It Shouldn’t Happen to a Wine Blogger – the perils & frustrations of blogging while on the move

The view from my hotel room in Florence - lovely, but no wifi!

I hope you can forgive me for writing a piece that is about the medium of blogging rather than my subject – wine, food and travel.

I do not really regard my Wine Page as a blog in the traditional sense as it is not a web diary, I hope my articles are more considered than that. However, I call it my blog by way of a shorthand explanation as to what it is. Therefore I am a wine blogger and that is sometimes a very frustrating thing to be.

When out and about it is often absurdly hard to stay connected and therefore to be able to publish articles. I find it very strange that it is so difficult, to me it defies logic. I have an excellent internet provider and wireless network at home, so surely hotels could have the same thing?

On my trip to Tuscany last week I was put up in some very nice hotels, but not a single one of them provided effective wifi. It was not available in the rooms at all, in any of the hotels, only the reception areas. Even then it didn’t cover it all, but only reached certain places. When I asked why this was, they told me that the building was old and wifi couldn’t reach through the thick walls. I am sure that is true, however I am no techie, but I could put this right it in a moment. My wifi at home couldn’t reach upstairs, but I installed another router piggy-backing off the main one – problem solved. Also one of the places I teach is a cellar and recently we got a dedicated router down there with the result that we now have wifi working many metres underground. These things can be done and are actually not expensive at all, so why do so few hotels get it right, or even try?

San Gimignano - beautiful but dreadful wifi!

I get the feeling they were attempting to make do with a single router, such as I have at home, for an entire hotel. This was certainly borne out by the weakness and unreliability of the signal when it was available.

What’s more they charged for it. What is this with hotels? Wifi costs very little, yet they seem to charge a great deal for it, even when the service is poor. I have nothing against a small charge, but some of these places were trying to get between €7 and €10 an hour, which would be more acceptable as a daily rate in my opinion. Also they indulge in overly protective username and password systems – why don’t they just hand out their password and levy a daily charge for everyone who wants to use it. Why are they so bureaucratic about this? It seems pretty pointless to me, making something simple appear overly complex. Those systems can also make connecting very difficult and time consuming. It seems to me that most foreign hotels still regard wifi as something strange that a few people seem to insist on, but not the absolute necessity, I think it is. Truth to tell, whether I am working or not if I cannot get online then I feel bereft and helpless and go into something of a decline. I presume this would be alien to a nation where everything closes for a 2 hour lunch!

By the way I find it like this everywhere, not just Italy – Spain, France, Belgium, Germany and Portugal are the same, even to my surprise the high tech United States.

It seems strange to me that all portable wifi devices, iPad, iPhone, laptops etc. only really work properly at home where my wifi system means that I do not really need them. To make this all work when I am out and about I invested in a Mifi, but even that only works in the UK. As soon as I go abroad, where I really need it, the charges become prohibitive. As I go to Spain such a lot I did buy a Spanish Sim card for it, but have so far failed to make it work, despite following the instructions to the letter.

Surely it is not beyond our capabilities to have Europe wide portable wifi at a sensible price and to have straightforward effective and affordable wifi available in hotels?

I would be grateful if anyone has any thoughts on this subject and even more if they have any real solutions.

5 thoughts on “It Shouldn’t Happen to a Wine Blogger – the perils & frustrations of blogging while on the move

  1. I agree that hotels are AWFUL at this and suffer regularly myself. There are several aggravating factors.

    Firstly, great wifi means you can bypass expensive hotel phones (a revenue stream they USED to rely on but cannot see beyond) using skype

    Secondly, to be fair to them, internet laws in many countries are very restrictive and controlling. In Italy and Spain certainly you have to give users a unique identifier by law (so they can make you individually responsible for the content uploaded/downloaded). Hotels are intermediary suppliers and therefore covering their *ss legally

    Thirdly, we have a rash of outsourcing in business these days. Unfortunately very few people in hotels have any idea about internet connections, so they outsource to either old fashioned IT suppliers who love to charge for whatever they can, or big “internet suppliers” like SwissCom (GRRR!) who must have massive overheads … so probably make simple tasks like this look very expensive to the hotel, so it never happens. Short-sighted and unfortunate.

    However, I hope all of this will change soon.

    In the interim, I suggest looking into a MiFi with different sim cards 😉

    • Interesting comments Q. It’s not just abroad either.

      I recently stayed in one of the best hotels on the Isle of Skye, and they had “outsourced” their wifi! Charges were £3 ph, £5 pd or £20 pw. I didin’t use it, and becuase of the quality of the phone signal, was “off air” for a few days!

  2. … oh, and as a completely separate point, I’d like to take issue with the following sentence:

    “I do not really regard my Wine Page as a blog, I hope my articles are more considered than that.”

    Blogging is a platform for content, considered or otherwise. This sort of differentiation is incorrect and hurts other content creators who choose to publish online (usually because no alternatives exist).

    You are a good content creator AND a blogger. I hope you can be proud of that

    • Thanks for the great comments Robert. Yeah, that sentence was perhaps unfortunate, I meant that my ‘blog’ is not a web log or diary, so in the true, original and perhaps defunct definition I do not write a blog, because it is not a diary. That is all I meant and it is true. Hope that explains what I mean and causes no offence – I am proud of what I do whatever it is called!

      • I thought so, but couldn’t leave it there 😉

        Yes, the old web log / diary concept is rather lost these days as “blogging” platforms have evolved so much. They are full CMS (content management systems) now.

        Either way, I like what you are doing 🙂

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