Getting lost is like trying a new food. Sometimes you hate it, other times it’s a pleasant and delicious surprise. Taking a wrong turn and discovering streets in your hometown that you didn’t know existed. Straying off the beaten tourist track and finding where the locals live. With all the gadgets these days it can be hard to get lost when there is at least one GPS chip locating each step of your day. As I pull out my tablet to figure out where I am, I often wonder what my travels would be like if it were 10 years ago and I didn’t or couldn’t know where I am at any time. Some days I put away my gadgets and let myself be lost for an afternoon. And other days I am glad to have GPS.
As much as I like to wander and explore while I travel, there is something to be said for knowing where you are and how to get to your destination. When I have a train to catch, a friend to meet, or a concert to attend, it is a lifesaver (and moneysaver) to have easy access to my exact location. Many travelers and locals don’t realize that you can get GPS on your smart-device for free without data or wifi, so I’ve included a brief overview at the end of how to use GPS on your Android. In short, the GPS on your device is listening to the satellites around the globe and calculates your position based on the signals it receives. But remember to turn it off sometimes to get lost anyway.
This past week in Norway has been breathtaking, with steep mountains capped with snow (yes, in June) and lakes dotted with farms on either side. My dad told me many years ago about the fastastic train ride between Oslo and Bergen which coincidentally runs through the small town of Voss (like my last name). I decided to stop there for a few nights to see the town of my family’s namesake before continuing to Bergen. The stories did not disappoint, it was a spectacular ride.
You can press play on a particularly slow day at work and every now and then check the scenery.
Obviously a visit to Voss would not be complete without supporting the local brewery.
Though the weather in Bergen is often cloudy and rainy, I lucked out with mostly sun and warm weather. Since it is nearly the summer solstice the sun rises about 4:15am and sets at 11:00pm, but it doesn’t even fully set. To take advantage of all the light, on Saturday I met some San Francisco friends and together with a group of Norwegians (and others) we hiked Vidden all night. Starting at the Fløibanen funicular we watched the sunset and after 6 hours of hiking, we watched it rise again. We didn’t need flashlights and the sky looked like a constant sunset, reddish and yellow across the horizon. Of course the next day I was wiped out but you look at the pictures and tell me it wasn’t worth it.
How to use GPS on Android
- Turn on wifi or data.
- Open Google Maps (or other offline map) and save the area that you will be in for offline. Instructions here.
- On your Android device (phone or tablet), open Settings and open Location.
- Set the Location Mode to be High Accuracy, so that apps can use the GPS information.
- Turn off wifi or data and view the saved maps.
- Voila, there you are!