Latest Travel lessons learned

I'm now back in the US after 2 weeks traveling Central/Eastern Europe and along the way I've picked up some new cultural/travel/technology lessons learned.

The first one wasn't immediately noticeable. I'm a big fan of coffee, and I tend to drink it in large quantities. This is already a problem, and one of the few, when I travel Europe: land of the 'coffee shot'. However, in hostels and some hotels they will serve coffee normally and let you fill up as often as you like.

The coffee often tasted bitter. I attributed this to the bad coffee served in such large quantities at these 'reasonably priced' establishments. On the contrary, this is actually a remnant of the rationing of materials during World War II, where chicory root was put in as an available filler for coffee. This lent it a bitter flavor. Over the years of the war, this flavor was acquired, and even now Europeans will add chicory to their coffee to get that familiar taste.

I like my coffee relatively root free.

Note: Japanese tourists were observed to travel in large tour groups, where as Chinese tourists travel in sets of pairs (2 friend, 2 couples, etc.)

Pictures of people are usually more interesting and enjoyable than pictures of monuments and buildings. I am amazed by what appears to be the gigabytes and gigabytes of (the same) bad photographs being created every minute during high-season in tourist areas. It becomes very apparent that the future of computing is search. How else am I going to find that picture of Mozart statue amongst the hundreds (or thousands) of photos I took on a trip (or that exist on my entire hard drive).

Vienna is a much cooler, and memorable city when you spend less time running around to see all the sites (which are mostly Hapsburg estates), and more time in the "Vienna Living Rooms" of coffee shops and cafes. This is true of many, but not all, cities.

Internet access is a real pain to find, and will probably cost a lot. Forget wireless (at least publicly available wireless)

Another interesting aspect of travel is the end of the trip. Whether or not you're tired and want to relax. Its the hours and hours in lines, through counters, gates, flights, and sitting waiting that really drives the feeling: "I want to be home."

It may not necessarily be that you want to go home, but finally getting home is a release from the mundaneness of sitting in the airport and passing through customs after customs agents. If only they could put us in hibernation at the end of the trip so we just "showed up" at home, all exuberant and vibrant from the end of our travels.

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Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.