Friday, June 30, 2006

England: Day 1 - Stonehenge, and the perils of driving on the left

Last time we talked, I was arriving at Gatwick. After waiting almost 2 hours to get through immigration, I met my parents, which felt pretty cool. Meeting up in an international airport sounds so cosmopolitan. We retrieved our nemesis rental car, and the fun began...

We had quite ambitious plans for our first day, and I must admit they are entirely my fault. It was my suggestion that we spend the first night in Bath, because it's a great place and I was mistakenly remembering it as being closer to London than it actually is. Plus, my mother really wanted to go to Stonehenge, and it's on the way. Now, if you look at a map of England, you will quickly notice that Bath is pretty much all the way across the country from London. Of course, this not being a huge country, it's not really THAT far, but with no sleep and a foreign car/roads/etc, it's a long way. And of course we couldn't take the motorway, because we were "seeing the countryside." Tensions were high in the car, I must say. My dad was driving, I was navigating, and my mother was wisely sitting in the back. The driving was treacherous. If you've driven in England, and Europe in general, you know what I'm talking about here. The roads are really narrow (no shoulder whatsoever) and twisty (no visibility), and of course in England you're sitting on the wrong side of the car and driving on the wrong side of the road, and being forced to navigate confusing roundabouts every 2 miles. My dad developed an affinity for hitting curbs, which must be excused because they really popped out of nowhere (and served no obvious purpose). So, the first day driving was a bit rough, but my dad was a pro by the third day and no harn was done. Except maybe to my blood pressure on the first day...

We made it to Stonehenge in the afternoon and it was much better than I expected. I'd heard it was very commercial (which is true, but at least you can't really see that from the actual henge). The stones were big, bigger than I had imagined, and the area is really lovely. You can't get that close to the stones because the ground is fragile, but you're close enough. The whole time I had Eddie Izzard in my head (if you don't know his comedy, then you should. Hilarious. Highly recommended. Get Dressed to Kill first, that's my favorite, and the one with the Stonehenge bit). Of course everyone knows what Stonehenge looks like, but here is my version:


Stonehenge was also where I spotted my first sheep, recently sheared:

We then continued onto Bath...we arrived there that first day around 5:30, peak rush hour, and had no idea where the hotel was, aside from that it was somewhere near the Roman Baths. Did we find it? How long did that take? And was there a bathtub? We shall continue this story another day...

2 comments:

Your Secret pal said...

I love Stonehenge! I went there when I was 16, and took tons of pictures.

Emma said...

Hee, the car is adorable! I studied in Englad for 6 months when I was in college and I cannot tell you how many nightmares I had about driving on the wrong side of the road I had while I was there--and even for some time afterwards. The funny thing is I never even once drove a car in England, but it still gave me nightmares!