Kiosk Newsbit

Cybercafes called boon to travelers: they can leave their laptops home
(San Diego Union And Tribune; 05/12/98)

Afew years ago, true Internet junkies lugged their laptops around the world so 
 they could stay connected.

 Now they're leaving their laptops at home and relying on cybercafes for a 
 cheap, fast, easy way to exchange e-mail and browse the Web while they sip a 
 latte or quaff a brew.

 Ranging from chrome-and-glass edifices with dozens of high-speed terminals to 
 mom-and-pop pubs with a single PC in a back room, cybercafes let customers use 
 e-mail, play games and even update their own Web pages. Cybercafes have become 
 a fast-growing phenomenon with some 2,000 open worldwide.

 Globetrotters say cybercafes -- along with Internet kiosks in airports, copy 
 shops and libraries -- offer a welcome respite from having to lug a laptop, 
 fumble with electrical and telephone adapters for different countries and rack 
 up huge phone bills for connect time. Even high-tech professionals find it 
 daunting to set up an Internet connection overseas.

 "The phone systems are completely batty, and are totally different from country 
 to country," said Carl de Cordova, a computer engineer. "You can forget about 
 finding an 800 number that works from Europe, so you have to try to track down 
 a local Internet service provider. You're much better off to go out to a 
 cybercafe and have a beer and relax while you get online." At a minimum, 
 cybercafes let you easily log onto the Internet without having to figure out 
 what number to dial; some even offer high-speed Net connections such as ISDN or 
 T1 lines.

 "Many of them also have fantastic games, color printers, cameras for 
 videoconferencing and scanners so you can send holiday pictures to your 
 friends," said Kath Stanton, author of "Cybercafes, A Worldwide Guide for 

 Cybercafes are also a good way to meet other travelers and local residents. 
 "People like to be social even when they are surfing," said Ernst Larsen, a 
 Norwegian journalist who maintains a huge database of cybercafes. Prices 
 average $5 to $10 for a half-hour of usage. In Europe and Asia, where phone 
 charges can be astronomical and phone service spotty, that's a bargain.

 De Cordova ran up a $250 hotel phone bill for his Internet connect time during 
 a week in Paris. A few days later, he was wandering through Amsterdam's red 
 light district when he saw a cybercafe.

 "I went inside, checked my e-mail and starting replying to the people who had 
 sent me messages, describing how I was sitting in a hash bar next to a guy 
 rolling a giant joint. It turned out there were four cybercafes within a 
 stone's throw, all on these little bitty, windy 400-year-old streets," he 

 De Cordova ended up spending his six-week sabbatical from his job at Apple 
 Computer traveling around Europe and Mexico and sending his friends dispatches 
 from cybercafes in every town he visited.

 "In Cologne, Germany, I got off the train, went to a department store, and it 
 had an Internet cafe on the fourth floor, right between the sneakers and the 
 underwear. Pudicice in the Czech Republic was a tiny town, but sure enough, 
 they had a cybercafe, too -- and a nice one with great connectivity."

 As de Cordova found, cybercafes can exist far off the beaten path. You'd expect 
 Paris, which is to cafes what Rome is to ruins, to host a dozen cybercafes. But 
 how about Bali (seven) or Katmandu (two)?

 "When I vacationed in Thailand on Koh Samui, a little island that barely has 
 electricity, there was a cybercafe a block away," said David Strom, a computer 
 consultant from Port Washington, N.Y.

 To find a cybercafe on your travels, check with the local tourist office or 
 computer stores, get Stanton's book (available at, 
 or surf through Web sites that keep tabs on the cybercafe scene: or

 Keep in mind that Web-based e-mail is a lot easier to deal with from different 
 locations than a dial-up account. Before you go on a trip, sign up with one of 
 the numerous free services offering Web e-mail.

 You may want to pack a diskette with your favorite Web bookmarks and your 
 friends' e-mail addresses. You can find more technical tips on using cybercafes 

 Cafe sampler

 Here's a sample of just a few of the cybercafes open in San Diego County. 
 (Check the Web sites in the main story for more locations.)

 San Diego

 ESPRESSO NET 7700 Regents Road (619) 453-5897

 JAVANICAN 4338 Cass St. (619) 483-8035

 CINE CAFE 4th and K streets (619) 595) 1929


 NAKED BEAN 1126 1st St. (760) 436-1162


 METAPHOR CAFE 258 E. 2nd St. (760) 489-8890

 Imperial Beach

 INTERNATIONAL BLENDS 208 Palm Ave. (619) 329-0340

 La Jolla

 [email protected] CYBERNET 8657 Villa La Jolla Drive (619) 452-1600

 Solana Beach

 JAVA DEPOT 243 N. Highway 101 (619) 259-0308

Thanks Kinetic!

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