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Laptop madness in Europe

October 08, 2006

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Trying to find wifi on the continent to upload this blog is pure madness and insanity thus far. Dinner was easy and delightful in Dijon, but wifi was not. Wifi is just not available in the same way in Europe as it is in the states and that is our biggest frustration here. I can’t wait to get my satellite! We had tried to upload at Mcdonalds in Paris before we left, but for some unknown and irrational reason could not get into the site we need to do that. We could get free wifi there,just could not upload . So our main goal in Dijon before any touring was to find a place to upload the blog because we have such a back load all the way back to Brugge (which now seems a million miles away).

Someone should have a list of all the Mcdonalds in France with wifi, but I have yet to find it in English. I did find the French Mcdonalds website and saw that they did have one in Dijon, but they do not seem to have any specific info about the wifi as some have it and some don’t. Nevertheless,we were on our way to find it first thing in Dijon, not for the food, but for the wifi.

We made it almost to the center of town from our campsite as we had been told it was there, but it was not clear where, so we decided to ask. The first older French man in a smoky bar that DaVinci asked while we waited outside was very helpful and pointed us in the right direction. There were few people on the street, but I saw a young woman and decided to ask again, just because she was young and they tend to be the most clued in to the internet and Mcdonalds.

That was a lucky serendipitous move as the odds of us connecting were extremely rare, so my sixth sense was working. She was not French, but a young woman from Kentucky who was here for seven months to teach English to junior high kids in a program sponsored by our embassy and the French embassy. She confirmed where Mcdonalds was but said they did not have internet. She and her friends have had a heck
of a time with their own laptops and the only place she knew that  had free wifi was outside a hotel called Kyiad near the train station. She and friends had sat outside on some steps near it and used their laptops without any problems on several occasions. So off we trekked to find Kyiad and the train station.

So there we are at a busy street corner in a foreign city trying to find some steps to sit on. First we tried some that were tucked back a bit that led to probably a private apartment and a little parking lot with a gate. What a sight we must have been for the surprised tenants when they came out and saw the three of
us tucked into the corner on two laptops. I was on skype calling my mom as Mozart wanted to give her the exciting news that the tooth fairy had come and she lost her first tooth. We also needed to talk about snail mail and other things. DaVinci went right to uploading the blog since it is a long process that only he can do thus far.

The good news is he thinks he has found a way to upload just the latest entries and not the whole blog now. We are not sure it works as we ran out of time on our computers, so did not have time to check if it really did upload. We also could not upload all of it, but hopefully downloaded all but the last three entries that we had at that time. It was a very sloooooow connection so it took hours. Not as long as last time which
was over four hours, but a long time. So long that DaVinci got kicked out of that nook.

Mozart and I ran out of time on our computer first, so went to get a bite of food and find a bathroom.
We also got some information from the tourist office and a coloring book about Burgundy that came with pencils. When we came back, DaVinci was standing on the corner with our Mac stilllll uploading leaning against a wall. Then I saw some small steps at one end of the hotel near a restaurant that we decided to try. The photo above was taken from that spot.

There we are, the three of us, on a busy corner across from the train station, sitting on the steps of the budget hotel as it gets dark and people start filling up the restaurant immediately behind us with a glass door and windows looking directly at us. Police came by several times and DaVinci thought perhaps they were coming for us. A wino went by, dog walkers and endless rush hour traffic. Mozart was bouncing off the walls a bit from the hours of waiting and still we sat waiting for the blog to upload. DaVinci worried about the dirt, dust and smog getting on his new laptop. Our butts hurt from all the sitting on cement .

We keep saying we need to use less pictures as that certainly adds more time to the uploads. I will try, but it is not that easy to do. I am already using very few pictures compared to all the great ones I have. I will go back at some point I think and make albums, but that does not seem doable right now. When we are less mobile in Spain there should be less pictures once we get acclimated I am sure. Hopefully things will get easier when we get our satellite soon. I certainly hope so as it can hardly get any worse.

It is the only truly maddening part of Europe so far. Sure the smoke and teeny, tiny size of things can get
on ones nerves at moments (like in the bathrooms or showers or stairs or crowded restaurants packed to
the gills) but the only thing that really drives me nuts is my lack of connection and how hard it is to find
free wifi. I suppose this is one thing that is much easier if one is in hotels or in permanent residence or
if one prefers smoky internet cafes for quick email checks.

The good news is that we were led to just the right person who told us where to get free wifi and did manage to use it despite the strange conditions. We are very grateful for that. She was just passing by in the street at the right time as there are very few Americans there and probably fewer still who knew the secret spot. We are blessed! It is all just part of the adventure.

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