Changing the subject from life on board slightly, this week I have been on holiday. Not quite as exciting as our last trip to Moldova and Ukraine, but still off the beaten tourist track. We flew last week to Riga, capital of Latvia, travelled overland to Tallin in Estonia and flew back yesterday from Helsinki, Finland.
When WiFi was in its infancy in 1994, Estonia was reported by the BBC as being the most advanced nation in the provision of wireless hotspots for everyone. WiFi.ee still maintains a huge wireless network for public access, and absolutely everywhere we travelled almost every bar, restaurant and even shops also provided completely free wifi access to the public.
WiFi.ee currenly runs 1164 hotspots covering 45,000 square kilometers and almost all of them are free. Using my iPhone I was able to connect within a few yards of first trying without any problems at all.
So it was actually even more refreshing to discover that, after taking the ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki (free WiFi on board of course) , virtually the whole city is WiFi enabled. Hotels try to make their money by charging but over most of the city is a combination of official free WiFi hotspots, an even bigger network of shops and bars providing access and best of all, the number 4 tram from the ferry port to the city centre also provides free WiFi. Other tram and bus routes may also be covered, under a trial scheme.
How cool to be able to log on for an email check on the way to town on the tram, but it doesn’t stop there. Trams are fitted with GPS devices which as well as updating the “next tram” signs at the tram stops, even show their location on Google Maps.