Having just spent an incredible week at the lindosblu hotel in Rhodes, I realised this was one of the first holidays that I really made use of free wifi, that is pretty much everywhere in Lindos, and numerous apps that became a key element of the holiday experience. So here in no order of importance, are my top 10.
- Spotify in the sky
I brought my ipod along, but didn’t use it once. Instead, I used Spotify’s recommended playlists to chill out by the pool as well as (and this impressed me) on the beach, where the wifi was just as strong. However, what’s also great about Spotify is the speed at which you can find new artists. The hotel had some great playlists playing out by the pool and in the bar over the course of the week and one song in particular grabbed my attention, so I did a search and found it on Spotify – a most beautiful version of the Alan Parsons’ classic, ‘Eye in the sky’, by Alessandra Bosco
- Dinner courtesy of Google Maps
Staying just a 5min cab ride into Lindos, there was no shortage of great places to eat. However, we wanted to find something away from the masses, so I took to Google Maps, and using the link to ‘Restaurants’ feature, just moved around the local area searching for local restaurants on the beach, and discovered Milos, a fantastic family run restaurant where they even have a telescope pointing at the moon as it rises up over the horizon. And in terms of customer service, it didn’t get much better than when, after the owner couldn’t manage to get a cab for us at the end of our meal, he gave us a lift back to our hotel himself!
- Check in, but not just at the airport – Foursquare/Swarm
I am not a huge Foursquare user on a day to day basis, tending to only check-in to places such as the theatre, that I can then share on Twitter and Facebook too, but I do like to use it on holiday, as it’s a good source of reviews and ideas for where to go in the area. It worked well as the initial pointer for what other restaurants were close by, before we then checked out further reviews on Tripadvisor.
- Tripadvisor – #obvs
This one is a given for holidaymakers I guess, but reading the reviews and particularly some of the tips gave us some great recommendations, like trying the chilled house red at the Milos restaurant.
- A lorra lorra Twitter 🙁
Twitter was my go to app to keep up with the news and industry updates throughout the day. Sadly, it’s where I found out about the death of Cilla Black this week. Cilla was a fantastic entertainer and a genuine National Treasure. We will miss her. On a more positive front, and I mean this in terms of it being just a brilliant PR stunt, I also saw on Twitter the news that Kermit and Miss Piggie are to split.
— Kermit the Frog (@KermitTheFrog) August 4, 2015
Thankfully, they will continue to work together – lucky that, with a new series of The Muppets starting on ABC soon!
- WhatsApp’ening by the pool?
As well as keeping in touch with my kids back at home, WhatsApp turned out to be the communication channel for us and our friends who we were holidaying with, both in terms of meeting times and checking where we were, but also in sharing photos too. We set up a group for the four of us and it meant we could easily share all our individual photos, creating our very own personal Storify of our holiday.
- Regular post(card)s on Facebook
Another obvious choice for showing off to friends and family about the great time we were having, whilst keeping up to date on how others were doing on their holidays. Facebook of course also has Messenger, which was another way of keeping in touch with some friends for whom that is their message app of choice.
- It’s just the same old show on my TuneInRadio
I struggle to get to sleep without the radio on, and most nights I tend to go to bed with Ian Collins (not literally you understand). I’ve known Ian personally for a good few years having met him through working at markettiers4dc, and I subscribe to his excellent podcast, which he started after leaving Talk Sport a couple of years ago. However, he is now back on the radio, with a late evening show on LBC, so with me being 2hrs ahead on Greek time, it meant I could listen to him through TuneInRadio, an excellent app that also has stations from all over the world to choose from.
- Can’t Tunnel Bear to be without Netflix
I felt a little guilty about this one, but Tunnel Bear is a legitimate app, available from the App Store. In layman’s terms, it basically makes other apps think your mobile/tablet etc. is still in the UK (or any other country you choose to ‘tunnel’ to from where you are), meaning I could continue to watch Netflix which, before I downloaded Tunnel Bear, was not available to me in Greece. Tunnel Bear gives you 500mb of free data but if you tweet that you downloaded it, you get a further 1GB added to your account. I used it to watch three more episodes of the remake of Battlestar Galactica (I know, geek!), which I’m so close to finishing, having watched almost all four seasons (no spoilers please). FYI, a 45min episode used up around 250mb of streaming data, so I had plenty of free viewing time still to use. (This being a blog post about free apps, Netflix didn’t qualify as I pay a monthly subscription for it.)
- As with Sky & the Beeb, the end of a great event needs a montage – Color Splash Effect
The last app in my list is one I downloaded on our final night, when playing around with some of the photos we’d all taken as a group of friends. Color Splash Effect has some cool features, but the best one was the ability to create montages really easily from your phone’s photo gallery and then share them instantly on your social networks. Here’s one I made earlier!
For the record, I don’t have a Kindle because I am still a fan of ‘touchy feely’ books, hence there were no reading apps listed here, although I can recommend Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the night time’, which I read, and was a brilliantly written and truly original story.
There were, however, plenty of other apps I used during the week, like LinkedIn (I had recently posted a job there for Conversis as we are looking for a Senior Communications Exec, so was checking the applications we had received) and of course for those free calls, for business or pleasure, there’s Skype. I also uploaded a couple of photos to Instagram, but if I was allowed one bonus app to recommend, then it would be Flashlight, because despite us having a fantastic meal at Tambakio on the moonlit sand in the beautiful setting of St Pauls Bay, without a torch on my phone, I wouldn’t have been able to read the bloody menu!
(If you have any other recommendations for free mobile holiday apps, please do add them in the comments box below.)