Using the Garmin 260 GPS to Navigate European Streets

It was time to update my original Garmin GPS and I had two options. I could get a Garmin that read street names or, for the same price, a Garmin that has US and European maps. Since I had a vacation to Germany planned in the near future I opted for European maps that come with the Garmin 260.

Apparently there are "maps" and "Detailed" maps and the Garmin came with "detailed" maps, which appears to be true. All the tiny little streets (some only a block long) all seemed to be there in the various towns I checked.

  • Works well in open areas, but not in narrow streets

Many of the streets in the 'Old' part of towns are very-very narrow (Just a few feet wide in some places). Although the buildings are not tall (mostly 2, 3 or 4 stories) there is not much clear sky and unfortunately that seems to be enough to block the satellites.

  • Doesn't work well turning it on and off

Since I didn't want to approach the end of the day only to find my GPS was dead, I would only turn the GPS on until I had a clear shot to my next location. The problem with this is that because of the poor reception it sometimes took 10 min before it had a lock on the satellites. That is a long time waiting, or a long time heading in the wrong direction.

  • Navigation and Direction

The GPS knows which direction you're going because it looks at where you were and where you are and assumes that's the direction you are going. In a car this works because the distance between two points is far enough to give an accurate reading. I am assuming that, the combination of a short distance between the two points (when on foot) and the poor reception often had my GPS saying my direction was wrong.

GPSs also work well when you are in a car because they can assume you are on the road you are closest to. But when in "Pedestrian" Mode it assumes you could be next to the street. Again, because of poor reception, this often put me between two streets and therefore I did not know where I was.

  • Marking spots on a Rail-Tour

One handy use of the GPS was when took tours of a city. Many towns has a small 'bus/train' that would drive you around showing you the sites. In English and German they would talk about what you were passing. When passing something that sounded interesting, I saved that point on the GPS so after the tour I could go back and visit the spot.

  • Points of Interest

A few times the built-in POIs were useful in locating Museums, but for the most part I did not use them. Mostly it was handy because you could search for the name of something instead of trying to figure out how to enter the address.

Although I was less then happy with the performance of the GPS, I enjoyed the safety net it offers because I knew I could always get home. It was nice not having to buy a new map for each town you visit, but for the most part it sat in my bag.