Cool, if a bit creepy, Prague street sculpture*
Welcome to my first “on the road” post ever!
Those of you who are regular readers know that, when I travel, I leave the electronics behind. In fact, even if you just read the last post you know this. The reasons are many.
Mostly, I like to travel light. Then, too, when I’m on the road visiting new and interesting places looking at a computer screen holds even less appeal than usual. Plus, if I’m honest, a big part is a reaction to my last job.
In those days I traveled for business quite a bit and, of course, carried a company laptop for the purpose. I always dreaded opening it. My inbox would inevitably be filled with corporate nonsense that inhibited productivity and impinged on customer satisfaction. And that last meant that, all too often, it was also filled with irritate customer complaints. Each more justified than the last and each my responsiblity to smooth over. So my associations with carting a laptop along on my travels are less than comforting.
But here I am, late this evening after a fine day roaming Prague writing this post on my daughter’s machine. She is much more attuned to the technology than I and she takes hers everywhere. I gotta say, it’s kinda nice.
When we bought our Apple a couple of years back, we choose the desktop Mac version with a nice big screen. The idea was that it would best suit our needs until we go more fully full-time mobile a few years down the line. At that point the plan called for selling the Mac and picking up whatever ultra compact but still functional machine they’d have come up with by then.
The Astronomical Clock in Prague’s main square*
But using this one here in Prague has got me thinking. My needs on the road are really simple: Email. Internet. Skype. I’ll bet the cheapest laptop out there would handle that and more. In fact a used machine a few generations old should do just fine. Right?
This summer the trips we’ll be taking will include lots of quiet, down time. For instance, my in-laws have once again graciously offered us the extended use of their Wisconsin beach house on the shores of Lake Michigan. Beautiful sand beaches lie just outside the door and stretch uninterrupted for miles in both directions. The summer days are long, lazy and warm.
We are also considering a long leisurely train trip across the North American continent.
Both should be perfect for some writing I’d like to get done. Perhaps some progress on the book I’ve mentioned that is in the works. But this means I’ll need a laptop in tow.
Truth is I know so little about this tech stuff it is amazing I can put together and publish these blog posts. But I also know there are any number of jlcollinsnh readers who are experts. So, let me ask:
What would you do?
What is the cheapest, easiest and simplest solution? The solution where if the machine gets lost, stolen or destroyed it is less bother than a mosquito bite? What should a basic machine cost new these days, and which one? Any need to get an Apple to match our Mac or, as I’d guess, does that not matter for my use? Is used the better path or does that just buy less reliability along with more performance I really don’t need? Any votes for dropping this silly idea and continuing to enjoy blissful technology breaks while traveling?
The church that houses the Astronomical Clock*
As for Prague: Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here. Everybody else seems to be.
This is a truly beautiful city but, boy howdy has it been “discovered.” The place is thick with tourists. To a degree I’ve only seen before in Venice, Italy — another drop-dead gorgeous city but so tourist saturated as to be almost like a Disney theme park. And I loath Disney theme parks.
Beautiful city quite filled with people there to look at it.*
Where Venice is an island and thereby isolated, Prague center has the advantage of being surrounded by a real Czech city that bleeds into it, softening the theme park quality. Yesterday we hopped on a random public tram and rode it to the end. Great fun to watch the city change as the blocks went by.
Still, wandering around the old town, you’ll find yourself trying to thread your way thru never-ending clots of tourists bunched up listening to some tour guide prattle on. At least one business man, British by his accent, lost patience and growled at a group to leave a path open for people to pass by. Rude perhaps, but open they did and we took the opportunity to follow him thru. Were I living here, my patience would fray too.
None of this is to suggest we’re not having a wonderful time or that Prague shouldn’t be on your short list if you are so inclined. Our hotel is delightful, the Czech people are friendly and the food is excellent. All of this set in one of the most walkable and picturesque cities in all of Europe. And that’s saying something.
So, by all means visit. I can promise you won’t lack for company.
*all photos in this post courtesy of Jess Collins