Use Google Maps for more than just getting from point A to point B, see the world!

I know, it is seriously creepy having every road, home, dog, mailbox, etc. photographed and uploaded to the dark abyss of the Internet because we unfortunately share the planet with a small percentage of seriously freaky people who will use the information for seedy purposes.

However, for non-freaky people, Google Maps offers something really interesting:  a tour of the world as well as ideas for landscaping, architecture or as a reminder to people of what life is like for others in far away countries.

I encourage you to visit Google Maps, if you haven’t already, to get a taste of cultures from around the world by doing the following:

  • Visit http://www.google.com/maps from a computer or laptop (avoid doing this from a small hand held device – you just won’t get the full, amazing experience that comes with a larger monitor)
  • In the search box, type in the name of a country (i.e. Italy) and hit your enter key
  • A large map will appear with the country you desire in the center of the screen
  • Zoom in two or three times (using the plus sign in the lower right corner of the screen) so some city names are visible
  • On the screen, look for a little orange icon in the shape of a human, it will either be around the top left corner of the screen or possibly in the bottom right corner of the screen, it looks like the figure circled in red in this screenshot:

Google Map

  • Once you find this orange icon of a human, click on the icon and drag it over the map of the desired country as shown in the screenshot below.  Notice in this screen shot that my orange icon is hovering over an area of a country and photos taken by people in this region may pop up as well.  Once you are over a region of interest, release the button on your mouse to reveal a street level view of the area:

Google Maps of Italy

  • Notice a photo of the region appears on the screen as seen in the screenshot below.  It is from this street level view that you will begin exploring the region.  You explore by clicking and dragging on the image, double clicking on various parts of the image or using the zoom and rotate features in the navigation (which is usually located in the upper left or lower right portions of the screen).   NOTE: exploration of roads and surrounding areas is ONLY possible if you are in “Street View” mode which is indicated in the top left corner of the screen.  Sometimes you are not in “Street View” mode but you are viewing just a photograph that someone in the region has taken, you cannot navigate through photographs that these people take, you will know if you are looking at just a photograph because the top left corner will say something like “Photosphere” mode (which you cannot navigate deeper into) instead of “Street View” mode (which you can navigate deeper into):

Google Maps

Remember as you navigate through different regions of the world, you are an uninvited guest into the personal or business space of other people in the world so maintain the highest level of respect by refraining from sharing photos of what you see on the screen with others, mocking people or places you see, etc.

Enjoy!

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