A month ago my girlfriend and I, together with two friends and their little daughter, decided to go on holiday to Normandy. We ended up booking a cottage in France through AirBnB. I heard a lot about this ‘new’ service online, but never really paid any attention to it. That is, until traditional websites for holiday houses didn’t really offer any good options and we started thinking out of the box and opened the AirBnB website.

The entire experience, from browsing the options, booking and arriving was a fluid experience without any real hiccups.

Although the house didn’t really live up to its promise. It was moist, the three bedrooms ended up being a long room with two double beds on either end and a small space as a third bedroom on the ground floor. And since the owner had ‘forgotten’ to pay her internet bills we had wifi, but without internet.

Since we were in France whilst they celebrated July 14th, their national holiday, and her provider needed 72h to get the internet back online after she paid the bills, we ended up with a sweet little cottage in rural France without any decent Cellular connection (Edge or GPRS at most), and no internet.

Which meant: no Foursquare check ins, no Twitter, no backup of Photos to Dropbox, no RSS and no Google maps to find the nearest restaurant.

And it’s one of the best holidays I had in a while. No internet meant we ‘had’ to talk at night or read, and no one was passively browsing a glowing screen. When in the same room we either talked, or actively and purposefully chose an activity. Some read, some played games, but mostly we drank some wine or beer and talked.

The last day the internet finally worked again, and it arrived with a symphony of notifications in canon from my iPad and iPhone. Dozens of Twitter notifications, hundreds of mails and thousands of RSS items. Reminders, iMessages, Game Center invites, you name it.

  1. Apple needs to fix the multiple devices beeping for the same alert – issue.
  2. It was terrible. I somehow hesitated when I first reached for my iPad. Do I really want to get online again?

In the end, habit won over anxiety and catching up with the world was nice. Most of the news was terrible, but just browsing FeedWrangler, skipping most of it, with a cold Ricard in the sun was enjoyable.

But what I enjoyed more was the silence. Being disconnected from it all. Going to sleep without my iPhone illuminating the room while I’m ‘just reading for 5 more minutes before I go to sleep’. Waking up and having breakfast without the notifications waiting for me. Just me, my girlfriend, my friends, and their one year old daughter, who’s grabbing most of the attention.

Like god in France. Offline.