Negligible fame has its advantages

natalie-portmanWhen people meet me for the first time in person, several undeniable truths about Leif Pettersen, negligibly famous travel writer, are readily apparent:

•    Aged like a fine wine
•    Lover of furry animals and children
•    Zen-like in his patience for bad drivers
•    Natalie Portman scholar

However, when people first get a load of this blog, apparently the first trait that springs to mind is ‘gadget junkie’. The enablers at Nokia acted on this gut instinct, which is why I am now fondling a loaner Nokia N85. Yes, fondling. It’s worse than the first time I touched a boob. I’m working this anti-social behavior out of my system now, because soon I’ll have to go out in public with this thing for some very important geeklicious testing.

Now, there’s no chance that I’ll relinquish my Blackberry. In fact if my explicit instructions about being buried with it are not followed to the letter, heads are gonna roll when I’m reincarnated. But after scanning the specs on the finely crafted, portable technorgasm that is the N85, it was difficult to pass up the offer to play with it. Indeed, the timing was exquisite, as the phone comes loaded with a slew of wicked GPS apps and I’m mere weeks away from a long tour through Tuscany – a place sign-posted by a crack team of Italy’s most dedicated underachievers. I spent something like 483,562 hours simply being lost the last time I researched Tuscany and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna be out-passive aggressived by Italian signage twice. The Nokia people quickly agreed to let me take the N85 abroad, so when I’m driving in circles on this particular trip to Tuscany, it’ll only to be to find a parking spot that’ll cause the most traffic havoc (when in Rome…).

Now, to be fair to the asshats in charge of putting up signs in Italy, I’ll admit that Italian roads, and particularly the streets in the centers of historic cities, could make the hardest cartographer snap. I figured that even a squillion dollar satellite couldn’t possibly plot all those tiny, winding streets correctly and decided to do some pre-testing. I used the phone to GPS-tour both Siena and San Gimignano and, oh happy day, every single alley, corner and dead end were perfectly marked! So I said to myself, “Self, stop messing around here. You and I both know we can make this thing go haywire. Let’s show it who’s boss and take it to the most confounding, head-spinning, spirit-sapping tangle of streets in all of Italy. That’s right, Venice.” I zoomed out, floated due northeast, then zoomed back down onto that deliciously hellish maze and Buddha help me, it was all there, perfectly plotted and marked.

People, this phone is going to literally save me tens of hours of time on this trip that will be better spent signing copies of the current Tuscany & Umbria for all the groupies that follow me around in VW vans when I’m on the road. Or, failing that, playing World Series of Poker, which is also pre-loaded on the phone.

I’ll post a full Nokia N85 review when I’ve returned from my trip (or the next time I can’t think of anything else to blog about).

Agonizing over travel insurance? Maybe I can help…