Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

GPS sends Belgian woman to Croatia, 810 miles out of her way

A woman trying to go 90 miles to a Belgian railway station instead ends up in Zagreb because she says that's what her GPS told her to do.

3 min read
Here's how Google Maps plots her route. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

We need to get something out of the way.

Croatia is not Belgium. Neither is it in Belgium. Nor was it ever, in some strange historical time before America existed, Belgian in any way.

This does not seem to have prevented a Belgian lady from trusting her GPS enough to end up in Zagreb, Croatia's capital, when she was actually trying to go 90 miles from her home in Hainault Erquelinnes to Brussels.

Both, remarkably, are in Belgium.

I am grateful to Gizmodo for sending me several thousand miles to Spain's El Mundo, for there is a report complete with a picture of 67-year-old Sabine Moreau.

Some might find it awkward to hear that her destination was to the north of her hometown, while Zagreb is to the south. Far to the south. So far to the south that this tale bulges one's believability box.

Still, El Mundo quotes Moreau as saying: "I was distracted." And we've all done things while distracted that have sent us on chases for extremely wild geese.

One might have imagined that she didn't conceive that it might take two days to drive 90 miles. But she claims her GPS was on the fritz and soon she was passing through Fritz's homeland.

Moreau was quoted by El Mundo as explaining: "I saw all kinds of road signs: first in French, then in German, and finally in Croatian."

She claims it was only the Croatian signs that finally told her she might have drifted off course.

On her way, she said she slept in the car and even got into a minor road accident. It was her son who contacted the police after she failed to reach her destination and kept on failing.

I am quite familiar with Croatia -- and especially with Zagreb. In order to get there, Moreau would have had to drive through Austria (or, conceivably, Italy).

Indeed, I just asked Google Maps to plot the route she took and it sends her through Germany, Austria, and Slovenia.

But even crossing into Croatia, there is still a little driving to do before you get to Zagreb. Was there no point at which she wondered that she had gone awry?

In Google's translation of the original story in Belgium's Nieuwsblad, Moreau admits she saw signs for Frankfurt, Aachen and Cologne, but says she just kept her foot on the gas.

One can only hope that, once in Zagreb, she got a chance to dine at the wonderful Prasac restaurant and perhaps have a coffee or two with the locals, who do love to sit around all day drinking, chatting and reading a new newspaper which is ambitiously called "21st Century."

Hers is a tale of disorientation that might go beyond the simple confines of her GPS. However, sometimes it's good to see the world in a spontaneous manner.

Currently, there are several very wealthy French people -- such as the actor Gerard Depardieu -- who are spontaneously departing French shores in order to pay less tax in Belgium.

Could it be that Depardieu also had similar GPS problems to Moreau and drove straight through Belgium?

How else could one explain his suddenly being offered Russian citizenship?