Thursday, 6 May 2010

GPS or an Old Fashioned Map?


I live in a small city, compared to most; but when I visit other cities, especially larger ones, I enjoy driving in them. 
Now my mom would probably disagree with this statement. A few years ago, when we travelled through Spain, we rented a car and drove from Granada down the Mediteranean coast toward Alicante. I have to admit I got pretty frustrated with the whole event. But frankly, it wasn't about not liking the driving. It was arriving in Alicante, Spain without a city map and trying to navigate a foreign city, without said map.
Alicante's population is 334,757. Certainly not one of Spain's largest cities. But add in a few turnabouts and no map, that definitely creates confusion. I also learned that when it comes to visiting places I may never have the opportunity to visit again, I want to take in the scenery. This is much harder to do when you're speeding along the freeway.
On the other hand, when I travel to a city closer to home, am spending a few days there, and am likely to return, I love navigating the city. This past summer I spent almost a week in Edmonton and another week in Calgary. In Edmonton, when I arrived, we also had a hillarious phone call as she gave me directions to her house.
I was referencing my map as she gave directions. Unfortunately, she lives on a street that is in two parts. She lives on the newer part, a few blocks away, which wasn't on my map. As I looked at the older part of the street, on the map, she gave me directions to a location that wasn't on my map. I think we both doubted each other's sanity at some points. Our references were completely off. It did make for a funny reunion, though!
This week I travelled to Calgary by plane, and a friend drove me where I needed to go. She had a GPS. Maps are fun, but this was better. I know I probably shouldn't admit it, but I had never used a GPS, nor had I actually seen one at work, until this week.
It's still nice to reference a map and have a visual of where you are going, but that GPS could create a new freedom. No referencing a map at a stop light, no need to write out abbreviated directions on a note paper, just type in the address and follow the directions.
I don't know if a GPS would have had my Edmonton friend's address, for her newer street, but I expect it would. I'll have to find out one of these days....On the other hand, I could just go without and keep some slapstick humour in my life.... 

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