I think ever since I saw “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” when I was seven years old I have wanted to visit the United Kingdom and drive on the other side of the road. Last year when my husband and I spend two weeks in London I didn’t get the chance. However, since Scotland is smaller I jumped at the opportunity to fulfill this life long dream on our vacation this year.
On the morning of our fourth full day in Scotland we got up early and enjoyed the breakfast buffet. Once again it was nice to be up early enough to avoid all the sick people coughing and sneezing around the food. I thought to myself that we should take a phone charger with us so that we could charge our phones in the car since we would be using them for navigation. Yet, for some reason I didn’t say anything about it. It was a big mistake. After we ate we took a taxi to the rental car company.
I was very excited, very overwhelmed and very scared the moment we walked into the rental car company. I was really looking forward to the challenge of driving on the other side of the road, but I was also really scared with what a big challenge it was going to be. Not to mention that it was raining. I knew once we got out of Edinburgh it wouldn’t be that difficult, but I also knew that driving in a city was going to be more difficult.
Once the car was check out to us we were off for our adventure. I was going to do all the driving and my husband was going to do all the navigating. Just sitting in the driver’s seat felt weird since that was also on the opposite side that I was used to.
Before I even started the car I was thrown off by how the angle of the mirrors was different than I was used to. My husband would later tell me that as we began that day he thought that there was no way we weren’t going to get into an accident. I had that fear as well but since I had my international driver’s license and the car was already rented I figured there was no turning back.
The first turn out of the parking lot felt so strange. As we navigated our way out of Edinburgh I had to fight every instinct I had and force myself to do the opposite. At one point I made a wrong turn and we found ourselves on a very narrow street in a residential neighborhood. As stressful as driving in Scotland was it was also exciting. I was grateful that we were headed out of the city as most people were headed in for their day of work. I don’t think I could have dealt with being stuck in traffic during morning rush hour.
Once we got to the edges of the city things got easier. That didn’t mean it was truly easy. I exited a highway off ramp that I didn’t need to and then we got on the wrong road, and I also made another wrong turn or two.
In addition to the challenge of driving on the other side of the road the roundabouts were also a challenge. Roundabouts are rare in the United States and when you do come across them they certainly aren’t as complicated at the ones we encountered in Scotland.
As we made our way to the small city of St. Andrews I wanted to turn on the radio so that whatever songs played could be a part of my memory of driving in Scotland, but I felt that between driving on the other side of the road, the roundabouts and the rain I needed to focus. Music just wasn’t in the cards that day.
When we arrived in St. Andrews it was pouring rain. We wanted to enjoy our time there, but the weather wasn’t going to make it easy. Our first stop was going to be the remains of St. Andrew’s Castle but first we had to find a place to park. Once we found a parking spot we walked to the Castle. It was raining very hard and we were both really cold.
Thankfully the first part of visiting St. Andrew’s Castle was a little museum. Spending time in the little museum allowed us to stay dry and get warm. It also allowed us to learn about the fascinating history of the castle.
When we made our way outside again it was still pouring rain. As much of a challenge as that was it did have an upside. We were the only people at St. Andrew’s Castle for the majority of the time we were there.
In all of our travel I can not ever remember a time where we had an attraction or landmark to itself. The remains of the Castle were truly spectacular. As impressive as the remains of the castle were my favorite part was under the castle. Hundreds of years ago there had been a plot to blow the castle up and we got to go down into the tunnels that had been used during that time. That was quite the adventure.
Our time in the tunnels was a lot of fun, especially since like the castle we had the tunnels to ourselves. I was also in awe of the absolutely stunning views of the North Sea from the Castle.
After we left the Castle we went back to our rental car to pay for another couple of hours in our parking spot. Our second and final destination in St. Andrews was the remains of St. Andrew’s Cathedral. It was really cool to piece together where all of the different parts of the cathedral were.
Much like the castle there was a little museum that allowed us to get out of the rain and get warm. Inside the museum were a lot of graves. It was really interesting to see how Christianity combined with the previous beliefs of the people of Scotland and how they were represented in grave markers.
We paid a couple of pounds to go up to the tower that remains from the cathedral and take in the views. Although it was raining and quite cold the views were truly breathtaking.
I can only imagine how stunning it is to look out onto the North Sea on a sunny summer day, but I am satisfied with the views we got on that spring day.
Upon leaving the remains of St. Andrew’s Cathedral we stopped at a coffee shop to get a warm drink and then we began our drive back to Edinburgh. The battery on my phone was super low so we had to use my husbands to get us back to the city. It was at this point that we both regretted not taking a phone charger with us. Since I was more comfortable driving on the other side of the road than I had been in the morning I was able to enjoy the experience more.
I am so glad I got to see that much of the Scottish countryside the day.
When we got back into Edinburgh I was exhausted from all the driving and the cold and the rain.Yet, I still had to make our way though the city traffic to return out rental car. There was a moment when I was having to deal with the afternoon rush hour traffic of Edinburgh that I just wanted to pull the car over to the side of the road and cry because I was so stressed with the challenge that I had given to myself.
But I kept going. We returned the rental car without getting into and accident and without me crying. Although it was really, really challenging to drive on the other side of the road I would absolutely do it again, in a heartbeat.
Upon returning our rental car began the walk back to our hotel. It was only about a mile and a half, but it was challenging because we got a little lost and it was still rainy and windy. We did go by a gay bar I had always wanted to see named CC Bloom’s.
Although we didn’t get a chance to go inside the bar I’m glad I at least got to see the outside of it. We were also able to go by the Scottish monument that wouldn’t have been in the cards otherwise.
When we got back to our hotel we were both exhausted. After resting up for a bit we headed out for dinner.
As we went to bed that night I was very tired but also proud of myself for my driving adventure. We were both also a little sad because the next day would be our last day in Scotland before flying to London for a little over a week. As excited as were to return to London we were sad that our time in Scotland was coming to an end.
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Here is a description:
Justin Gomez and his sister, Terri, have never been close. Separated by nine years and distant in adulthood, Justin and Terri have little in common, except for the love of her three children. In the days before they embark on a road trip to visit the father that once abandoned them and their now deceased mother, both Terri and Justin are dealing with unexpected changes in their lives. Justin surprisingly realizes he might want more than a series of one night stands after a first date goes unexpectedly well. After a lifetime of being a strong type A personality, Terri is forced to confront the reality of the end of her marriage. As they hit the road, with Terri’s children in tow, they find themselves forced to rely on and confide in each other following a devastating event. Confronted with memories from the past and challenges from the present, Terri and Justin must dig deep and unearth the truth about themselves and their parents in order to build a new family based on their love for each other.