Tell ITN about the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. The ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.
This month’s winner is PAULA FUCHSBERG of Philadelphia, PA:
During a visit to Spain in October ’11, two friends and I picked up a rental car in Valencia, then headed south to tour the Andalucía region for a few days. I had printed out Google Maps directions for each of our planned drives, but, as a backup, we requested a GPS with the car. The rental agent gave us a portable one, telling us that the built-in GPS on our car’s dashboard didn’t work.
Since my maps proved fine, initially, we didn’t even bother taking the portable GPS out of its case, but as we started to drive, the supposedly broken built-in GPS lit up and began displaying which roads we were on. And about an hour into our trip, it suddenly announced in a stern female voice, “En dos minutos, toma la derecha” (“In two minutes, turn right”).
From then on, despite our never touching it, our electronic Spanish companion would randomly tell us every few minutes to turn left or right, would clam up for a day but then resume issuing commands, would stop displaying any road information altogether or would flash the date as “Jan. 1, 2007.”
However annoying, it was good for some laughs… until we got off the highway in Cordoba to look for the train station, where we would return the car, and my Google directions failed us. Lost, we finally took out the portable GPS and punched in the station’s address. In English, it began to recite directions and we made the first turn as instructed.
Then the built-in GPS chimed in, “En dos minutos, toma la derecha” for the 50th time and now both GPS units were babbling at us simultaneously, one in each language! Thank goodness we could distinguish the two voices and their different tongues or we might still be driving in circles.