You can’t get lost and other famous last words…

18 Feb

I have conflicting feelings about the invention of the GPS.

44331240503b8857d41a8a291c6b302d-compass-clip-artOn the one hand, for the directionally challenged like me (in Afrikaans I would say rigtingbeduiweld), it can be a life saver. No more driving around with an open map book on the seat next to me, multitasking, trying to figure out where the hell I am, whilst attempting to look confident driving like I-know-exactly-where-I-am-heading. Especially when I am driving through a dodgy area.

On the other hand, I am one of those lazy drivers who will end up just following the GPS instructions without concentrating on where I am driving or even which direction. As an example, I always take a GPS with me to Cape Town as somehow the mountain confuses me endlessly. But the end result is that even after navigating to Cavendish Square about five times, I still wouldn’t know how to get there without a GPS.

However, when going to a foreign city, it is like a lifeline! I am normally pretty scared to get lost in a new city, and those complimentary maps they hand you at the hotel does not help at all if you don’t know where you are! And the best thing is, I only need my phone. That’s right, isn’t it?

Well, that’s what I thought when I landed in Edinburgh on the a cold, but not wet Tuesday in December. When I first arrived (after the initial shock of losing my iPad), I set out for a short stroll in the immediate neighbourhood around my hotel in the Old Town. This was fine and since I only walked in a circle, the hotel map did the trick. I did breath a sigh of relief (after walking down some stairs) when I realised I ended at the bottom of the street where my hotel was located…

A couple of hours later I ventured out for a longer stroll. Actually, I discovered that I forgot to pack pajamas, so wanted to head towards the shopping area and then maybe get something to eat. My taxi driver told me I was only a few blocks away from Princess Street, so I decided to walk in that direction. I punched ‘Princess street’ into my phone’s GPS, fixed my scarf and set off.

The directions per my phone looked something like this.

Not sure which is more confusing: the detail directions of map view??

Not sure which is more confusing: the detail directions of map view??

For starters, I thought Princess Street was quite a bit closer, but nevermind, I am not scared of a little walk. Secondly, it was dark already and I had no idea which direction was north, south, east or west. But it is easy, because all I had to do was walk in a direction and see if I am walking away from the end point or walking towards it, not so? A recipe for disaster!

royalty-free-lost-clipart-illustration-1047105My first mistake was turning right on George IV bridge, instead of left. Unfortunately, since I did not want to appear lost, I kept on exiting the maps application on my phone and had to start a search from scratch everytime, and somehow the directions kept changing… After about 15 minutes, I eventually realised that I was definitely walking in the wrong direction (this was when I reached the Edinburgh University, and a new search indicated that I was now more than 2 miles away, whereas I started out just more than a mile away). Clever girl I am….

So I started walking in the now correct direction. But the GPS was telling me to go down Potterrow and when I started walking in the direction I thought I was supposed to go, I seemed to go further away from the blip that was me… Eventually, after walking in all 4 directions I realised it wanted me to walk on the motorway, going under the pedestrian road, which is more or less when I clicked that I was following the vehicle directions and not walking directions… And in a city like Edinburgh, with one ways and pedestrian roads everywhere, this makes quite a difference, I’ll have you know! A new search for walking directions, showed a much more straight walk along a main road.

My actual route vs the proper walking directions...

My actual route vs the proper walking directions…

With a couple of wrong turns I eventually found the right road and made it to Princess Street Gardens. From there I just had to walk down the many steps and I suddenly found myself in the midst of a German Christmas market. Elated, I remembered the taxi driver telling me about the market in Princess street Gardens. Only, instead of the 15 minute walk, it took me more than an hour. And I was starting to regret wearing my new hiking shoes…

After buying the fated pyjamas, I headed back to the market for something to eat. I feasted on a pork steak burger, while listening to a conversation between two students, one of whom had the ability to use the word ‘like’ several times in one sentence. Miley Cirus would have been jealous. I finished off my meal with a delicious homemade hot chocolate, and started making my way back to the hotel.

As it turned out, my hotel was only a 10 minute walk from the market! But, at least I did learn my lesson, and memorised the route I had to take the next morning to the starting point of my tour…and left with plenty of time to spare.

I wish I could tell you that this was the end of my navigational, directional and public transport challenges on this trip…but alas…a story for another day!


Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Travel


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2 responses to “You can’t get lost and other famous last words…

  1. lisa@notesfromafrica

    February 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    At least you managed to get some exercise and a good story out of it! 🙂

    • Justcallmegertie

      February 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Absolutely! And I probably never would have seen the university otherwise 😉


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