What a trip! Well, as I promised a little while ago here is a review of some apps that I used while trying to navigate around Rome and Florence on a fantastic sightseeing trip. To make it easier (and shorter) I will list the apps and what I thought of them…
You Tube. We used this before travelling to help us learn some basic Italian. There are loads of helpful and educational clips to help you learn.
Google Maps. This I used for the car journey to Heathrow (and back) and for some navigation around the cities. The car journey was handled with no problems whatsoever (apart from it crashing 3 hours into the journey, but I’m putting that down to the fact that I’m running Oxygen). When I had WiFi, I browsed the cities at a detailed level so that the info was in the cache and didn’t require a net connection (£1.28 a MB!!!). It worked ok using this method, and helped me when the other apps I used got a little confusing. As soon as the networks arrange for a decent data rate in Europe, Maps will be unstoppable.
Bristish Airways App. Moderately useful, a slightly cluttered and confusing interface, but once I worked out how to access our booking, we could check in online, email ourselves the boarding passes, arrange for collection, etc. Also allowed us to choose seats too, and you can do all of this within 24 hours of the flight departing. Saved quite a bit of bother, and waiting in queues.
[The lovely Miss T reading up on the Santa Maria Novella before we had a look inside…]
Triposo Travel Guides. I downloaded Rome and Florence, and I cannot overstate how great these guides are! lots of information on the sights and attractions, pre installed maps so you don’t need a net connection, GPS so you can see where you are. I rate these apps much more than the Guidepal apps, just for the sheer content. However, you can’t save where you want to go, or create any sort of list, and while the GPS was fine in Rome, it struggled in Florence due to the height of the buildings and narrower streets (Maps suffered from this too). Make sure you are not relying on this alone. Overall though, I was thoroughly impressed with Tripposo.
[yours truly combining old and new… can just see the Desire holding its own…]
Rome Metro Map. Does what it says on the tin. The Metro is an integral part of travelling around Rome, and this guide gives a simple easy to understand illustration of the different lines.
Mobisle Notes. Great, simple, easy to read and I used it to list my itinery and booking details, so that I didn’t have to rely on Gmail and a net connection. Can copy and paste from and into the app. Excellent
TuneIn Radio. When we could get WiFi at the hotel, it was great to be able to get Radio 1 etc, rather than trying to work out what was happening in Italian TV.
Powermonkey. Not an app, but a portable charger. I cant recall the exact model, but Orange were selling them for a tenner a couple of months ago. I can get almost two charges from a full powermonkey, and its not shy at the speed at which it charges. Comes with a plethora of different tips and wall connectors (although I managed to pack the wrong one…) and is easy to use. Two small problems though. One, the button to allow it to charge your phone is too prominent and too easy to slide across, making it possible knock it in your bag. Two, it takes sooooooooooo looooooong to charge, easy around the four hour mark. Still, despite these minor faults, the powermonkey is certainly an essential for my future trips.
And there you have it. I have been thoroughly and totally impressed with regards to the information and ease of use of the wonder that is a modern Android handset. Now we just need European networks to all be friends and give us a decent rate for using data.
A few tips from Miss T as well… always buy a ticket before getting on the bus or metro (100 euro fine) don’t get caught throwing a cigarette down the drain (50 euro fine), and be careful buying Ice Cream near the Duomo in Florence (two ice creams cost 20 euro)…