Google takes a punt at tourist trail

Oxford Mail: Magdalen Bridge Boathouse manager Patrick Montgomery on a punt Magdalen Bridge Boathouse manager Patrick Montgomery on a punt

ANYONE using the internet to plan a visit to Oxford this summer might end up taking a more scenic route than they anticipated.

The latest version of Google Maps includes a special “Easter egg” in its city maps – a hidden software feature designed to amuse users.

Oxford Mail:

A map of the route suggested by Google

When someone searches for directions from Magdalen College to Wolfson College, Google suggests a mode of transport synonymous with Oxford – punting.

The search engine firm, based in California, America, says the journey by boat will take one-and-a-half hours compared with a 30-minute walk.

Magdalen Bridge Boathouse manager Patrick Montgomery said: “It would take forever. I think it’s great fun, it is a unique way of using Google Maps, but it certainly isn’t a very practical mode of transport.

“I’ve never done that route myself.”

Mr Montgomery said the most popular routes for punters were south from the bridge, going past Magdalen College School.

He added: “Going upstream, the really desirable destination is the Victoria Arms.”

Visit Oxfordshire tourism board spokesman Jo Butler said: “This is great news – I didn’t realise this was on Google Maps.

“We are delighted to see that punting in Oxford is considered a mode of transport – as this is a unique experience for our visitors to undertake while they are visiting Oxford.”

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Oxford has about nine million visitors a year, who spend a combined £720m.

About 150,000 people make use of Broad Street’s visitor information centre every summer, which recommends punting as a fun day out.

And two million people plan their trip online using visitoxfordandoxfordshire.

com alone.

The Oxford “Easter egg” is one of several which Google has put in the new version of its maps, launched this week.

Other unusual modes of transport include a dragon for getting across Snowdonia in Wales, taking the Royal Carriage from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle, and hitching a lift across Loch Ness on board the Loch Ness Monster.

The firm did not comment on its hidden features, but hinted that there are still more to be found.

Visit maps.google.co.uk

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