Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2004 20:24:26 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Jolly Ole England
As some of you know and most of you dont, I had flown to London last weekend. (the one in England, not Kentucky or Ontario or Ohio or Arkansas or Texas or Indiana or Pennsylvania or Michigan or any of the other dozens of London's).
It was a last-minute trip, reserved only a week or so ago and only for the weekend -- flew out on Friday night and returned Monday night, giving me just under 48 hours in England. I got a good combo deal for flight/hotel/car, so I thought what the hell and decided to book it!
Anyway, it just so happened that my cousin Gargi was also in London during these days, and it also just so happened that she had no other plans. So we started exploring southern England by car....
Saturday night was a 2 or 3 hour dinner at an Italian restaurant in London, then Sunday morning we went to the Avis counter at Heathrow for my car -- i had reserved a "Mini or similar". I asked them if they had any with GPS, and they said I'd have to upgrade for that -- 60 pounds/day extra. It was only for one day, and I figured having GPS was better than any maps either one of us had, so once again.... "what the hell, go for it!"
The car was a BMW 525i. the new 5-series. yes its a great car, but not so good for driving long distances. Kind of uncomfortable inside! And the GPS system was not really as easily programmable as on my last two trips to europe. But anyway, Gargi & I were on the road by 10 AM... with me driving on the left side of the road for the first time in my life, and her making sure I didn't make any mistakes that'd get us killed!
(we're still alive.)
First stop was Dover -- went there to see the famed "White Cliffs of Dover". Gargi christened them the "White Patches of Dover". A big dissapointment for both of us.... "they call these things CLIFFS?" So we left pretty quick and started on the scenic route (A259) along the southern English coast..
That was nice -- not really along the coast too much, but we passed through some small towns that had that "European look and feel" to them. Quaint, tiny houses and shops all touching each other lined up along the highway.... picture-postcard kind of towns. But.... very few ocean views.
One of my main objectives on this trip was to go to Stonehenge, and one of Gargi's main objectives was to go to the town of Bath. My schedule called for Bath "if there is time". After a few hours on A259 -- ZERO driving mistakes on my part, the first real stop was Stonehenge, slightly inland.
Looking at it for the first time, i remember thinking to myself, "Sachin would say 'its just a bunch of rocks!'" ... that's true to some extent. it *IS* just a bunch of rocks kind of piled on top of each other. Not pretty to look at, in fact not "scenic" in any way whatsoever, but i still wanted to see it for the sake of seeing it... hard to imagine those giant stones were moved from so many miles away and lifted on top of each other so many thousands of years ago! it would be a huge accomplishment even today, with all the modern machinery!
Anyway, the sun was starting to go down, and we didn't stick around for the sunset. Drove straight to Bath -- and this is where my "driving adventures" started, almost at the end of the trip.
Bath is a fantastic city -- scenic, beautiful to look at, and historic. Well worth spending a day or more there! but we were only there for a few hours......... It was still light when we got there, and after parking the car in a garage we started to roam around town, realizing nothing would be open at 7pm on a Sunday night.
We were both pleasantly surprised! The ancient Roman baths were actually open, and luckily we found the building and went inside, touring the place. Very very nice..... the pictures will speak for themselves. This was the highlight of the whole trip.
Leaving the parking garage, I "scratched" the left side of the car... not a good start to the evening. Driving out, i made my first few mistakes on the road....
Stupid brits.. they should learn how to drive on the right side of the road like in the U.S. why do they have to make it so confusing for us americans who come there to visit? yeah, every country in the world should follow the U.S. in driving on the right side of the road. things would be so much easier :-)
hmmmmmmmmmmm... well, i didn't get into any accidents, so that's always a good thing. i may have scared the living daylights out of a couple of other drivers, but as long as there's no permanent harm done, so what, right? I may have also given Gargi a shock or two, but hey, she's fine now too..... so, all's well that ends well.
Yeah. They should all learn how to drive on the right side.
Oh, I won't mention anything about a certain jet-lagged person feeling just slightly drowsy on the drive back to London, and a certain wide awake scared nervous passenger. Like I said, "all's well that ends well."
American Airlines Flight 134: from Los Angeles to London Heathrow - parked at LAX
Along the Southern English Coast: The first picture is Dover, the rest are along A259: