The following admission will come as no surprise to my nearest and dearest.

I get lost very, very easily.

The asperger’s diagnosis at least explains why – I have discalculia which is often associated with it – and that means I don’t have a very good relationship with numbers. Or space. Or maps.

The kids don’t panic nearly so much now when I turn into a side street and grab the Melways. I think they’ve figured out that the sooner I recognise I’m geographically misplaced, the easier it usually is. A slightly longer car trip perhaps, but not an epic voyage.

Porto is not helping me. And I have the blisters to prove it.

Apparently my hotel is walking distance to the university. It was, after one and a half hours walking in new shoes, and realising the hotel staff had directed me to the wrong university. Fortunately I walked home the first day with two other attendees staying at the hotel. I carefully memorised landmarks (the birds would’ve eaten breadcrumbs) and safely navigated my own way thereafter.

Anything other than that daily walk is a bit of a problem. While I’ll readily admit I’m responsible for deciding to turn left instead of right, I’m not the one making these bloody awful tourist maps. Conference attendees have taken to comparing different tourist maps, just to see if one has more landmarks on it or street names.

The one I have conveniently leaves off some of the street names. It helpfully labels the major hospitals and tourist landmarks in the tourist district, which does leave aside the question of how tourists actually make it to the tourist district. It doesn’t indicate bus routes, other landmarks of interest (say, the other university in town), nor does it indicate scale or north.

This is combined with a road system that places road signs at the beginning and end of the relevant street regardless of how many intersections it may run through. And all the major street signs indicate the direction of all those helpful landmarks that don’t appear on any of the maps.

I want a personal GPS implant now, people.

But there are upsides. Like this picture.


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