Friday, 4 March 2011

Shane goes off... to France... Virtually

For a ground-hugging creature like me google-maps is a revelation!
I mean petals, you're four metres tall!
You travel through cities, towns, suburbs and sometimes it seems, backyards.
And it has become so addictive that I really think I'm in an TV episode of "Kath & Kim" where Kath and her "meaty bit"  Kel, having forgotten the airline tickets for their interstate holiday, decide to spend holiday time in the airport terminal as there is plenty of shopping and other diversions to keep them occupied.  A virtual holiday.
Silly isn't it?
But you start to see details that begin to accrete to a thread, to  a place, a city, a region and a province.
I think you become better prepared to absorb the visual differences at least; and in doing so may be better able to understand more clearly the cultural... and more quickly.
And it throws up discoveries that you might not have "uncovered" .. e.g.  I have, since early sculpture-days been very impressed with the Romanesque carvings in La Madeleine, Vezelay.

So on google on one of the first "virtuals"  I  reference is Vezelay... only to find that I can't "walk " through the town... pull back zoom on map and realise  its area is tiny, some 500m x 500m ('s medieval, dumbo) it's meant to be walked. There endeth Lesson 1.
Lesson 2 was a few seconds later on seeing on the map an arrow pointing to "eglise" about 2 Km down the road,  dropped "the-little-man" and was looking at a church that had to be 100 years earlier than I knew Vezelay was.  Turns out petals, that this is the original Vezelay: and from what I've seen, worth long investigation.
A corollory to this was telling a friend, Maggie about the projected trip.  She said she had travelled through Burgundy on her honey-moon many years before and "discovered" a wonderful little church and would find its name for me.  A couple of weeks later Maggie phoned and said, "I've found the church, it's Vezelay". "Which one Maggie, the town or the village"?               Literally, squeals of delight... ":...the Village, do you know it?"
Ta, Google-Maps. 
And I wonder if there are any people doing a PHD on the altered patterns of tourist behaviour since the advent of Google-maps?

So I've got my release/ authorisation-form
  and more importantly some Euro's!

But why this obsession with research? 
Because in an earlier incarnation in Italy, although fairly well prepared we realised on return how much we had not appreciated from lack of research.... and let's face it, petals.. it's not like it's all just down the track!