Friday, May 27, 2005


Not so EasyNet

I break my promise to stop blogging about internet access in Europe

Astonishingly, it has been even harder to get online in cosmopolitan, state-of-the-art berlin than in Warsaw and Krakow. I thought I'd have free wireless in our posh Berlin hotel room on Friederichstrasse (so said the online promotional material), but what they meant was T-Mobile Europe for about $10 an hour. I may be addicted to web access, but I'm cheap, so once again I set out exploring the world of Internet cafes.

My "Lonely Planet Guide" blandly asserts that "Surfing the internet and checking your emails is no problem in Berlin. Internet cafes abound." Bullshit. Basically, in three hours of exploring I found none. Following a lead from Lonely Planet itself I arrived at a cheesy video-arcade cum slot machine "casino." This place really did look like a brothel -- too gross even to whip out the digital camera. The building did have two empty rooms that were former internet cafes, judging by their signs that were still on the locked door.

I was relegated to using EasyNet, a pay-as-you-go service provided by the same happy orange-logoed company as EasyJet, of "flight from Poland" fame. They had a pleasant room full of computer terminals, sharing space with a Dunkin Donuts.


Unfortunately, they do not allow you to hook up your own laptop, and the computers are behind locked panels (barring access to CD drives and USB ports), meaning that there is no way to upload photos.

But the real surprise was something that should have been no suprise. The German keyboard! What else should they use in Germany?


Note that, among other things, the z and y keys are inverted, the "&" symbol is over the 6 key, and the @ sign is impossible to make without experimenting with key combinations unknown to us Americans. Plus those German letters...

UPDATE: In answer to Wendy's comment/question, "so how did [I] post these pictures?" I finally bit the bullet and shelled out the T-Mobile $10/hour rate from my hotel room (which you can sign up for in 15 minute increments). Why didn't I think of that before?


Well, then, how did you post those photos?

If I might hazard a guess as to the scarcity of Internet Cafés in cosmopolitan Berlin as compared to Poland: the Berliners are much more likely to have their own computers and broadband access than the Poles, and so the demand for cafés is much less.

Reading about your vacation and travels is a lot more fun than painting walls, by the way (which is what I've been doing between your postings)
It's pretty true in general that the more people have their own connections at home, the fewer net cafes there are.

Here in Phnom Penh, you can hardly walk a block without running into one.
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