, smiling with me. A friend of mine said it was because I am hot. It made me smile and sort of chuckle to myself. The other night I was sort of an exhibitionist. I was in my stateroom standing at the window with no shirt on, and another river boat cruises up next to my ride. Every single one of passengers on the other ship were all peeping into my stateroom. One person tried to take my picture. You can’t take a picture with a flash on when shooting through a window. So, she lucked out. Tiffany, you would have loved it. I pretended that I didn’t see any of them and kept staring out at the river. Because that’s what you do when you have a bunch of people staring at you. You keep walking or whatever and pretend like they aren’t there. People were staring at me today, but I am pretty sure it is because I am wearing a bright yellow jacket and have orange reflective sunglasses on. I have been wearing a pedometer. I got it at the dollar store. It’s pretty cheap. It has a little ball in it, and every time I step, the ball bounces. Pretty simple and pretty accurate. I have been averaging 8000 steps per day. 2000 steps equal a mile. But, I think that I have walked more than that. And maybe my dollar pedometer isn’t so great after all. I have a pedometer app on my iPhone called iTreadmill. I will do my best to remember to use it tomorrow. Then I will know if my dollar pedometer is just as good or if my iPhone app will register better.