Mike Elgon writes on his blog about the hoops he has to jump through to get a decent internet connection while traveling in Greece. The article is written in Ágios Nikólaos, here in Crete. Note that this guy does not travel for pleasure, he’s not a tourist on vacation. His tag line makes it clear: “The world is my office”.
Here on the island of Crete, the cradle of European civilization, Internet access appears to be everywhere. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered, appearances can be deceiving.
The guidebooks that write about this town boast of Internet café’s galore. And a quick jaunt through this idyllic seaside town shows conspicuous “INTERNET CAFE” and “Wi-Fi” signs everywhere. But when I actually tried to connect, all this access proved illusory.
He calls it the “phantom internet”.
As Mike will live in this country a bit longer, he will soon discover our “phantom road infrastructure”, “phantom electricity”, “phantom water supplies” and — may the gods forbid Mike will ever need it — our “phantom public service”.
On the bright side, I for one seem to be extremely lucky in having a reasonably reliable internet connection, after the temporary glitches back in December. Moreover, on my trip to Belgium I discovered that I also pay less (€22.50/month) and get more (unlimited data transfer) for the same connection speed (4Mbps) than my friends in Belgium. There.
As for the other phantom phenomena (I loved writing those 2 words), personally I don’t mind the shabby road infrastructure. As a matter of fact, where I live, I wished the government would leave the roads alone as much as possible. Every “improvement” I’ve seen so far just destroys a little bit more of the delicate balance between nature and comfort, to the detriment of nature. I can also live with unreliable electricity and water supplies. Though uncomfortable for western style living, one quickly learns to organize one’s life around it, the Greek way. At least we do. And then we are down to the last item on the list: the infamous Greek “civil servant”. Let’s just say that he or she is — nine times out of ten — neither civil nor a servant of the public he is supposed to serve, and leave it at that. In their natural habitat we try to avoid them as much as possible. Some phantoms you have to leave alone.