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A Virtual Stroll In Montreal

August 16, 2010

As with just about everything recently, we’ve had to adapt our style of travel to the realities of living in an RV. In the past, we would land in a city, pick up a map, and stroll around to get our bearings. We’d always feel helplessly lost at first, but within a couple of hours we usually owned the city. We’d know what could be done reasonably on foot, where we’d want to take the metro to, and what might require a taxi. We’d also have a strong sense of which things on our to-do list should be grouped together.

But now we don’t have a city hotel room to retreat back to after our stroll. If we want to explore the city, we have to get there first, and even that takes some degree of planning. Do we drive in or take public transportation? Where is the best place to park for what we want to do? In what order should we do things? All this, and more, has to be decided before we’ve even set foot in town.

Thankfully, Google has this neat feature where you can plot destinations on an interactive map.  This allows us to visualize our itinerary for Montreal, and capture some of the benefits of our stroll virtually. For example, we know we want to catch a free jazz concert on Thursday night, but we don’t know what else on our itinerary made sense to do the same day. After plotting a bunch of ideas on Google Maps, we can easily see what else is in the neighborhood.  The “walking directions” feature tells us that a walk from Notre Dame, to the Archaeology Museum, to Marie-Reine-du-Monde Basilica to the Jazz venue takes about 40 minutes; a pretty good day’s itinerary. More importantly, it tells us that the botanical gardens and the Jean-Talon Market are probably too far to walk, and too much of a pain for the metro. So we’re grouping them together and driving.

You can play around with our map here, to see how it works and maybe create something similar for your own next trip. In the future, we’ll be plotting more of our itineraries this way to get a feel of a city’s geography, if not its culture, before we arrive.

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