Thursday, June 22, 2017

Maps and apps

Last summer was all about trying out apps that can help people with dementia, and also checking out mindfulness apps to keep myself stress-free while staying with and supporting my mother who has Alzheimer's.  This year I've decided to try out some different apps as I'm heading off to the Baltic States with my daughter for a short break.  I know that in India I have really appreciated several iPhone apps that have made my life much easier:  Uber, Google Maps and the Triposo India app. Yesterday I started to look for apps that I could use to plan walking tours around the 3 cities that we are planning on visiting.  Most of these have a "lite" version that I'm going to try out first, and then if I like them I can purchase the full app.

The main reason for wanting to use an app is to cut down on the amount of luggage I am taking with me - I certainly don't want to be lugging guidebooks around with me as my baggage allowance is limited to 10kg carry on.  Also, my main reason for wanting an app is to plan walks around the various cities to the places that we are interested in.  I'm not really bothered about restaurant recommendations as I prefer to eat local food, and I'm not also really wanting hotel recommendations as I'm more likely to do Air B&B, but I really want to know where the museums, galleries and historical sights are and to know how to walk between them.

The first app I decided to download was from GPSmyCity which offers self-guided city walks.  There are apps for over 1,000 cities across the world and each city walk comes with a route plotted on an offline map that guides you to interesting sights.  As I'm starting in Vilnius, I spent some time exploring this app yesterday.  There are 10 walks already loaded as well as the option to make customised walks by selecting the sights you want to see.  It's also possible to take a walk and save it. In the lite version the navigation features related to the walking tours are disabled, so while you can view all the walk details (descriptions and photos) there is no navigation assistance to guide you from one location to the next.  To upgrade to the full version costs $4.99.

The next city that we are going to visit is Riga.  GPSmyCity doesn't have an app for here, so I looked at some other ones.  I found a map app for Riga that allowed me to customise it to remove hotels and restaurants, leaving only the attractions that I wanted to visit (museums, galleries, history and culture).  If you want to, however, you can use filters, for example you can filter restaurants by cuisine and hotels by facilities.  This is a free map and all features work offline.

Moving on from Riga, we are going to Tallinn.  This city does have a GPSmyCity app, so I downloaded it.  I also decided to have a look at the Triposo apps, since I enjoy using this app in India.  I found a Triposo app for both Estonia and Latvia. Triposo is also free and it works offline.  It crawls data from millions of websites and reviews, such as Wikivoyages, to deliver recommendations for hotels, sights, activities and restaurants based on matching patterns.  You can also book hotels through the app.  There are city maps, weather, currency conversion tools, travelers' photos and more.

Do you use apps when you travel to new places?  If so do you have any recommendations for me that I might like to explore?  Or even better, have you visited these Baltic cities yourself and have some tips for places that we really shouldn't miss while we are there?  If so please let me know in the comments.  Thanks!

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