I have a confession. I am geographically challenged. I could get lost inside a paper bag, I say could because I would probably struggle to locate the paper bag in the first place.
Even in places that are very familiar to me, like a shopping mall. I can be walking a long, enter a shop and then when I come out have no idea which direction I was previously travelling. No idea at all. I can walk over 100m before something kicks in for me and I have that vague feeling I am backtracking.
My sense of direction is like Google Maps during an electrical storm – it just keeps sending me off in random and often contradictory directions. Turn Left, I mean right, turn right, it is back the other way…
Often my sense of direction is a bit inside out, like my internal map is upside down. I am certain I need to turn left, when in reality it should be a right turn. This is suddenly sounding very political, and like governments I end up spending my life making U-turns.
The problem is this inside out map does not occur all of the time, just often. 60-70% tops. That leaves 30-40% when my instinct is correct. This leaves me with a conundrum. Am I right to turn left or is this a time when I admit I was wrong and actually turn right. Right? Then I start to ponder if this is just my brain trying to call my own bluff. This can be a long a exhausting mental rabbit warren to caught trapped in.
When travelling this has some positives and negatives. Let’s start with the negatives so we can finish on a high note.
I need to allow a lot more travel time in unfamiliar places to factor in firstly duration of the mental debate as to whether this is a 60% or 405 occasion. Then there is the time for the back tracking, U-turns and general wandering around dazed hoping something familiar just sort of miraculously pops up in front of me.
I can complete many circles, and unlike the Griswalds as they circle endlessly around the Lambeth Bridge roundabout in European Vacation my circles are not always in the same direction and are rarely that funny.
I can pass monuments many times from very different directions all in a sense of bewilderment that no matter what direction I set off I end up back where I started.
Then there is the sense of panic that I will never be able to find where I want to be nor will I ever be able to find my way home. Getting home is worse because I can not reverse directions. A 20 minute journey to a destination can be a 90 minute journey home
On the upside when travelling I get to see things I would not have otherwise have seen, sure I may see some off them many times. Some of these things never make the guide books or tripadvisor, so a days outing can be full of surprises. Many times these surprise findings turn out to be better than the intended destination. Every day is an adventure.
Walking down the side streets and back alleys I also discover little shops and eateries that are designed and operated purely for the benefits of the locals, they are part of the fabric of every day life. I get to see places and people as they really are not just the tourist façade.
The destinations are immediately much more exciting than they otherwise would have been just thorough the sense elation and relief felt upon actually arriving.
And I get to eat more, I have to, just to keep up the energy for needed for the hours of walking, and I still lose weight. And I have calves to die for!