All roads lead to France

So I was fiddling around on Google Maps, inspired by an entry I saw on kottke.org, which linked to driving directions from New York to Dublin: “Step 23: Swim across the Atlantic Ocean, 3,462 mi.” That would put you at Le Havre, France, from which you’d presumably drive in the Chunnel to Dover, England.  From ...

602914_070402_google_05.jpg
602914_070402_google_05.jpg

So I was fiddling around on Google Maps, inspired by an entry I saw on kottke.org, which linked to driving directions from New York to Dublin: "Step 23: Swim across the Atlantic Ocean, 3,462 mi." That would put you at Le Havre, France, from which you'd presumably drive in the Chunnel to Dover, England.  From there, you drive to Holyhead, Wales, hop a ferry to Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, and then drive up to Dublin.

I wondered what would happen if  I asked for directions from, say, Washington, DC to Helsinki? Again: "Step 21: Swim across the Atlantic Ocean, 3,462 mi.," again landing in Le Havre, then driving through Belgium, the Netherlands, northern Germany, Denmark, crossing a bridge to Sweden, and hopping a ferry to Helsinki. I started trying out other combinations: Miami to Berlin, Atlanta to Bucharest,  Denver to Rome. They all direct you to drive to Boston, then swim 3,462 miles across the Atlantic to Le Havre. Google estimates it will take you 32 days and 7 hours to get from San Francisco to Athens.

I started testing out directions using destinations outside Europe. Los Angeles to Beijing, Dallas to Mexico City, Chicago to Casablanca. No cigar ... no directions available. So it looks like Google points us only to select countries in Europe. And to get anywhere else on the continent, all roads first lead to France!

So I was fiddling around on Google Maps, inspired by an entry I saw on kottke.org, which linked to driving directions from New York to Dublin: “Step 23: Swim across the Atlantic Ocean, 3,462 mi.” That would put you at Le Havre, France, from which you’d presumably drive in the Chunnel to Dover, England.  From there, you drive to Holyhead, Wales, hop a ferry to Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, and then drive up to Dublin.

I wondered what would happen if  I asked for directions from, say, Washington, DC to Helsinki? Again: “Step 21: Swim across the Atlantic Ocean, 3,462 mi.,” again landing in Le Havre, then driving through Belgium, the Netherlands, northern Germany, Denmark, crossing a bridge to Sweden, and hopping a ferry to Helsinki. I started trying out other combinations: Miami to Berlin, Atlanta to Bucharest,  Denver to Rome. They all direct you to drive to Boston, then swim 3,462 miles across the Atlantic to Le Havre. Google estimates it will take you 32 days and 7 hours to get from San Francisco to Athens.

I started testing out directions using destinations outside Europe. Los Angeles to Beijing, Dallas to Mexico City, Chicago to Casablanca. No cigar … no directions available. So it looks like Google points us only to select countries in Europe. And to get anywhere else on the continent, all roads first lead to France!

Christine Y. Chen is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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