Remember how I mentioned the importance of knowing your walking map starting and end points? Well, here is a little story as to why. You may not be so lucky to find a helpful local or tourist, such as myself, so know there are true benefits of a tourist walking map while you tour the city of your dreams. This is a true story. I cannot make this stuff up.
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Why Carry a Tourist Walking Map?
On a trip to Europe, I spent my first day of 4 days in Paris at the top of the Eiffel Tower for fabulous views of the city. At dusk I started my decent to head back to my Paris hotel via the Paris metro.
On my way to the Paris metro station, I had a family of five adults from a South American country come up to me (probably because I had a map) and ask me in Spanish how to get to their hotel. Those four years of high school Spanish sure keep coming in handy.
I asked in broken Spanish to indicate where on the map their hotel was. They looked at the map, at each other, at the map, then at me, and eventually responded, “No sé”.
I went blank. At this point I wondered how I could be of service when they didn’t even know where their hotel was.
After more staring at my map, the family agreed on what they thought was their hotel location, and one of them pointed to it on the map. None of us could confirm on our smartphones because we didn’t have Wi-Fi at the Pont de l’Alma bridge. They didn’t want to take a taxi, for a reason I can’t recall, but they were happy to follow me to the Paris metro.
Considering they didn’t have a walking map I assumed they didn’t have a Paris metro map either, so I showed them mine, which was on the flip side of my walking map. More blank stares. I couldn’t blame them. Have you ever navigated the Paris metro?
Gwen. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: get a South American family, that speaks no English (or French), to follow you to your metro station; get them through the ticketing booth and turnstiles (you must wait on them because you have your 5-day Paris metro pass but they have none); and, explain to them (in your broken Spanish) they are to get on your metro line but then get off before you to connect to a different metro line so they can get to their assumed, final stop.
Never Getting Lost
Mission accomplished? I waved goodbye wishing them buena suerte as they exited the metro car and moved down the platform to their connecting metro line. I trust they made it.
I felt nervous for them, but relieved I knew where I was headed. I had circled my hotel location on my walking map.
Whether you use the walking map your hotel gives you, or download a map onto your mobile device, never underestimate the benefits of a tourist walking map, especially in a foreign country.
Even if you have access to Google Maps, or another online map, I still recommend having a back-up map. Why mess with the possibility of being lost as a solo traveler?
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I would love to hear if these benefits of a tourist walking map were helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!