“Telstra Air” and European FON

On a recent seven week of travelling in Europe, I was looking forward to accessing the Internet using my Telstra Air account on FON hotspots around Europe.

What a disappointment.

Although having read the Telstra guidelines, installing their “Air” app on my devices, I found that connections to the Internet were very rare.
There were none in any airports or train stations.
Supposedly it would be available in Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany and France.

In Spain I spent time in Madrid and Barcelona. Score: 0, not one Fon connection made.

In Italy, I spent time in Milan and Cinque Terre. Score: 1, one connection made in Milan.

In Austria, I spent time in and Salzburg and Vienna. Score: 0, no connections established.

In Germany, I spent time in Munich, Heidelberg, and Frankfurt airport. Also we spent time in many small towns around southern and western Germany in a rented car.
Score: 7/10 Several good connections made as we drove through some smaller towns. This would happen at Red traffic lights and slow driving in traffic.

In France, we spent time in the Alsace region. Score: 0.

We also spent about a week in Switzerland, but we already knew that there would be no Fon there as telcos there do not participate in Fon..

Luckily we had Internet provided at each place we stayed overnight.

In summary: Do not rely on your Telstra Air account in Europe.

Travelling Europe 2016

So much to report, but so little time.

Tonight we are in Waldkirch, in the midst of the German Black Forest. For lunch today we got very lucky – just driving along a scenic mountain road, and we found a restaurant. Superb. More on this when I get a chance.
Tomorrow off to France and Alsace region. Yes, for the famous wine there.

 

John

 

Up And Away

Last week I had a “flight” out of Queenstown, New Zealand.

ZZQNtakeOff

 

Here we have just started take-off roll.

This is in a B737 flight simulator. It was lots of fun. I managed to take off AND land at Queenstown.

Later in the lesson the instructor had me landing at Dallas-Ft Worth at night with one engine out. Well, that took three attempts to get down safely. Crashed and burned the first two tries 🙁

John.

China Trip 2015

We toured China for two weeks in October 2015. It was a fantastic experience.

chinaTrip

Flight on China Southern took us from Australia to Guangzhou (A), and then on to Beijing (B) . We had a few nights in Beijing, then on to Xian (C) for three nights. Next we flew to Guilin (D) and bus up to Longji Rice fields (E). One night at lodge in Ping’An at Longji area, then back to Guilin. Then two hour flight to Shanghai (F) and one night in hotel, then by bus for one night at Suzhou (G) and bus to Hangzhou (H) for two nights, before one final night back at Shanghai. Then back to Australia.

The tour was organised by Travel Of Asia. ( travelofasia.net.au ). Tour guides, Bus Drivers and Hotels all scored 10/10 by us. The food was a little disapointing as there was very little meat and not much variety between areas. That said, we did have some great meals, in particular at Ping’An. We also greatly enjoyed the dumplings.

Some of the things we saw were: Tianamin Square, Forbidden City, Beijing Museum, Great Wall, Teracotta Warriors, Bullet Train, Longji Rice Terraces, Silk Factory, Jade Museum, Tea Plantation, Traffic, People, Markets, Canals, Rivers, Smog, Local Dances and Costumes.

There was a lot of walking, so we kept fit.

atGreatWallChina

On the Great Wall of China.

beforeSunrisePing-an

Just before Sunrise at Ping’An

bridgeToPing-an

Bridge across creek on way up to Ping’An.

ping-anVillage2

At Ping’An village.

inOldTownSH

Shopping final day in Shanghai.

magLevShanghai

At speed 430 km/h on MagLev train.

Google Voice and Obihai ATA Phone Adapters

After the announcement that Google Voice would stop supporting SIP and VoIP phone adapters as of May 2014, I switched my Google Voice phone number to VoIP.MS

That all went well, as per a previous post here.

Now, Google Voice have changed their stance, and now support the full range of ATA (analog telephone adapter) adapters from Obihai. See this post:
obihai.com/2014/09/google-voice-and-obihai-update.html

I currently use two Obihai ATA adapters and recommend them. I have never had any problems setting them up, and taking one of them with me when travelling for extended periods.

John

Back in Chicago 2014

We are back in Chicago for a month. We spent a month here in 2012, and loved it, so we are back.

This time we are staying in an apartment a little closer to Navy Pier.

And this time, we are in a tall building on level 55.

fromlevel55a

The above shows our view out over Lake Michigan. Navy Pier is just to the right of picture.

Here is a photo taken from our window, looking back towards the Earth!

lookingdown55

At least the building does not seem to sway!

John

Across Kansas 2014

A few days ago, on our way from Las Vegas to Chicago, we drove across the state of Kansas.

This was the first time either of us had been to Kansas, and probably will be the last. It was a long and boring drive, punctuated only by lots of corn fields.

across Kansas

The Route

About 600 miles, and with stops for fuel and a meal, we took about 9 hours.

We had hoped to end in Topeka, but could not find any accommodation there. There was a sporting competition at the time, and all rooms were booked. Thus we drove on to Kansas City, and found a hotel there.

Las Vegas to Denver 2014

We left Las Vegas and headed toward Chicago. The first day took us from Vegas across Southern Nevada, into Utah and then on to Grand Junction, Colorado.

The sections in Nevada and  Utah were scenic, with desert valleys surrounded by mountains. All hot and dry.  Then, nearing Grand Junction, the landscape began to get greener, with some actual trees.

We stayed overnight in Grand Junction, then the next day we headed to Denver. The route you would normally take would be Interstate 70, which links Grand Junction and Denver. But as we had driven that route several times a couple of years ago, we chose to divert through Aspen, Colorado.  That was a very interesting drive, especially the section on route 82 past Aspen, toward Leadville, Co.  We were no aware that the route would take us up and over such a high mountain ridge. The road crosses the Continental Divide, on Hwy 82, at Independence Pass. The official elevation there was 12,095 Ft.

IndependencePass

 

This from our GPS:

 

uphighUS82

 

 

This was nearly as high as we drove a few years ago when we drove up Mt Evans, Colorado. That drive took us on the highest paved road in the USA to an altitude above 13,000 ft.

John