When Technology Leads You Astray

In Some Places, You Just Can’t Trust GPS

In Some Places, You Just Can’t Trust GPS

This post is dedicated to two hilarious posts from The Iceland Review in which foreign tourists put explicit trust in their GPS systems and were led wildly astray.

In the first instance, reported on February 2 of this year, an American tourist was looking for the Hótel Frón on Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavík. The only problem is that the website he was relying on listed the address as Laugarvegur 22a. There was a Laugarvegur, as it turns out, in the remote herring fishing town of Siglufjörður in North Iceland, just a few klicks south of the Arctic Circle, some five hours of hard driving past Reykjavík.

No sooner did the Icelanders stop laughing about this incident than the following occurred, as reported in today’s Iceland Review posting:

The Suðurnes police today posted on their Facebook page the story of tourists who had little luck using their GPS. “Remember Noel?” the post begins, referring to the American tourist who accidentally drove to Siglufjörður, North Iceland, in search of a hotel in downtown Reykjavík, putting complete faith in his GPS.

This time, tourists were traveling in a rental car the short distance between Garður and Keflavík International Airport (normally a 15 minute drive) when their GPS convinced them to get off the beaten track, onto a gravel road and from there to a sidewalk. “Unfortunately, a garbage can stood where the gravel road meets the sidewalk; the car slid on an icy patch, hit the garbage can and ended up on top of it, completely stuck.”

Police were called out, but other travelers had already come to the aid of the unfortunate ones when police arrived, managing to get the car off the can. Reportedly, the tourists continued their travels, extremely relieved.

It’s not that I’m a technophobe—I’m not!—but I like to consult maps before driving in an unfamiliar place. I am particularly leery about renting cars at the airport in a strange city. When I have to, I try to fly to an airport in a smaller city in which my chances of getting lost are less. In 2012, I flew to Spokane rather than Seattle when Martine and I drove up to Jasper and Banff National Parks in Canada.