Please sign in to post.

Google Earth Virtual Travel - Know Before You Go

I’m in Spain on my sixth RS-infused ETBD adventure, first time going to a non-English speaking destination without traveling on one of his tours. I found it invaluable to use Google Earth and Street View to explore the cities, airports, train, bus and metro stations to get a feel for what I’ll see and - where possible - walk the streets repeatedly before arriving.

For example, I’m tapping this out in Toledo where the path to my hotel was particularly challenging since it’s on a really narrow calle. I was able to “walk” to it virtually several times, noting the landmarks along the way from the Zocodover (like “pick the path between the McDonalds and Burger King”). When we arrived it was a “snap.”

I also used it to see if we should walk up to the city or take a taxi - trying to follow Rick’s instructions. It made it clear where and how far the tram stop was from our hotel in Bilbao - and how to get from the stop downtown to the train station. We leave for Madrid and I already have really good sense as where to go when we pop out of the Sol metro stop. Same for what each hotel, restaurant or site you plan to visit. I even used it get a sense of what the view will be like from our hotel rooms in Granada & Ronda when we get there.

The screen updates can be slow (especially Street View). It also is often incomplete (for example few indications of passing through train stations) or out of date (my hotel in Sevilla is shown still under construction). You can also get annoyed as to the time of day the photos (like mornings when all the delivery trucks are parked in front of Rick’s picks for pintxos in Bilbao). But given the advanced knowledge I am definitely more confident about doing this trip and will be able to stay more vigilant against any problems (pickpockets) I may find along the way.

Posted by
11707 posts

I've been doing virtual walks prior to our trips for some years now. As we almost always cover the ground between train stations and our accommodations on foot, I also make note of corner landmarks of streets we'll be making turns onto, as you do. It also shows me what sort of useful services (banks, markets, laundries, etc.) are along the way/nearby, and what conditions we'll be traveling on (stretches of cobbles, no designated sidewalks, hills, etc).