The long way round


Is this the most circuitous route on Google Maps?

A most circuitous route!

(Click on the map for a higher resolution version)

As you can see, Google Maps knows all about the Madre De Dios River ferry dock in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, but it hasn’t figured out that means you can actually cross the river there.  So if you ask it for driving directions from Route 26 in Puerto Maldonado, to the ferry dock on the other side of the river (a distance of maybe quarter of a mile), it tells you to take a 5,022 mile road trip through Brazil, Argentina and Chile and back into Peru, carefully skirting Bolivia and Paraguay on the way.  (Incidentally, I doubt if anyone could drive this in under 5 days, as Google seems to think.)

Another extreme example is the route from Moyale, Kenya to Moyale, Ethiopia.  Instead of telling you to use the border crossing there, Google Maps suggests taking a 3,603 mile journey via the A43.  Can anyone beat these and find an even more circuitous example?

Nothing new under the clouds

The current volcanic travel disruptions have reminded me of a journey I made from London to Malta on New Year’s Day in 1973.  That was the day when Britain joined the European “Common Market,” as we called it back then.  Ironically enough, it was also a day when travel between Britain and Europe was cut off by thick fog.  That too was quite common back then in those pre-Instrument Landing, pre-Channel Tunnel days, but somehow the fog that day seemed symbolic of the UK’s reluctance to integrate into Europe. 

We were booked on a direct flight from Heathrow to Malta that morning, but at the airport we found all planes grounded with no word as to when flights might resume.  We sat around Heathrow all day hoping the fog would lift, which it did not.  So at about 7 in the evening the airline (the old British European Airways) put us on coaches to Cannon Street station where we got a train to Dover.  There, more buses were laid on to take us to the harbour, where we boarded the night ferry to Ostend.  From Ostend a train took us to Brussels Central in the wee small hours of the morning, where we had to wait an hour or so for the trains to start running to Brussels Airport.  From there we were able to fly to Rome Fiumicino, where we changed planes for the final leg of our journey to Valletta, landing at about 3 pm after almost two days and a night of travel.

The final frustration came as we were leaving the airport.  We heard the roar of a plane, and looking up through our taxi window we saw it was the daily BEA flight arriving from London.  All that effort for nothing!