Lost in Transportation

No matter how long I live in Europe, my internal map still tells me that all streets go either north-south or east-west. Even in cities I’ve lived in for years, I can only navigate by 90-degree intersections and straight lines. My thinking self knows that this is ridiculous, but my going-places self can’t shake its rigid American griddyness. It’s a genuine wonder that I ever arrive anywhere.

For a person with a weathervane for an internal compass, every journey to a new location is an adventure, then an ordeal, then a triumph. I’ve spent at least 80 percent of my biking-time here in a state of oblivion, the remaining 20 percent taken up by epiphanies (‘I’m going south?!’) and recalibrations.

One of the most satisfying things about traveling is besting an unfamiliar transit system and street grid. The first time you make it to your destination without checking the map or consulting the subway chart feels like a genuine achievement. Applying acquired expertise feels good, no matter how microscopic or arbitrary it is.

I expect to feel this achievement sometime next February.

3 Comments

Filed under Berlin, Personal, Travel

3 responses to “Lost in Transportation

  1. I trust to my internal instinct and it works quite well. There has been couple of times when I got lost.

    Nowadays when having a mobile phone, one never gets lost.

    I bought my brand new Nokia E7 mobile phone last month and it works very well. You can walk in city and it gives to You exact position where You showing cross roads. You can use it when You are driving, walking, biking or whatever. Just tell to it that You want to go from this point to that point. Easy, easy. I do love my Nokia and its free maps.

  2. I’ve lived in the Netherlands all my life, and still get this. It took me ages to get the way my current hometown is arranged, and I still make mistakes now and then.

    (Also, I never realized all of the US was so griddy.)

  3. You should have grown up in midwestern suburbia! Then you never would have gotten attached to this grid thing — naturally Freedom Lane curves between N-S and E-W, and arbitrarily turns into Eagle Court.

    And I still maintain that Copenhagen HAD a grid, it was just 45° off. East=North. North=Northwest. West=Southwest.

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