Indeed. Let me tell you a story of how the infallible Google GPS failed us spectacularly when we first landed in Istanbul, Turkey.
After our (mis)adventure in trying to find the Piya Hostel in the ancient, maze-like Sultanahmet neighborhood, we decided that going forward we would just grab a taxi to get us to our accomodation directly from the airport. Especially helpful when you have landed in a new country & now are exhausted, with hungry and tired little kids in tow after a long flight, and you have no idea where you are headed.
Foolishly, we decided that we were going to take the subway from airport to our hostel location. Navigating the subway, taking it to their most busiest train station and then taking the streetcar from there to Sultanahmet was quite easy. I used my newly-acquired broken-Turkish to read the signs to help us navigate the overwhelmingly busy stations. I figured we would be at our hostel within 1.5hr and could change him and feed 6-month old Baby Iin the comfort of our room.
Not so fast Mama!
Once we arrived at Sultanahmet (right in front of the Aya Sofia on our left and the Blue Mosque on our right. Quite an arresting sight!), it went all haywire from there. With heavy backpacks and determined steps, we dove into Sultanahmet, confident in our GPS which was showing that we were a 10min walk away. We would definitely reach before dark.
The GPS led us down one alleyway after another. We kept looking at it and it showed that we were circling the place like hungry vultures, yet we couldn't find the tiny alleyway which would lead us to our nest.
We felt envious and starving as we hurried past packed restaurants with patios spilling out into the sidewalk, laughing patrons digging into succulent kebabs. Beads of sweat began rising in our bodies as my husband and I realized that we were now walking in the dark, within the bowels of Sultanahmet, with valuables on us like our DSLR camera and passports.
Our baby was looking around him with wonder, trusting his mama to lead him to safety. But for how long would he remain quiet before he would scream in hunger? And we were hardly wealthy, so to get into an over-priced hotel for the night would've hit our budget in a way that we were not ready to bear.
But we also saw the best in people that night. People that we asked for help with directions went out of their way to walk the distance with us to help us find Piya Hostel, even though they had never heard of the place (and they reside in Sultanahmet).
After more than an hour of this fruitless search, it was now night with a brisk wind (this was in March), neither of us had eaten or drank anything since we got off the Turkish Airlines flight 3+hours ago. I was now in a panic thinking when baby would recall that he had a very soggy diaper on him and commence shrieking.
But when I looked down at my baby he just threw his head back and gave a hearty giggle! He didn't care that his diaper was soiled and that he was hungry and thirsty! He was with his mom and dad, he realized that he was in a brand-new place and his sense of curiosity and fun was fully awake! My baby was making the best of it and it gave me the courage to take his lead and do the same.
We eventually got to a busy part of Sultanahmet, walked into a Travel Agency that was still open at this late hour and the owner, Hadi, knew of Piya Hostel! He walked us there directly to the front entrance. It turns out that we were meters away, past the bridge but had walked right past Piya Hostel as the sign was turned away from us.
Eternally grateful, we went back to his travel agency the next day and booked a tour with him.