Where’s A Net Cafe When You Need One?

Vilamoura
Creative Commons License photo credit: girolame

So, I’m in Portugal, and have been for the past few days to celebrate John getting hitched. Vilamoura is the current location, then it’s on to destination Faro and Dublin tomorrow morning.

They’ve got the sun. They’ve got the sea. They’ve got great food and cheap alcohol. But internet access leaves a lot to be desired.

I’m sitting in Sete (a bar part-owned by Figo) where you can grab wifi access for the price of a dinner (ten euro for 5 hours access). The hotel I’m in (the sign above the door says it’s a four star) is charging 9 euro an hour for shit quality access through a very restricted Vista-based kiosk in the lobby. If you need anything that requires javascript access (Hotmail, Gmail etc.), forget it.

While I’m away, I rely on internet access. Dubai was easy as there was great access in the apartment and I was never far away. I was mad enough this trip to pay 50 euro for 50mb data access on my office mobile to pull headers via the Gmail app (S60). Two sessions on the laptop in the bar makes it a total of 70 euro, plus another tenner in the hotel brings it to 80 euro. For 80 euro, I happily get FOUR months of mobile broadband access at home.

For 80 euro here I could also get in the region of 20 bottles of wine. And for all our going out, I know I haven’t spent 80 euro on alcohol.

There an internet cafe / kiosk type place up the road from the hotel that’s very much chained up, broken down and left with wires hanging out of the walls.

Yet while they’ve got everything else here, the one thing I’m not seeing is an internet cafe, of any description. Plenty of bars, plenty of TVs to watch Barcelona whip Man U around the place last night, but no internet cafe. The resort seems extremely popular with Irish and English tourists who I’m sure wouldn’t say no to getting online to check things out, or their kids hanging around Bebo and MySpace for the day (give them the option and they’d likely take it).

The description of the hotel touted laptop connections in the room. I must have mistaken power points for ethernet points.

That said, who am I to complain. It’s 33 degrees, possibly in the shade too and the wedding was the business.

Maybe I’m one of those people who just can’t unplug.

Anyone in the market for opening up a chain of cheap internet cafés in heavily populated Irish and English tourist resorts in the south of Portugal?

Back From Dubai, And It’s Cold

Well, i’m back from Dubai and at time of writing there’s a 31 degree difference in temperature from this morning to this evening. Gone is the sun, replaced instead with cold, fog and freezing conditions.

I’ve made it back alive, my wallet virtually empty, sand in my phone, sand in my bags a light colour on my arms but it’s been an unreal time. Seeing the likes of the Burj Dubai, the Burj Al-Arab, the various malls, restaurants, souks, old areas, new building projects… a real eye opener.

I’ve another stack of photos to upload yet from the N95 and thats even before I touch the camera.

Got caught in a sand storm too this morning on the way to Abu Dahbi but I reckon if we can get through that, the fog on the m50 won’t stop me getting to Killenny and getting a pint in.

By the way, I’d recommend Etihad Airways to anyone. Two fantastic flights, great in-flight entertainment and great food.

For now though, it’s off for another drink refill here in the airport, a sleep on the bus, and a pint on the other end. It’s been a long day…

Week Two In Dubai

Big Fish In Dubai!

I’m cruising into the second week here in Dubai, moreso seen as the week officially starts on Sunday (Friday is your holy day, Saturday – depending on where you work – can be a second day off).

It’s been a fantastic trip so far, just the chance to unwind and leave things behind for a week or two is great. It doesn’t come along all that often so I’m more than happy I made the trip.

I’m getting quite used to having the Gulf News sitting at the door every morning, well up to speed with what’s happening in and around Dubai. Though I think my invitation to the Atlantis party must have been lost in the post for Thursday night.

I’m not too pressed with the touristy stuff – sure enough we’ve seen a lot while we’ve been here and I’ll catch a few more things as well but even something as simple as walking to the shop, heading for coffee, knowing nobody, no phone ringing, it’s all good to me.

For the family, and anyone else who’s interested, I managed to get a few more shots up last night / this morning from a desert safari on Saturday, a trip to the Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre in the recently opened Dubai Mall and a few other spots.

The N95 is getting a lot more use than my little Nikon S200, but I haven’t touched that one yet for photos or videos so there’ll be a load more to fly up when I get back to reality next week.

Until then, I’m off to catch some more sun. These 30-degree days…

Blogs Banned In Dubai

Blog Banned In Dubai?

I thought this might happen…

I ran a search on Google earlier this morning for ‘blogging in Dubai’, to see what bloggers in this neck of the woods are up to. While some of them opened, others presented the above note…

Du is one of the country’s mobile operators and I’m guessing one of their internet providers as well. Browsing in general in the country goes through a national proxy in order to filter out inappropriate content but everything else I’ve been doing so far – my own blog, KilkennyMusic.com, flickr, twitter, the Irish Times, and a lot of my regular web haunts don’t flag anything… yet.

Note: managed to get a few more pics up on Flickr from the N95.

I’ve Landed In Dubai

It’s currently 4:37pm local time in Dubai. Which means it’s 12:37pm at home. Which means that I’ve been on the move for the last 30 hours but at about 3am this morning I landed in Abu Dhabi, flying in over some serious displays of city planning (everything is incredibly grid-like in the air) to a sunrise I’ve never seen the likes of anywhere else.

Breezing through the airport and customs, I’ve found myself in Dubai where I’m staying until the 29th of this month. If there was every a reason or a need to take photos, it’s coming to Dubai. Already the camera and the phoning are starting to gather snaps as building after building continue to amaze.

I’ll get into the meat of things tomorrow, for now I’m knocking around the apartment, stroll to the shop, unpack, get the local bearings and the likes.

That said, I have already learned that the local government are now scrapping cars that are over 20 years old – you’ve to find the solution but they’re gonna be banned off the road; a woman recently smuggled 1.5kg of cocaine in tablet form in her stomach through the airport; Kylie Minogue is set to earn a blind fortune for opening the new Atlantis Hotel here this week and if you’re tipping a taxi driver, you round up to the nearest 5 dirham.

The pic above was captured on the bus on the way from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, no idea what time it was when I took it, but it’s something to start with. Thankfully having the laptop means I can shoot, shoot and keep shooting.

I’m off to go find some camels or something, rumour has we’ll try and hit some camel racing to see what all the craic is about.

Dubai Here I Come

Jumeirah Hotel
Creative Commons License photo credit: James Temple

I don’t go away places often. Flying to Toronto in 2006 was the first time I’d been on a plane in about ten years (that said, on years in between I had taken a ferry over to France now and again).

But since college life began seven years or more, I haven’t gone away many places. While good friends decided to sample the delights of Thailand, Australia, America, South Korea and more – some of them still are – I decided to stay in Kilkenny and work for myself.

Working one job is enough for some people but when the design started, soon too did the music, and the theatre. When one phone switches off at 5pm, two more go on and the world continues as normal.

I don’t take holidays, and I don’t take sick days (some companies would love that in an employee). I do enough things with my day that there isn’t time to be sick, unless of course I’m on holiday (touch wood).

When I got to Toronto in 2006 I had spent the previous fifteen months working close on seven days a week, something you’ve got to do when you’re working for yourself, or something you find yourself doing rather quickly more to the point. From December 2006 to now it’s been exactly the same, almost two years flat out in the office, with gigs and the theatre, the latter growing into something I’ve become extremely proud of for the work we do as a team.

So getting to give the whole lot up for ten or eleven days will be a shock to the system.

Not only that, but I get to try some indoor skiing, catch a glimpse of the QE2 (or so I’m told), track down some camel racing and generally disengage myself from my working life.

Sure, long weekends away are great (though 9/10 times involve some kind of work) but to get out of the country and disconnect from phones, work, music and everything else is a blessing.

I leave this Sunday and I’ll see all y’all in December.