In a bid to help users make better decisions while navigating their favourite locations, Google organised a 2-day map-guided tour of cultural and historical landmarks in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, for selected journalists and social media influencers.
The tour was aimed at demonstrating how Google Maps can be an indispensable tool to help users explore and discover the world.
The 2-day trip, which was parked with activities on how to properly navigate with Google Maps, started with a brief lecture by Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, head of communications and public affairs, West Africa, Google.
Our first destination for the day was the Millennium Park, the largest public park in Abuja. As we journeyed down from our hotel to the park, I could not help but roll down the bus window to enjoy the clean air. The FCT exudes air rich in oxygen and tranquility unlike that of Lagos, which reeks of smog amidst blaring horns and inevitable traffic. I was also enthralled by the high risings hotels, the four lane roads, beautiful landscape. The city was an oasis of serenity amidst the bustling activities.
On arrival at the park, Othman Bello, a self-taught historian, who gave us a tour around the park, said it is sitting on 32-hectares of land. The park was built in 2003 and was inaugurated by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The park is always open for family hangouts, picnics, wedding and retreats for companies.
A BRIEF STOP AT THOUGHT PYRAMID
If you’re an art lover in Abuja, think no more as Thought Pyramid art centre, located in Wuse area, is the ideal place to visit.
This art centre houses some of the best and creative works by artists and painters in the country.
We were welcomed by the natives of Abuja, the original settlers of the nation’s capital, the Gbagyi people with their traditional dance. Enjoy below.
— Ibrahim Mansur (@MansurIB007) May 31, 2019
— Ibrahim Mansur (@MansurIB007) May 31, 2019
During our visit at the art centre, we got a first hand in trying out painting. For me, it was a first and it was a beautiful experience. We were made to draw a Google doodle on a plain white T-shirt.
Our next stop was Ushafa Pottery village, which is located in Bwari area of the nation’s capital. The village is known for making traditional clay pots and vase.
Some of the crew tried their hands in making clay pots from the scratch.
GOLFING FOR THE FIRST TIME
Built in 1990, the IBB International Golf and Country Club, which takes a total area of approximately 101 hectares, coupled with the playing distance of 6,098 metres, was our next stop and one of the places I was looking forward to visit.
It was a beautiful experience especially the swinging as I nicknamed myself ‘Tiger Mansur’. We were divided into three groups for a brief competition. Sadly, my team came second.
On our way out of the IBB Golf, I reviewed the Country Club and it was at the stage as a Google local guide I got promoted to Level 5.
Reviewing and uploading places visited gets you point as a local guide, the more places and photos uploaded, the more points you get and early access to new product features and rewards from Google partners. A local guide on level 10 could also earn an all expenses paid trip to attend Google guide conference in San Fransisco.
To end the day, after refreshing at the hotel. We all headed to Cube One Cafe, where some of the crew participated in Karaoke while some ladies couldn’t help but get henna painting known in Hausa as laali.
SCAVENGER HUNT WITH GOOGLE MAPS
This was the most important part of the trip as we all had to make use of Google Maps and Plus Codes to locate some historical and landmark places in Abuja.
We were divided into five groups, each group with four participants. I was lucky to find myself in group three, which I called the winning group.
The first place to locate with the clue given by Taiwo, was Dunes restaurant. The card given to each group had codes and clues on how to locate the next destination. It was now left to the group to decode the clues.
For us, it was division of labour; while one person is searching clue on Google, another person is checking the coordinates to input on Google maps for directions.
From here onward, my team located all landmark places first, not only did we get to each destination first, we also gave wide gap of 45 minutes ahead of other groups.
EASING UP THE NERVES
After hours of driving and locating historical places around the city of Abuja, it was time to unwind and no better place to do this than the Central Park located in Wuse.
To cool off the nerves, it was either paint-balling and kart-racing. For me, it was paint-balling as I have always wanted to feel what it is like to be in the frontline of war.
The team in grey came first, and I happened to be in this team. A winner I was all day.
GOODBYE TO ABUJA
As we journeyed back to the airport, there was no better way to say goodbye to the nation’s capital than to take motion pictures at the city gate. I have been to Abuja on numerous occasions, but this trip, courtesy of Google, was definitely my best. Goodbye to Abuja and see you soon.
This trip has made me a better user of Google Maps to navigate strange places especially when stranded.
Below are ways you can enjoy the full benefit of Google Maps.
Things you can do with Google Maps
Navigate anywhere, fast: Quickly add destinations based on recent searches without having to manually type in the location. Search for places, get alternative routes, real time information about traffic jams and delays, and an up to date ETA so you know exactly when you’ll be at your destination.
Add detours to your route: We’ve all been there – you’re on your way to a birthday party and you’ve forgotten to buy a gift. Cue panic – or not. With Google Maps you can easily search for places along your route while in navigation mode, so you can find the nearest store and get back on the road as quickly as possible.
Never miss your stop again: Use Google Maps to get transit navigation times, ETAs and a notification that tells you when to transfer or get off your bus or train, so you can stop worrying about missing your stop and start enjoying the sights.
Wheelchair accessible routes: Use Google Maps to find wheelchair accessible transit routes to make getting around easier for those with mobility needs.
Offline maps: No data? No problem. You can still find your way even if you have spotty reception or an expensive data plans. Whether you’re camping in the wilderness or traveling abroad, you can download a map of an area so you can see directions and use turn by turn navigation even when you can’t get online.
Wait time estimates and popular times: Use Google Maps to find out what the estimated wait times and popular times are at your favorite businesses so you can beat the crowds and save time.
Remember where you parked: After navigating somewhere, use Google Maps to save your parking location so you never have a “Dude where’s my car?” moment again. (This is a US-based movie reference, so feel free to localize).
Create lists so you can keep track of your favorite places and share them with friends.
Find things to do and places to eat based on your unique interests and preferences.
OK Google, what’s my ETA? Keep your focus on the road by using voice commands on Google Maps. Just say “OK Google, find gas stations” or “ Show alternate routes” to get the information you need, hands free.
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