How common are internet cafes REALLY?

Dec 8th, 2004, 11:00 AM
  #1  
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How common are internet cafes REALLY?

It may not be representative, but 3 yrs ago during a 3 week trip to Greece I could only find ONE public internet cafe in Athens. Beyond that, there were essentially none, and especially so outside of Athens.

Reason I'm dredging up this topic, is next month my college age son departs on a 4 month trip thru western (and some eastern) europe and seems dead set in bringing along a notebook PC.

Besides risk of theft (he'll be mainly staying in hostels, budget hotels, or pensions), it seems a hassle and may start to feel like a boat anchor in the daypack -- with no safe place to store it.

Admittedly a notebook PC is a great convenience (for checking itineraries, making reservations, researching, emailing photos, etc). And every Starbucks now has secure Wireless internet access (for a modest fee).

So how common, REALLY, are internet cafes, especially as one leaves the ultra-urban large cities? Son's main itinerary over 4 months is expected to include UK (England & Scotland), France, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, and Hungary.
tom_h is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:13 AM
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Common. Comma, Chameleon : Karma.
fehgeddaboudit is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:15 AM
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Is your question about how common they are specifically in Greece today? or just any country in general? I noticed 2 years ago in Paris they were readily available. I hear they are very common in certain Italian towns as well, like Rom and Florence.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:16 AM
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very common in Prague also..and of course I meant Rome, not Rom.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:23 AM
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I was surprised, in France and Germany at least, by the prominence of Internet cafes. Here are a few tips:

1. If your son has a specific itinerary in mind, it would be a good idea for him to do some research online and arrive with a list of cafes convenient to the places where he'll be staying. Internet Cafe listings are available online.

2. Unless it's absolutely necessary (e.g. for work or school), traveling with a computer is a bad idea. The vast majority of laptops sold today are quite heavy; who would want to lug a 5+ pound device all over Europe? The risk of theft is also very real. Hoteliers, transportation companies, and locker providers generally disclaim responsibility for electronic devices.

3. Many Internet cafes have computer stations and don't require patrons to bring their own computers. The charge is, of course, a little higher than for patrons who have their own laptops and just need wireless access.

Paul Marcelin-Sampson
Santa Cruz, California, USA
marcelin is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:30 AM
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I was in Hungary in September 2004, and there was an Internet place a block from my cousin's apartment in which we were staying. This was an ordinary residential neighbourhood of Budapest, and not an area that particularly catered to tourists. I'm trying to locate in my travel notes the price that the Internet cafe charged, but I'm not finding it that easy to find a reference to it. Anyway, I remember thinking to myself that the price was incredibly reasonable.

That said, we did not attempt to access the Internet when we were travelling through the Hungarian countryside and staying in small towns, so I have no idea how prevalent Internet facilities are outside of the big cities.

HOWEVER, we used an Ekit phone card and the associated voice mail service. When we did not have access to the Internet, we had the option of having our Ekit e-mails read to us over the phone. They were read out in a tinny-sounding, machanical voice that nevertheless was perfectly clear.

As we were being driven around Hungary by a cousin, our itinerary was a bit fluid, and we weren't able to provide our young adult kids in Calgary with contact details for each night we'd be away. We did promise them, however, that we would check our voice mail at least once every 24 hours. We found this to be a very effective solution for folks who were following a flexible itinerary.

I personally subscribe to the KIS (keep it simple) philosophy. If it was my trip, I would not encumber myself with a laptop or notebook, more especially if I was going to be travelling on trains and staying in hostels.

Aside from the notebook issue, here is the Universal Packing List that your son may find helpful:

http://upl.codeq.info/index.jsp

One completes a questionnaire about the weather in one's destinations, the kinds of accommodation in which one will stay, the kinds of transportation one will use, and the activities one will undertake, and the website provides one with a customized packing list.

http://upl.codeq.info/index.jsp

Another excellent website to supplement the Universal Packing List is the One Bag website at:

http://www.oratory.com/onebag/home.html#start

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:36 AM
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I have found internet access in Italy, even in smaller towns like Siena and Orvieto, to be excellent.

Also, there is internet access other than just "internet cafes." For example, I have gone online at public libraries in England and Switzerland (no charge), and have found internet access in bookstores and small hotels in Italy (minor fee).

It also is my impression that there are more opportunities for internet access all the time. If tourists go there, sooner rather than later there will be an internet cafe.

Unless your son has other reasons for taking along his PC I would sure discourage him. If he's staying in hostels, he will have to drag the PC around with him every day all over the place. Likelihood of it getting stolen seems disproportionately high to me.
Marilyn is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:38 AM
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We saw many in Greece this past September, although I suppose it's possible they've just appeared since your visit 3 years ago.

I wouldn't recommend your son take a PC on a backpacking trip - he'd be a target for thieves at worst and a target for hordes of other young people he'll meet to borrow his PC at best. And who needs one more thing to lug around?
All the new friends he'll make will also be hunting down internet cafes, which are very common. It'll help him meet people.
taggie is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:47 AM
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I could be wrong about this, but I'm nearly certain there are far more internet cafes in Europe than there are Starbucks. (but Starbucks is gaining fast, I'm sure)

What about a Blackberry or the like, instead of a pc? More portable, easier to secure, also works off wifi...
Travelnut is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:56 AM
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Post at the Eurotrip.com/forum site and the thorntree.lonelyplanet.com site and you can no doubt find out the locations of all the needed Internet cafes in advance.
WillTravel is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:56 AM
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I can't recommend traveling with a laptop on the budget trail (hostels, etc.). Worth too much $ and too much of a hassle. Where will he lock it up? Does he really plan to carry it in his daypack everywhere he goes?

I don't know about the countryside, but in cities internet cafes are extremely common.
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Dec 8th, 2004, 11:57 AM
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rex
 
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For a four-month trip, I think the min fator is: does he WANT to take it? If so, then he should. I would be miserable to go four months without my computer, even if I had regular (daily) access to the internet n public locations - - and he may well might.

Our daughter is in Scotland for four months, and has daily internet acess (on campus) at the University of Stirling - - and she had a choice of takig a laptop or not, and she has been fine with the decision not to take one (even re-affirmed at the first of November, when she came home for our oldest daughter's wedding). But that is her personality, and I think that thematters is how your son feels about his 5 pound computer as a "personal atttachment".

He may find that internet cafes are easier, and possibly even more plentiful than WiFi access. But still... for "journaling", offline composing and reading of e-mails, playing with or reviewing photos - - there are plenty of reasons that he might enjoy having his computer. By the way, the ability to read and write to diskettes can make it easier to move files, of course.

He faces hundreds of situations for which he is going to have to exercise good judgment in 4 months. This is yet another one - - a decision he can and should be in the position to make, based on his own criteria.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Dec 8th, 2004, 12:01 PM
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yeh lots of Internet Cafes where you can log on without your own PC. EasyInternet, run by EasyJet company is in most large cities and has a reasonable 3 euro/hr rate. Many hotels have but often 5 euros for a few minutes. Youth hostels mainly have them as do some McDonalds and most libraries. IN UK recently i used libraries for free access - didn't seem to have to be a card holder. So they're ubiquitous; think three times about taking the notebook (or check with your insurance co to see if it's covered, may well be.
PalQ is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 12:15 PM
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He does have to make his own decision, but he also should think about what he will do with his computer when he arrives at a hostel which has no lockers, no front desk attendants at night, a 40-person dorm, and he wants to take a shower in a tiny cubicle that doesn't allow watching his stuff.
WillTravel is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 12:23 PM
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And how devastated would he be if he lost it or it was stolen? There are MANY internet cafes, libraries, hotels, hostels, even some department stores w/ access, and many B&Bs will allow guests to log on to check their e-mail.
janis is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 12:35 PM
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I've mainly been in France and Italy in recent years, but I've honestly seen more internet cafés there than in the metropolitan DC area. Even the tiniest village in France seems to have one these days. I think the notebook will become a pain after a few days.
StCirq is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 12:40 PM
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I also would not recommend packing it along especially when there is more internet access in Europe than ever before. BUT, one solution to safeguarding it in a hostel situation might be to use a PacSafe device to secure it to a rigid device.

What is he really going to use a PC for anyway? E-mail...easy enough to set up an e-mail account on HotMail and check it wherever he goes.

But, if he is "dead set" on it then ALLOW him the opportunity to use this decision as a learning experience if you can. If nothing else it might drive home the fact that we all make choices and some are good and some aren't.
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Dec 8th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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Couldnt answer your question about Greece and would tend to discourage carrying a notebook. A few notes from my last few vacations in Europe.

Spain- Downtown Madrid (my hotel was near the Puerta del Sol) there were at least 4 internet cafes within walking distance. Prices were quite cheap as i remember. Seville-a few places near the Cathedral.Granada-large place run by the spanish telephone company, right across from the Columbus statue. Segovia-right next to the aqueduct.

Paris- in the latin quarter. i found internet access somewhat limited and often quite expensive. Ask the attendant if you can use an english keyboard, writing email on the french keyboard is not easy if youre on the clock.

Italy-this year, it seemed that many hotels (3 star) had a common use computer on the property. In Venice you wre charged for it, in rome you were not. Florence and Bolzano you had computer in the room, is this quite common in places that are newly renovated?

but noticed your son will have a 4 month trip, not sure that carrying ones own notebook might be more economical.
Wildfire is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 01:05 PM
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ira
 
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Hi tom,

Your son is nuts.

However if he wants to take his computer, let him; as long as he realizes that you aren't going to buy him another one.
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Dec 8th, 2004, 01:07 PM
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>>>>>>However if he wants to take his computer, let him; as long as he realizes that you aren't going to buy him another one.<<<<<<

Also, I would strongly suggest that he refrain from storing identifying information (social security number, bank account numbers, etc.) on it.
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