Ovi Maps in Moscow.

“I should warn you, the Tretyakov Gallery is a bit tricky to find.”

“Don’t worry, I got it.”

Such chutzpah in a foreign city with a different language — and alphabet, even — could only be possible with Ovi Maps on my Nokia handset.

Getting to the proper Metro station was another matter altogether (I’ll talk about what I used for that in tomorrow’s post), but once I was street-side, navigating to the famous Russian Art Gallery was as easy as following the above screen grab to the rather obvious big brown building. Note the dead end (“Ordynskly Tupik”) that would have completely stymied a lesser tourist, even if they were heading in the proper direction.

Though I didn’t properly side-load the map data for Europe before I left, the maps that downloaded through my local SIM card didn’t ding me too much on the prepaid data meter — and once the necessary maps were on my N97, they were there to stay.

The N97’s built-in compass was critical in figuring out where I was, and where I was going. And Jon Bruha would be proud of the little “dodge-ho-parry-thrust” move I did to get it going when it was pulled from my bag — kind of like this, but with a bit more flourish.

The only issue I had with Ovi Maps was with the nomenclature of landmarks in its database. As an example, a search for Gorky Park in “Places” gave no results, because I didn’t get the correct spelling — it’s actually listed as “Tspkio Im Gor’kogo”.

The problem here (I think) is that Nokia used a compromise between Cyrillic and English, kind of like the Russian equivalent to Pinyin. The good news is that this problem seems confined to version 2.0 of Ovi Maps — a search for  Gorky Park using v3.03 on my N86 shows the proper location straightaway, just like the new desktop client does.

In fact it looks like Ovi Maps has entirely caught up with its rival Google in other areas, while maintaining the two killer features that puts it way out in front — specifically, offline navigation and free worldwide turn-by-turn directions.

I’ve never bothered to install Google Maps on my N86 or N97 and the truth is, I don’t really miss it.

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