Before we travelled to Kerala recently, we naturally googled and read up on our destinations, and found useful tips on sites such as Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree and Wikitravel. What you usually don’t get in written material, though, is a visual sense of a place. Flickr is an immensely rich source of pictures of exotic locations, but most pictures (including my own, I have to admit) are still not geotagged. Which is where Google Maps enters the picture.
Although the image quality varies a lot, there’s no reason not to check out your destination. Shown above is a satellite image of the immediate area sourrounding our hotel in Fort Cochin, Ballard Bungalow (a lovely place and highly recommended, btw). By clicking and dragging, you can take a virtual walk around the neigbourhood and check out the distance to the famous chinese nets, for instance (in this case, click and drag the picture a couple of frames to the right to see them). Or see how far away the nearest bus station or ferry jetty is.
The first time I did this was last year, before we travelled to Malta and I wanted to check out the sights, beaches and transportation options of Bugibba. Google Maps can also give you a trip down memory lane. This is the hotel in Zanzibar where we spent part our honeymoon, for instance. Yes, it is pretty isolated, isn’t it? :-)