In one of my crazier moments, I decided on a whim (while sitting in the airport in Philly waiting to board the plane), to rent a car and attempt driving in the UK for the first time. Anyone that knows anything about traveling will understand how really crazy this was when it comes to the cost of the rental car. Booking a car on your cell phone, last minute, with the pickup and drop off both being airports, is not my finest moment in terms of planning or managing expense. But sometimes, in this crazy world where everything is planned and scheduled, you just have to take a leap to make sure you are still alive.
The flight from Philly to Glasgow wasn’t exactly restful. I was on an older plane (in other words, no nice TV to watch), by the window….(wait for it)…with a three year old next to me. By the time we landed, I was covered in the remnants of cheese curls and bits of dinner down one side and hadn’t slept a wink.
I stumbled up to the car rental counter with trepidation, nausea causing water droplets (remember, we women from the Southern US do not sweat, we glisten) to run down the side of my face. The poor chap at the rental counter probably thought I’d just landed from somewhere in Africa and had picked up a strange tropical disease considering my fogged up glasses and the incoherent conversation that followed. His beautiful Scottish accent combined with my jet lagged, sleep deprived brain, resulted in quite a bit of confusion. Nevertheless, he handed over the keys and I was off to collect the car.
Lucky for me I had landed in Scotland very early on a Sunday morning. It was misty out and cool. I picked up the car and out of the gate I went, not knowing what exactly I was doing or where I was going. After stumbling around the dead end roads near the airport, I finally pulled over to assess the GPS and plug in the coordinates for my first stop – Stirling. I sat staring at the dashboard, hopelessly looking for some sign of a GPS (that I had been assured was in the car), but finally realized it wasn’t there. Now I’d have to navigate back to my starting point without a GPS, driving for the first time on the left side of the road and on the right side of the car…yeah, ought to be interesting I thought.
It had to have been divine intervention, but somehow I found my way back to the car rental pickup, received profuse apologies from the attendant, and headed out once again – this time, GPS in tow. My second challenge was encountering my first roundabout. There are times while driving when you can’t hesitate – like merging in traffic in New York City or jumping in the left lane to pass on the Autobahn. This was one of those times. With a quick look both ways and a silent prayer, I floored the accelerator and entered the arena. A few car horns later and minus one hub cab (good thing I got the insurance), I was through and on my way into Glasgow and beyond.
…continues with Breakfast with the Bruce…
all photos by the author.