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Flashback Friday: Huh?

Updated: May 19

Despite rapidly improving mapping programs and good ol' physical maps, there are times when we need the assistance of a local. Directions are given in a myriad of ways and with varying degrees of accuracy. Some people will include time estimates, some prefer to estimate distance. Very often directions are given using a local landmark, or a description of markers along the route. Some people give incredibly detailed and precise directions. I've been sent in the wrong direction or directed up a steep hill. A few helpers have been quite vague... and one fellow sent us on an absolutely treacherous "scenic" route.

Iceland was a particular challenge for navigation. Road names can be long... longer than fits on a road sign or a map, so one or both might be abbreviated. Often the abbreviation is different on the map than it is on the road, just for an extra challenge. For drivers, those crafty Icelanders put town names on very low signs hammered into the ground about 100m before you need to turn. The much more noticeable big blue signs name various businesses and amenities offered.

Every set of directions given in Falkirk Scotland used the Union Chippie as a reference point. We were directed to turn or drive past this elusive fish and chip shop on our way to everywhere. We never found the chippie. We were convinced it didn't exist. I googled and was shocked to discover there actually is a Union Chippie, although it's the New Union Chippie... in a small shop in a strip mall. Note to the people of Falkirk: The Union Chippie is not the fabulous landmark you think it is.

In a different incident, a helpful man told us to go "through the stupid dottie thing" (read that with a strong Scots accent). Since my travel buddy and navigator was listening intently and nodding, I assumed she understood. She didn't and was relying upon me for the translation from Scots. We eventually figured out that the stupid dottie thing was the mini roundabout marking, painted on the road. We spent the next 4 weeks giggling every time we saw one. There are a lot of stupid dottie things in the UK.