A bumbling American tourist from New Jersey has become famous in Iceland as the guy who keeps getting lost by blindly following his GPS. Last week, he drove five hours out of his way because of a one-letter spelling mistake — which was enough to make news around the country — and he cemented his reputation this week by accidentally stumbling into a meeting at an office building, again letting the GPS lead him astray.
According to Iceland Review Online, 28-year-old Noel Santillan arrived February 1 at Iceland’s main international airport. His hotel, in Laugavegur, Reykjavik, should have been about a half-hour trip from there. Unfortunately, some of the hotel websites listed the address as Laugarvegur — note the extra “r” — which is much farther north.
To a native (or someone with the common sense to wonder why his GPS is pointing him far, far, out of town), the mistake would have been obvious. But not to Santillan. The Iceland Review reported he drove five hours along icy roads through mountain passes before stopping to ask for directions.
The helpful local he talked to recognized the problem immediately, and helped him get a room at a nearby hotel. The silly mistake got some local news coverage, and that could have been the end of it. But even after all that, Santillan still had ultimate faith in his GPS.
On his way to Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon spa a week later, he followed the GPS directions to an office building and wandered into the middle of a meeting.
“To my astonishment, there were the staff members of the Blue Lagoon,” the confused tourist told the newspaper Vísir.
“When I knocked on the door, they looked at me in surprise: What does this man want? I told them I was on my way to the Blue Lagoon.”
But the staff members were very understanding, because Santillan’s reputation preceded him.
“They asked whether I was the one who had driven all the way up north. I told them, ‘Yes,’ and then they all laughed and wanted to pose for a photo with me.”
Like his first blunder, this one was also easily avoidable by reading road signs and considering context, instead of just following the GPS.
“He forgot to make the turn by the exit. He must have been looking at the landscape and been absent minded. This is very well marked and shouldn’t escape anyone,” one of the Blue Lagoon staff members said, according to Vísir.
Santillan did eventually make it to the Blue Lagoon, and spent the next day of his vacation enjoying his newfound celebrity and talking to the media. Apparently he was quite impressed with the country’s hospitality.