Monday, 21 September 2015


Bagno Vignoni is a Tuscan bath town whose thermal springs have been celebrated since medieval times. Eschewing highway travel in favour of a scenic countryside drive, Jim and I headed out from Cortona with our G.P.S. chirping out directions. It was during this journey (September, 2011) that we tagged her with the Italian nickname, Gilo, by which we still refer to her. 

All went according to plan until, on our return trip through Tuscany's stunning "crete senesi", we were stopped dead in our tracks, our route impassable, having been fully closed for a village festival. What? Now how do we get home? Jim spontaneously turned right, into the tiny hillside village. "Recalculating", Gilo announced; with absolutely no other options, we trusted her directions. Through a labyrinth of narrow village streets, past farmer's stands in a local market and down barely navigable alleyways, Jim drove. Had our GPS gone mad? In 250 metres, turn right, came her next rather rapid direction. Obediently Jim did so and suddenly we found ourselves back on the main road, the village festival disappearing in our rear view mirror and the gorgeous crete senesi lying ahead. Oh, how I loved Gilo that day.

Horror stories about drivers placed in danger by their G.P.S abound. How about the Swiss driver who had to be rescued after he was directed up a remote mountain path? 

Looking at pictures such as these, I do have to ask myself when common sense should prevail. Thankfully, Jim and I have never been placed in a precarious situation due to Gilo's directions. Why then is our G.P.S. getting under my skin of late?

Returning from Georgian Bay on Sunday, Jim and I chose to cut south early and to pick up Highway 400 south of the congested Barrie area. Gilo obviously preferred the Barrie route as, like a sergeant major, she barked out U-turn orders five times before conceding to our route choice. Hey, who is in charge here?

Then there is Gilo's condescending, frustrated robot voice. Re-CALC-ulating!!! Why do I feel the need to apologize for forcing her to rethink a new route? I keep waiting for her to yell at us or for her circuits to blow up during the onerous recalculations. Bossy? Hell, yes! Perhaps she should be mounted in the back seat. Now there is an idea! I do get small satisfaction when pronunciation of street names is incorrect. My favourite? Take ramp to "Q" when we are merging on the QEW. 

All kidding aside, every time Jim and I venture forth, whether in a foreign country or at home in Canada, I marvel at G.P.S. technology. How did we ever travel by car without it? So much time wasted getting lost is now spared. So much time reading teeny tiny print is an agony no longer. I never was good at folding those giant maps, anyways. Boss away, Gilo! Have G.P.S., will travel.

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