Friday, June 3, 2011


If you’ve seen the movie MADE OF HONOR with Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan, you may remember Hannah being asleep in a little hotel in the Highlands of Scotland when her cell phone rings. I’m here to tell you--it didn’t happen. My English friends and I tried to get service for a week—countryside, village, middle of Loch Ness, Hannah’s Scottish fiancé’s family castle (the real Eilean Donan Castle)—and discovered the shocking truth. There’s no cell service. Anywhere. Whether it’s the mountains, the sparse population, the lack of towers, we never got more than a fleeting bar—there and gone.
For an American from a huge city, not being able to use my iPhone constituted a major crisis those first couple of days. In France, England, Ireland, Italy, the roaming charges might be exorbitant but, damn it, you could roam. Those $100 data charges to download spam and adverts didn’t seem so outrageous when not a single email could get through.
And yet, after we came to terms with our situation, we stopped checking at every crossroads and hamlet. Okay, I had a slip in a village popular with bus tours and asked the young woman in the Tourist Information Office where my phone might work. Her reply? “In Edinburgh, perhaps. This is the Highlands. We’re almost Amish.” And there you have it. With the pressure off, my iPhone went in my carry-on until we reached Frankfurt airport almost a week later. Not a bad thing looking back. A week unplugged. I’d even recommend a tech break now and then. And it was Scotland.
But don’t even ask me about the Edinburgh Starbucks with no wifi!


sarah andre said...

How surprising! When I went to Italy their online service was still the primitve dial-up and knocked out with the slightest breeze, but boy did they use their cell phones. It was the first time I saw a super high-tech looking Blue Tooth ear piece and he was a cabbie!

Taking myself off the grid is a must and I try to 'shut down' for the whole weekend and enjoy life pre-WWW. Not saying it's easy though...

Lark said...

In France everyone has cells, Ireland, too. and a lot of the wine bars, pubs, restaurants, etc. have wifi. The only place we found in Scotland with wifi was a very hip bar/bistro in Inverness. We didn't even have any luck in Edinburgh or St. Andrews. Quite amazing, really.

Julia said...

Since I had no international phone while in Scotland, or an app for that, my phone stayed in my bag almost our entire trip. I wonder if, since I am not as well traveled as the rest of my group, I was just happier being out of touch for a change. Maybe that should be my M.O.