“I am currently on holiday, exploring the Swiss and French application landscapes. Unfortunately, after installing the Michelin Guide app on my iPad, there was no room left for an e-mail app. So I won’t be able to have a look at your email before the 22th of august. Sorry about that.”
I thought I had it all sorted out with my Out-of-Office message. After a certain tension between technology and ourselves last year, we promised each other to be more disconnected than ever. The only applications we would use, would serve our purpose of quickly and effortlessly finding the best places to stay and eat. More specifically, next to the invaluable Michelin Guide app and Google Maps, we figured we would only need the apps from Booking.com and TripAdvisor.
And indeed, in practice we found that these apps provided us with a unique level of flexibility. Often, in the morning we didn’t know where we would be in the afternoon and still, technology helped us over and over again to rapidly locate the nicest hotels and restaurants nearby. The social dimension proved to be most important to us, as we soon relied on the reviews of others that had already been there.
There was however a flip-side to our Social Holiday Experience: as the apps continuously would have updated information and even smarter deals available, it turned out to be addictive to regularly pick up the smartphone or tablet. It wasn’t to check e-mail; it was to see if there would be even more attractive rooms available now, better-reviewed restaurants or more picturesque driving routes.
So although we specifically intended to use technology only to save us time, be very agile and optimize our – well – results, it did monopolize us more than expected. And when we couldn’t connect, it bothered us.
Luckily, every now and then somebody made us aware of that.
One night, we stayed in the small Spanish town of Púbol, particularly known for the castle that Dali bought and then decorated for his wife and life-time muse Gala (actually, our breakfast was served by Gala’s former housekeeper, we thought there was a certain anecdotal value in it). The owner of the small mansion where we stayed, a renowned outdoor photographer, heard us discuss the scandal of lacking coverage of the mobile data network. He gave us a good, amused look – probably in the same way he studies rock formations or quicksand before he takes pictures of them – and shrugged his shoulders. “Consider it a bonus of the property” he said “now you can enjoy the sun and the garden, because there is nothing else to do. And it’s all free”.
We must have looked very surrealistic to him. Only appropriate.