On the road, 2012

Some other authors have blogged about the Frankfurt Book Fair: Robert Sullivan on the opening ceremony and Catherine Robertson on the whole week. I didn't blog because I was travelling without a laptop, which felt like a holiday. I used my iPhone for email. I carried a PDF of my new novel on FileApp Pro, which allowed me to fret over it anywhere, anytime. Caught without an English language version of Pack of Lies at the Mana-Verlag opening, I downloaded a backup ms from Gmail, and read from the phone at the lecturn. Not an ideal experience, but doable.

The practice of hotels charging and arm and a leg for internet access is alive and well in Frankfurt. (In Berlin, like London there is free wifi in most bars and caf├ęs.) In the hotel lobby where the connection was free New Zealanders gathered in the mornings and evenings like smokers on a windy corner, emailing, texting and tweeting. (I've taken Twitter off my phone. It shortens the battery life and my concentration.) Internet access in the rooms was two Euros a day and limited, but at a few dollars a day for up to 25mg on a prepaid SIM, why bother?

For navigation I relied on a paper map of Frankfurt that I bought in Berlin, and for everything else a reporter's notebook and a pencil. Writing things down is still the best way to work -- you remember something better if you write it out by hand, and a pencil will never explode in your pocket.

On the final weekend when I received my Lufthansa flight confirmation I downloaded the boarding pass onto Passport, the iOS6 app. Normally I print out a paper copy of every travel document, just in case, but this time I passed through luggage check in, customs and flight boarding by showing staff the Passport screen or waving the phone across gate scanners. Lufthansa are one of the first airlines to invest in Apple's system and Frankfurt is a modern airport so this went without a hitch. At least half the people in the queue were checking in using smartphones.

The only technology I really missed on the road was a kettle in the hotel room but I knew not to expect that, especially after travelling in France for Les Belles Etrangeres. If you want tea in a European hotel you have to ask for a glass or thermos of hot water at the bar and carry it up to your room in the elevator. Barbaric. But at least then, you have tea. And so on the Wednesday night I sat up on the end of the bed in my room, drinking black tea while reading an ms off an iPhone and scribbling revision notes on a 79 cent notepad.