When you’re making a TV show about navigational skills, it’s likely you’ll find yourself in a city that tests those skills. There are lots to choose from. We ended up in two that are known for their unique challenges.
In today’s post: Seville, Spain – a walker’s labyrinth.
Seville offered delightfully different dilemmas from London.
First, there was no question of driving the rental van; the rearview mirrors would scrape all the Moorish tiles off the walls. I tried mounting a camera on a scooter, but the cobblestones rendered the footage debilitating for any viewer.
So we walked. And as you walk, you note that streets are at oblique angles to each other. There are no right angles. If your cognitive map isn’t bolted into your brain like an I-beam you’ll soon be pointing ‘up’ for north.
Our Scottish roboticist proudly led us to a part of Seville where the streets are so narrow the sun never finds its way down.
When it was time to head back to the hotel, we would all point in the direction we thought it was (making use of our cognitive maps). We would take the average of all opinions and head home. We would then search for anything familiar (let’s call these things ‘landmarks’), ‘recalculate’ our cognitive maps, and take the average again. Until finally, well, we might not be back at the hotel, but we would have found a convivial tapas bar and left the hotel challenge till later.
-Bruce Mohun, director
WHERE AM I? airs Thursday December 5, 2013 on CBC’s The Nature of Things.