Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Travel and Adventure, Google Café a.k.a. Amazing Race Google Edition

Tagaytay Sky Ranch

Google Search, Google Maps, Google + and Google Goggles. Honestly, of all these amazing Google Apps, I’ve only been using Google Search. In fact, I associate Google with search. Apparently, there’s more to Google than Search. And I learned it in a very unique and fun way.

It was Sunday morning and everyone seemed on their laziest weekend mode. We were having breakfast at Barbara’s in Intramuros and some of the Google executives were briefing us on what to expect on that day. It will be an adventure-filled day and I can see that all the participants are thrilled as much as I do.

Google Philippines invited us to partake in one of their Travel & Adventure event called the Google Café. Think about Amazing Race but in groups. Each of us was given some “Race essentials” - Google sunnies, water bottle, shirt, umbrella and bag. We were divided into 2 groups with 6 individuals each. Vans, drivers and snacks were provided. The rule was simple; we have to get to the appointed destinations and do the challenges assigned using Google Apps, very Amazing Race-ish.

Google Travel And Adventure
Google Apps 101
My group was Team Search and we were competing with Team Maps. As soon as the first clue was given, everyone started to revved up. And using Google Search, the first clue seemed to be pointing us to Baluarte de San Diego inside Intramuros. The other team scurried away while we were still figuring out how to get there. And then somebody turned on the Google Maps from our assigned cell phone and led the van driver to our destination.

Google Travel And Adventure
We are so ready for the challenges!
We got there first and everyone’s excited as we ran to the marker and got our challenge card. We got there first. Yey! We had to take a group photo in front of a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) and upload it in Google +. We did it as fast as we can and somebody handed us our next destination card.

A “large anchor” was the operative phrase written on the next destination clue. Without using any Google App (which was our big mistake), we headed straight to Roxas Boulevard. thinking that the next destination would be the Navy Headquarters. Upon arrival, we asked some people there if they’ve seen any Google marker. We got no clear responses so we tried searching some more.

So after running a few hundred meters from where we were dropped off and seeing the other team sped off, we saw the marker just across the Anchor Hotel in Roxas Boulevard. Someone used Google Search earlier and saw an Anchor Hotel but we didn’t follow it. Ugh. As for the challenge, we did a jump shot and uploaded it in Google +.

Thinking about the huge lead of the other team, Team Search didn’t lose hope. We were still laughing as we read out loud the next clue and it’s leading us to Tagaytay.

The next destination clue was confusing. We were asked to go to a market near some souvenir shops in Tagaytay and look for a flower stall for the next challenge. We were debating on that particular market and decided on going to the famous Mahogany Market in Tagaytay. Using Google Maps, we led our driver to our next destination.

Google Travel And Adventure
Google is our friend
Minutes before reaching our target market, someone saw the Google marker in one of the flower stalls approaching Tagaytay proper. We were stunned to find out that there’s actually a market behind the flower stalls. We hurriedly ran to the marker asked everyone if we arrived first. We found out that the other team was 15 minutes ahead of us. We can still catch up.

The challenge was to pick a flower from the stall and look for its scientific name using Google Search. We did it as fast as we can and the lady handed the next destination card that seemed to be leading us to this giant Ferris wheel in Tagaytay Sky Ranch.

Google Travel And Adventure

We finally reached Tagaytay’s Sky Eye and were told that the other team was around 15 minutes ahead of us. The first challenge was to count the gondolas of the Sky Eye (we didn’t bother to count, Google Search is our friend) and the second was to take a group selfie with the giant Ferris wheel as our backdrop and upload it to Google +. We did everything as fast as we could and the next destination card was handed to us.

Tagaytay Sky Ranch

Tagaytay Sky Ranch
Group selfie?
A garden restaurant was our next destination. Nobody knew where it was so we utilized the very handy Google Maps to locate Le Jardin Rosella. My team had high hopes on reaching there fast. We were joking around on the possible mishaps that the other team might encounter to probably cut their lead.

We carefully followed every direction that Google Maps advised us but when we reached the said destination we were surprised to see a huge flock of cockfighters. We were in the wrong place. We scurried away and searched Google for the contact number of the restaurant. We got the right direction and arrived there with uplifted spirits.

The good news; we were the first team to arrive.

The first challenge was to use Goggle Goggles to identify the painting displayed. We took a photo of the painting and Google Goggles automatically identified all the information regarding the painting. And then we went to the next challenge.

Google Travel and Adventure
Google Goggles is so sleek
A long table with food items was placed in a middle of a garden. We needed to identify the calorie content some of the items. Using Google voice search, we easily got the right answers. And to our surprise, it was the last challenge and the last destination was a few steps away to another garden.

Google Travel and Adventure
Voice search
We hurriedly went to the said garden and saw the huge Google icon placed in the middle of the lawn and we were applauded and cheered by the event organizers for winning the challenge. Imagine our excitement as we scattered around the garden and took the last group photo as the winner.

Google Travel and Adventure
We're the first team to arrive!
Google Travel and Adventure
Go Team Search
We received brand new cell phones as our prize for winning the Travel & Adventure, Google Café (a.k.a. Amazing Race Google Edition). We were also treated to a very nice lunch which gave us time to discuss the day’s activities. My team, in particular, was extremely surprised for winning the challenge. We came from behind and didn’t lose hope (nor expected to win) and just went on with the challenges. Overall, it was our not-so-serious and let’s-just-enjoy-this attitude that kept us alive and vibrant all throughout the challenge.

Google Travel and Adventure

Google Travel and Adventure
Thanks so much Google!
And hey, you know what? I am not a “techie person” at all and actually not in the process to be one but I’m proud to say that I’m a convert. Experiencing almost all of the Google Apps in this challenge, I find that it really makes life easier especially when you’re out there traveling. I’ve been using Google Maps ever since. I’m the Queen of the road wherever and whenever. I love Google!




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