Club Admiralty

v7.0 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Club Admiralty Blog

A blog about life in general, in as many languages as I can manage. Ενα ιστολόγιο περι ζωής, πολυγλωσσο - σε όσες γλωσσες εχω μεράκι να γράψω.

2020 Travel in Review

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While most 2020 travel was from home to the supermarket and back, there was a brief period before the lockdown where we could move around.  Here's my New England roaming last year 😜




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Year in Review: Swarm

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Every year some social sites tend to a year in review with data from your activity on the networks.  This year is no different.  I thought I'd post some of the data that came my way.   Today I have some data from Swarm (what used to be foursquare).  Location check-ins don't seem to be as big of a deal these days (with most competitors having gone the way of the dodo), but swarm still persists.  I do like using it because it gives a sense of what I've been up to over the past year.

As you can see most of my year has been pretty "normal" - not a ton of travel, mostly going to and from work.  This past year I did go to Winter Island and The Willows pretty often in the summer.  One of my favorite places to walk, and to also stretch one's legs when on a work break. I hope 2020 has more travels!




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2017 Swarm year-in-revier

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Swarm really hammers in the point that I basically spend a lot of time at work and traveling to work haha.  In 2017 I spent most of my places at train-stations and universities. Although it did surprise me that I checked in to 85 new places. Wonder what 2018 will bring? (other than a mostly done dissertation...I hope :p )


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Swarm year in review

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Well, 2016 is done,  and one more social media app sent me my comings and going from last year.  This time around it was the Swarm app - formerly known as foursquare before the rebranding.

It's not surprising that my most checked-in places are train stations (spent quite a lot of time in them last year, not just going to and from work, but also on our trip to Spain in October).  It's also not surprising that work is my #2 place for the year - although it did surprise me that North Station was my #1 place... must be all the times I check in to complain about just having missed my train...or about train delays ;-)

Hopefully my 2017 year in review next year will have many more fun check-ins! (I still miss GoWalla... There was something special about that passport metaphor...)


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A short review of prepaid through Orange Spain

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As is customary for me, when I travel abroad for an extended period of time I tend to get a local SIM card to put into my phone, so I can have a local number, some local SMS, and more importantly data!  It makes it easier to communicate with the locals and verify AirBnB information.  Luckily, in recent years, T-Mobile allows for free 2G (GPRS) data roaming, which made things a little less painful than going from full-data to no-data, back to full data.

So, in researching Spanish data packages it seemed that Orange was the better deal, which is why I preferred to go with them. Lebara Mobile seemed to have pop-up kiosks in train stations which made them more convenient, but I'd prefer to get top-up cards from Orange stores.  The annoying this is that there wasn't an Orange store at Barcelona's international airport. There was a Vodafone retailer (with huge ads) but nothing with Orange.  Not a problem, a day or so later we went to an Orange store down the street from where we were staying and started the process.  The line was pretty big. I feel like it took an hour to get through the line, even though there were only 5 people ahead of me.  I needed a passport to get the SIMs for our phones (a passport card would not do...heck my Greek ID card wouldn't do either, which is silly considering you can travel within the EU without passports if you are a citizen...).  Anyway,  once we got our SIMs we were activated right away.  None of this "wait 24 hours" crap we had in Italy.

The Ballena 14 package was the most economical if you wanted only data.  15 euros gets you 2GB of data, 30 minutes of call time for Spanish numbers, and some SMS messages included.  In our trip we ended up spending 30 euros per person (2 Ballenas each) for our data needs.  We had JUST missed a special where they doubled what you get for 15 euros, so depending on when you top-up you might just get 4GB for 15 euros.  Orange has an app on android called "mi Orange" (pictured above) which allows you to see the remainder of money on your account, how much data you've used, how much talk time,  and  assume you can top-up from there.  The problem was that since my address on the Google Store is in the US, I was region-locked out of downloading it (it wasn't even showing up in my search I don't think). I ended up finding the APK file and installing it as is.  The App works marvelously, no passwords required. When you try to log in with your phone number you get some secure SIM thing happening in the background and you can authorize from a pop-up authorization. This saved me from having yet another password. The only issue I really saw with the app was that the notification of how quickly you use data lags behind what you actually use.  For example, I was stuck on "you've used 25MB" for a few days (maybe a week) after top-up, and then BAM, you've used 600MB. The good news is that even though you can check your data via the app, they also send you a notification when you've spent 80% of your data via SMS.

Now, I ended up using 80% of my data 5 days into our trip (on the first top-up) because I've had Flickr and YouTube uploading in the background when they shouldn't have had.  On the second top-up I disabled background uploading and enabled the upload only on wifi feature.  That lasted me the remaining 2 weeks. Imagine if I were roaming - that bill would have been huge.

All things considered, I really liked Orange. Service worked, maps worked, Pokemon GO worked, and prepaid data was fairly cheap.  I would use them again if the lines weren't too long at their stores :-)
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Vacation look back: The Netherlands

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It's been a week or so since we came back from our vacation. Now that the jetlag has subsided and I am back to normal, I thought it would be good to have a concise overview of the highlights and lowlights of the trip.  I guess I will be starting with the Netherlands since it was both the beginning and the end of the trip.

I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into when I decided to stay in the Netherlands for a couples days at the beginning of our trip and at the end.  All I really knew was: Canals, Cheese and Windmills. What  sort of interesting stuff could a country have other than that?  Well, it turns out quite a lot!

As a country in whole, it seems like the Netherlands does have it together quite well.  The public transportation system seemed to run on time, efficiently and it was quite clean. Their OV-Chipcard (RDIF way to use the metro) seemed pretty nice and painless to use (similar to a charlie card in Boston - the one with the chip, not the silly one with the magnetic stripe) and there was a ton to see! We ended up getting the 48 hour I amsterdam card (€54) which included unlimited public transportation for 48 hours, as many museums as we wanted to get into (most museums seem to be partners, so that's quite a lot!) and this includes discounts to some selected restaurants and stores. As far as I am concerned, bet €54 I've spent ;-)

We did visit quite a few places, as one might imagine, but my top 2 were the ARTIS Royal Zoo  and the National Maritime Museum. The Rijksmuseum was pretty good too but by the end we were tired from our museum tour of duty so we didn't see all of it. The Royal Zoo closes at Dusk (10pm!) on Saturdays in the summer, so we ended up spending 6 hours at the zoo (pretty awesome!) Next time around I do want to visit the EYE Film museum and the Cobra Museum.

As far as food goes, we didn't eat out a lot in the Netherlands (or so it seems anyway), but there are two places that stood out to me: De Wasserette which had killer breakfast, and Cafe Bern which had great fondue and entrecôte.

We ended up staying in Amsterdam for most of the time in the Netherlands, but we also stayed a night in Gouda (which was a pretty nifty town!)   As far as amenities go, in the Netherlands, there seemed to be free wifi almost everywhere, which meant that I didn't need to buy a local SIM card.  Had we stayed more than 2 days I would have bought one, but for 48 hours you are mostly fine since hotels, museums and restaurants all provide wifi for free.

Can't wait for my next trip to the Netherlands.
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