Just returned from 2-weeks in England

Jul 23rd, 1998, 12:15 PM
  #1  
m. smith
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Just returned from 2-weeks in England

The first week we spent touring the west country via Trafalger tours-never again! More time was spent at "tourist traps" than at visiting the historical sites we were there to see. The second week was spent in a wonderful Rover exploring on our own. We had arranged this week through Northwest B&B. It was fun(and rather exciting)driving.'Keep to the left' became more than a phrase.The English drive like they are running the Indy 500. We were able to see villages and towns up close(really upclose on some tiny streets). The only problem I would watch out for is the damage,collision, theft insurance. They took me to the cleaners. Put the whole thing on Visa BEFORE you leave this country. Have all your documents with you. And blow for a call to reconfirm your reservation the day before pickup.The airport fee was waived for us because we returned the car at Dover. The train connections to Gatwick, London are great so there was no problem with connections
 
Jul 24th, 1998, 08:07 AM
  #2  
Gabi
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Since you dropped your car off in Dover, I'm assuming you crossed the channel to Calais. I'll be doing this next month and was needing information about getting a train from Calais to Paris. Can you help? (any tips about the UK/France crossing would be appreciated)
 
Jul 26th, 1998, 11:24 PM
  #3  
allie
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Thanks for the input on Trafalgar. A friend took one of their multiple country tours and loved it but we didn't receive their brochure in time so we are doing our own thing--which may be for the better. What problems did you have with car damage?
 
Jul 27th, 1998, 06:44 AM
  #4  
Joe Lomax
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I have just gotten back, too. WRT driving, I would highly discourage people from getting off of the
plane and directly driving, especially if it is your first time. There are too many things to think
about without having the disadvantage of being jetlagged, too.
1) IMHO the most difficult part of driving in England is not that they drive on the left side
of the road, but that they drive from the right side of the car. This has a number of subtle
ramifications. 2) You shift with your left hand and if you do not use proper technique, you can get 'shifter's
elbow'. 3) The mirrors are in the wrong spots. I was constantly looking to the right towards where I
expected the rearview mirror only to be looking outside the car. Sideview mirrors would have been
as big a problem, except I lopped off the left one about 100 yards down my first B-road. This
brings us to the second challenge, narrow roads.
Any M road is actually the easiest to drive because
they are similar enough to US interstates that one can just follow the car in front of you and be less
concerned with which side of the road you are on.
A-roads (e.g. A 23) with two numbers are fairly easy because
they are well travelled and often are dual-carriageway. The A-roads with 3 numbers (e.g.
A235) rarely are dual-carriageway, but are again,
usually well-travelled and marked. It is when you
start getting to the four-number A-roads and the
B-roads, that things start getting difficult.
The roads are narrower, and less-travelled and as
with most problems on unfamiliar roads, the difficulty comes because of a difference in expectations. Unbeknowst to me on my first B-road,
some 15 miles from Gatwick, when there is someone
parked on the side of the road (actually 1/2 in the
road), you are expected to wait behind the car for
on-coming traffic because the road is so narrow.
Unfortunately, jet-lagged and nervous, I subconsciously thought that the guy behind me
expected me to go around the parked car. Now, I am sure
both the guy behind me and the car coming towards
me thought nothing of the sort. And so when I
missed the on-coming car I did so only by getting
too close to the parked car, as my wife put it, "Watch out for the ..." Thump!! There went the sideview mirror on the left. We stopped and were
in the process of backing up when the guy whose
sideview we hit, came out looked at some loony trying to back up on a B-road, jumped in and drove
off. A sock held what was left of the sideview mirror and I was left thus handicapped for the rest of the trip. Onto Pooh-Corner we went.
The biggest help in the whole journey was a skilled and patient navigator, my wife. I would keep up an
inane patter, reading roadsigns as we went pass them,
and she was able to concentrate on the maps without worrying about looking up for signs constantly. That we rarely got lost even on the narrowest of
country (unmarked) roads I can attribute mostly to
her. God love 'er. Ordanance Survey maps helped
her do her job. Books that show a whole region, such as Hampshire, are
more useful than the fold-ups which show you a square of land.
 
Jul 27th, 1998, 07:19 AM
  #5  
tina
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My husband and I plan to rent a car (Avis) in Corby, England and drive to Betws-y-Coed, Wales. First time drivers and renters. What did you mean by getting taken to the cleaners on insurance? Avis said to pay when picking up the car. Do we have a choice when to pay?
 
Jul 27th, 1998, 11:28 AM
  #6  
kam
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A very dear British friend of ours gave the following advice which we've never deviated from "1. Don't drive straight off the plane--you're way too jet lagged to concentrate. 2. Sight your right fender on the middle line of the road and look about 10 feets ahead of you. 3. When entering a round a bout--go clockwise and yield and 4. Drive the motorways which are the easiest, keeping in mind that the left lane is the "slow lane" 5. Finally, try to remember always pull left (we do the opposite when faced with a tricky situation!) Personally, I never drive in London, and having said all this, I prefer to take the trains in the UK---do drive in Ireland, though!
 
Jul 28th, 1998, 07:07 AM
  #7  
Elizabeth schick
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My husband and I rented a car in London and paid for it with VISA before leaving the USA. He backed into something that didn't give in Windsor and really bent the backend, but it was insured through our VISA card and we never paid a dime. By the way, we would NEVER drive in England again. It was just awful. We held our breath a lot. It was beautiful though.
 
Jul 28th, 1998, 09:32 PM
  #8  
CS
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Message to Joe Lomax: I just finished reading your posting to my husband and we have nearly recovered from our giggles. We drove for 2 weeks in England, Scotland and Wales in May and appreciate and understand all of your comments. While we never lost a side mirror, I feel certain the 6-7 curbs we drove over with the left front wheel didn't do our rent car too much good. But you left out one of the most basic of thrills you get from driving over there: the dreaded ROUNDABOUTS. Surely you had some lovely experiences with these most British of inventions? Share, Joe... Please. CS
 

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