GPS Technology

Admittedly our GPS was bought in Bulgaria about 10 years ago. It is a Garmin and did come with free European map updates and a special update for Bulgaria. It took us a while all those years ago to figure out how to get the updates and how to avoid it mistaking us for Bulgarians but we got there.

Over the years there have been numerous episodes ranging from the hilarious to the downright dangerous with this thing but for the most part she (we call it a she) has been more or less reliable. There was the episode in Italy where she avoided a highway which could have taken us (James was driving and Josh was navigator and Linda and I were in the back which was good with me) by highway to our hotel in about 20 minutes and instead over some mountain pass, via small villages, local weddings, and one lane roads for 2 hours of white knuckle roller coaster fun. We still quote Josh on occasion…”getting pretty close to the edge sunshine” …he may have been quoted (with some embellishment) on occasion in Norway.

She dings when there is a speed camera. But she also randomly dings when there isn’t a speed camera which tends to make for some erratic driving and angry tailgaters. On occasion she has simply given up or repeatedly said “recalculating” (and we have given her a really annoying Aussie accent) until we turn her off. When she doesn’t really know the answer we have found ourselves going around in circles, or she just says “you have reached your destination” and stops talking and sometimes she was right and sometimes she was wrong. Sometimes maps haven’t updated and we find ourselves on a local road with a 6 lane highway, going our way, beside us but with no way of getting onto it.

Mostly though we have reached our destination about when we should with relatively few wrong way-one way roads.

This trip has been different.

I guess you need IT nerds actually doing the work with updating these things, but the IT nerds at Garmin need to get out more because they seem to think that Norway just isn’t really part of Europe. And I guess with the very northern parts of Scotland having these Nordic overtones from a long way back the same rationale seems to have been applied to northern Scotland. The weird thing is sometimes she was exactly right and even understood Norwegian tunnels and sometimes we might as well have been driving on an adjacent planet. When she has no idea where we are but does understand a destination she just shows a little picture of a car but no roads and text that says “driving in Norway”. All roads lead to Rome right?

None of that was really very disturbing because we could mostly wing it and also a well executed U-turn can be a thing a beauty, especially in a 3 tonne motor home. The worst thing though was when she implied that she knew what was going on but muddled her left and right. Excuse me but how the **** do you explain that?

We had booked tickets on WizzAir to go from Bergamo to Sofia (there’s another story) and were going to drop the rental car off at the airport, a 10 minute drive from Bergamo Centro, in time to check in and get on the plane. That is after negotiating a boarding pass for my guitar (that’s part of the other story). Ms Garmin muddled stay left with stay right at a large high speed round-about and we found ourselves back on the A3, going through a toll booth on our way to Venice. This was about the only time on this trip I have declined the opportunity to execute a U-turn when it was perhaps, theoretically, possible. Actually not possible theoretically or otherwise, all the painted arrows on the road pointed in the direction we were mistakenly headed. I kept having images of that YouTube video of tourists doing u turns on motorway on ramps.

The GPS is impassive. She was getting the full abuse as we drove past the airport on the A3 knowing that the airport exit was at the same place we had entered. All she had in response (after the rather impractical suggestion to “make a U-turn” was “drive 30km and exit on the right”.

Norwegian tunnels are a marvel of science and engineering. For the most part they are two way roads built underground. Many 10km or more long and often subject to automatic tolling. We even had cars, and on one occasion a truck, overtake us in these tunnels which was a whole new experience.

We went through two that had large roundabouts in the middle of them and roads that went off through some intersecting tunnel. The GPS recognised the roundabouts but by the time we reached them she had no satellite data on which to base her advice and was strangely silent…not even a “recalculating” just a deafening silence implying; “take your pick”. One tunnel roundabout we exited onto the wrong intersecting tunnel and ended up going somewhere unintended, which advice we got only once we day-lighted. U turn before the toll point and back to the roundabout to have another crack.

The tunnel that didn’t confuse her but did confuse us was a spiral.  The whole tunnel was a spiral. The GPS map looked like a bowl of spaghetti.

Apart from the Bergamo incident she was pretty good in Italy. The only real incidents, apart from her dyslexia and awful pronunciation of Italian street names, were when my memory of how to get somewhere was different to her instruction and we either went my way and screwed things up or I was undecided and still screwed things up.

We have decided to retire her and rely on google maps going forward. However Google Maps were frankly equally as unreliable when the going got tough.  I reckon if these GPS nerds can take the traffic alert thing a step further and provide real time updates regarding vehicles coming your way on some of those Norwegian roads they will be onto something.

But really…There just isnt any substitute for having a good old fashioned paper map that you can study ahead of time, work out a route and use your own on-board computer nestling up there in your cranium, to do the work.

One thought on “GPS Technology”

  1. Old lady Garmin may have been 10 years old but she got you there anyway guys. Unbelievable that there are tunnels going off tunnels, it would be a bit nerve wracking for me and roundabouts wow. The drought has finally broken in Auckland, been raining every single day in Auckland during August. Keep safe. Phil and Chris

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