As I’ve done a few times on our trip, I’d like to get a little geeky and provide our experiences with mobile networks, Internet access and mobile blogging across regions of the world. We try to buy a local SIM card and experiment with the local networks via prepaid mobile phone plans, when reasonable. I cannot vouch for the completeness or accuracy of this information – it changes quickly and my perspective is one of a traveler.
We moved quickly on the Trans-Siberian Railway, so it didn’t make sense for us to get a SIM card that may only works for a few days.
Internet: Wifi access is growing quickly in the major cities we visited, with access being very common
Mobile: If there is anywhere a mobile device should work, it is
Internet Access: We found free wi-fi to be quite easy to find in cities like
Mobile: We entered
We bought a Vodafone prepaid SIM card in
Within a couple of days, we had both GSM and GPRS working on the phone. Then, we left
Then lesson here is to watch out for roaming charges within
Internet: In most of
A final note: A gadget that would be amazing to have while traveling is a wifi detector so that you could be walking through a
In general, across all 29 countries we visited (except
Put simply, Norway's Lofoten Islands are surely the most stunning mountain scenery we've ever experienced. I'll let the pictures and a few anecdotes tell the story...
We stayed in a tiny fishing village called Henningsvaer,or Henningsvær, if you want to be accurate. Our lodging for three nights was a "rorbu", which is a fisherman's cabin redone for visitors. It was low season, so we got it for half price for three nights (USD$80 per night). It had a kitchen, a view over the water, four beds and low doorways - as my head would tell you. Our expectations were exceeded from the start.
Having a kitchen was nice because Norway is obscenely expensive: $8 dollars to rent a DVD, $10 for a pint of beer at a restaurant. We ate meatballs and noodles at "home". Speaking of home, this was the view out of the back.
and from the side...
The little town of Henningsvær, is called "the Venice of the Lofotens". I think every country has a "Venice of" and "Paris of". It is an incredibly charming place.
Here's a closer look at the mountains in the back...
However, the real sights, the real drama and the reason we took two days to arrive were the mountains that seemed to go on and on and provide a perfect backdrop for quaint arctic dioramas.
The Lofotens only get about 280,000 tourists a year, likey thanks to being so far out of the way. When we were there, it was low season and the place was empty - closed for the season and preparing for weeks of darkness. We would both like to experience an arctic winter some day. We've done an Asian summer - why not an arctic winter?
Did you know? Fjords are fjords because they are by the sea and are formed by glaciers. That is why you find them in places like Norway and New Zealand - places where giant glaciers existed.
Despite all the focus on sealife and catching cod - we saw little wildlife, but I made friends with a jellyfish that liked to pose for the camera in the unbelievably crystal clear water...
In the end though, it was the glaciar-carved mountains in the rural artic settings that really peeled our scalp back, as our friend Tom would say.
It's funny how things tend to work out. Sometimes a tiny bit of information can turn into something wonderful. Without this helpful post, it's likely that we would have made other plans and not gone north at all. As it turned out, our decision to keep moving northward turned into a highlight of the whole trip. Thank you Internet!
Our overland trip across Scandinavia...
This video is from two days of exploring the Lofoten Islands via car. Despite being a couple of hundred miles into the Arctic Circle, it is quite mild thanks to the gulf stream current. A stunningly beautiful place our jaws are still on the floor. Pictures and more info coming soon...