Kyuchuk Hassan (Yali) Mosque, Chania, Crete

Google Maps is trying to kill me

Remember the launch of Apple Maps? Placing you at unknown destinations, instructing you to drive on non-existent roads, or through built-up structures? For our 7 year old, Google Maps in Crete got close to the infamy. Not inaccurate, but suboptimal. Close enough that at one point, overwhelmed by fear, frustration and disbelief, he screamed, “Google Maps is trying to kill me.”

All through mainland Greece – Athens, the Peloponnese, into the furthest remote areas of the Pindos Ranges, Meteora, Macedonia and all the way to Thessaloniki, there wasn’t a single misstep. Google Maps was spot on. Santorini was perfect as well. On Crete, driving around Heraklion, to Rethymnon and forward to Chania, down south to Elafonisi overlooking the Libyan sea – all of that went fine. It’s when we started navigating some of the lesser traveled parts of the island, trouble started brewing.

On our last night on Crete, and in Greece, we had booked what eventually turned out to be one of the best bed and breakfasts of the entire trip. Tired and exhausted after a really long last day in Knossos and having driven from Chania that morning, we just wanted to hit the bed before our flight back in the morning. But it wasn’t supposed to be so.

Driving back at 10.30pm in complete darkness, leaving the city behind, I must have missed the exit – the simpler, broader route to our B&B, forcing Maps to re-route from the next available exit.

That exit took us through the narrowest, winding, steepest, darkest drive up a harrowing hill with plummeting ravines on both sides descending into darkness. And the road got narrower and steeper by the mile with no option to turn around or reverse. Right near the top of the hill, it turned into 1 lane gravel, at which point our 7 year old couldn’t take it any more.

With no other way to go, I reluctantly pushed forward. Divinity intervened, or we probabilistically hit the proverbial jackpot, as I drove up to the boundary of a house. It was midnight. I honked as if our lives depended on it, some dogs answered our honks, and finally a woman with a young kid emerged. Scared. Thinking who would be this crazy to drive up this road at midnight. A few excited non-verbal hand movements and nominal English words later, we were shown the gate to the B&B – a grand total of 100 feet away.

We woke up the next morning with the most fascinating view of Heraklion, and the expansive Aeagean Sea before us. And our journey to the airport was via a wide, recently paved, 2 lane highway with gorgeous olive groves on each side.