Everyone knows I’m a planner by now. So it’ll come as no surprise to you that before I go on a trip, I get on Google Maps and scope out the destination I’m travelling too. Part of it is just excitement building up, and the other part is that I can see what is going to be around me – like supermarkets, cafes and restaurants. But the new reason for doing it, is just because sometimes when you use Google Maps, you can find things that you missed in travel brochures and books.
Like the other day, I was having a search around the area of Kensington, where my hotel in London is situated. I was mapping my way along the Chelsea Embankment (so that’s where Cheska and Binkie from Made in Chelsea go running!) and past Sloane Square and I noticed embankments of blue bicycles everywhere. I wonder what they are, I thought. I zoomed in enough to read the signage on the bicycle wheels and could make out ‘Barclays Bikes’. Hmmmm, I wonder what they are doing there?
A bit of googling and I find out that these bicycles are available for hire by anyone and you can use them 24 hours a day. These bikes are locked into docking stations, you use your debit/credit card to pay for their release (an access fee of £2 for 24 hours and a usage fee of £1 for an hour with the first half hour free) and you can drop them back wherever you find the next docking station. Further searching revealed these docking stations are all over the place! And there’s even one pretty much right outside my hotel.
These bikes were something I had missed noticing in any of my research. So thank you Google Maps!