Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Holidaying in Sydney with an Android

We've recently returned from an 11 day holiday in Sydney, Australia, including a couple of days up in the Hunter Valley tasting wines and cheeses.  I used my Android phone extensively during the holiday, where I would previously have done a whole lot of research and preparation before I went, and carried guidebooks and pieces of paper with the things I thought would be helpful. 

Here is a list of the things I found helpful, and some things that enabled this.

  • Firstly, I didn't bother buying an Australian SIM card, which meant that I 100% avoided using any data over 3G - at $5 per Mb, forget it!  However, for the Sydney part of the holiday at least, we were staying in a hotel with free WiFi for all guests (Radisson Plaza on O'Connell St)
  • There are plenty of free WiFi hotspots around Sydney!  We made use of:
    • Upper deck of the Manly ferry - you have up to 2 blocks of 30 minutes/30Mb (whichever you hit first) per day
    • Museum of Syndey Cafe - there is a 'Free Wireless Hotspot' here that requires you simply to fill in a simple survey to get access (I believe there are more of these around)
    • The new Westfield Mall on Pitt St (which opened while we were there)
  • TripIt - Simon's been using this for a while, but finally convinced me to use it in earnest for this trip, where I would normallly have done up a one page calendar with all the hotel and transportation information and carried around a printed copy.  So I had the master trip in TripIt online, added Simon as a traveller, then installed the Android App so I always had the details with me.  (Nb that I also have a TripIt calendar linked into my Google Calendar - so I also had all the appointments in Jorte - my preferred Android Calendar app). One thing I would like to see from TripIt is that the app not be read-only as it currently is.
    • I used 'other' events in Tripit to write notes about shops we were interested in, restaurants we wanted to make bookings for and info we'd found about transport and such like - so again, these were all just there in my phone (again, with the slight frustration that I couldn't edit them using the TripIt app)
  • TripViewBeta - I cannot recommend this app enough!  I started off using a bus app, and 'next manly ferry' app, then stumbed on this one and promptly removed the others.  This includes all bus, train & ferry timetables for Sydney - you can either search by route, or by start and destination suburb, save trips, then refer to them as needed.  And the public transport in Sydney is fabulous!  (well, coming from Auckland it is anyway).  We did a lot of walking in central Sydney, but we also ventured out to Neutral Bay, Manly, Central, Surry Hills (a couple of times), and contemplated heading to Leichhardt, but gave that a miss in the end.
  • c:geo - for geocaching of course. :-)  Although I have to admit, getting coordinates in central city is an absolute nightmare, and every cache you look at will include log entries of people commenting about not being able to get a lock!  
  • Foursquare - again, this is another app that Simon has been using for ages and regularly encouraged me to do so, and I finally relented and signed up while we were in Sydney.  This was useful in that it was good to see where there other people nearby - this often indicated good local hangouts, and the tips at various locations were also useful - recommendations for dishes to try, seats to avoid, service to not expect!  One thing to note, if you sign up from your phone, even if you use the browser, you don't seem to be able to add a photo to your profile (at least on my N1 I couldn't, and had to use the netbook we'd taken with us).
  • Camera - I got some great pics from my N1 camera, which I then shared up to flickr using...
  • FlickrFree.  (photos can be seen here) Simon then used some of these, along with the ones he'd taken, for our Sydney blogposts.
There were a bunch of other guidebook style apps I had installed for both Australia & Sydney, but they all ended up being next to useless.  Most of what we did and saw was based on recommendations from friends (particularly restaurants), plus a few specific google searches for things we hoped to find while we were there.

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