I now keep a spare echo dot in my travel bag, having found that it’s easy to link into any hotel’s wifi, even on a Greek isle.

I’ve named it “Andy’s Travel Dot” so I can find it easily in setup.

So without having to work the hotel TV (not easy with your eyes closed in the middle of the night) . . . or wait for it to warm up and navigate past the movie previews it wants to show me . . . or try to find an English-speaking channel if I’m abroad . . . or tune in at exactly the right time (because hotels, unaccountably, still don’t offer Tivo functionality) . . . I can simply say, “Alexa, play Rachel Maddow” at any time of day or night and — without commercials! — get her latest show.

Same with Chris Hayes or Meet the Press or the Planet Money podcast or any other podcast.

And I can ask Alexa the time, or Thursday’s weather in Cambridge (Massachusetts or England) or to play the latest Fox News.  Always interesting to see how their flash briefings compare with NPR’s.

More tips:

If you’ve never been to Greece, you owe it to yourself — and perhaps in a sense to the Greek people — to visit Athens and at least one or two of her 3,200 isles . . . ideally in May or September/October when it’s not to hot and crowded.

The Greek economy‘s been having a bit of a rough go in recent years, as you know.  And look what their ancestors gave us!  It’s a win-win to raise glass to the cradle of democracy (even as our own is at risk).  They need the tourism, and you need the vacation.

Turns out, it’s pronounced “Sandorini” — a T preceded by an N is pronounced D.

It’s pronounced “moose-a-KA,” with the stress on the last syllable.  I actually knew that, and the waiters were impressed that I did.

The famous retsina I always had at Greek restaurants when I was in college?  That tasted like pool-cue chalk and left you with a throbbing headache?  That’s not the national wine anymore — they hated it, too.

You’d expect more olives.

Oh!  And it turns out American tourists (and most others) are well liked.  The one nationality who seem to have earned the bad-guy stereotype (I’m sure there are exceptions) are . . . can you guess? . . . the Indians!  More than one guide told us that the only folks they don’t much care for are the Indians. Those wealthy enough to travel are used to treating everyone as a servant; as in, snapping their fingers and ordering people around.  “You: do this.  You: do that.”

Let it be a lesson to us all.



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