Whenever I’m travelling the root question that everything else is based on is “How can I find local businesses?”. Leaving shopping for clothes and souvenir aside, where can I find nearest grocery store or restaurant?
When you are staying in 3 or 4 start hotel, you can easily ask reception for directions or get a map form local tourist centre. More tech savvy people probably prefer to use digital resources – online maps.
Saaremaa, or more particularly, Kuressaare is small town that in world context doesn’t get too much attention. That means online map providers do not have it covered in too much details, especially when it comes to local businesses. I did a small research to find out which has the best coverage.
Google Maps – obvious choice most people.
Some of local businesses, restaurants, hotels are shows on the map. But once you type in “restaurant kuressaare” and hit “Search” several pubs and restaurants are reviled with user review and link to homepage.
What’s more, last summer Google released SreetView mode for Kuressaare town. In fact all the biggest roada on Saaremaa are now covered, so you can take a virtual tour.
When looking at map of Kuressaare all you can see are streets and street names, that’s it. No local business what so ever. Typing in same keyword “restaurant kuressaare” reviles absolutely nothing.
Yahoo! Maps follows pretty much the same pattern as Bing. Street names are nicely laid out, you can even see attempt to guess shape and size of the buildings. Searching for “restaurant kuressaare” doesn’t any good.
Open Street Map – community based free worldwide maps
Look at Kuressaare using standard layer expects you to zoom in to as much as you can before reviling local businesses. I’ve got to say – what I’m seeing is quite impressive. Community members have done great work mapping out Kuressaare town. Not only restaurants, but also drugstores, churches, nightclubs, libraries – everything is there.
Search on the other hand does not help you much. Using keyword “restaurant kuressaare” returns with 2 results and only one of these is what you’d call a restaurant.
I myself still prefer using old style paper maps – it’s not very convenient searching for restaurant but once you have market the place on the map it will take you there.