Every day, I write blog posts in my head. Every day, I intend to give a full update of our goings-on and my reflections on it all. And then every day, one of three things happens:
- We get back after midnight, I’ve walked at least 16,000 steps, and I’m too exhausted to write a single word.
- We come back earlier than midnight, but I need to spend my time working on planning and details for the next day or beyond.
- I have both the time and energy to write, but I don’t have WiFi.
Every place we’ve stayed was supposed to have WiFi, but it has been really unreliable in some of those places (especially when we were in England but also right now, in Strasbourg). We have lost our connection for whole nights in some cases.
This might sound like a minor inconvenience, but the fact is, as a traveler in 2019, I rely heavily on the internet for all manner of travel research – most especially my map app. And it turns out that the global data plan I bought from AT&T on the first day of our trip has been woefully insufficient. I believe I mentioned that I accidentally burned through 80% of my 1GB of data (a month’s supply) within the first 27 hours in England – and I’m charged $50 for each additional GB of data. Since then, I’ve had to be as miserly as possible with my data, keeping it turned off so that I don’t accidentally use any while we’re out and about, and then laboriously turning it back on for individual apps (like Maps or TripAdvisor or Airbnb) every single time I need to look something up. Even so, I can only manage to make 1GB of data last for about 7-8 days.
Our international phone calls were supposed to be free when we use WiFi to make them (as has always been the case whenever I’ve traveled to Nicaragua, where I never buy any kind of special data plan), but we’ve discovered that we’re actually being charged $2-3 per minute for every call. On top of that, I’d added a different kind of global plan to Rob’s phone last year when he went on a school trip to Quebec, for $10 a day (he only used it for 2 days on that trip and had unlimited use for those days). I thought I’d taken that plan off his phone but apparently I had not – he has turned his data on very briefly a few different times on this trip to look something up for us or for himself – and now we’ve been billed $10 a day for 8 separate days, when he used about a minute’s worth of data each time. He would’ve used it so much more if he’d known he’d already cost us $10 and that it was unlimited data for the rest of the day! (and we would’ve used his phone’s map app instead of mine!)
The upshot is that on Sunday, I got our latest phone bill and it was $500+ more than our usual bill – and that only included the first two weeks of our trip! Oh mercy, y’all, we’ve got to find a way to quit hemorrhaging data (and money)!
We need to just go somewhere over here and get SIM cards for our phones, which will involve figuring out how much data we should buy, and giving people our new phone numbers for while we’re here, etc., and just seems like a big headache. We missed our best opportunity to do that (in Amsterdam, where every shopkeeper sooke fluent issues and SIM cards seemed to be available on every corner), and I was too intimidated to try to figure it out in Paris, but I have to do something different because we can’t keep subsidizing AT&T.
All of this is to say that I had planned to write a big blog post tonight, a kind of catch-up of where we’ve been and what we’ve done these past three weeks (three weeks?! we’re almost halfway done with our trip!). But alas, the WiFi in the hotel isn’t working for me without paying an upgrade fee. Charlie and I were using Rob’s phone as a hotspot (I let him get $10 worth of data today because of our problems with the hotel’s WiFi), but I was having trouble connecting with it tonight. So I turned on the data on my phone and used it as a hotspot for my laptop instead. Then I let Charlie hop on the hotspot as well, and the next thing I knew, in less than an hour the two of us had used up 40% of the 1GB of data I just paid $50 for yesterday. UGH.
So instead of the blog post I’d planned, you get this whiny one. I guess I just needed to unload a bit and also explain why my posts aren’t as frequent as I’d hoped and why I’m even worse than usual at responding to emails and other messages.
But! We made it to Strasbourg from Paris last night and it is completely charming and we all love it here.
It’s the perfect transition from France to Austria (we leave tomorrow afternoon for Salzburg).
Despite my complaints about my phone issues (issues that apparently would not have been issues if I’d switched to T-Mobile the way I’ve been considering for months), we are having a really, really wonderful time here. We’ve had some fantastic experiences, seen some breath-taking art and stunning cathedrals, and eaten some delicious meals. We also just love being together and having more time than usual to talk about things that matter to us.
Bonsoir from Strasbourg!