Monday, September 05, 2005

Internet Access in München

I never realized how much I took Internet access for granted until this last week.

First of all, it's out of the question for us to get any kind of high-speed Internet access at home.... unless someone has an unsecured wireless network in our building?? Bummer. No such luck.

Maybe we can try to bum off the restaurants and coffee shops that have unsecured wireless networks! So last week took me from here to there to everywhere, laptop in tow, looking for ways to inconspicuously take advantage of, er, "use" various free wireless hotspots we discovered in an online list. Hey, I'm not working during the day, so I have time, right? At least I won't be bored.... I'll leave that story for another day: stay tuned. OK, so here's the decision at hand. I'm at the Hard Rock Cafe'. It's 12:00 noon and they're opening their doors. Do I fight for a table at the world's most touristy restaurant, just to buy the cheapest drink on the menu? Does that justify my occupying the table for the next two hours, which is how long the laptop battery lasts? Or do I go buy some nose plugs, hide behind the dumpster, and hope that the wireless signal can travel through the trash? I guess instead of noseplugs I could buy camouflage and hide in the shrubbery. Hey, at least I get some camouflage made out of microfiber (they seem to sell a lot of that amazing fabric here) Well, the noseplugs could be useful, too. It's been quite hot outside and there's no air conditioning here, so I tend to mindlessly implement the auto-noseplug (a.k.a. breathe through the mouth) on the trains and busses.

OK, I'm trying to shorten this long story. That particular day, I actually ended up at the sparsely-populated Neuhausen Cafe' at 3:00 p.m. It looks like the kind of place that would be much more crowded at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. I ordered a Diet Coke (it was only about $5) and enjoyed my two hours of high-speed Internet access.

I'm really skipping some details now; I only have 15 minutes of battery left, and I want to post this today. So Steve found this prepaid wireless access that's just *pennies* a minute... but the catch is, again, that it can only be accessed in public places. I'm not sure I want to show up at the Munich Marriott First Class, plop myself on the sofa, and look like I belong there. Steve said I need to just dress like a business woman and look purposeful. The latter comes very naturally, but the first requires wearing something other than running shorts and a microfiber sleeveless shirt (I told you, I love the stuff!) I've got these great black pants and black/purple leather/walking shoes -- my three-week-old investment in attempted European fashion -- so maybe I'll be OK.

Long story short(er), sometime last week, I happened upon a Best Western Hotel that was on our list of "magical" wireless connection sites. Fastest access I've seen in any hotel so far, and I have this little corner I can sit in. Nobody asks me any questions here, which makes me happy. Maybe they'll just get used to seeing me; you know, like an ornamental fixture that you might as well not have after about two weeks (or days) and nobody will ever say anything.

It only takes 45 minutes or so to get here. 20-minute walk to the train station, 10-minute train ride, 10-minute bus ride, 5-minute walk. Not bad at all. I'll be here several times a week... for almost exactly two hours. : )

In closing, I've got to explain the photos. The first photo is obviously (I think) the Best Western from the street. The second one was very spontaneous. After this bizarre story, I wanted you to see me here. Well I clearly wasn't going to ask the receptionist to take my picture, and I honestly can't remember how to set the timer on the camera. I really need to learn to pay attention when Steve shows me how to do things, whether or not I feel currently inspired to learn... So I kept taking pictures at arm's length, not until I got one that was perfect, but until I thought I at least looked human. Hey, if anyone is interested in the non-human-looking pictures, let me know, and I'll e-mail them to you.

- Beth ("Anna" auf Deutsch)


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4:01 AM  
Blogger nanigudia said...

Es ist sehr interessant Dein Blog zu lesen, und mich meine aehnliche Erfahrungen in Deutschland zu errinieren.
For those who dont understand German:
It is cool to read your blog. It reminds me of my similar experiences in Germany.
- Gruesse!

8:40 PM  

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