If you know where you are…

October 14, 2010

…and where you want to go…

…but you don’t know how to get there… are you lost?

On Tuesday, my second day in Florence, at the end of my sightseeing for the day, I packed away my Lonely Planet, which has all the maps I need. Then I walked away from Santa Croce, intending to catch a bus to the station, and from there a bus back to the youth hostel.

Soon, I was lost. I was in a bus-less area. I walked and walked and finally caught sight of some buses. I reached a bus stop and studied the route map, but didn’t recognize any part of it.

By this time, I was a little worried, because I was on a very big and busy main road with signs pointing to Autostrada, Venice, Siena, and so on. There weren’t many pedestrians around.

It gets dark around 7, and I like to be ‘home’, or at least in the vicinity of home, before dark. Getting lost at 6, is not something I like to do.

So I took out my phone and turned on GPS. I hadn’t used it much so far, because on the first day in Rome, I used it for half an hour and two things happened: my prepaid card ran out of money and my phone ran out of battery.

But this was an emergency, so I turned it on and asked for directions to my youth hostel. Straight down this road, it said. 3.7 km.

I did the math: it would take me about an hour to walk. Finding out about buses and changing multiple buses? Could take longer. And the last stretch of half-km or so I’d have to walk anyway.

So I walked it.

It wouldn’t have been much of an adventure except that my phone was low on battery when I started. And it’s true that it said straight down this road, but it wasn’t entirely straight.

I trudged off, wondering if I could trust the GPS and wondering whether the battery would last till I got to some area I recognized.

It was a long, tense walk, and the battery finally gave out while I still had 1km to go. Soon after that, I asked someone and it turned out the GPS was wrong after all. It wanted me to loop around a long way, when actually the entry to the youth hostel was just around the corner!

So I was saved by a timely combination of GPS navigation and a low battery. I reached my room just after 7.30, well after dark.

So all’s well…

Oh, wait, that was only one getting-lost story. The others? Will follow, another day…

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