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  1. #1
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Benelux Tour: Internet Access

    Hi guys,
    Many of you know that I'm heading to Netherlands, Belgium and France in early spring.

    I'm pretty well on-line 24/7 here in the centre of the universe, but I have concerns about internet access while I'm away. So these questions are for people on the forum who have experience with accessing the internet while in this area.

    What kind of access can I expect? Will it be just library and internet cafe or can I expect WiFi just about everywhere?

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    mostly library and cafe. but there seemed to be plenty of cafes in cities of decent size. i didn't bring a laptop with me on my current tour, so i can't say i was looking for hotspots in belgium and the netherlands, but i don't recall seeing a ton exactly. and a lot of them would probably have you pay anyway. personally, i'd suggest not bringing a laptop. if you have personal data you want to access buy a usb thumbdrive. that's what i've been using for encrypted banking passwords, e-mail addresses, etc, and it's been working fantastically.

    p.s. i hear that stealth camping in belgium is strictly illegal. i was very fortunate in that i didn't have the opportunity to camp while i was there. every time i tried to find a spot to camp, someone offered me their house to stay in. but just a word of caution. i did it a bunch in the netherlands, it's a lot less densely populated than belgium (flanders at least, i didn't check out walonia). the ride along the north sea is absolutely fantastic, by the way, as long as the wind's at your back. but don't necessarily take the official "north sea" route, there were some spots i diverged from it and was very happy to have done so.

  3. #3
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    Hello Alan, good to see you still on the move.... sorry can not help you with your questions.

  4. #4
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Hi Joe.

    I haven't taken my laptop for a while, because it was just too big and heavy. I have a Palm Pilot with a folding keyboard so I can keep up with my logs and journals.

    The WiFi idea came because there is a WiFi card available for my Palm, and I wondered if I could get any use of it if I bought one.

    The City of Toronto have just WiFi'd the entire downtown area and I wasn't sure about Europe. I always found France to be way ahead of us when it came to technology. That said, I'm mostly heading to rural areas and last year I found rural England to be pretty dismal as far as internet access goes.

    mr bill, thanks for the heads up on Belgium. I'm travelling in April, so hopefully the off-season aspect will help as far as population goes.

  5. #5
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    Internet cafe/public computer access is much bigger in Europe than I have seen in NA (at least in the US) It has been a long time since I was in Europe (about 9 years) so I don't know about wifi access.

    When my wife and I backpacked through Europe, I used my Philips Velo along with an international dialup ISP and an acoustic coupler. I would buy a phone card for the country we were in and use the coupler with a payphone to batch upload and download emails. Then we could reply and compose emails offline.

    Here is what I would do in your situation. I am more of a windows mobile guy, but this should work with the palm as well.

    I am assuming the palm has a memory card slot, probably SD. I would get a mini card reader, such as this which will effectively turn your SD card into a usb drive.

    Then when you write emails/logs/journals, save them as text files on the memory card.

    That way if you have wifi access you can just connect directly via your palm and upload. But if all you have is an internet cafe, you can pop out the memory card, slap it into the computer as a usb drive and cut and paste the data.

    That way you have the benefit of being able to compose offline whenever you want (something I really like, I hate paying money to sit in an internet cafe composing) and still have the flexibility depending on the access you can find.

    -D

  6. #6
    Senior Member capejohn's Avatar
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    I spent a good part of the summer in Europe and used internet cafes exclusively. I didn't have any problems. Amsterdam and France were cheap, around 2-3 Euro/hr. Spain was very expensive. So much so that I did not use it.
    I did most of THIS using internet cafes.
    Bike riding Northern gentleman.

  7. #7
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    Hi guys,
    Many of you know that I'm heading to Netherlands, Belgium and France in early spring.

    I'm pretty well on-line 24/7 here in the centre of the universe, but I have concerns about internet access while I'm away. So these questions are for people on the forum who have experience with accessing the internet while in this area.

    What kind of access can I expect? Will it be just library and internet cafe or can I expect WiFi just about everywhere?
    I just got back from a Benelux trip. We did not take laptops/pdas. We relied on other's computers. Our itinerary was such that we rolled into town, got showered, ate, and by the time we were done most of the internet places we could find were closed...esp in the smaller towns. We had better luck if we were in a town for a whole day (obviously). Hostelling International hostels had access, wireless too, although some Italian students had trouble with their software not being able to access/understand the wireless system in the hostel in Leuven, Belgium.

    Guilt-free hijack: drink some beers for me...I highly recommend the Bar at the HI in Lueven; they have a local beer you can only find in Luevan that is very, very nice. I forget the name. PM me if you want the name and I'll look for the name in my travel notes.

    Another GFH: And make sure to slurge on the pralines (chocolates with stuff in the center), especially the ones with whipped cream (creme fraiche, pronounced "crem fresh"). If it's a good one, it will be just like freshly whipped cream in the middle. Sigh.
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

  8. #8
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerBlossom
    drink some beers for me...I highly recommend the Bar at the HI in Lueven; they have a local beer you can only find in Luevan that is very, very nice. I forget the name. PM me if you want the name and I'll look for the name in my travel notes.
    It's going to take a bit of getting used to. I'm an aficionado of English ales and some of those Belgian ales are down right loonie. Beer fermented with wild yeast then blended and flavoured with fruit or herbs. It tastes more like bad wine than beer. Cloudy beer, high alcohol, and ones full of various beer faults. Never mind, at least you get a variety unlike France and Netherlands.

  9. #9
    duh-river foe
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    Hell, skip the reader entirely and get an SD card that flips open into a USB plug. They work wonderfully! http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820180629

  10. #10
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Internet access is available everywhere there. Also, stealth camping has never been a problem in Belgium or France for me. And I think we have similar styles.

  11. #11
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    Most of the hotels have wifi, sometimes you pay, sometimes it is free.
    Thomas (from a hotel in the Netherlands )
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  12. #12
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    Stokewell

    This site has locations of Wifi hotspots

    http://tinyurl.com/y3277c

    Have some stroopwaffles for me. They kept me going on my tour of Benelux.

    george
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  13. #13
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    Two summers ago I had a lot of trouble finding internet cafes and libraries with internet access in towns and villages in Ticino Switzerland. One day I rode a half day to a town that was supposed to have an internet cafe, only to discover the so-called internet cafe was actually a bad restaurant!

    I don't know whether the situation has improved, or whether internet access is easier in the areas of Europe you will be in. On subsequent trips, I decided not to look for or depend on web access. Somehow, I managed to survive without going into serious withdrawal!

    Oh yes, I also remember when I did find a library with internet access, the layout of Italian keyboards was different enough that touch-typing resulted in spelling mistakes every other word.

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