While we thoroughly enjoyed our time in London, we were also looking forward to getting out of the city. And today is the first day of our 12 day road trip around the UK! We have lots of exciting stops planned, as well as time to simply see where the road takes us.
Step one was to find our way back to the airport and rent a car. We decided to rent from the airport based on the advice of a guy named David who works at the Burberry perfume counter at Harrods. While sampling perfumes we got to chatting and learned that he was planning his own road trip adventure in the states! He and his fiancé are renting a Hummer conversion camper and spending three weeks out west for their honeymoon. So basically, we had lots to chat about!
The reason to rent from the airport is that Heathrow Airport is outside of the city making it a lot easier to navigate your way out-of-town. He said that starting from inside the city would be confusing. I’m glad we took his advice, navigating our way out of the airport was confusing enough!
For future reference, we should have booked our rental car online in advance. This would have saved us a couple hundred bucks. Ouch! But you live and learn. We waited to rent the car because we weren’t sure where we should choose as the pick-up point due to our lack of knowledge of the area.
We ended up renting a compact hatchback Vauxhall. It was a manual right-side drive, which meant Brandon had to get used to shifting on the left. At least the pedals weren’t switched too! It took some time to learn the car. The gear box was much smaller than on our manual Jeep. Brandon kept accidentally taking off in third instead of first. But once he worked out this tiny issue, he did great.
Funny thing about renting a car in the UK — they seem very unconcerned with damage to the car. They kept saying, “If something gets damaged, let us know, but don’t worry, you already paid for it!”. Full-coverage insurance was the only option. It’s as if they know foreign drivers on narrow streets (on the wrong side of the road) are bound to hit something so they just factor it into the cost of the rental. We nearly curbed the left tire before we even left the airport!
The highways (or motorways in England) look much like the highways in the states. The narrow roads we were warned about don’t really show up until you get into the countryside. We saw lots of caravans (RVs), making us think about doing a European RV trip some day. I think our RV is far to big for Europe though.
It was about 90 miles to our first destination — The medieval citadel of Rye on the southeastern coast. We knew we wanted to visit Rye as soon as we saw the first images of it on Google. The city is remarkably preserved as it looked in the 1400s. Some buildings date from the 1100s. Plus, the town is small enough that you can easily walk everywhere, exploring the cobbled streets and quaint shops by foot.
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