When we left my brother's place last night, I started following the route that the GPS would have suggested, then veered off when I spotted a familiar street name and thought, "I have a vague idea of where this street heads."
I made two more turns, both times following a hunch that I was turning the right direction on streets with which I was only passingly familiar. I never drove when I lived in Victoria, so my experience with many of the streets in that part of town was either being a passenger in somebody else's car, or recognizing them from the names of bus routes. What did not help was that the compass in our car is only moderately correct part of the time, and usually gives random readings that have no bearing on reality. As I took each turn toward what I thought was our hotel, the compass assured me that we were going exactly opposite of where we wanted to go.
Just as I was thinking about asking atara to fire up the GPS, we finally reached a street that I knew quite intimately from living in Victoria. It seems that in spite of our car's assurances that I was heading directly away from our accommodations, I had been making the correct turns all along. I guess my sense of direction is better than I had thought. I continued following my hunches - taking Quadra street rather than Blanshard or Douglas because I vaguely remembered that it emptied out into Beach Hill park, and it seemed to me that if we turned at the park, it would drop us fairly close to our B&B. Again, I was right.
I suppose I should not feel too surprised, nor smug about my Zen-like ability to home in on our destination by hunch. Victoria is not a huge city, and I spent almost half of my life here, so I still have a pretty good sense of direction, even at night in unfamiliar parts of the city. On the other hand, even after being away for nearly thirty years, this city still feels very comfortable and home-like to me. That kind of flies in the face of that old adage about how you can never go home again. Maybe you can.