LOOK: How to maximise your local experience with Google Maps
We often travel long distances and spend fortunes to get away from the daily grind, without knowing our local tourist attractions.
However, my getaway to the KZN Midlands recently, proved that all we really need is our gadgets and a proper understanding of how to use them.
I was part of a ‘KZN with Google Maps’ team who went on a two-day guided tour aimed at demonstrating how Google Maps can be an indispensable tool to help people explore and discover their world.
I quickly learnt that I wasn’t using the app to its maximum potential and that its “discover” function provides information on places that might be of interest to users based on locations they’ve previously visited.
In addition it provides a weekly list of trending venues in your area. Through the app we embarked on a road trip using Google Maps, to discover and explore some of the popular landmarks, cultural and historical sites and of course also savour the delicious food and wine.
Mich Atagana, Google South Africa's head of communications, said the app has evolved from a navigation service to an indispensable tool for exploring your world.
"It helps you find the things you need when you need them - whether it’s a child-friendly restaurant near you or a hotel in a city you plan to visit.” She said the app also features business listings to help people find businesses. In addition users can contribute reviews and photos to these business, and places, featured on Google Maps through the Local Guides program.
While on our mission to discover and explore, Google Maps took us to the Highgate Wine Estate, in Lions River, which I never knew existed before the trip.
The estate boasts a 5-hectare vineyard, is one of three certified wine farms, producing eight certified wines, including the first certified Chardonnay in KwaZulu-Natal. At the restaurant, the menus covered everything from starters to desserts and caters for all dietary requirements.
As we got deeper into the Midlands, we navigated to our next destination, Howick Falls, using the off-line map option. This function provides the fastest route to your preferred destination, even in the areas where there is no network signal.
We discovered coffee shops and spas and visited the Nelson Mandela Capture Site.
Having dinner at The Elephant & Co. restaurant in the newly opened Athlone Circle in Pietermaritzburg was another fascinating dining experience. Through Google Maps, we discovered the plush restaurant under the ‘nearby places’ function on the app from New Hilton Hotel where we were staying.
Located in the quiet suburb, The Elephant & Co offered a tantalizing dining experience with a plush touch. From the decor to the menus, I found the place elegant and classy with great cocktails.
Our last challenge was a self-guided walk around Nottingham Road area using the app. Through this trip I learnt that you can rock any place like your hometown just by using the app.