Second Time Around travel blog

Not systematic

Not typical

Old but not that old

The ride

We have been enjoying the benefits of modern travel technology, from a GPS equipped Ford SUV to smart-phone accessed Internet.

The convenience is enormous, but it's not without some cost.

The rental car GPS is programmed in Greek. It accepts input in Latin letters, which it transliterates to the closest Greek letters. Leaving Olympia, I'm pretty sure its transliteration was not quite close enough to what we wanted as we spent a lot of time on narrow twisty mountain roads to wind up nowhere in particular. Even when input is good enough, we spend a lot of time on narrow, twisty mountain roads.

Having a car in any city can be a headache, especially finding parking. Toll roads abound. Greek signposts are, of course, Greek. Gas is expensive, as mentioned a few days ago.

I remember trips to Europe pre smart phone in the early Internet years. I used to carry a lot of maps and spend a lot of time searching for and using Internet cafes. Now I carry the Internet with me. I use my phone for reservations, directions, friendly advice, email, texting, and banking - just about everything but making phone calls.

On Crete, I'd use an app like to choose a hotel, go to the Internet to figure out bus schedules, then use the phone mapping feature to decide whether to walk or hire a cab from the bus station - and if walking guide us to the property. Fast, convenient, and usually reliable.

On the other hand, I constantly worry about hackers or about simply leaving my phone behind. The phone is really a miniature computer that is a ticket to my reality. I have to be vigilant so that the wrong person does not get the chance to punch the ticket.

There is something to be said for old fashioned travel. Since leaving Athens, we have found good accommodation by first driving into a town, aiming for the city center or old town. We'll park the car, then Jan and I will walk around and start asking or simply walk into a hotel that appears to be in our price range. We'll talk to staff, inspect a room, get the rates, and decide. It's an inconvenient method, but it makes for fewer room surprises.

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