Surviving Scary GPS Directions All Over The World

Maybe you use your GPS to find a faster route to work. When you’re traveling, though, sometimes you cross your fingers. I’m pretty sure that on some of the streets I’ve driven down, my GPS was winging it. Like it had a pretty good idea how to get to the destination.

How bad can a GPS be? Here’s a car crashing into parked cars... from the sidewalk side

There have been times when my husband Dan had to get into a taxi so that I could follow him to our destination.

I hate the GPS, but Dan always defends it. “Imagine if we didn’t have it!” he says. That’s why I always drive, and Dan always navigates.

I know he’s right that we’re better off with it. I’ll say it here, just don’t let the GPS hear it.

Going Where No Car Has Gone Before!

Arriving In Santiago de Compostela, Spain

I’m standing in front of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

Our first view of this magnificent cathedral was the evening before. Looking for our hotel, the GPS lead us straight into the plaza above. The nuns from the monastery ran out, asking what we were doing there!

Some people were sitting in the plaza with their shoes off.

They had just finished the pilgrimage, having walked hundreds of miles to arrive at the plaza.

Here we were, having arrived by car! How embarrassing!

Dan re-configured the GPS, which indicated that we go down a street in front of us. From the level of the plaza, it looked more like a cliff! Dan got out and walked to the edge, and then shook his head in wonder. There was no way we were driving down this street! We left the plaza the way we came in.

The Time Our GPS Improvised Its Way

Trying To Find Our Hotel In Valparaíso, Chile

UNESCO describes Valparaíso as an amphitheater, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

You arrive in this town along the coast. Our hotel was at the top of the amphitheater.

The GPS routed us up the steep, narrow streets. How was that even possible? It felt like our GPS was crossing its fingers, hoping to improvise its way to the top. We were skeptical from the start.

Dan got out of the car and hailed a taxi. I followed in the car.

The taxi’s route was back where we came from, along the mountain, and straight to the top. What breathtaking views! We found out later that our GPS had no idea. Some of the narrow streets on its route were staircases!

Getting Off The Beaten Path Wasn’t Our Intention This Time

The End Of The Road In Puerto Rico

The end of the road, our GPS brought us to a small dirt road

Puerto Rico is a small island. You can circle it in a day. We were heading to La Parquera on the south side of the island.

At night, a small boat will take you past the mangroves, to a part of the bay where you’re I disturbed by the lights from land. Then you jump in the water and glow from the phosphorescent microorganisms. You can’t take photos. The flash will chase the microorganisms away.

Sometimes we appreciate our GPS’s suggestions to get off the beaten path and explore. This time, however, it was apparent this dirt road wasn’t taking us to La Parguera.

Are You Sure You Want To Go There?

Finding Ourselves In The Non-Touristy Parts Of Bariloche, Argentina

Bariloche is a beautiful town. German immigrants settled here first and filled the town with chalets. You feel you’re in the Swiss Alps until you get away from the center. We rented a car and drove to see some picturesque mountain scenery.

The views were stunning, but we felt guilty. We put our rental car through some rugged terrain.

There was no turning back, either.

The road is so narrow that it’s one direction until 2 pm and then it’s the other direction after.

By the time we were returning to the town of Bariloche, our car was caked with mud. We searched for a car wash before returning to the hotel.

As we drove through the non-touristy parts of Bariloche, the GPS spoke. She warned us that we were in a dangerous neighborhood. We didn’t believe our ears, but the GPS repeated the warning a minute later.

Honda added this feature way back in 2008. Microsoft added it in 2012 and Waze added it in 2016.

The Dark And Stormy Night The GPS Brought Me Over The George Washington Bridge

Lost In My Hometown Of New York City

The George Washington Bridge exit, when I returned after my GPS’s scary directions

This time I was driving home with my son. And the GPS has the directions right, but the timing wrong.

It was getting dark and pouring rain. I turned left, right onto the bridge entrance! I should have turned left just a little further down.

That’s when I started screaming, but fortunately, my son calmed me down. We paid the toll, and then circled back home.

Scary GPS But Scarier Without It

I love road trips and I‘ve taken a lot of them. I don’t love GPS’s but I’m not happy with the alternative, either. Most of the time, our GPS gets us exactly where we need to go, without any problem. We just finished a 1,000 mile (1,700 km) road trip through Mexico.

And the people who program these maps are absolute geniuses. They re-route us around traffic, and often they know the construction zones.

You take the good with the bad, like how she interrupts great songs on the radio with long sets of instructions. I yell at her to shut up. Sometimes I feel she does it on purpose. In the end, the GPS and I have some differences, but we put up with each other.

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